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Youngstown laborer suspended over job-performance issues

Published: Thu, November 14, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.


By David Skolnick



A city employee with several job-performance issues during his five months working for Youngstown will get an unpaid two-day suspension after the mayor read about the problems in The Vindicator.

Mayor Charles Sammarone said Wednesday that he probably would have fired James Clacko, a laborer and fill-in lineman in the public works’ traffic engineering signal department, if the worker’s supervisor had documented the various problems on a timely basis.

Instead, Paul Vaughn, Clacko’s immediate supervisor, wrote in an Oct. 2 letter to Charles Shasho, deputy director of public works, about many problems.

That included Clacko’s improper use of a city cellphone, misuse of a city vehicle, failure to respond to calls while after hours “on many occasions,” and his failure to not respond timely to calls during regular work hours.

“He should have been suspended a few times ago,” Sammarone said. “He may have been fired if these [eight issues] were in two or three letters instead of one. The first time should have been a verbal warning, then a written warning and the third time should have been a suspension. But management failed to handle it properly.

“But one more problem, and he’s fired.”

Vaughn gave Clacko a verbal warning Sept. 25 for not wearing his city uniform to work, and another verbal warning Oct. 2 about using his city cellphone for personal calls.

Vaughn wrote a letter to Clacko on Oct. 7 stating city cellphones are for official use only. That same day Vaughn also wrote Clacko to tell him he couldn’t use a city cellphone until his bill of about $450 was paid. It has since been paid.

Sammarone said he learned more about Clacko from Wednesday’s article in The Vindicator than he did from the employee’s supervisors.

In an Oct. 11 evaluation letter in Clacko’s personnel file, Vaughn wrote that the worker “does seem to get into a person’s face or personal space when he is being told something he does not like to hear.”

Vaughn added that Clacko 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.”

Sammarone said Clacko either gets in people’s faces or personal space and has a short temper or he doesn’t. Vaughn’s letter, the mayor said, on those topics was vague.

After meeting with Sammarone on Wednesday and getting a two-day suspension, to start Monday, Clacko, hired June 10, called The Vindicator.

“I am not this animal and bad person [being portrayed] in these incidents,” he said, adding that the front-page article about him was “embarrassing” and the claims in the letters, which are in his personnel file, aren’t true.

Clacko makes $21,234.27 a year in base pay and his probationary period ends Dec. 4.

Clacko racked up about $450 in private calls and text messages on a city cellphone, which led to Sammarone requiring a re-examination of the city’s cellphone policy. That policy is being updated because of Clacko’s misuse of his city cellphone, Sammarone said.

Because city management failed to provide Clacko with a written policy about city-issued cellphones, even though he should know not to use them for non-city business, Sammarone said it wouldn’t be fair to punish him.

Letters from Vaughn in Clacko’s personnel file detail a number of times he was told to not to use his city cellphone for personal calls, and that “he keeps demanding” to have the phone upgraded to a smartphone.

After three high cellphone bills on Clacko’s city phone, Shasho said he had “a poignant discussion as to what is expected of him. His attitude is improved.”

Sammarone criticized how Shasho handled the situation and for waiting so long to address the problems with Clacko.

Sammarone questioned the management skills of Shasho and Vaughn, but chose not to suspend either of them over how they handled Clacko.

Also, Sammarone said he is confused about an Oct. 25 evaluation of Clacko by Vaughn, which the mayor received Wednesday.

The letter states Clacko “has made amazing strides in learning the job as a lineman/signal tech. Despite some issues that occurred that had no bearing on his work performance, James is becoming quite an asset to traffic engineering.”

Vaughn said the city vehicle and cellphone issues “have been resolved and will never come back up again. James has guaranteed me that he has learned from his mistakes and these mistakes will never happen again.”

“This confuses me,” Sammarone said of the differences in the letters about Clacko. “Is he a good employee or not?”


1hammar(12 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Sure glad we are getting a new mayor. It seems that he is very confused about many issues. Wow, believing what you read in a local paper. Hmm what about Kitchen? Did he get time off? I challenge the Vindy to update the story about the city health director, Cicero Davis. Maybe the current mayor can read that the director admitted fraud. He put the people in harms way by falsifying inspections. It was the admitting to porn on his computer that was shocking. Again please print the story. I guess that's the only way the current mayor gets his info. He admits that he doesn't know how to use a computer.

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2John44(14 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

I am not surprised at all over this.
So let's put all the blame on the immediate supervisor, who in all this did the right thing by notifying his superior of issues.
Again, why is a labor in probation working out of class? Maybe the people of Youngstown were correct in saying this Clacko is the mayor's boy.
If I were Paul Vaughn I would stop while you were ahead and just find another job.
It is very clear that Chuck Shasho did not do his job here and James Clacko can do no wrong and get away with what he wanted.
Maybe this is the reason why the city is so badly off, the upper management chases anyone with a brain and has some skills out the door, and leaves the Clacko's and Shasho's to stay.
Mr. Vaughn you are clearly being put in the middle of a no win situation. Do what the politicians want and burry your head in the sand, other wise you will be terminated for some reason out of your control.
Mr. Shasho you are truly a seasoned government worker. You may want to pull your head out of the sand and look around sometime, the world is passing you by and the politicians have left sticky notes on your back side saying "Kick Me"!

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3republicanRick(1716 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Sammarone is making excuses because Clacko is his boy. I had some high hopes for Sammarone but it turns out he is just a stubborn, political hack more worried about one bad employee than the city of Youngstown.
Sammarone's family must be embarrassed by his lack of guts in fixing this problem.

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4republicanRick(1716 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Clacko is still in his probationary beginning period of his job. That means the employer (the city) can simply terminate an employee if they feel he is a bad fit or has done even minor things wrong. Sammarone's reference to gradual disciplinary actions by a supervisor against Clacko does not apply here because Clacko has still not passed the probationary period.
Sammarone is not telling the truth. He is covering up for his friend Clacko. Younstown dirty politics at its best, or worst.

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5mishmash(333 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago


Fire this moron !

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6Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

A few questions that the Vindy might want to ask.

Mayor Sammarone what stood out in Mr Clacko's resume that YOU decided to hire this troubled man.

Mayor Sammarone seing that it was YOUR decision to hire this man without any say from the Department head Sasho, do you feel any remorse on YOUR decision to hire him.

Mayor Sammarone what was your relation( neighbor, son's friend, relative,etc.etc.) with this person before you decided to hire him.

Mayor Sammarone where is your RESPOSNSIBILITY and ACCOUNTABILITY in this matter, you always claim there has to be those from City workers, so maybe you could explain YOURS in this mess.

Mayor Sammarone you stated “Is he a good employee or not?”, and Mr Clacko has also stated that the claims in the letters, which are in his personnel file, aren’t true. Do you feel a need to conduct an investigation, in light of the fact that a city employee is making the claim that an official city record contains falsehoods and outright lie's

Maybe the Vindy might want to do a follow up interview with the Mayor and ask some real questions this time that might expose HOW this person came to be where he is today. But then again the "golden boy" might look a little tarnished and we know that the Vindy would not want to portray the "golden boy" in a bad light, the Mayor might take away the preferential treatment that the Vindy gets over all other media outlets in the valley.

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7uptowngirl(139 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Clacko should be fired. There are too many incidences to claim that this is not true. Clacko makes far more money than the average Y-town taxpayers paying his salary. This guy needs to be the example.

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8gr2011(1 comment)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

After reading the article in yesterday's paper 11/13/13, I'm just as confused as Mayor Sammarone.
In the paper today Mr. Clacko received a letter saying "he was an asset to the traffic department & he's doing a great job as a line technician."
I'm a long time citizen of this community. I have read other stories about employees from this city's past supposedly doing things that are being questioned.
I know there are two sides to every story & I feel we need to hear James Clacko's side.
Since Mayor Sammarone was quoted in the paper today, 11/14/13 saying he is confused about an Oct. 25 evaluation of Clacko by Vaughn, which the mayor received Wednesday.
The letter states Clacko “has made amazing strides in learning the job as a lineman/signal tech. Despite some issues that occurred that had no bearing on his work performance, James is becoming quite an asset to traffic engineering.”
“This confuses me,” Sammarone said of the differences in the letters about Clacko. “Is he a good employee or not?”
I believe there is some untruthful statements against Mr Clacko.
In closing, I feel Mr. Shasho & leadership should be questioned.

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9republicanRick(1716 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Sammarone had this dud Clacko hired. Sasho and Vaughn are stuck with him. They detail all the problems but then start worrying about payback from Sammarone so they put a few encouraging words in the file.

This is all on Sammarone who will now be Council President. Clacko is his buddy and has not fulfilled the probationary part of his hire. Sammarone can fire him easily but he tells lies to the Vindicator reporter, Skolnick, who does not have the business experience to challenge the mayor.

Clacko will be the type to "hurt" his back after 6 months on the job and then claim disability. And then get a fat paycheck the rest of his life.

Who suffers here? The people of Youngstown who must put up with sub-standard, crooked employees and a mayor who is more interested in helping his loser buddy instead of looking out for the people who elected him.

If Sammarone does not fire this guy, it shows the true crooked dishonest politician he really is. Unless Sammarone changes his mind and decides to do what is best for the city.

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10HSG(185 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

this is why I love the Y and find it all so interesting.

This person is apparently 'entitled' to a phone and use of a vehicle, as part of his employment, yet cannot seem to stay clear of controversy.

He 'demanded' an Iphone.


The word on Desolation Row is that this person is owed a favor or is related to someone important. Otherwise he would be gone with the (Idiot) wind.

All that being said, it IS better than reading about two grown men in Austintown exchanging police reports, jus sayin'

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11John44(14 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

For some reason this story from the cell phone use to the last story bothers me. I keep asking why is the James Clacko, a labor so important to print in the paper?
So I talked to a couple of city workers that live near me, police, fireman, even a worker in city hall.
All had one thing in common about this story.
James Clacko has close connections to the mayor's family.
Another common thing was that the department he was put in had only Paul Vaughn in it. This department from what I was told repairs all the traffic lights in the city limits and replaces all the street signs. I was told that there over 300 lights in the city. Then I was told that Paul Vaughn is always being called out 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
Now I have my answer why a new labor has a cell phone and a truck to take home.
Sorry that it takes a citizen to ask the right questions to the right people to get the truth before writing it.
The next question and no one could answer this:
Why was there only one person with such a responsibility? They can hire police and firemen, why could they not hire someone with the proper skills through a civil service test, instead of the mayor sliding a family friend through the back door? Is James Clacko qualified to repair traffic lights? This is a question for myself, my family, and my fellow citizens.
Is this why the traffic light are in such despair?

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12John44(14 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Go to the city's web site and read for yourself what Traffic Engineering does and what Mr. Vaughn does for the city.
So Chuck Shasho and Mayor put a person in his department that acts like this on top off his responsibilities?
Shame on all of you!
Knowing this if I even get a dent at a traffic light or scratch the side of my car because the stop sign is leaning into the street I will make sure the city pays for it.
If this was any non-government job the both of you men would be sued and fired!
New Mayor you better fix this department fast before your in court with compensation hearings.

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13Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

"So Chuck Shasho and Mayor put a person in his department that acts like this on top off his responsibilities? "

This sentence is incorrect in as much as the Mayor FORCED this employee on Chuck Sasho's department. Sasho had NO say in this matter. It is my understanding that an aptitude test was given in house and this individual faired poorly on the exam. So 100% of the blame goes to the Mayor, so it is "shame on him".

In regards to the manning level in that department, several workers retired at the end of last year due to the changes in PERS. The Mayor and Civil Service had plenty of time to administer a test for these positions, but the Mayor wanted a buddy in that position so the solution to that is hire a laborer circumventing the rules of Civil Service and have him work out of classification for the higher wage scale. But all these shenanigans with the law seem to be OK to the local media, as long as they are given the inside scoop from the Mayor's office. Question's that should be asked go unasked with lazy Journalists.

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14Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

But don't worry Dave you still will be the first one to get any info from City Hall, truth be damned.

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15republicanRick(1716 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Mayor Sammarone out and out lied to the Vindicator's Skolnick. Clacko can easily be fired because the probationary period was not used up.

Let's see if the Vindy has the jounalistic standards and "nuts" to demand a truthful answer from our crook the mayor, and soon to be council president.

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16John44(14 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

James V. Clacko claims the letters are lies. But yet he has a history of violence.
Did the courts lie about you as well Mr. Clacko?
Mayor you purposely hired a man with such a history, why?
He also worked for the City of Cleveland Heights for years. He has records for that city as well.
Mayor if Mr. Clacko was a government worker before, then he knows about cell phone use and vehicle usage. Why are you not truthful about this?
Vindicator, why was this not reported? David stop trying to play both sides on this story. Tell the whole truth!
This is a crime!

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17lou221(3 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

I have been following the comments on this story. My thoughts are this...why is just one person being targeted? Do any of you know him personally? Can you substaniate what is being said in these articles true or is someone making him a target to cover what the city is really doing? I do not see any of these issues addressed. Y town is known for corruption so who is to say this is not the case now? No one can live on the salary this person makes so working for a govt position does comes with perks, in every city. Just the way it is so if there are issues with the so called perks...call our State senator. Thats where it begins..

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