‘Why does the rain fall?’ was official’s response over misuse of city resources

Posted at 7:53 PM, Mar 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-12 19:53:33-04

RICHMOND,  Va. (WT VR)A city employee who CBS 6 will not name because he hasn't been charged with a crime, is accused by his own employer of using city equipment for personal use.

"We use to sit right here on the front porch and watch him," Denise Meredith said about her neighbor. “I thought he was going in there for lunch."

"He would put trash like wood and stuff on the truck and haul it away,” she said.

She said she didn't think anything of it because "it seemed to me that he was allowed to do it because he did it everyday.”

According to the City Auditor's office, the employee would take a city truck and do work around his Eastern Henrico home on the weekend.

But he also went home during the week while on the clock.

In an interview with investigators, the employee said he had been told by his supervisor to stop.  But he didn't.  In fact, that supervisor made frequent visits to the employees home.

The supervisor found that between July to November of 2013, the employee made 14 workday trips around lunchtime, logging roughly 16 hours at home during work hours.

His lunch breaks were lasting longer than one hour.

The total time added up to just over 16 hours, but that only counts the days he was seen doing such activities.

"We are still investigating that matter," said Richmond’s Department of Public Works (DPW) Director James Jackson, when CBS 6 asked why would an employee take a chance and have a vehicle at his home for personal use.

Jackson said he couldn’t comment on the investigation, but said that city employees are constantly monitored.

"Not only are they watched throughout the year, during their team meetings they are reminded of the responsibilities when it comes to using city equipment, and city vehicles,” said Jackson.

But this is the second time a DPW employee has been accused of misusing city equipment.

In 2012 a worker had his boat hitched to the back of a city vehicle and parked at a Marina in Dinwiddie county.

CBS 6 asked the director why was a repeat incident allowed to happen just a year later.

"Why does the rain fall?" Jackson responded.

"Individuals make individual choices.  That's why we have policies,” said Jackson.

Jackson couldn’t say if those employees are still on the job because he says it’s a personnel matter.

And going forward, Jackson tells CBS 6 they can’t prevent DPW employees from misusing city vehicles.  But the department  has measures in place to address any problems.