WASTE, FRAUD & MISMANAGEMENT: YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: DMV Worker Slept Thousands of Hours on the Job

A Department of Motor Vehicles employee has slept thousands of hours on the job since 2014 and has not been disciplined, the state auditor reported July 24.

The report estimates the employee slept three or more hours daily at her desk since February 2014, totaling more than 2,200 hours of work time and costing the department more than $40,000.

The employee worked as a key data operator with duties described as “routine data entry for change of address and new vehicle ownership forms,” the report stated.

She processed less than half the documents she was expected to – an average of 200 a day when data operators are expected to process more than 550. What she did process often was so inaccurate that other employees wouldn’t trust her to correctly enter their address or vehicle ownership change.

Supervisors were aware of the issue, but underestimated the amount of time the employee was sleeping on the job and did not properly follow disciplinary procedures, the auditor said. The report stated that a supervisor reported waking up the employee up “three to four times each day.”

Supervisors did not pursue disciplinary action because they suspected a medical issue was contributing to the employee’s problems. (Source: Ventura County Star, July 24.)

UC Berkeley Police Officers Fired for Sleeping on Duty. Six University of California at Berkeley police officers were fired by the university July 17 for sleeping and hanging out in a campus library during midnight shifts, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

According to the Mercury News, the officers were administratively charged with lying after authorities discovered they were going to a campus library after telling dispatchers they were checking other buildings.

The officers were caught when investigators planted a hidden camera and microphone in the library.

Howard Jordan, a former Oakland police lieutenant, told CBS San Francisco that the dishonesty is what forced the firings. “Lying about it is sort of like a cardinal sin, you’re not credible anymore,” he said.

Prior to the terminations, the officers had been on paid leave since October 31. (Source: San Jose Mercury News, July 18.)

Santa Monica May Build $2.3 Million Restrooms. The city of Santa Monica is proposing to replace restrooms at the popular Clover Park, but residents are questioning whether the $2.3 million price tag represents tax dollars being flushed.

Driving up the cost is the fact the city must pay prevailing wages, which the City Manager’s Office said will increase construction costs by one-third.

City officials say the cost is an investment that will yield a facility that is accessible, safe, durable and environmentally sustainable.

“The design life of these is probably 30 years,” City Manager Rick Cole said. “These will take a horrific beating over the next 30 years, so they are really designed to be industrial strength.”

The city additionally said comparing costs to other cities is not useful, because Santa Monica is a coastal city and the restrooms get heavy public use.

“I don’t think anybody on staff is happy about these costs,” Cole said. “[But] it’s costly to do business in the public arena. Would we like to hire someone’s uncle and pay them minimum wage by getting people at Home Depot? If we could do that legally there are probably people in the community who would think that would be swell.”

Some at the City Council meeting suggested the city use prefabricated restrooms, which the city estimated would save $1 million, but the lifespan is estimated to be half of the more expensive facilities. (Source: Santa Monica Mirror, July 13.)

New BART Train Cars Spending Time in the Shop. New multimillion-dollar Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train cars dubbed the “Fleet of the Future” have gotten off to a bumpy start, spending a lot of time in the repair shop.

According to BART records, the first 10 Bombardier cars, which cost $1.7 million to $2 million each, have needed 481 repairs since going into regular service in January, an average of 20 mechanical problems per car per month.

BART’s rail gauge is different from other rail systems, so the cars could not be tested at Bombardier’s facility in New York, BART spokesman Jim Allison said. Thus, BART had to do all of the testing itself. BART spent nine months testing the new cars on its rails, and passed a lengthy review by the state Public Utilities Commission before the cars were allowed into service.

“It looks worse on paper than it is,” Allison said, adding that Bombardier is responsible for the costs of repairs.

BART’s original schedule called for having 163 cars running by July 1, and the agency later upped the number to 198. However, ongoing delays have slowed the delivery, and currently there are only 20 cars in service and 10 still waiting to be unwrapped. (Source: San Francisco Chronicle, July 16.)



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