Case against sassy temp worker is smoke in the wind - Albuquerque Journal

Case against sassy temp worker is smoke in the wind

A temporary city landscaper is back on the job after an inspector general probe into allegations the employee was being sassy and smoking marijuana while tending to some Old Town greenery.

The case – dubbed the “Parks and Recreation Employee incident in Old Town” – was among five the Office of Inspector General closed recently after failing to substantiate the original allegations or determining the complaints were unfounded.

According to the case synopsis released publicly last week, the person who made the complaint – a city of Albuquerque employee – took an Oct. 23 lunch break stroll through Old Town when they saw two other city employees “working on the flowers in Old Town,” and began to ask questions. According to the OIG memo:

“The complainant stated that one of the employees was rude when the complainant requested the name of the employee. The employee responded by stating, ‘I don’t have to give you my name, [expletive].’ The complainant asked the other employee, who did identify himself as E-1 and provided the co-worker’s name as E-2. While leaving the premises, the city employee smelled weed, turned around and observed E-2 smoking a joint.”

The OIG – one of the city’s independent accountability agencies – investigated and found the employees were temporary hires from a staffing agency, and that the city cannot enforce city policies on temps. It can, however, dismiss them.

Since the allegation that the temp was smoking a joint and being rude “could not be proven or disproven at this time,” according to the OIG memo, the employee was returned to the staffing agency.

However, the inspector general memo states that the Parks and Recreation Department did its own investigation, finding “there was insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations and the employee was permitted to return to the temporary employment.”

Parks and Recreation Director David Simon said the contracted maintenance employees mentioned in the complaint are “both very high-performing, exemplary employees” and while the city can terminate temporary workers if circumstances warrant, that was not the case here.

“We investigated the complaint and we found no evidence to substantiate it,” Simon said.

FAREWELL: December marks the final month on the job for four of Albuquerque’s nine city councilors: Don Harris and Diane Gibson, who did not seek reelection; and Cynthia Borrego and Lan Sena, who lost their positions in the Nov. 2 election.

While Sena has had to assert her intentions to serve all the way through Dec. 31, despite outcry from her victorious election opponent Louie Sanchez – who said he should replace her sooner because she was an appointed councilor who had never won election – Harris seemed more than ready to hit the eject button.

The District 9 representative decided to skip the last 90 minutes of his final meeting as a city councilor. Harris, wrapping up his fourth term, left the council’s Dec. 20 meeting with nine voting items left on the agenda.

“I’m on the East Coast and on vacation, so I’m going to beg out of this meeting,” Harris said before the dinner break during the council’s final scheduled meeting of 2021. “From the bottom of my heart, I really loved being a city councilor. I love serving Albuquerque.

“I gotta go. I’m signing off.”


Jessica Dyer: jdyer@abqjournal.com

 

 

 

 

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