Why not garnish the wages of everyone on the executive level that took part in this debacle, until the $350,000 is repaid.
I was "chosen" for reimbursement because I had the foresight to budget request the cost of Paramedic school a year in advance. I received reimbursement for tuition only. I was out of pocket about $1500 for books and all other fees associated with attending Victoria College that the city would not reimburse. Not to mention going to class on my own personal time for a year to complete the training. As far as I know I was the last one to receive any reimbursement for paramedic training. I was hired a couple of years before this policy was put in place but another policy requiring us to be paramedics in order to be promoted was inacted at the same time. That is the policy under which I went to paramedic school in 2006-07. I chose to go and I planned to fund it on my own. I filled out a budget request in 2005 fully expecting to be denied. I was shocked when it was approved but I still had to pay everything up front and was only reimbursed after I finished and passed the class.I have no regrets or qualms with the city for how my training/reimbursement was handled. I chose to go in order to benefit myself and my career. I was ultimately promoted within VFD because I was a Paramedic and I believe that being a Paramedic helped me when I decided to move on to another department.I know several guys that went to the department sponsored Paramedic class in 2004 that took the city's money for overtime and the free training and then bailed for another department immediately after training. I think those guys burned the city and maybe that's why they decided to have new hires go on their own time and money. It's not a very sound financial move on the city or any other business to pay for an employees training and then have them bolt for a higher paying, more glamerous city. Could they have handled it differently? Probably, but they didn't and now this is the hole they have dug for themselves.As far as your question to why only former employees of VFD were interviewed, I think we all know the answer to that....
To "will"...grow up! Let the grown folks talk for while...back to the corner with your coloring book please.
Do you really think that a city that alows it's law enforcement officialsto aid and assist a Pedophile that they care about a civils law?
I have a ?
I know many of the FD members were required to take college classes after they were promoted to Lt. Are they being payed back. If they did what they were told then they need to be payed. And how much will this cost the tax payers on top of the $350,000. I don't mind at all paying them the money at all. I care about city hall letting the department head get away with this for so long.
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The City blew up someone's residence a year or two ago. This $ 350,000 + so called "mistake", (I bet the management knew all along, unfortunately got caught this time), what else is next. I hope our council would consider putting City management on the chopping block and bring in new, fresh, honest, uncorrupt leaders.
Scarlett says. “Vance had a plan and he ran it through HR”.
The paper reports it different.
Gwosdz says "That's a department head's decision, what happens to a job description" .
To expect every department head to run everything through HR is ridiculous. If that were the case why have a department head? Having a basic understanding of Fair Standard Labor Act Laws is senior management 101. If you didn’t know you had to pay your staff for hours worked as required or assigned, in addition to your regular duties, than you have no business being a department head. This lack of leadership was recognized immediately by an outsider (HR Director Marthiljohni), not corrupted by good-ol’boy city politics.
If I owned a multimillion dollar publicly owned company and one of my mid level managers made a $350,000 dollar mistake, he should have known about, you can bet they would have been “mandi-retired” also.
“SickandTired” and “Letmakevicbetter” make valid points also. Why are there only comments from ex-employees? Is there more to this story? What other misallocation of tax payers moneys has been spent recklessly and/or who else is owed for services rendered?
I am a little curious. I know for a fact that there are several actively employed firefighters that didn't get compensated. Although from what I hear the ones that attended the classes after the rule was changed have been reimbursed' others like Jason Sutter who attended as part of a promotion plan did not get reimbursed for half the class like Jason Sutter did. Advocate should research that and find out how the people who got picked for reimbursement were chosen. I guarantee there are several other firefighters who should be reimbursed who have not heard from the City on anything. Why are the only firefighters quoted in the advocate former employees? Are they too scared to say anything for fear that they would be fired? This was a costly mistake, but lets move forward. City of Victoria, take care of your issue then don't let it happen again. Everyone needs to remember, Vance had a plan, he ran it through HR and it was approved. Someone on top should've known the legalities of this. Someone on top messed up. Vance still has done a great job. It is just unfortunate that this mistake falls under his reign which a City Attorney and HR dept should have known before changing the employment requirements. The firefighters risk there lives everyday to save lives and property. They don't get paid a lot, and every year their benefits get decreased. Let's make sure the firefighters are taken care of so they can take care of you.
The new Director of Human Resources is the person who caught this error & brought it to the Citys attention & Garrett was in this position when this happened & now Garret is the City Manager? Somebody better keep a close eye on her, she dropped a great big ball on this issue, no telling what she might overlook next. Hopefully they will remember this snafu when she comes up for her next evaluation & the City doesn't give her a raise like they did the last one.
Bottom line, city only promotes city managers from within because a outsider would come in and tell them how jacked up the city is and how poorly they are running it.
I'm sure all of the city employees get the raw end of the deal, with most of them coming from the fire dept. and police dept. Has anyone ever looked into the high turn over ratio for both of these depts? If so why not? Come on VA, now is the time. Interview these guys and promise not to use their real names. I bet you will be overwhelmed with the amount of guys who would talk to you.
All you have to do is look at Gwosdz's resume to see he has no business being a city attorney of a city this size.
His main job is to put out fires such as this one. No pun intended.
The men and women of the VFD work so hard for us for so little and then the city tries to do this to them. I have always believed there was something wrong with city hall and now we call all read there is. Thanks you Mr. Pratt, Mr. Sutter, Mr. Bridges, Mr. Sparkman, and Miss Marthiljohni for bringing this out. Mr. Gwosdz your the city attorney. Your job is to watch out for the tax payers not city hall. " In October, the Advocate filed an open records request for documents detailing the cost of reimbursing employees and documents detailing how many firefighters were affected by the mistake. A letter from the city attorney's office said there were no related documents." "One former firefighter, Shane Bridges, said he received a letter in September telling him he was eligible for a possible reimbursement." So Mr. Gwosdz who were you watching out for in this case?
"And we've encouraged each of those departments to bring forward to the human resources department any concerns that they may have with respect to that," Gwosdz said.
The COV HR department is a black hole. Employees go in there with complaints of corruption, discrimination, etc., and the complaints disappear. Many times, the employees also soon disappear from the city payroll.
"According to the city council meeting agenda, the council met in executive session on Sept. 7 for "consultation with attorney on matter involving pending or contemplated litigation ... to include, but not limited to training time under the Fair Labor Standards Act."
The City of Victoria is being dishonest to its citizens. When ever they post an agenda item that does not inform the public precisely of the topic ie. "fireman trainning reimbursement" they are misleading the public
Most govenments would prefer to operate in secret that is why the open meetings act was passed in Texas.
It is a shame our city doesn't believe in following that law
Advocate, please continue investigating local city government. If you are seeking awards for investigative journalism, there are many to be had if you dig deep enough into the muck that is the City of Victoria.
"I wrote so much on (my exit interview), they asked me if I wanted to talk," Sparkman said. "Apparently they didn't really know what was going on."
COV knew what was going on. COV just wanted to keep Sparkman and others quiet.
I am so admant about this because I worked for COV and witnessed this type of stuff and other federal violations firsthand.
"An open records request for formal complaints filed about the required paramedic training produced no related documents."
What a surprise!
Keep digging, Advocate.
Gwosdz keeps calling it a "mistake". It was a planned action by the City in violation of Federal law. Garrett, as head of HR, should have know the law/rule concerning this. Now she is going to be City Manager. Good luck, City of Victoria.
Wow! If any of us would have made a $350K mistake not only would we have been fired, but we most likely would have been sued. I guess I'm slightly confused. Vance Riley was the only person that knew of this, authorized this policy, and allowed this to happen? Very good work on the part of the new HR Director, the firefighter's hats should be off to her...... Hmmm?
What about mandatory training as per job requirements for other classes/training? There were 31 firefighters mentioned as being eligible for reimbursement.
There was additional training and additional employees that took classes as required without compensation. It would seem like the can of worms opened is a big one. However, I am confident that the new HR director will make every effort to assure the city’s employees are not slighted and receive all of their compulsory time owed.
Is funny how a few days ago the Advocate Editorial Board expressed their opinion of the wonderful job Vance Riley did bringing the dept into the 20th century. It appears that the Advocate smiled, patted Vance on the back, right before throwing him under the bus.
Does this change the Advocates Editorial Boards opinion of his job performance?
As I recall there was a previous incident of failure to pay overtime pay with this same department several years ago. Husband and wife firefighters sued the City and won. Guess the city didn't learn its lesson.
I'm not sure Vance Riley is the one who should retire.
How can the Department Heads of the City of Victoria be so completely ignorant of Federal laws? I believe those "heads" should roll......