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A Youngstown employee who misused a city cellphone has a history of other issues


Published: Wed, November 13, 2013 @ 12:02 a.m.

Public works employee was warned about personal calls

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The public works employee who racked up about $450 in private calls and text messages on a city cellphone — which is leading to a re-examination of the cellphone policy — has a history of other issues during his five months on the job.

While improperly using the city phone for personal calls, and being verbally warned about it, James Clacko, a laborer in the public works’ traffic engineering signal department, kept demanding he be upgraded to a smartphone, according to a document in his personnel file.

When Mayor Charles Sammarone found out about Clacko’s misuse of a city cellphone a few weeks ago, he said it wouldn’t be fair to discipline the employee because he and numerous others were not given the city’s policy on cellphone use.

Department heads are supposed to provide the written policy to those receiving city-issued cellphones and have employees sign it. But that hasn’t been done for about two years. The policy requires city workers to pay for any costs associated with personal use, they shouldn’t be on the phone for more than 15 minutes at a time without a documented reason, and they need to know the features of the phones.

Clacko, hired June 10, used his city cell for text messaging and it didn’t have that as a standard feature.

Based on a document in Clacko’s personnel file, the average employee with the same plan incurs monthly charges of $23.78 to $33.78. Clacko’s monthly bills were $148.26, $240.96 and $193.59.

Clacko is reimbursing the city for the cellphone fees.

His personnel file details a number of other problems.

Paul Vaughn, Clacko’s supervisor, wrote in an Oct. 11 evaluation that Clacko seems “to get into a person’s face or personal space when he is being told something he does not like to hear. He has not [shown] any violence at me, but he has [shown] a short temper and violence in the shop. He likes to push people into things he wants. In time I feel he will ... only get worse with his temper as he gets more stressed. James is very demanding, such as he keeps demanding me to have his city phone changed to an iPhone.”

In an Oct. 2 letter to Charles Shasho, deputy director of public works, Vaughn wrote that Clacko:

Was reported at a club drinking for several hours after work with his city vehicle outside. Shasho said the city “can’t substantiate he was drinking,” but Clacko shouldn’t have used a city vehicle to get there.

Parked a city vehicle in a no-parking space during the downtown Greater Youngstown Italian Fest, telling a police officer he was on call so he was allowed to do that.

Parked a city vehicle at a Youngstown State University football game in a no-parking zone, telling YSU police he was on call so he could park there.

Failed to respond to a call while on standby — which pays an additional $160 a week and requires him to be no more than an hour away without prior approval.

Called a city vendor to say the company needed to be on standby while he went to Cleveland without permission.

Went to a Canfield golf course in a city vehicle when he was on call.

Failed to respond to numerous efforts to contact him while he was on call.

Didn’t respond to the required 30-minute response time required during regular work hours.

Clacko also used the city’s traffic engineering signal office as his address on a late bill from an auto-parts business, and refused to wear his uniform at work, Vaughn wrote in other letters to Shasho.

Clacko, who is paid $21,234.27 annually in base pay, was hired June 10 and was supposed to be finished with his probationary period after 120 days, around mid-October. But because he has called in sick often, his probationary period ends Dec. 4.

“He had some issues, and since we had a conversation [in mid-October], he’s been behaving since,” Shasho said. “We had a poignant discussion as to what is expected of him. His attitude is improved. Those issues are documented, and any further problems” could result in Clacko’s being fired.

Except being required to pay the city for his misuse of the cellphone, Clacko hasn’t been disciplined for anything else.

About two weeks ago, Sammarone said he was going to toughen up the city’s cellphone policy, questioned the use of texting, smartphone and games on phones and said the city ran more efficiently without cellphones and computers.

Sammarone said in late October that he, Law Director Anthony Farris and Carol Peters, the city’s purchasing agent, would review the current cellphone policy and make changes to improve it before he leaves the mayor’s office at the end of the year.

“Carol looked at cost issues at the mayor’s request and had some discussions” about that, Farris said.

Farris said he expects the three of them to meet sometime this week to work on policy changes.


Comments

1endthismess(303 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Why is "Clucko" still on the job with all these problems? Why does the city allow all these jerks to have a job and abuse the system?

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2formerdemliberal(182 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

endthismess,

Seriously? It's called "Valley Politics". That's the way things are always done in the Mahoning Valley. Always been this way throughout my lifetime. Where have you been?

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3SemiRetired100(25 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Fire that goofy guy! Ugh!

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4Knightcap(684 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank God for unions, otherwise James would have lost his job if he worked in the private sector.

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5makesyathink(39 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

During a new employee's orientation - the fact that they are "Public employees" needs to be made very clear. They are NOT private sector employees. You work as a public employee for the betterment of the community - and that simple fact is totally overlooked. It's less personal for employees to "steal" time, money, supplies, vehicles, etc from the "government" than it is from an owner of a private business. Grow up people, it's all called having pride in what you do for a living, working hard for your paycheck, and being "ethical" which has all but disappeared in this area. With that being said, not all public employees are like this, and the vast majority earn their money the proper way. This guy would take advantage of things no matter where he worked. Can we please have a story on how much real time public employees put in? How many get a normal "salary" but put in far more unpaid hours "off the clock" ?

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6tookie(64 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

There's a simple reason why this fellow is still employed with the city. Youngstown, with hundreds of employees, has no HR department and managers aren't being called to account for this employee's poor behavior. In most places, he would have had two or three disciplinary letters in his file, would have been suspended without pay or probably fired by now. The managers aren't doing their jobs managing people and in this case, disciplining people, and so this fellow gets away with it. Where's the accountability that Mayor Sammarone often talks about.

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7johnyoung(240 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

The burning question seems to be: Why has Mayor "Mr. Accountability" Sammarone failed to take any action against this particular employee? Especially when the Mayor has been so quick to discipline other employees for rule infractions and poor performance.

Could it be that Mr. Clacko's family has some ties to Mr. Sammarone - hence his hiring in June at a time when there was supposed to be a hiring freeze according to the Mayor's previous statements?

If the Vindicator and Mr. Skolnick had even one ounce of journalistic integrity, they would insist on answers to these types of questions. Of course, they have continuously praised the Mayor's performance and recently endorsed him for yet another 4 years for a third go around as a "do nothing" city council president. So any criticism at this point would leave our "community stewards" with a considerable coating of egg on their morally superior faces.

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8walter_sobchak(1858 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Apparently, "probationary" means there are no consequences for improper actions. But, the real problem here is management or, let's say, lack of leadership. They give him a cell phone but don't give him the written policy which needs to be signed. Then, he only gets a verbal warning while racking up over $400 in personal charges on three separate bills. Why not document this in writing in his file and then give him policy after first month? The rest of the items are all negligence since he is paid to be on call but does not respond. This is theft of public funds. His supervisor should be reprimanded also. But, will he be fired? No. Let's see...name ends in a vowel so I'm guessing he is somebody's nephew in govt or with the Democratic party.

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9Silence_Dogood(1322 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

The City of Youngstown has some Departments that are Civil Service and others that are not, meaning that job slots must be filled thru a civil service exam. The "laborer" position is intentionally excluded from these hiring rules for the sole purpose that politicians can give job's to their buddies. You can wager a large stack of cash that this guy got his job "thru" Sammarone. The telling indicator is the fact when this guy screwed up Sammarone yelled at Sasho and said nothing to this guy Clacko. It would appear that Clacko's direct Boss was doing a good job of documenting his transgressions but these were ignored because he was the Mayor's "buddy".
This is a friendly hint to the Vindy, they have tracking devices in these cars, why don't you grow some journalistic marbles and put in a freedom of information request on the tracking data on the car that this guy has been assigned, compare it to his work schedule,and find out what else this Mayor's pet worker has been up to.

Oh ya, I forgot Mayor Sammarone is your golden boy who can do no wrong, so there is no need to look into that, nevermind.

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10John44(14 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

It is obvious that someone is using the Vindicator as a tool to tarnish people again.
Who is James Clacko? If he is a labor then why is he so important to this paper?
Looking at the dates in this article it is obvious these things happened at the beginning of his employment, and it has been noted by Chuck Shasho that these issues have been taken care of, just as in any work place.
If the Youngstown people want to question things and go on a "Witch Hunt" then ask why is a labor working in a job that has a vehicle and cell phone?
Who is Paul Vaughn? Is he a supervisor? Why was he sending letters to Chuck Shasho about Clacko?
WAY TO MANY QUESTIONS!
Who is the target in this article? I really don't think it's James Clacko, he is just a pond in a political game.
Maybe it's Chuck Shasho that we need to ask more questions.
The article did not quote Mayor Sammarone, why? Sounds like the Mayor had no idea any of this was going on.
The biggest problem I have is why Chuck Shasho put James Clacko's personal file out to the paper? Any where else these would be confidential files. I feel Mr. Shasho should be ashamed of himself for throwing one of his own employees into the fire, and a new one at that. Is Chuck Shasho trying to cover something else up and using his own employees to deflect the public?

What is the bigger picture here? Not a labor that is for sure.

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11redvert(2048 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I might add that the reason this Clacko wanted a Iphone is obvious, it is a lot easier to text with a smartphone than it is with a flip phone and besides, you look more important!!!

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12hammar(12 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree with makesyathink and tookie. You are right about the private sector. FIRED. And yes there are good workers that get dragged into a guilt by association. As for the managers, some are doing the same thing. One for instance is the city health director, Cicero Davis. He brought the whole health dept down by admitting to falsifying inspection and PORN on his computer. The story in the vindy sounded like it was the whole dept. I can assure you it was only him. The mayor again missed the boat. Private, Mr. Davis would be looking for another job. Maybe YTown? haha

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