Wednesday January 30, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday January 30, 2013

29 fired, corruption probe grows

The city’s decision to fire 29 front-line public works employees and suspend two more is only the first stage of an ongoing probe into widespread wrongdoing in the department.

The city is now in the second round of its investigation, which will focus on supervisors and superintendents, as well as allegations that the employees were selling city asphalt.

City manager Chris Murray says he’s not ruling anything out when it comes to further terminations in the 81-person department.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to go as far as the investigation leads us,” said Murray. “The simple message to everyone that works here is that we’re here to earn our citizens’ trust and confidence, and that’s what we should be doing every day.”

The city announced Monday that 29 employees were fired without severance pay for neglect of duties, time theft and breach of trust, all stemming from employees’ dishonesty about the amount of work they completed. Two other employees will receive a month of unpaid suspension.

The ongoing investigation also involves the Hamilton police because of allegations of theft.

The terminations, which affect employees from the Rymal, Jones and Wentworth public works yards, came after an $18,000 investigation into a range of offences within the department, including workers using city vehicles for personal use, receiving a full day’s pay for only a few hours’ work and selling asphalt from the back of city vehicles. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)