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Workers for city taken to task



Published: Sun, May 20, 2012 @ 12:05 a.m.

Sammarone doesn’t hesitate when he sees need for a reprimand

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The keys to success in running city government are accountability and responsibility, says Mayor Charles Sammarone.

That means, he said, complimenting city workers when they do a good job and writing letters of reprimand when they don’t.

“When people do something wrong, someone has to tell them, just like you tell them when they do a great job,” Sammarone said.

As for letters of reprimand: “You need to document what’s happening if you are forced to fire someone. The last thing I want to do is terminate someone. But you have to have a system in place to improve how we operate around here.”

Those in the administration, particularly department heads, who fail to meet the mayor’s expectations can find themselves in his office for a discussion — sometimes heated.

Sammarone admits he can get angry if he has to repeat himself and sometimes has used profanity “depending on who it is. But I’ve had a few say it to me.”

The mayor said his goal is to provide excellent service to the city, and if employees are not doing their best, they’ll hear about it.

The Vindicator recently received copies of letters of reprimand and discipline written to employees by Sammarone, mayor since August, as part of an open-records request.

William D’Avignon, director of the city’s Community Development Agency, had letters of reprimand written by Sammarone on March 7 and April 3. The latter letter “serves as your last warning,” Sammarone wrote.

In the March 7 letter that summarized a meeting between the two earlier that day, Sammarone wrote that D’Avignon was to get rid of a temporary employee who had been on his office’s payroll for “an extended period of time.”

The mayor added: “I also reminded you at the meeting that you are not to communicate with the media without having received prior approval from me.”

When contacted by The Vindicator, D’Avignon declined to comment.

In the April 3 letter, Sammarone criticized D’Avignon for making changes to the CDA budget without the mayor’s consent.

“I discovered that you violated direct orders once again,” the letter reads. “This conduct on your part constitutes insubordination.”

The letter states D’Avignon “made a recommendation to outsource a very good program [sidewalk improvements] but yet made no recommendation to fund it.”

In the letter, Sammarone wrote, “This type of behavior is an ongoing problem with you. I have tried to work with you since becoming mayor in August of 2011. I have seen no improvement in your management and communication skills.”

Sammarone wrote that if “this type of behavior continues, your employment with the city of Youngstown will be terminated. This letter serves as your last warning.”

When asked about the letter, Sammarone said, “I’m seeing improvement with Bill, just not as quickly as I like.”

Sammarone added that he doesn’t plan to fire D’Avignon.

“Sometimes you write something hoping [people] respond to it — to light a fire under people,” he said. “I’m trying to improve job performance.”

Charles Shasho, deputy director of the public works department, also has two letters of reprimand from the mayor.

The first came Sept. 15 for giving Sammarone incorrect information about code violations on a South Champion Street building. The mayor said that led him to pass along the wrong information to the media.

“It will not be tolerated,” Sammarone wrote.

The second reprimand letter is dated Feb. 17 stating Shasho’s “failure to perform” in connection with not fixing street lights at the Himrod Avenue exit on Interstate 680 and along West Federal Street. The latter, Sammarone wrote, “put the public’s safety at risk.”

“Shasho is an engineer; he never had any classes in management,” Sammarone said. “He admitted his management skills are weak. But I’ve got him going in the right direction. He’s coming around the way I want. He’s getting more results.”

Shasho declined to comment to the newspaper about his letters.

Also, Sean McKinney, buildings and grounds commissioner, and Kyle Miasek, deputy finance director, each received one letter from Sammarone.

McKinney’s letter was a “confirmation of a verbal warning” because his job requires him “to be accessible to the mayor at all times.” He has a city-paid cellphone for that purpose. Sammarone wrote that McKinney didn’t answer or return three of his calls.

Miasek received a “formal reprimand” because he didn’t monitor a company that managed the city-owned 20 Federal Place, Sammarone wrote. That company, Louis F. DeVicchio and Associates, was using space at the West Federal Street building for other business without paying rent, Sammarone wrote.

In a Dec. 8 response letter, Miasek wrote that he informed the previous administration, run by Jay Williams, of the issue, and nothing was done.

“I applaud your diligence in seeking to correct any abuses of the terms of the aforementioned contract, but it is fundamentally unfair to selectively discipline me for matters over which I had no control or authority,” Miasek wrote.

McKinney and Miasek declined to comment to The Vindicator.

Sammarone said he’s had no issues with Miasek since and that McKinney’s work has improved.

Fifteen other city employees received letters from the mayor for not properly supervising workers, for being insubordinate to their bosses, intimidating coworkers and careless driving.


Comments

1DontBanThisDrone(772 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

He must have some friends/family that need jobs, so he's getting ready to make room so he can load up the payroll with HIS people.

That's usually how it works, lol.

(-:

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2chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

The mayor should be applauded for his actions. Honesty should be the third factor in evaluating employee performance.

Will the Vindy pursue ex-mayor Jedd William's failure to collect rent from Louis F. DeVicchio and Associates? You have the info . Now it's time for the Vindy to be accountable and responsible.

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3YtownDefender(1 comment)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

As Youngstown citizens we should be greatly concerned about the actions of our own Mayor and his lack of accountability to the citizens of this city. He routinely behaves in a manner that only typifies the actions of 1950s politicians in Youngstown. He talks frequently about how he holds employees to a higher standard, however, he and his closest advisors are free from such standards.

He leaves the City for two or more hours everyday durring his work hours to hit the sauna at the Y, if he is holding employees to a higher standard shouldn't he due the same for himself?

Also at his recent fundraiser, how come he had almost every contractor that does work for the city there? Isn't that truly opening the door for corruption when he has contractors doing work for the city making contributions to his personal campaign fund?

In regards to his Chief of Staff, DeMaine, how come he frequently takes vacations and comes in late and leaves early? Per the city's codified ordinances, Mr. Kitchen is an employee who isn't even suppose to be elgible for vacation until after one year of appointment. Add to his history of questionable decision making in previous positions and it is clear that Mayor Sammarone's administration is not the picture of accountability he would like the media to believe it is.

There are questions about why Sammarone simply didn't appoint his own people if he is so unhappy with Williams' appointments, I think there is a clear answer. Think about it this way Sammarone loves having the opportunity to seem like the tough guy, think Donald Trump. If he had simply appointed his own people, he would be the one who is accountable. Right now he can act like he is the outsider who isn't responsible for the actions of the department heads, this is way to cop out and say, "I'm doing the best with what I have."

But, if he is genuinely this concerned with his department heads, why not just replace them? He can they are all serving at his pleasure, all he has to do is say they are gone. However, if he does that then he is the one on the hook for any mistakes. It is just another example of him trying appear tough and pounding his fist on the table but really just being concerned with how the media looks at him. Typical Youngstown politician.

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4NewportNewsRE(4 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

I agree with you 100% UticaShale! I suddenly uprooted my family to move into the area and bought up a bunch property throughout the city without any track record of property management. Over the next 10 years, I let those property turn into slums that the city then had the nerve of demolishing on the tax payers dime. I don't know why they did that, considering I never even paid any property taxes on them! I now have tens of thousands of dollars in open judgements with the city and many more in delinquent taxes and tax liens. It's a good thing I never became a homeowner and chose to rent from my business partner who took the fall for my ineptitude and spent time in jail. Hell, my lawyer refers to me publicly as his charity case! Since I'm not capable of providing an honest wage for honest work, I milked YSU and federal entitlement programs for free labor and services, all on the tax payers dime! I don't know why they let me get away with this, considering I don't pay property taxes on the majority of my Youngstown property! It's the wild west up here in Youngstown with their inept leadership, I should know!

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5peggygurney(408 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

This situation angers me. Mayor Sammarone had no right or business airing this in public. It is akin to reprimanding an employee in private, then again in public to make an example out of him. I detest this type of management. This mayor has lost a great deal of my respect.

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6msweetwood(174 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Peggy:

The mayor could not control whether this was part of a public debate. These letters are all matters of public record. Every public employee's personnel file is a matter of public record.

In an attempt to ascertain whether Mayor Sammarone had followed through on his pledge to hold workers accountable - something long-ignored in city hall - we sought these files.

There's a trade-off for public employees: If you want a job that pays better and has better perks than private sector employees, you are open to this kind of scrutiny. If you are bothered by this scrutiny, you can always go into the private sector and surrender some of the perks.

These folks all know the rules. I am a little surprised by some of the comments generated by Phil Kidds' rather uninformed Facebook post. We need transparency in government. This mayor seems to be following what he said he'd do. This would be a good thing.

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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7Yo_Charter_Review(6 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Watch UticaShale, his interest is in making money from our hydrocarbon reserves, not making Youngstown a better place. It's nice that we agree, but he is not a long-term ally in making this city a better place.

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8peggygurney(408 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for setting me straight Mark. I do still believe, however, that the mayor should not have taken them to task for a second time in the Vindicator.

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9PhilKidd(186 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Mark Sweetwood:

Here's a link to the Facebook thread that you reference. People can read it and come to their own conclusion regarding if they think the opinions contained therein are 'uninformed'.

http://www.facebook.com/phil.kidd.9

P.S. Vindy.com posters: If you haven't figured out yet that UticaShale is Ron Eiselstein, then I'm happy to be the one to break the news.

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10republicanRick(1482 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

You mean Uticashale is Ron Eiselstein, the shrimp farmer who doesn't pay his taxes?

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11msweetwood(174 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Thanks, Phil. Anytime I am able to help folks understand public records and public access to those records, I am always glad to lend a hand.

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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12One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

@UselessShale

"But cowards, you have to use your real name. "

That's comical coming from you. Phil Kidd has always used his real name which you have used against him in several posts - you never have. Coward? Yes you are.

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