By Robert Connelly
A former Canfield Township trustee is asking why a public employee was given back pay totaling $1,322 from a suspension last year after it was shown by surveillance that he wasn’t always working while on the job.
Also, the township’s fiscal officer said some of the computer equipment bought with township money is still missing.
Zoning Inspector Dave Morrison was suspended for seven days after a computer-monitoring program was installed on his township laptop showing him spending time on personal emails, checking his bank accounts, browsing Facebook and reading news stories while on the township clock and being paid.
An investigation report displays screen shots of websites Morrison visited during his work hours. Those screen shots include horses and vacation homes for sale. Other screen shots revealed Morrison looking up plots of land for township work.
An additional screen shot included with the investigation shows Morrison deleting his Internet history, temporary Internet files, and website data.
Some documents contained time stamps revealing how long he spent on each site.
Former Trustee Anthony Bettile has equated giving Morrison his pay back as “he basically got a paid vacation.”
Morrison has said publicly that he didn’t do anything wrong because there wasn’t a policy in place related to his Internet surfing.
At the March 25 meeting, Morrison questioned the board as to what policy he violated.
“It was a presumed policy that you gave someone seven days suspension on? That doesn’t sound like good judgment from that administration,” Morrison said to trustees.
Trustee Marie Cartwright responded: “Why do we need a policy, Mr. Morrison, to tell you when an employee comes to work they’re supposed to work? If we give you a check for doing a job, you are actually supposed to do work.”
Bettile said the reason trustees began to monitor Morrison’s workplace activity was because he continuously asked for office help to the point of “borderline harassment.”
Documents show three zoning reports from separate dates in 2012 and 2013 where the final item on Morrison’s report was a plea for help.
In his zoning report April 9, 2013, he ended his report with an explanation of why minutes for the Canfield Township Zoning Board of Appeals were late: “The clerical duties are becoming overwhelming just as I have reported to the Trustees numerous times in the past some sort of clerical help would make a big difference and certainly help with productivity.”
What was done
Fiscal officer Carmen Heasley, who has had the position since November 1999, said the township never has run a program such as this on an employee before.
“I don’t know what all they did,” said Heasley, who said the program is still on Morrison’s laptop. “Personally, I’m worried about our records. ... There is a spyware software installed on his computer that can be viewed from anywhere.”
The Vindicator received a copy of the investigation into Morrison through a public-information request.
Bettile, who served one term as a trustee until 2013, turned in four invoices. The purchases began May 22, 2013, and went to Aug. 15, 2013. Some of the purchases included 12 flash drives, two hard drives, a router, software, and 54 sets of 30 pages of the completed investigation for “public record,” which all added up to $1,969.36.
Heasley and Cartwright said only one hard drive and three flash drives are in the township’s possession. Bettile said he still has one of the flash drives, but also said he still has files related to work he did as a trustee. Bettile said the union, Teamsters Local 377, also has one of the hard drives. It is unknown where the other flash drives are.
There was an invoice from International Business Solutions Inc. of Girard for “installing computers” dated May 23, 2013, but no receipt or explanation for what that meant. Heasley said IBS’s Ralph Williams charged $2,952.99 for work he did during the investigation.
Bettile said all three trustees knew about the investigation. Heasley said after she began to question invoices filled out by Bettile in June 2013, Williams told Heasley about the programs and monitoring software.
Trustees placed a computer program, Spectro Pro Viewer, on Morrison’s township laptop to monitor what he did while he was at work. The computer was monitored from June 12, 2013, and ended at the end of the day July 11, 2013.
From July 9, 2013, to Jan. 13, 2014, the township paid its attorney, Clemans, Nelson and Associates’ Akron office, $2,417.23 in legal fees during a union grievance process.
Morrison was suspended by the township after a unanimous trustee vote. The trustees’ resolution said Morrison “improperly used township computer equipment for personal reasons to such an extent as to unduly interfere with the performance of his required job duties as a full-time zoning inspector.”
The resolution also said Morrison’s actions fell under the trustees’ collective-bargaining agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 377 referring to “nonfeasance, misfeasance, malfeasance, neglect of duty, failure of good behavior, [and] misconduct in office.”
Morrison was suspended for seven days beginning Aug. 29, 2013. He returned to work at 8 a.m. Sept. 9, 2013. According to investigation files, he filed a grievance through Local 377 on Aug. 29, 2013. He wrote in the grievance, “I have been unjustly and improperly suspended for seven working days.”
In a letter dated Sept. 20, 2013, Gregg Shadle, vice president of Teamsters 377, wrote to the trustees, “You have violated laws and regulations that go well beyond the scope of our present labor agreement.” He continued, “If anything was violated, it was the end-user agreement on the product that was installed on the computer that Mr. Morrison uses daily, which clearly states that any one who could use the computer must be notified that the computer has only that program on it.”
Over the next several months, township and union officials communicated to resolve the issue. Before the case went to arbitration, trustees voted Feb. 25 to settle the matter by giving Morrison back pay from the seven-day suspension. It passed in a 2-1 vote, with Trustee Marie Cartwright sticking by her original vote from the Aug. 28, 2013, meeting.
Trustee Stephen Maszcak changed his vote, and Brian Governor was not in office when the initial resolution was voted on.
Morrison maintains that trustees are supposed to give an in-person warning followed by a written reprimand and then a suspension.
“They didn’t follow their own guidelines,” Morrison said. “The union was a little shocked.”