Thursday, November 29, 2012

TWW redux

The Times this morning ran an article about the many vacancies at the Trenton Water Works. The jobs run the gamut from laborer to licensed technicians.

Part of the article discusses the difficulty in filling the technical positions with qualified city residents.

Unfortunately, the story didn’t mention that some of the vacancies were created by the demotion and then subsequent dismissal of qualified technicians in apparent retribution for their testimony against Stanley “Muscles” Davis, the half-brother of Tony Mack.

Davis, you will recall, is now serving time for his role in a scam where he did “side jobs” for TWW customers using TWW materials and equipment on TWW time while pocketing the cash payments for the work.

TWW, a money making city asset that many of us fought hard to keep intact, has been abused and ignored under the current and past administrations. It has been used as a source of patronage jobs.  One just has to look at the hires made after July 1, 2010 to see that.

Names like Terrance Bailey, Dave Briegle, Charles Hall, Henry Page (now out on disability we understand), Rodney Washington and, later, Paul Harris and Linda Gundy were all added to the payroll under the current CO. Briegle and Hall were recently laid off in a corrective action because they should have gone in the September 2011 layoffs but were passed over so the administration could target the technicians mentioned above. Hall, as we now know, did precious little work for TWW. Instead he was “loaned” to the city to oversee multi-million dollar projects in the parks and is alleged to have been involved in the federal case against Mack et al.

Paul Harris, at first an “intern” with the city was moved to TWW earlier this year although he still seems to spend most of his time in and around city hall and not the utility supply shed where he is supposedly assigned.

This is the kind of inept and inappropriate management that needs to stop. While we understand that patronage is a time honored political tradition, it is costly and it serves no one well…except those getting the jobs.

As quoted in the article, Councilman Muschal certainly supports an increased effort to fill the jobs with residents.
“There’s a lot of job opportunities we can put out there. I would certainly like to see priority put toward the vacancies in the water utility.”

There are some simple, straightforward steps that can be taken to attract, develop and retain and qualified workforce for TWW.

  1. Promote and execute a job fair specifically for the utility. Tap into the local trade associations, chambers of commerce, tech schools and such to seek out candidates for the vacancies.
  2. Institute a training and development program for TWW employees to help them become more proficient at their jobs.
  3. Encourage those with interest and aptitude to get appropriate certifications so they can advance. Consider holding training and coaching sessions to help them prepare for the required tests. Reimburse those who successfully obtain certification for the fees involved in return for a commitment to remain with the utility for a set number of years.
  4. Consider settling the pending lawsuit by rehiring the employees who claim they were wrongfully dismissed because of their testimony in the Davis case.

And we cannot ignore the fact that we need to reorganize the city departments to put water and sewer in their own department. Councilman Chester reportedly brought this up again at the recent budget meeting.

We wrote about this previously and how easy it would be to achieve.

It only takes five votes, council. Five votes.




Robert Elliott Chilson said...

5 votes? you're asking for too much now.

Old Mill Hill said...

At times it does seem as if that is an impossible number of votes to garner for any action by the governing body.

However, if they can't pull it together for such simple and sensible reason as restructuring the organization chart how can they expect to choose an acting mayor...should that become a necessity?

It is well past time for this governing body to do just that: govern.