UPDATE: City’s response focused on favoritism, not lost revenue

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Wed, Nov 30, 2011, 7:51 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

More documents released today as a result of a follow-up public records request by the Political Junkie illuminate more of the city's response to employee moonlighting. For a full write-up of the issue so far, read my previous article detailing how employees in the Public Works department are moonlighting as private contractors.

The latest public records request was for any documents detailing the review process the Human Resources department went through concerning Burdick's business. The previous request covered any email communication referring to his business, but this request included notes and memos. This request included some new material between former Human Resources Director Michelle Barrett, HR staffer Angela Beatty, and Public Works Department Director Ted Carlson. Take a look at the whole bundle here.

It is clear the city staff realized the potential for conflict of interest right off the bat. Multiple references are made in the emails between Pete Ruffatto, Angela Beatty, and Michelle Barrett. These three apparently held a meeting (or a series of meetings) with Ted Carlson in late February. Then, nine months later, Carlson sent Burdick this email on Nov. 2 asking him to clarify issues with how he managed his team, considering he is involved in a private business venture with some of them. A couple key points from this exchange. 

First, Carlson was notified of Burdick's business in February of this year, but did not think it was worth reviewing until November, nine months later. He states, "Recently, concerns have been expressed regarding how this outside business impacts your supervisory relationship within the work group." It is unclear how those concerns were brought to Carlson's attention after such a long period and why Carlson did not see this sort of internal guidelines as necessary until November.

Second, Carlson acknowledges the gravity of the situation. "It now appears your outside business activities may very well present a conflict with your supervisory duties." Carlson and Burdick thoroughly address and discuss how Burdick will avoid issues of favoritism within his office.

Finally, nowhere in any of the materials released, does the city examine the issue of lost revenue.  While Carlson, Beatty, Ruffatto, and Burdick are all involved in these discussions, no one brings up the issue of Burdick's involvement in procuring contracts for the city or his business. 

While the materials released show more detail on how the city responds to these issues, it is clearthey neglected to provide oversight for a very central concern. 

For those wondering why some of the documents are blacked out, this is standard when dealing with lawyer-client confidentiality. Here is the exemption log detailing why documents were withheld and redacted. 

Last word from The Political Junkie: Tuesday, I was on The Joe Show to discuss this issue (you can listen to the podcast here) and while there, I described the situation as "ethical people working in an ethical vacuum." I feel that more than ever after this latest batch of documents. You have good people, trying to work above the board, but because of a complete lack of clear guidelines or policy, they are fumbling in the dark. I was delighted to see the thoroughness of Carlson and Burdick's responses to potential issues of favoritism, I just wish that same rigor had been applied to issues of potential lost revenue, contract oversight, and other such concerns. 

UPDATE: City’s response focused on favoritism, not lost revenue

More on the city employee moonlighting issue

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