Monday, July 17, 2006

Municipal Malfeasance?

I'm reposting this today so that the exchange of comments between Citizen and me will come back to the top. See the comments below.

This is one of those stories that Dennis Cooper covers so well in Key West The Newspaper. If all in the story is what it seems, it may be the first crack in the integrity of the new City Commission, elected less than a year ago. It certainly smacks of the bubba-ism that many of us hoped had been left in the past.

Again, IF all is at it seems, it is wrong, unethical in the extreme, and a real blow to the hard-won reputation the current Commission was building in the City. And if the City Manager, the Human Resource Director, and any Commissioner was complicit in a scheme to reward a campaign worker with a City job, those individuals have earned the scorn of the community for their malfeasance.

We'll be watching to see how this one plays out.

4 comments:

Citizen said...

When was the last time one of Dennis's story was "all what it seems.."?

Some of all his stories are accurate. None are ever completely correct. And if you take out the clever spin, it's not much of a story.

I happen to be on Dennis's side on this one, just don't be so swayed by cheap journalism.

Bob said...

Dear Citizen, Thanks for your comment. I have always viewed Dennis as the publisher of something other than a NEWSpaper. Dennis is an iconoclast, in the model of George Seldes or I.F. Stone or Drew Pearson.

That said, I'm curious to know why you think this is "not much of a story". It reflects to me that things haven't changed as much as we had hoped they would. "Hire, per C.M." might be routine practice. It is the City Manager who has ultimate authority, i.e., he's "the decider". Does he routinely solicit nominations from City Commissioners for significant jobs in the system? Does he sign off on all hiring decisions? Did Human Resources carry out the same checks for Veliz as for any City employee?

The question first came up last May when Gregory Veliz was promoted to Deputy Director of the City?s Parks & Recreation Department. Veliz had been a City employee for every bit of six months and had no formal experience in parks and recreation work. And he is a convicted felon and has reportedly served time in prison.

Is any of that 'clever spin'? Is it accurate?

I'm glad you are on "Dennis' side" here. I first heard the story from my wife when she got home from work last Friday. I hadn't seen the story then, and I told her that I thought that there must be something in it that explained what happened and that she didn't fully understand. "The City Manager", I said, "has responsibility for hiring every City employee except the City Attorney, the City Clerk, and the City Auditor when one is hired. The Commissioners don't make any of those decisions."

Well, it looks like she was right and I was wrong. (Sigh! Again!). Janet has a highly-developed sense of what is right and what is worng. Her father instilled principles of good government as she guided him (he was partially blind) through the streets of her birth city leafletting and campaigning for one local candidate or another. He taught her to expect integrity from city, state and national politicos, to always vote -- because if you don't vote you don't have the right to complain -- and to support the candidate who seemed most likely to be ethical in carrying out the duties of the office.

I'm reminded again of Mick Barnes principles of Great Government. Thanks for reminding me about them.

Citizen said...

Quote:
"The question first came up last May when Gregory Veliz was promoted to Deputy Director of the City?s Parks & Recreation Department. Veliz had been a City employee for every bit of six months and had no formal experience in parks and recreation work. And he is a convicted felon and has reportedly served time in prison. ??Is any of that 'clever spin'? Is it accurate?"


My response: I have to answer this one directly, because it really encapsulates everything I am talking about.

"Veliz had been a City employee for every bit of six months ..."
Is this a long or short time? I think we would all agree it seems short, but that is just guesswork. Have any other deputy deparment heads been promoted in six months or even shorter time periods? The issue is we don't know and Dennis doesn't tell us. A sentence like "a majority of other department heads in Key West worked for the city for XX months before promotion" would tell me whether this fact is meaningful or not.

"...had no formal experience in parks and recreation work..."
As I wrote in my other response, this may or may not be meaningful. But without supporting information to tell us that this is out of the ordinary, it is not helpful.

"And he is a convicted felon and has reportedly served time in prison."
Again, no data to help me judge this "fact." How many present Key West city employees are convicted felons? How many historically have been convicted felons? Reportedly served time in prison? How can that not be pinned down? And who "reported" it?

The point is, you asked if any of this was clever spin or accurate, implying it was all accurate. I think it is almost all spin. Perhaps all true, I won't dispute that. It just isn't helpful to judge the story because we don't know, and have no facts to compare it against.

Citizen said...

Damn, I wrote a long response going through the story graph by graph and apparently posted it incorrectly and lost it....

I will try and do it again.

 
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