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Water workers reinstated

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Two water treatment operators fired in March for time-card tampering get to keep their jobs.

Augusta's personnel board made the decision Wednesday, at the end of a 5 1/2-hour hearing that pointed out inconsistencies in operations at the city's Highland Avenue water treatment plant.

"The way it sounded, everyone at the plant had been running in and out," personnel board member James Riles said. "All of them were guilty of the same crime, and if you're going to fire one, you should fire them all."

With the action, water treatment operators John Allen and Santonia Dennis will return to their positions and receive back pay, Human Resources Director Rod Powell said.

All five employees investigated in October for time-card tampering testified Wednesday, including former plant manager Michael Hopkins, who was demoted after the probe.

Hopkins, plant operations manager for two years, said he "was not aware of anybody doing anything" improper at the plant.

All five had said the same thing, when questioned by auditors from Baird and Company, who gathered and analyzed evidence in the city's internal investigation.

Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier said he'd recommended firing for Allen and Dennis because they'd denied any knowledge of time-card improprieties.

Wiedmeier presented video stills that appeared to show either Allen or Dennis near the time clock at the time the other's time card got punched, on two occasions in October. "It's more obvious if you're watching the video," Wiedmeier told the personnel board.

The other employees said they'd only agreed to accept punishments so they could get back to work.

"I totally disagree with that letter there," testified Anthony Hannah, about the warning letter he'd received.

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Trey Enfantay
9
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Trey Enfantay 05/20/10 - 01:50 am
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"With the action, water

"With the action, water treatment operators John Allen and Santonia Dennis will return to their positions and receive back pay, Human Resources Director Rod Powell said."

Nice work if you can get it.....sheesh.

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 05/20/10 - 04:37 am
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Why in the heck should they

Why in the heck should they be getting back pay??? They got their jobs back, right? They should be thankful for that. But, I'm not blaming the lying, cheating, thieving employees here....I'm blaming the spineless, wimpy, sissy personnel board for GIVING it to them! Good grief!

sdrwtcn
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sdrwtcn 05/20/10 - 05:43 am
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Must be something in the

Must be something in the water!

corgimom
31050
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corgimom 05/20/10 - 06:13 am
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They were improperly

They were improperly terminated. You can't pick out two people and fire them for something that everyone does.

If anyone should be fired, it should be Michael Hopkins, who allowed this to happen. But in Augusta, you just get demoted.

And if the former plant manager testifies that he wasn't aware of that happening, then there is no case.

They were wrongfully terminated, and Hopkins was wrongfully kept on.

Little Lamb
45256
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Little Lamb 05/20/10 - 08:22 am
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I disagree with Corgimom,

I disagree with Corgimom, when she says:

You can't pick out two people and fire them for something that everyone does.

You can fire the ones who get caught, even if some other wrongdoers have not got caught yet. It will set a tone and maybe the laxness will lessen.

Corgimom is correct that an additional action would be to discipline the supervisors, up to and including termination.

AugustaVoter
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AugustaVoter 05/20/10 - 09:14 am
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WRDW has a totally different

WRDW has a totally different version of this same hearing! read it here: http://www.wrdw.com/home/headlines/94363019.html

Little Lamb
45256
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Little Lamb 05/20/10 - 09:22 am
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I didn't see a great

I didn't see a great difference. Obviously the WRDW article was written before the personnel board made their boneheaded ruling.

You have a dysfunctional city government when a citizen panel overrides city management's decision to fire workers for cheating on their work hours. When management cannot fire dishonest workers, immorality will spiral higher and higer in city government. Look at the procurement department as the ultimate poster child.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 05/20/10 - 09:37 am
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Gotta love government

Gotta love government jobs...more people like this will be created by Obama policies.

Dixieman
14325
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Dixieman 05/20/10 - 09:38 am
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Gotta love government

Gotta love government jobs...more people like this will be created by Obama policies.
Corgimom - try your philosophy on the next police officer who gives you a speeding ticket and see how far you get.

Newsreader
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Newsreader 05/20/10 - 10:05 am
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The Personnel Board had it

The Personnel Board had it right, but then failed to properly respond. "The way it sounded, everyone at the plant had been running in and out," personnel board member James Riles said. "All of them were guilty of the same crime, and if you're going to fire one, you should fire them all." Yes, you can fire the two that were presented to you. Then, recommend the rest be fired. If twenty people rob a bank, and the police catch two and bring them to court, would the judge set them free because the other 18 were not charged? If Mr. Riles and the Board were worried about a lawsuit, then they were not doing their job. They should look at the merits of each case before them, and judge it based on what is presented. It does not matter if the supervisors are not firing everyone, the case is what is presented against this employee before you. FIRE THESE TWO AGAIN, Mr. Wiedmeier, and then FIRE their supervisors, and anyone else that it can be proved was or is tampering with their timecards. Claiming wages for time not working is stealing, and stealing is a terminal offense according to the personnel manual. Also Commissioners and Personnel Board, come together and make sure the current Board is doing what the citizens need. Either retrain or replace the Board.

Little Lamb
45256
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Little Lamb 05/20/10 - 10:44 am
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Hear, hear, Newsreader!

Hear, hear, Newsreader! Excellent post. These citizen "review boards" are dangerous for our society because you are using ordinary citizens who have no training in the law nor in personnel matters. Also, they have never been selected for logical thinking or decision-making. Why should such a crew of ordinary citizens override the personnel decisions of Tom Wiedmeier and Fred Russell?

Augusta government will not become better until we allow city management to have hiring and firing responsibility.

emergencyfan
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emergencyfan 05/20/10 - 03:01 pm
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So, what's the problem? If

So, what's the problem? If they're all guilty, fire them all. Not like there will be a shortage of laid-off people who will apply for the newly opened positions and be darn happy to put in full day's work to boot.

FIRE CRACKER
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FIRE CRACKER 05/20/10 - 10:54 am
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DIXIEMAN OBAMA IS YOUR

DIXIEMAN OBAMA IS YOUR PRESIDENT AND EVERY OTHER AMERICAN AS WELL GET OVER IT!!! What does Obama have to do with this? The comment made by Dixieman show lack of intellegence just like Wiedmeier if you do not have the facts and all of your evidence is made up you should think twice about comming into a new position and terminating two gentleman and six were accused was very ignorant on the city behalf.Did Wiedmeire know that there were witnesses that were going speak on the two guys behalf and make him look foolish. THE BOARD MADE A VERY GOOD EDUCATED DECISSION TO LET THESE GUYS COME BACK.It took them over 6 hours to make there decission and they were very fair with hearing both sides of the storey.All the negative bias comments need to stop you guys should try PRAYER!

emergencyfan
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emergencyfan 05/20/10 - 03:04 pm
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I have to agree with Fire

I have to agree with Fire Cracker. Not like this kind of thing started when Obama took office. I've had plenty of jobs where I've seen this kind of stuff go on. When it's brought to the attention of the supervisor, the person reporting the issue is branded a trouble-maker. So, you can either sit back and ignore the fraud or be treated like a tattle-tale. In the meantime, you get saddled with the extra work the cheaters should be doing. (Way to reward a strong work ethic and honesty!)

datguy
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datguy 05/20/10 - 11:13 am
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Outrageous! Fire the lot,

Outrageous! Fire the lot, move existing personnel around, hire from the community...an organization (government) that is accustomed to being paid for doing nothing thumbs their nose at the bankroll (taxbase) and business as usual.

FIRE CRACKER
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FIRE CRACKER 05/20/10 - 11:33 am
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I HAVE TO AGREE WITH

I HAVE TO AGREE WITH EMERGENCYFAN IF THEY WERE ALL GUILTY FIRE THEM ALL.YOU ARE RIGHT IF YOU TRY TO REPORT IT TO YOUR SUPERVISOR YOU WILL GET LABEL A TROUBLE MAKER.AND FOR LITTLE LAMB YOU JUST MADE ANOTHER IGNORANT ASSUMPTION . SOOO FUNNY MAKE SOME MORE.

smAShT
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smAShT 05/20/10 - 11:43 am
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ATTENTION EVERYBODY ----These

ATTENTION EVERYBODY ----These are the same operators who fill out federal documents bi-hourly...items such as lab bench sheets testing the quality of OUR water ...if they are forging there time card, who to say they are not doing it in the water lab? Not only should they be fired but their state licenses should be suspended....What I do not understand is why doesn’t the Augusta Chronicle report on how this whole situation came to ahead? Should we know that a important chemical was allowed to over run for 24 HOURS!?!?! 3 shifts of employees allowed this to go unnoticed!!! Where is the punishment from that? Does it all fall on Michael Hopkins? I understand that state certified water operators are in demand but its no reason what so ever to keep people guilty of FORGERY around an area where transparent honesty is a priority.

smAShT
40
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smAShT 05/20/10 - 11:43 am
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ATTENTION EVERYBODY ----These

ATTENTION EVERYBODY ----These are the same operators who fill out federal documents bi-hourly...items such as lab bench sheets testing the quality of OUR water ...if they are forging there time card, who to say they are not doing it in the water lab? Not only should they be fired but their state licenses should be suspended....What I do not understand is why doesn’t the Augusta Chronicle report on how this whole situation came to ahead? Should we know that a important chemical was allowed to over run for 24 HOURS!?!?! 3 shifts of employees allowed this to go unnoticed!!! Where is the punishment from that? Does it all fall on Michael Hopkins? I understand that state certified water operators are in demand but its no reason what so ever to keep people guilty of FORGERY around an area where transparent honesty is a priority.

AugustaVoter
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AugustaVoter 05/20/10 - 12:32 pm
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All I can say is that their

All I can say is that their are plenty of honest people looking for work. Fire them all and start over. Also the time card thing is a "learned" behavior. Passed down from veterans to the new guys. Just saying.

Mimsy810
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Mimsy810 05/20/10 - 02:28 pm
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It's a shame that dishonesty

It's a shame that dishonesty is preferred and rewarded these days.

FIRE CRACKER
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FIRE CRACKER 05/20/10 - 03:34 pm
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ATTENTION smASht GET OVER IT

ATTENTION smASht GET OVER IT THEY ARE BACK AND IM GLAD !!!!!!!!

DENEAN SINGLETO
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DENEAN SINGLETO 05/20/10 - 09:33 pm
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THE CITY OF AUGUSTA SEE THAT

THE CITY OF AUGUSTA SEE THAT THEY'ER NOT DEALING WITH TYPE OF PEOPLE THAT THEY HAVE IN THE PASS,THESE MEN ARE NOT FIRGHTEN LITTLE BOY'S THEY DIS-PLAYED COURAGE AND FACED IT COURAGEOUSLY! WHICH ALOT OF YOU ARE'NT USE TO HERE IN THE SOUTH.THE CITY WAS CHALLENENGE AND LOST... SIMPLE AND PLAN.BEFORE YOU ALL PASS JUDGEMENT KNOW THE FACT'S THIS SHOULD BE A LESSON LEARNED , SMASHT WHILE YOU WACTHING THEM(DEB) I HAVE MY EYE'S ON YOU :> o DIXIEMAN YOUR NAME TELL IT ALL I WOULD PRAY FOR YOU.AND FOR ALLEN AND DENNIS YOUR MY HERO'S KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 05/20/10 - 09:50 pm
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I would comment on

I would comment on that.......that gibberish but it would be deleted quickly no doubt. However, if you aren't worried about your water supply then you aren't paying attention.

TakeAstand
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TakeAstand 05/20/10 - 10:09 pm
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lol baron, I agree. I

lol baron, I agree. I couldn't read through it without shaking my head and laughing. Also, there's nothing new on this board, I'm getting used to having so many people defend thieves and criminals. Pathetic. I agree with Newsreader also, just because some get away with it doesn't mean the ones caught should! Some murders aren't given the sentences they deserve but does that mean they all should get out in less than 5 years? Ridiculous idea and just another excuse to try and justify criminal and immoral behavior.

TakeAstand
13
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TakeAstand 05/20/10 - 10:19 pm
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A company I know of just

A company I know of just installed the fingerprint time clocks to stop stuff like this. Maybe the city should invest. They frivolously spend money on other things, how about something like this to save money and keep people honest since they can't do it on their own. I also agree with Smash if what he said is true and these jobs aren't being done properly. Fire the whole lot of the incompetents. There are plenty of honest people willing to do the job right.

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 05/20/10 - 10:46 pm
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joe bowles - how can you

joe bowles - how can you allow this type of behavior to not only be tolerated but be rewarded with back pay? Heads, all of them, should roll.

AKEJR
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AKEJR 05/21/10 - 12:04 am
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Since it's our fault all the

Since it's our fault all the employees are forced to steal wages, maybe the commission should go up on the rates and reward them with a well deserved raise.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 05/21/10 - 12:15 am
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What a bunch of bull. FIRE

What a bunch of bull. FIRE THEM!

KatieLou
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KatieLou 05/21/10 - 12:34 am
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They all should have been

They all should have been fired. They're all liars and cheats, stealing from the people of Augusta. What do we need with people like that running one of our public utilities?

This is beyond stupid. Now it looks like the Augusta personnel board needs to be overhauled as well. We must have people who have some sense and decent standards regarding the public trust.

Nat the Cat
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Nat the Cat 05/21/10 - 12:36 am
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Stealing Taxpayer's

Stealing Taxpayer's money....and let them keep right on doing it! Just because everyone does it, doesn't make it right, does it? Don't you just love the local Government. How can the Augusta Commissioners, and the Mayor, look at themselves in the mirror, when their own employees are stealing their constituents' money [and their own money]?

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