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New Youngstown cell policy restricts personal calls for workers

Published: Fri, December 6, 2013 @ 12:05 a.m.

By David Skolnick



As the result of a public-works employee racking up about $450 in private calls and text messages on a city cellphone, the administration is changing the policy to eliminate personal calls, except in emergencies, and require a paper trail for each phone.

The plan is to have the new policy in place by the end of the month.

Mayor Charles Sammarone said Thursday that the policy is being fine-tuned to make those with city cellphones more accountable.

Employees who receive city phones as well as their department heads and Carol Peters, the city’s purchasing agent, will be required to sign the policy with copies going into a central city file and in the employees’ personnel files, said Rebecca Gerson, the city’s first assistant law director who worked on the policy.

Those signed policies will be checked against the city’s master list of cellphone users to make sure the two match, she said. If not, then whatever needs to be done to make them match will be done, she said.

The policy will be given to department heads today or early next week, and they will be responsible for distributing it and getting signatures from those with city cellphones, Sammarone said.

“We need a paper trail to make sure everyone understands the policy and the phones are being properly used,” he said.

Also, department heads must review the cellphone bills of their employees to make sure the phones aren’t being used for personal calls, Sammarone said.

The city has had a cellphone policy for five years, but it hasn’t been followed properly for about the last two years, Peters said.

Sammarone — who has a basic cellphone, doesn’t text or use a computer — said he prefers to talk to people face-to-face, but added that he understands the need to communicate by other methods.

“But if you’re across the hall, don’t send me an email,” he said. “Come see me, because I’m going to have questions.”

The city has about 95 cellphones with a monthly bill of about $5,000, Peters said.

In late October, Sammarone said he wanted justification for anyone with smartphones. But on Thursday, Sammarone, who is serving as mayor until the end of the month, said he would leave smart-phone decisions to department heads.

The cellphone issue came to light in late October when it was discovered that James Clacko, a laborer in the public works’ traffic engineering signal department, had spent about $450 over a three-month period using his city cellphone for personal calls and texts.

After The Vindicator reported Nov. 13 about Clacko’s numerous job-performance issues — including parking a city vehicle in no-parking spaces, failing to respond to a call while on standby and failing to respond to numerous efforts to contact him while on call — Sammarone suspended him without pay for two days.

Clacko’s probationary period ends today. Charles Shasho, deputy director of public works, said Clacko has done a good job after a rough start and will be hired and no longer on probation.

Clacko, who is paid $21,234.27 annually in base pay, was hired June 10.

When he received his suspension, Clacko said, “I am not this animal and bad person [being portrayed] in these incidents.”


1Knightcap(697 comments)posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Sasho said, "has done a good job after a rough start and will be hired and no longer on probation". Why Am I not surprised. Typical public sector chicanery. People have to start voting down sales, income tax, levies and jedds.

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2CompManRetired(29 comments)posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Obviously the saying "thinking is required" is not known in the city. Sasho should have a written letter of non performance of managerial duties in his personnel file or be removed by the new mayor in his capacity. Clacko should have a warning letter - since the city is afraid of legal action of not hiring him - for future expectations detailed and signed. No doubt the legal department with attempt to function as an expensive post alternative to proper HR directives. Even the legal department has shown In the past to have been insensitive to the workplace environment. But who cares; just clean the snow and ice off the streets for Cleveland attorneys to pursue future suits.

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3johnyoung(241 comments)posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

How about a policy that says "use your own cell phone and then we will reimburse you for calls pertaining to city business".

It's been working that way just fine in the private sector for years.

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4gdog4766(1490 comments)posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Why did something so common sense take so long? Who in this world thinks we should allow such a luxury? Unneeded take home car, cellphones and credit cards during these tough economic times is insane. No one needs to be told this. Over the years I have seen cars with government plates parked at bars, restaurants and other locations where they should not be. Everyone says Sammarone is a no nonsense type of guy, but it had to be some moron running up this high of a bill to get him to notice. Even right now the director of parks has a take home car. WHY??? Could he possibly be called in the middle of the night because a swing has broke and he's needed right now.

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5Silence_Dogood(1341 comments)posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

As a side not Sammarone said he would encourage employee's to consider using smoke signals, it has worked well for him over the last 70 plus years and he see's no reason the use those newfangled gizmo's.

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6palbubba(664 comments)posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

So now we have another incompetent, lazy, entitled person going on the city (taxpayer) payroll because his manager is incompetent, lazy and entitled. I would guwss that at least half of these 95 cell phones are not necessary. But they have no worries, just pass another tax, plenty of money.

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7123goz(580 comments)posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

“But if you’re across the hall, don’t send me an email,” he said. “Come see me, because I’m going to have questions.” ....(and I may not want a paper trail)
And if you have basic phone and no PC, how would you get the email? Must be why they have a 75k guy like Kitchen on the payroll.
Aside from that, talking face to face ain't a bad thing. I've seen kids text each other across the room.

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8John44(14 comments)posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

The point is simple the mayor wanted accountability, but when a manager did just that he was ignored by his superior because of his fear of getting reprimanded. So who really is at fault? So the mayor just yells at everyone and let's someone one in probation get away with what he wanted, that most employees in the private sector would get fired for with many years at the job.
Of course Mr. Shasho is hiring this guy he doesn't want to get yelled at yet again. And from what city hall employees have said the mayor says some very unprofessional remarks to Mr. Shasho that would put and employer in court over.
Mayor McNally let them all go and start with a clean slate. There are a lot of hard working young people in this city that would like a chance a a good job.

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