Thursday, July 15, 2010
MATS Manager Still at Work
By Jeff Proctor
Copyright © 2010 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer
The man Bernalillo County Manager Thaddeus Lucero said three weeks ago he planned to fire for lying and because he had "utterly failed" as a supervisor has continued to show up at the county's troubled detox center and give orders, according to two county employees.
Dwight Dias "is still managing the (Metropolitan Assessment and Treatment Services) facility," said one county employee familiar with day-to-day operations at MATS. "For the last month at least, he has been in on a regular basis and telling people what to do."
County spokeswoman Liz Hamm said in a telephone interview late Wednesday that the county sent Dias a notice of intent to terminate by certified mail Monday. A hearing on his employment is scheduled July 27, Hamm said.
The county did not respond to questions about whether Dias had been placed on leave or was still being paid.
Asked whether Dias had been at work during the past month, Hamm said: "He has been at work intermittently this week when he has not been on FMLA status. And in previous weeks, to my knowledge, he has not been at work."
Lucero said June 25 that he intended to fire Dias after an investigation concluded that a top county official's son was given "favorable treatment" and that his hiring violated the county's nepotism policy. He said Dias would be given a termination letter when he returned from medical leave.
Dias "utterly failed to fulfill his obligation as a supervisor," Lucero said at the time. "More importantly, he was untruthful to me during our meetings."
Lucero has said Dias told him that Jamie Dantis had a spotless personnel record during his time at MATS. The investigation detailed numerous allegations about Dantis.
The investigation by an outside law firm found that an incident report concerning Dantis "may have been altered" with a note from Dias — whom the report identifies as the program manager — saying protocol was followed. It goes on to state that the manager's reaction to the incident "could be viewed to suggest he was making an effort to protect Dantis."
Dias did not return a message left on his cell phone Wednesday.
Lucero placed two other supervisors on probation after the results of the investigation were released. Lucero would not say whether longtime public safety boss John Dantis has been disciplined.
John Dantis had supervisory authority over his son, a substance abuse technician at MATS for nearly four years. Jamie Dantis resigned after receiving a termination letter, and John Dantis has announced his retirement — which he said was unrelated to the MATS scandal — effective July 30.
Two county employees said Dias had taken some time off after the Journal began publishing stories about MATS in late April.
"But for quite a while now, he is essentially the manager of the MATS program again," one of the employees said. "It's almost as if nothing has been going on."
Since the MATS scandal broke, there have been other problems at the facility.
A top county official said last week there had been sexual harassment complaints against Andrew Garrison, who was tapped to serve as interim director of MATS after the investigation began. Previously, John Dantis had served as acting director.
Dias, as program manager, serves under the director.
Garrison has since been moved back to his old job as the county health and wellness coordinator, although Deputy County Manager Julie Baca said the allegations had nothing to do with that decision.
A county human resources investigation did not substantiate the harassment allegations, officials said, and Garrison was not disciplined.