Should Boise Public Works Department employees be allowed to use city-owned tools and equipment for their own personal and business projects?
Is it ethical for city department supervisors to HIRE subordinates to work in off duty moonlighting jobs? The practice has the potential of subordinates being “favored” at their city job or “intimidated” into helping the boss for fear of NOT being favored.
Those questions will probably be the focus of city council scrutiny in upcoming meetings. The GUARDIAN recently posted a story which said in essence, “things are OK at the sewer treatment plants and moonlighting jobs have been ok’d by supervisors.”
WOW! We got hit with a landslide of comments and most of them said there were severe management problems at the sewage treatment plant and PW Dept. One reader called for an attorney general’s investigation, two others revealed a tool lending practice which allows employees to take tools for private use. We feel the scheme is improper, unethical, and leads to missing property. Several others grumbled about the way things are being run and the lack of oversight on the part of the mayor and council.
We confirmed GUARDIAN readers assertions with insiders that tool lending does exist, managers are aware of it. No details on the type of tools, but reports we have claim power tools are routinely “checked out.” The general public is not allowed to use the tools their tax dollars have purchased.
Less than 2 days after the public revelation of the tool lending policy the following e-mail hit the computers of various public works managers from their boss, Richard Dees:
From: Richard Dees
Date: Thursday – March 16, 2006 8:31 AM
Subject: Tool Loan Policy
Our tool loan policy for personal use is suspended effective today.
Nice work on the part of the bloggers!
When the GUARDIAN began nearly a year ago, some of our first requests came from folks concerned about activities at the Public Works Department’s “Poop Farm” known as the Twenty Mile South Biosolids Application Site.
After numerous revelations on the GUARDIAN blog, Boise City Councilors called for an audit of the Poop Farm. One man has been arrested on felony charges, many thousands of dollars worth of city property has vanished, and several employees have either quit or been fired. The audit remains secret due to evidence in the report being part of the criminal trial.
Meanwhile the auditor quit and has not been replaced.
The tool lending scheme will probably be soft peddled by some and condemned by others. In the process of researching this story we learned the city provides a monthly telephone stipend for certain workers who obtain their own cell phone service.
The practice of using cell phones during duty hours is a rough one. Personal calls on cell phones don’t crowd phone lines needed for city business. However, the cell phones enable people to actually run private businesses while on duty. We had hints of real estate deal closings, eBay activity and other entrepreneurial endeavors.
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Mar 16, 2006, 11:06 pm
For years a Boise Police Lt. hired off duty officers to provide security for his personal security contract with BSU.
The Boise Fire Dept. for years has been able to bring personal vehicles of their own and their families and friends to work to be “fixed”. On at least one occasion the City of Boise paid a claim for a damaged vehicle when the Jaws of Life were demonstrated, not on the dummy car, but a car belonging to someone’s family member that was there to be fixed during down time in the bay.
The tool checkout at the treatment plant sounds pretty egregious until you know the skinny on all the departments. Then, the tool loan program seems a perk for people who don’t get paid a bunch to begin with, and the rest of the issues look like the real POOP Farm.
Mar 17, 2006, 7:43 am
“There is a huge conflict of interest when city employee conducts any part of their business on city time or uses city owned equipment. Worse yet, using city employees in any way during working hours to provide services for their private business, i.e., taking phone calls and other duties.”
None of this would have surfaced if it wasn’t for a couple bad apple managers.
Now, everyone has to suffer the consequences. This is not right on many fronts.
Mar 20, 2006, 9:35 am
I had never went onto a blog before until someone showed me this site. In regards to a lot of this type of conversations my question is who is doing the investigations and how do I not know that the people writing this in not a big fat liar–and wanting someones job. Or maybe an affair gone wrong? Reminds me of the adult predators saying they are 12 yrs old meet me at the mall. Plus who has made these writers judge jury and executor! I sure hope you are all lilly white and someday someone doesn’t lie about you. Are you writing this at work? Going online at work? If you aren’t then how did an in house email get to this site. My My don’t you have a life?
ED NOTE–ALL e-mails generated in government are PUBLIC RECORD except personnel matters, legal matters, and somne land dealings.
Mar 20, 2006, 10:37 am
I have said here before that folks should slow down a bit before reacting too hastily and look at how management has created, endorsed and partaken in this and many other behind the scenes activity.
There are certainly employees at all levels of ANY government agency or private business that try to get away with whatever they can.
The concern here, at least for me, is the Mayor and certain council members made a lot of hay when they ran talking about how they were going to clean up the city. Clearly that has not happened.
Rather than take the defensive posture Jenn is choosing here, be optimistic about the fact people are concerned enough to weigh in( via the GUARDIAN) on important topics the local media are loathe to or simply refuse to cover.
Mar 20, 2006, 5:10 pm
Note to Jenn: You definitely exhibit an inquisitiveness about what you see and hear. Questioning our government and the media, both mainstream and alternative, is the exact purpose of this website. Neither the government, nor the media, is always wrong… but neither are they always right.
You will be able to determine who is telling the truth based on who can provide evidence to support their claims and which claims stick around unrefuted.
In my personal experience, the GUARDIAN (Dave Frazier – his name isn’t a secret,) tries to be careful before posting anything on his website. As for opinions, I believe we are all entitled and should be respectful even of those whose opinions differ from our own.
Mar 20, 2006, 5:50 pm
You are either very naïve, don’t work in the areas affected by this or have a serious problem with life yourself, (or all three). I suggest you read the Guardian more, follow up on the related stories that have come out in the Statesman and other local media and maybe you’ll then know more about what you’re talking about. Along the way I think you’ll find the Guardian to be a credible news source.
The issues being addressed are those that can be and are being followed up on. It’s unlikely any employee would be telling those kinds of lies, for any reason.