To the Editor:
This letter is in response to the Thursday, Oct. 6 article entitled, “City employee disciplined for ‘borrowing’ tools,” which might be better titled: Warwick Police Dept. Catch and Release Program.
No, it’s not an endangered fish species. To a reasonable person, it would appear that the administration has yet again given taxpayers another reason to assail the individuals in charge of this city. A first-year law student would be forced to stipulate for the record that as noted in the aforementioned article, the reason that the city had a detective on station at the city yard was in fact due to several reports offered by whistle blowers of thievery of taxpayer equipment stored at the city yard under the supervision of acting director David Picozzi. In fact, an anonymous e-mail was sent to both this newspaper and also to several people associated with the car tax revolt indicating these allegations. As reaction to these reports, the Warwick Police Department assigned taxpayer assets for the purpose of surveillance at the DPW and did witness an individual enter the premises and leave with $2,000 worth of city property after hours. According to this article, the police report, and my face to face meeting with Oscar Shelton, the incident and arrest of the individual was mitigated due to acting director David Picozzi’s quick thinking alibi that workers are allowed to “borrow” tools, under the unwritten wink and nod policy. As a result, no charges were brought on the individual and the taxpayer suffers another kick in the teeth and middle finger wave. It seems as though now, the “acting director of the DPW” trumps Detective Turcotte, Capt. Nelson, Chief McCartney, the city charter, and the ability of elected officials to put 2 and 2 together.
It also clearly indicates the lack of fortitude to bring charges and fight the union for the purpose of setting precedence, and protecting the taxpayer. What message does this send to our honest hardworking city employees?
The untrained basic taxpayer would come to the following hypothesis after hearing the alibi. The individual states that he was “borrowing the tools to perform work in his yard.” However, he left the city yard on Wed. Sept. 28 at the close of his 3:30 p.m. shift without these tools and inventory, and was stopped late in the evening returning to the yard. Why did he return to the city yard to borrow the tools to clean his yard, as it is reasonable to hypothesize that at that hour, no one in the city does yard work, and he was returning the next morning when he could have “signed out” the tools and began using them in the daylight after his shift?
The individual admitted that he was using the pipe to support a sinking deck at his home. Was this temporary? How many sinking decks are temporarily supported? What about the rags to clean his car? I am sure that he was going to launder the rags, inventory them, and return them to the city. When I questioned Mr. Shelton as to the whereabouts of the contents of the truck that was stopped last evening, he told me that all of the items were “recovered.” I have always been under the assumption that the word “recovered” is used in conjunction with stolen goods and the word “retuned” is used in conjunction with “borrowed” goods, but lets chalk that up to a slip of the tongue. Right!
What type of anesthetized person buys this sort of garbage excuse and cover-up? Picozzi states that he is now going to run the DPW as a business; what was it run as before? The residents should demand a forensic audit of all inventory and hold the department head accountable for both any missing inventory and also for the actions of his workers. That is what happens in the private sector, but not in Warwick. In Warwick, we have excuses that would wake the dead and make them scream in outrage. It seems now clearly evident to all, that at any given time, any employee of the city can concoct an unwritten policy to suit his or her needs. Business as usual in Warwick! I was forced to challenge Mr. Shelton on the issue, who as disturbed about the incident as he was, caved in to the BS excuse of Picozzi. So who is driving the bus?
We have a mayor who is absent from every public hearing that the taxpayer feels is important, a personnel director who could be bamboozled by just about anyone with any electrical activity above the neckline, and now a police department that can't connect the dots and is overruled by a maintenance guy? Where does that leave this city?
If my analysis is wrong, please critique me and educate me as to how things are done in the real world. I would greatly appreciate some concise examples. It would appear that what I and the rest of the taxpayers are used to in the world we live in is dramatically different than the world with the unwritten policies. You just can’t make this stuff up!
Car Tax Revolt organizer