AZ Rep article; AZ Rep candidates on budget0001
Last week, Goodyear city manager Fischbach and Jeanni Ruddy, Goodyear HR Manager, were quoted again in the AZ Republic telling the newspapers how much they have ‘saved’ the taxpayers even though I have clearly shown that General Fund Operating Expenses in Goodyear have been FLAT since 2008 and Goodyear Finance Director Larry Lange agrees with me about that.
I sent an email to Ruddy after I read hers and Fischbach’s latest quotes in the Republic, and copied a few council people, and I told her she must have a personnel management problem if it is true that she has done all this cost saving and benefit reduction that she claims in the newspaper and yet personnel spending is flat. I went on to say that in order to try to help her out, I had selected one Goodyear employee file and gone through it in detail in order to try to answer the question;
“How could Goodyear do all this cost reduction work and yet not make any progress reducing General Fund Operating Department personnel costs?”
I decided to evaluate the personnel file of a single Goodyear employee who no longer works for the city. A friend of mine who knows how to do this sort of thing made the Freedom of Information request for the personnel file of this individual and we received over 300 pages of the file and I read each page.
Here is what I found and reported to Ms. Ruddy, Mr. Fischbach, and current council members;
SPECIAL NOTE; The following discussion is about how poorly Goodyear manages its employees. It is not about this particular employee, although the reader can draw his own conclusions about what occurred. I am also not suggesting here that this employee was not disabled at the time he applied for disability nor that his injuries were not severe. I don’t know that because there was no medical information in his file that was given to me about his injuries. Instead, regarding his claimed disability, what I have focused on is, based upon information in his personnel file as provided to me by the City of Goodyear, there appeared to be a lack of any meaningful investigation by the city into his claims of disablement.
- The employee in question was hired by Goodyear in 2001 at a salary of $64,000. He was DEMOTED in 2004 and yet by 2009 he was earning over $99,000 per year, a nearly 55% increase from his starting salary and at a lower grade. He was demoted in November of 2004 to a salary of $80,875 and yet just over 18 months later he had received nearly 13% in salary increases to more than $90,000. He had average reviews during this time period and yet he usually received two pay increases per year.
- Even though there was NO ACCIDENT REPORT either in the copy of his personnel file that Goodyear provided or in the minutes of the open public meeting where his award was made, this same employee was then awarded an estimated (my estimate) $1.6 million retirement package in 2009 after only 8 years on the job. (I calculate that he was age 44 at the time of the award and with an estimated life span to age 78, 78 – 44 @ $48,380/yr = $1.645 mil). An Accidental Disability Benefit was awarded by one of Goodyear’s local Retirement Boards because he claimed that his medical issues were solely as a result of an on the job accident which occurred three years earlier in 2006. According to his personnel file he may have worked more than one job while he was a Goodyear employee, teaching part time and writing part of a book while he was still an employee but this was not discussed in the meeting minutes.
- There is no evidence in his personnel file that anyone in his department made an independent determination that he could no longer do his job. Instead, he provided his own definition of the job requirements, compared them to what he said his doctor told him and submitted it on March 25, 2009 for review. By September 2009 he was retired at close to 40 years old and collecting over $4,000 per month.
- According to Arizona Retirement System regulation 38-844 this type of award may be re-evaluated in the future by the same Goodyear Retirement Board that gave him the $1.6 mil award. All that the local board has to do is decide that they should review the case again based upon what knowledge it has of the beneficiary’s current medical condition. I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon, I told Ms. Ruddy, because the employee in question is currently a member of the Goodyear Retirement Board that would ask for the review. And, he is still working at least two jobs and is working on getting a third job and the City of Goodyear is well aware of this.
- Want to know how to get a lifetime Accidental Retirement Disability Award in Goodyear? According to the meeting minutes of the 2009 Goodyear Retirement Board meeting when the award was made, Ms. Ruddy, Dick Souza, and two same department representatives awarded the $1.6 mil severance package based upon ONE outside doctor’s report, the employee’s own doctor’s report and no other investigation into the employee’s claims. One Goodyear employee from the same department who sat on the board at the time made the motion to make the award, another Goodyear employee from the same department who sat on the board at the time seconded it and Ruddy and Souza agreed. The citizen representative on the board was not present for the meeting that day.
- The city’s doctor gave a qualified recommendation by saying, “Considering the extensive job description provided by the City of Goodyear it is not safe for the patient… to return to his pre-surgical occupation”. But ARS 38-844 paragraph E1 says nothing about the subject “returning to his pre-surgical occupation. Instead it says;
“Accidental or ordinary disability shall be considered to have ceased and an accidental or ordinary disability pension terminates if the member: 1. Has sufficiently recovered, in the opinion of the local board, based upon a medical examination….to be able to engage in a reasonable range of duties within the member’s department and the member refuses an offer of employment by an employer in the system.”
I contacted the employee in question and asked him to comment on what I had uncovered before I posted it and here is every word that he replied except those that might identify him (my comments in bold);
“As usual most of your conclusions are off target. Please re-read the documents. I would love to reply completely but I do not believe that you will print them accurately nor completely. I would suggest that you start with “demoted” The ‘Change of Status’ form in the file is check marked Demoted. and continue to “severance package”. I assume he does not like the use of my term retirement package? He applied for and received an “Accidental Retirement Benefit. You have only pulled selected parts of the 4 inch file and drawn dangerous conclusions. Is that a threat? I have reviewed every piece of paper that Goodyear sent me when asked for his personnel file. Please, then review the independent medical evaluation I have done no such medical evaluation only what was stated in the meeting minutes about the outside doctor’s qualifed recommendation and I stated specifically that I was using this example as one where the city’s due diligence was in question, NOT his disability which states “it would be dangerous for the patient (me) and his co-workers if he returned to his pre-injury occupation”. Nowhere in my post do I suggest he should return to his former job, only that according to ARS he might be eligible to, “engage in a reasonable range of duties within the member’s department”. “Then call my wife and kids and ask them how this injury/disability has effected (should be affected) us as a family/husband. The facts are well documented. That has nothing to do with the city’s poor management performance. Please read the job description and the findings from both doctors. Findings from doctors were not provided, as I said before I made no such evaluation, and one doctor was his. If I was clerical staff, then I’d still be working, but in order to remain (in my other job), I have to be able to perform (those) duties, which I clearly can not. He continues to miss the point. Please do not cherry pick your facts on this matter. Print this in it’s entirety because if you don’t, I will. I just printed it in its entirety.”
Do you think any of this information would trouble Ms. Ruddy? If you did, you would be wrong. Ms. Ruddy’s reply to me was insolent, chastising, told me I was hard hearted, and left me with the impression that she thought I should just mind my own business. Ms. Ruddy also copied Fischbach and all of the current Goodyear City Council members on her reply to me.
Do you think any of them had anything to say?
If you do, you would be wrong again.
Fed up yet? Joe.firstname.lastname@example.org … or just get out there and vote.