Retired city arson investigator Andy Fardy, in a commentary, argues city officials burn taxpayer money investigating charges against city employees. From Fardy:
When is the city going to stop taking taxpayer money to pay people who are suspended and are facing serious charges? The question is, Why are we paying them to stay home while the city investigates?
Let’s take two cases that are being looked at.
1. Councilmen Richard Paoletto was suspended for a second time on the charge of sexual harassment. Paoletto was suspended in late October and here it is January and no determination has been forthcoming. We have paid him for approximately 11 weeks to date meaning we have paid him approximately $11,100 to sit on his butt.
Having been an investigator for 24 years I know how investigations are done and the time it takes to complete an investigation. In this case the accuser needs to be interviewed and any evidence she may have such as e-mails from Paoletto and her need to be looked at. Paoletto’s work computer needs to be looked at and other employees need to be interviewed as does Paoletto. All of this should take 3-4 weeks maximum. It is now 11 weeks, why the stall?
The second case is that of the principal at Dunbar school who has been placed on administrative leave since November. The principal was arrested for taking money belonging to the school fund raised by students. She has just had her first court hearing and there will be many more. We have paid her in excess of $10,000 so far. I don’t know if she is guilty or innocent at this point.
The city should adjudicate these cases as soon as possible. In Paoletto’s case there should have been a decision at least one month ago. In the principal’s case we are at the court’s mercy. Why don’t we suspend them without pay? If they win their case we pay back pay with interest, if they are guilty we have not paid them anything if they are suspended without pay.
It’s time for Mayor Finch and Deputy Labor Relations Director Tom McCarthy to do their jobs.
If these suspensions are governed by Union contracts then in the next contract negotiation these protocols should be eliminated. If the contracts say they have to be paid while suspended, who repays the city if the employee is subsequently fired? The unions? I doubt it.