Ethics complaint could result in further actions against director

Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — Though an ethics complaint against a city department head for allegedly misusing city workers and materials still is in process, Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand says the issue has been handled.

However, City Councilman John Delo, who filed the complaint last week against Department of Public Works Director Sean McGuckin, disagrees, saying Lamarand hadn’t responded quickly enough to Delo’s April 6 request, supported by other council members, for an investigation into an incident that took place in late March.

At issue is a city crew who showed up at property across the street from McGuckin’s Pub, 20130 Goddard Road, to fill in ruts left by cars parked there for a St. Patrick’s Day party. A resident recorded the crew at the site on video, and workers left after spotting the resident in his car.

McGuckin, a city employee since 1987, is a part owner of the bar. The property where the work was done is owned by Worthington Steel, but typically is used for extra bar parking on St. Patrick’s Day.

Lamarand agreed to Delo’s request to investigate the incident and said Friday that the results of that investigation should be ready this week. A report to the council will follow.

City Attorney John Martin will review Delo’s complaint to see if the incident violates the city’s ethics ordinance. If found to have merit, the complaint then would be referred to the city’s Board of Ethics, which will hear the matter and recommend any actions it deems necessary against the people involved.

“This is not an attempt to cover anything up,” Lamarand said of the time the administration’s investigation has taken, adding that Delo has “not demonstrated patience. We’re trying to get to all the facts.”

In the meantime, a bill of $154 had been processed for a half hour of labor, the time of three people on the site, equipment, mileage and a load of compost to fill the ruts. Lamarand said Friday that an additional half hour for the workers’ time was added to the bill, doubling it to about $300, and that McGuckin has agreed to pay that as well.

Delo has said that paying the bill isn’t a harsh enough penalty, and is looking to the outcomes of the investigation and the complaint as a basis for possible stronger disciplinary actions, including dismissal.

Lamarand said directors are supposed to be a reflection of administration, and that while he doesn’t approve of the incident, he also doesn’t believe termination is warranted.

“I don’t think giving someone two days off without pay says anything if they just go back to doing what they did before,” he said.

Having McGuckin pay the bill, Lamarand said, sends a message of, “This is your warning, this is your opportunity, let’s fix it. If you don’t, you won’t be here.”

The mayor said he is hoping that the incident and its aftermath resonates throughout the DPW the concept that employees “should absolutely not ever be participating” in such activity, and that they have a right if asked to do something by anybody above them to file a grievance citing violation of their work conditions.

“That’s what should have happened,” Lamarand said.

He also said the timing of the incident is poor for the city.

“It just looks bad when we’re trying to cut $10 million out of our budget,” he said. “That concerns us.

“It’s not going to happen again. If it does it will result in ultimate consequences.”

McGuckin did not return a telephone call seeking comment for this story by press time.