Ston­ing­ton dis­misses em­ployee’s com­plaints

The Day - - REGION - By JOE WOJTAS Day Staff Writer

Ston­ing­ton — High­way Depart­ment em­ployee Dan Oliv­e­rio said Thursday that the town’s 2-month-long in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his al­le­ga­tion that he is be­ing un­fairly tar­geted by Pub­lic Works Di­rec­tor Bar­bara McKrell did not sub­stan­ti­ate the charges he made.

Oliv­e­rio said Thursday night that the re­port did not crit­i­cize any ac­tion by the town.

“In my opin­ion, I felt the crit­i­cism (in the re­port) was fo­cused on me,” he wrote in an email to The Day.

Asked about his re­ac­tion to the re­port, Oliv­e­rio said, “I love my job and just want to be able to do it with­out feel­ing tar­geted, wor­ried or stressed. It was nec­es­sary for me to bring forth the is­sues that I did so they can be ad­dressed through proper chan­nels.

Re­gard­less of what the re­port says, I will con­tinue to do the best on any as­sign­ment I am given, as I do cur­rently.”

First Select­man Rob Sim­mons an­nounced Wednesday night that the 27-page in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port of the com­plaint, com­piled by town La­bor At­tor­ney Mered­ith Di­ette, had been com­pleted. He said he had read it and McKrell had been given a copy to read. He said a copy would be made avail­able to Oliv­e­rio on Thursday.

Oliv­e­rio said he was al­lowed to view the re­port on Wednesday but could not ob­tain a copy. He said the town told him he would need to file a state Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest to ob­tain a copy. Oliv­e­rio said Thursday night he would do that so he could read it more thor­oughly and then he and his fam­ily will de­cide if a re­sponse is war­ranted and, if it is, how best to re­spond.

On Wednesday af­ter­noon, The Day filed a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest for a copy of the re­port. When asked Wednesday night if a copy would be given to the news­pa­per on Thursday, Sim­mons said he would dis­cuss do­ing so with Di­rec­tor of Ad­min­is­tra­tive Ser­vices Vin Pacileo. Sim­mons was out of town Thursday and Pacileo said a copy would be made avail­able to The Day on Monday.

At Wednesday’s Board of Select­men meet­ing, for­mer First Select­man Don Maranell crit­i­cized a pre­vi­ous com­ment made by Sim­mons in which he said he had edited a draft of the re­port sub­mit­ted by Di­ette and sent it back to her for re­vi­sions. “I don’t know why are you edit­ing a pro­fes­sional work prod­uct we payed some­one $250 an hour to pro­duce,” Maranell said. “I hope we see the unadul­ter­ated re­port.”

Maranell also re­ferred to Sim­mons’ edit­ing of a re­port that an­a­lyzed the oper­a­tions of the town that the town hired a con­sul­tant to do last year. That re­port was in part crit­i­cal of McKrell and some of those crit­i­cisms were re­moved from the fi­nal re­port the town re­leased af­ter Sim­mons had edited it. Sim­mons main­tained the con­sul­tant’s sub­mis­sion was a draft and de­clined to re­lease it. The town even­tu­ally re­leased the orig­i­nal re­port with the McKrell crit­i­cisms to the Day af­ter the news­pa­per filed a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act com­plaint against the town and a hear­ing of­fi­cer rec­om­mended that the state Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sion or­der the town to re­lease the orig­i­nal re­port be­cause it was not a draft.

Maranell also crit­i­cized the town for tak­ing so long to com­plete the re­port. Sim­mons, though, has said Di­ette in­ter­viewed all 18 High­way Depart­ment em­ploy­ees as well as Oliv­e­rio, McKrell and High­way Su­per­vi­sor Tom Cu­rioso, twice each.

Over the past two months, large groups of res­i­dents have spo­ken at select­men’s meet­ings in sup­port of Oliv­e­rio and crit­i­cized McKrell. Last month Sim­mons said the town would not be dis­ci­plin­ing Oliv­e­rio af­ter McKrell com­plained that he used his cell­phone while driv­ing a town truck and when not on a paid break.

Oliv­e­rio made nu­mer­ous charges against McKrell in an April 10 email he sent to Sim­mons and al­leges she has un­fairly tar­geted him for dis­ci­pline. He sent the email hours af­ter he said she had a su­per­vi­sor ques­tion him over a town­wide ra­dio sys­tem about his stop­ping for a cup of cof­fee. He said she did this to em­bar­rass him in front of his fel­low em­ploy­ees. He also charged she is tar­get­ing him for his sup­port of fired high­way su­per­vi­sor Lou DiCe­sare, who is su­ing the town in fed­eral court.

Oliv­e­rio said the in­ci­dent, in ad­di­tion to oth­ers, makes him feel like he is be­ing sin­gled out for dis­ci­pline.

Among his other com­plaints was that when McKrell was first hired in 2014, she tried to dis­ci­pline him for an ac­ci­dent that had hap­pened many months be­fore she ar­rived and for which he al­ready had at­tended ad­di­tional train­ing.

He said McKrell told him he was in­sub­or­di­nate for tak­ing a per­sonal day to at­tend a class that was only be­ing of­fered at that time.

He said McKrell ini­tially told him he could not have the tree war­den’s job, as she was giv­ing it to High­way Su­per­vi­sor Tom Cu­rioso. Sim­mons later named Oliv­e­rio as tree war­den. Oliv­e­rio re­signed from that po­si­tion two weeks ago.

Af­ter Oliv­e­rio, who co-chairs the town’s Beau­ti­fi­ca­tion Com­mit­tee, dis­cussed a com­plaint about weeds along Route 2 at a com­mit­tee meet­ing, he said McKrell as­signed him to go alone to cut the weeds, which he said was an un­safe as­sign­ment due to rain and be­ing on a state road.

He told Sim­mons he also feels like he was be­ing tar­geted and watched due to his friend­ship with for­mer Select­man Mike Spell­man, whom McKrell charged with ha­rass­ment af­ter Spell­man ques­tioned her about the use of pes­ti­cides on high school ath­letic fields.

Oliv­e­rio also claims McKrell has re­moved him from jobs he en­joys and had done in the past “as a way to mess with me or up­set me.” He said it is “a known fact” at the High­way Depart­ment that McKrell does not like him and fel­low em­ploy­ees joke that they would not be dis­ci­plined for some­thing Oliv­e­rio would be dis­ci­plined for. He said he con­tin­ues to feel he’s “be­ing watched to find some­thing I do wrong so that I can be dis­ci­plined for it.”

“I love my job and just want to be able to do it with­out feel­ing tar­geted, wor­ried or stressed. It was nec­es­sary for me to bring forth the is­sues that I did so they can be ad­dressed through proper chan­nels.” DAN OLIV­E­RIO, HIGH­WAY DEPART­MENT EM­PLOYEE

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