Three public works employees for the City of Bremerton have been disciplined following a workplace investigation report that led to the firing of public works director Chal Martin last week.
Milenka Hawkins-Bates, the public works operations manager, will be suspended for a week without pay, while William Rieger, a senior accounting assistant, and Colen Corey, a street services supervisor, both received written reprimands, per discipline notices obtained by Kitsap News Group through a public records request.
Bremerton Mayor Greg Wheeler fired Martin on April 30 after Greg Wilson of PST Investigations found evidence of workplace misconduct on behalf of city employees. The report focuses on a public works employee, whose name has not yet been released, who was known to conduct a side business pouring concrete during work hours. The employee also attempted to set up a deal to buy two excavators — one for the city and one for himself — using city resources.
The report found that Martin displayed “a systemic complacency and a lack of understanding of the City’s procurement policies, lack of supervisory oversight and inattention to what was occurring within the Street Services Department.”
Hawkins-Bates told Wilson that she was on vacation when she heard the employee had attempted to purchase the excavator and claimed he didn’t have permission to do so. Email logs in the report show that Hawkins-Bates had been included in several emails discussing the purchase.
“I was not paying attention,” she told Wilson. “That’s just not how I operate. That’s not how I do purchases.”
Corey and Rieger were reprimanded for “incompetency, inattention or dereliction in the performance of duties,” the documents read.
Rieger was an accountant and was copied on the email between the unnamed employee and Tractorhill Sales, the Canadian construction equipment company that was set to provide the excavators. According to the reprimand, Rieger contacted Tractorhill Sales for the employee and allegedly tried to cut a check for the purchase.
“Splitting the City’s payment was an obvious attempt to avoid the requirements to get City Council approval on purchases over $25,000,” Rieger’s reprimand states. “As an Accounting Assistant Senior you are expected to be aware of these policies and potential violations, instead you assisted the employee in trying to get the purchase processed.”
Corey, who was the unnamed employee’s direct supervisor, was reprimanded for not holding him accountable for conducting personal business on city time, according to his reprimand.
“You have failed to perform the essential functions of your positions by not holding him [unnamed employee] accountable for performing all aspects of his position,” Corey’s reprimand states. “You have also failed to hold him accountable when you suspected him of conducting his personal business while on City time.”
Tyler Shuey is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org