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Trumbull elections board to finalize conduct policies after complaints

WARREN — The Trumbull County Board of Elections is expected Jan. 7 to finalize policies and procedures for how its staff members are to conduct themselves in the workplace.

The list of proposed expectations came after Ron Massullo, deputy director, was suspended for three days in late November after a current employee and three former workers — all women — complained about his behavior.

At a Friday meeting, the board was handed paper copies of bullet points for both administrators — Massullo and Director Stephanie Penrose — and the rest of the staff. Both one-page documents list verbal communication skills, listening skills and general policies, with the administrators list also including management skills.

The board initially discussed the proposals in a Dec. 4 executive session, and has “collected all of the (follow-up) input and put together these drafts,” said board President Mark Alberini.

The board members will look at the lists further and “then we’ll consider it for review, considerations and approval” at the next meeting, Jan. 7, Alberini said.

“The point of this is to make the board of elections office and culture safe and professional and a place you come to to enjoy your job,” he added. “That’s the underlying attempt of this.”

Under verbal communication skills, both documents list “be professional,” “be positive,” “use appropriate tone and volume,” and “show respect.” On the staff list, “communicate needs to management” is added.

Under listening skills, both state: “be an active listener,” “be open minded to new ideas,” and “confirm clear understanding of instruction” with the word “given” added on the last line on the staff list.

Both general lists include: “refrain from any personal commentary about candidates and/or races both inside and outside of the BOE,” “be objective, fair and unbiased,” and “participate in any mandated quarterly in-service/professional workshops or e-learning requirements.”

The staff’s general list also includes: “adhere to established policies pertaining to breaks, lunches, personal calls /cell phone usage, attendance,” “customer service is paramount — strive for 100 percent satisfaction,” “be cooperative and collaborative,” “work should be done in an accurate and timely manner,” and “be organized and use good time management.”

The administrator’s general list also includes: “lead by example,” “mentor and lead vs. manage and direct,” “recognize that everyone has value,” “create a positive work environment/culture,” and “encourage open communications.”

The administrators’ document adds a management skills category. It includes: “always conduct self in a professional manner,” “never use inappropriate language,” “always request, delegate, assign, ask; do not dictate, order, command or threaten,” “provide positive reinforcement for work duties well done,” and “never correct or reprimand in public; educate, mentor and provide guidance as appropriate.”

Massullo was suspended Nov. 25-27 without pay — a loss of about $670 — because, according to Alberini, he did not comply “with board-member directives pertaining to personnel management,” and that it was “based on allegations and claims that we received.”

An elections specialist resigned Nov. 6 after only months on the job contending Massullo “created a hostile work environment.” After that, a 14-year board employee wrote a letter to Alberini — and it was given to the county human resources department — about Massullo’s “incessant boorish and despicable behavior,” and that Alberini was “enabling” him.

Also, two former employees told a reporter for this newspaper about Massullo’s behavior.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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