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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