Deputy Director of Public Facilities Joe Tiago is one of four municipal employees who faces disciplinary action in the wake of turning scrap-metal sales into cash used purportedly as a sunshine fund account to cover goodies to boost department morale, according to multiple sources in City Hall.
The FBI is conducting a probe to follow the money.
Mayor Joe Ganim announced on Tuesday that his appointed director of the department John Ricci will be docked two weeks pay and two weeks vacation for his role in the matter. Ricci accepted responsibility as the department head. He says he did not use the money for personal use. It was spent “to pay for meals, cakes, event tickets and other morale-boosting activities.”
The federal probe of department employees could determine otherwise as well as a potential trail of work wired to Tiago associates.
Two other Public Facilities employees Jose DeMoura and Luis Burgos also face disciplinary action, according to sources. Tiago, DeMoura and Burgos are unionized employees who will receive due process hearings on Friday before the city’s Labor Relations Department. Following the hearing Labor Relations will issue findings.
Ricci serves as the pleasure of Ganim.
Tiago, who has a construction background, formerly owned two Downtown restaurants. He joined city service under Bill Finch’s mayoral administration. He was elevated to the deputy director’s position by Ricci.
OIB reached out to former Mayor Tom Bucci, a labor relations legal specialist, who provided insight into municipal due process:
Due Process for the city translates into
1. An investigative meeting with the employee in which he is asked questions about the situation, such as what he knows about the sale of the scrap, how long has it been going on? Who takes the scrap to the dealer? Who gets the payment? Is it in cash? What happens to the money? Is it turned over to someone with the City? Is a record kept?
2. After investigation is complete, and the city determines there has been a violation of its ordinances, rules and regulations (criminal violation will be forwarded on to BPD–separate and distinct criminal process), the city will draft a notice to the employee to attend a “Loudermill Hearing (named after Supreme Court case of Cleveland v. Loudermill). The notice to satisfy due process should list the charges that the city is considering bringing against the employee, and, most importantly, but often omitted in violation of due process rights, an explanation of the evidence on which the charges are based.
3. At the hearing, the employee is given an opportunity to dispute the charges. It is not a trial type hearing; no rules of evidence, no objective judge, no other witnesses. This is adequate as long as a trial type hearing is afforded the charged employee post-discipline, which in most cases it is since the employee is covered by a union that has an arbitration process which satisfies the trial type hearing requirement.
4. After the Loudermill, the employee is either exonerated or disciplined up to and including termination.