December 18, 2014
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Worker fired for theft back on job, city ordered to give back pay

Kenneth R. Naylor, 48, of West Warwick was back to work at the Department of Public Works yesterday, although, depending on the outcome of police charges that he stole equipment from the department, he could be terminated and, in addition, required to refund nine months of pay an arbitrator has demanded that the city pay.

Mayor Scott Avedisian said yesterday that the city requested Council 94 of the American Federation of County, State and Municipal Employees to postpone arbitration until there was a ruling on the charges of theft, but they wanted to go ahead.

In a ruling issued Aug. 7, arbitrator Sharon Henderson Ellis found that the city should not have fired Naylor because the city and union had reached an agreement to suspend him without pay for 20 days.

Avedisian said a decision hasn’t been reached as to whether the city would appeal the arbitration nor has the city calculated what Naylor would be paid. He said the payment amount would have to take into consideration temporary disability insurance and other deductions.

Michael Downey, president of Local 94, said yesterday he was not involved with the case but is familiar with it.

In reviewing the documents, he said that three members of the administration agreed that Naylor was “a highly competent and valuable employee of the department” and that the parties agreed to the suspension without pay.

“Then they unilaterally changed that agreement to a termination,” Downey said. He said that once disciplinary action has been imposed for a particular offense, another penalty for the same offense can’t be imposed.

“The arbitrator agreed it was a case of double jeopardy,” said Downey.

He also said the city did not request that the arbitration be postponed and that, according to testimony during arbitration, Naylor’s termination came in the wake of a “firestorm of public criticism.”

As for Naylor receiving pay for work he did not do, Downey said, “We don’t want people paid for nine months for not doing work.”

He added, however, that the city should have followed the agreement.

Asked whether the city considered creating an escrow account that would hold the payment until Naylor’s case was adjudicated, Avedisian said the arbitrator would not allow it.

In a statement released by his office, Avedisian said:

“While I am tremendously disappointed with this decision, we will be making a number of changes to the city’s personnel policies and procedures to ensure consistent and appropriate disciplinary actions in the future.”

Naylor’s case dates to Sept. 28, 2011, when a police officer, who was conducting surveillance concerning missing city property, reported he saw him unlock the gates to the city yard at about 8 p.m., enter the yard and then leave a short time later. Police said they stopped Naylor near City Hall where they found about $2,000 of city equipment in his pickup truck. The equipment included a chain saw, gas can and pipes, which Naylor said he was “borrowing,” although he had not called superiors to inform them of that.

At the time, acting DPW Director David Picozzi confirmed that employees were allowed to borrow equipment with permission, which was not the case with Naylor, and an agreement was reached with the union to suspend him for 20 days without pay.

In his statement released Tuesday, Avedisian said, when he became aware of the circumstances surrounding the incident, he disagreed with the disciplinary action.

“The city then terminated Mr. Naylor following our internal review of the allegations that were relative to his taking city-owned property,” the statement reads. Charges were brought on Oct. 27, 2011 and Naylor was fired.

Asked whether Naylor could collect unemployment, a spokesperson for the Personnel Department said persons fired are not permitted to collect, however, they can appeal and a ruling could be made on a case-by-case basis. The spokesperson did not know whether Naylor has been collecting unemployment, but if he has, that amount would be deducted from any pay under the arbitrator’s ruling.

Avedisian did not know when Naylor’s case would be heard.

According to Rhode Island Court Records, Naylor is not a complete stranger to police in several communities:

In 1989, Naylor pleaded nolo contendere to trespassing to get a felony larceny charge dismissed in connection with a Cranston arrest.

In 2005, Naylor pleaded nolo to shoplifting and removing a theft prevention sensor from merchandise in July and again pleaded nolo to shoplifting in September. Warwick Police brought both charges.

In December of 2005, Naylor was charged with driving on a suspended license and unauthorized use of official insignia in East Greenwich. He pleaded nolo to the suspended license charge and the insignia charge was dismissed.


Comments
8 comments on this item

This article is not only poorly written with a terrible headline but it fails to hold the administration accountable, as the writer typically does. For example:

1. The headline should read "Administration caves to union pressure, Taxpayer screwed again to protect votes."

2. It fails to mention that the "botched disciplinary procedure" was the failure of David Picozzi and Oscar Shelton. How could the personnel director and the former head of the union not realize that certain procedures must be followed to terminate a worker when they have been through this same situation several times? Yet another example of the administrations incompetency. Of course there will be no form of discipline on those two knuckleheads, as the taxpayer will suffer the burden of their stupidity.

3. The writer does not even question as to why the city did not pursue the termination and force the union into to court to resolve the issue. That would have sent a message to the rest of the questionable employees. Instead, the message that was sent was "its ok to rob us blind because we don't have the courage to stand up to you and we surely will not hold you accountable.

4. Since the problem was proliferated by Acting Director David Picozzi's personal "borrowing policy" which was instituted by him unilaterally without approval, why hasn't he been held responsible?

5. The mayor claims the city is "making a number of changes to the city’s personnel policies and procedures to ensure consistent and appropriate disciplinary actions in the future.” Again, a reactionary response, not a leadership quality. How about have the brains and foresight to enforce the existing rules?

6. No mention that the worker who has had other theft charges in the past, will still have access to taxpayer paid for equipment and consumables.

The bottom line is that the whole story stinks of corruption, protection, abuse, and cronyism. My crystal ball says that Naylor will not be found guilty of the felony by the current prosecutors, and they will offer him a softball misdemeanor charge, and the city will drop all proceedings. Just a hunch based on past city performance and accountability.

This corrupt administration new exactly what they were doing when they quickly suspended Naylor. Naylor has told coworkers that he has so much on Picozzi that he has to get his job back with pay or he'll talk! It's reported that three members of the administration agreed that Naylor was “a highly competent and valuable employee of the department” ??? Maybe there should be an investigation regarding that statement. Ask the employees who see and work with Naylor on a daily basis. DPW employees have told me about Naylor sleeping during work hours, coming and going as he pleases and stealing that has gone on for years. Employees that have pointed it out to management have been told to mind their own business. They are forced to keep quiet in order to protect their jobs. Picozzi even made his brother an "acting" supervisor. How can an "acting" Director be allowed to make his brother an "acting" supervisor? There's a lot more to this story, corruption, lies and cover ups...business as usual in Warwick!!!

The new 3 Stooges, Avedisian, Shelton and Picozzi. This story seems to have more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese. Given this persons past interactions with the law why wasn't he simply terminated? What was his original employment date with the city, and when did City employees have to abide by good conduct or honorable service ordinance on the books which covers such issues? The dates of unlawful events is a matter of public record. Who mucked this procedure up, Piccozzi, Shelton, someone else, all of the above? Was this done because of incompetence or deliberate collusion at someone elses behest? This sounds like obstruction of justice seeing how there is still an on going criminal investigation.

Maybe the mayor should seek resignations of Piccozzi and Shelton as I suspect this is going to get ugly. This smells of the RI shuffle, complete with outside meddling from higher up in government or politician. Someone wake up Jack Kirby from his siesta, where does he stand on all of this? What a choice come November.

This is what happens when you have a under educated person running the public works he promotes relatives and friends the city needs to hire a person educated in this field not some suck-up wake up people Avadision is a extension of the union not for the people of this city lets put Picozzi's education up and see what makes him qualified for his job

Life sucks and I'm stuck in Warwick to boot!!

It's simple, they have been binging now it's time for the PURGE

An example of how inept Scottie and his administration is.

Amazing how the silence of Stevie D. and associates is so deafening. Run and hide when the obvious disregard for the taxpayer is outweighed by the union pandering.

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