The Civil Service Commission has upheld the termination of a Quincy DPW employee who allegedly placed city equipment inside his city locker as a prank to play on another employee.
The 27-page decision, issued Aug. 9, came almost a year after the incident occurred, in which 10-year DPW employee Michael Connolly allegedly hid a $1,295 pump inside his locker in August 2011.
According to the Commission report, Connolly testified that he had hid the pump in his locker as a way to play a “practical joke” on a “nemesis” of his, whom he did not like.
The other worker had allegedly taken an electric scooter that Connolly was keeping in a secure room in the tin shed, only to return it to Connolly a few hours later.
As payback, Connolly took the metal pump from the same secure room of the tin shed, hoping that the other worker would worry about it if it was lost, he said in the Commission report.
The missing pump allegedly sat in Connolly’s locker throughout an investigation looking for it.
DPW Employees told Laurence Prendeville, the DPW Superintendent, that the pump was missing and that they suspected it was in one of the employee's lockers.
Prendeville soon told DPW Commissioner Daniel Raymondi, who immediately began in investigation into who took the pump, as the equipment would be necessary to deal with the impending Hurricane Irene.
During the investigation, Raymondi had a camera placed in the tin shed positioned to look at the lockers should any of the employees attempt to move the missing pump.
Raymondi then called all eight of the employees into his office and asked that they sign a prewritten statement swearing that they had no knowledge of the pump’s whereabouts.
However after Connolly left Raymondi’s office on Aug. 28, 2011, he went to his locker in the tin shed, and moved the pump out of his locker.
The switch was caught on video, which was reviewed by Raymondi. When questioned about it, Connolly initially denied it, the Commission report states.
As a result, Connolly was placed on unpaid suspension for five days. After a subsequent review of his actions in a hearing with the city, Connolly was terminated.
Connolly filed an appeal with the commission on Sept. 27, 2011, saying that termination was too severe of a discipline for the prank. However, the Commission agreed with the city.
“Although the Appellant did not steal the pump, his conduct warrants termination,” the Commission report states. “The Appellant‘s conduct, especially at the height of the City‘s response to the hurricane, is substantial misconduct warranting appropriate discipline.”
Joseph McArdle, business manager for the union representing Connolly, did not return calls for comment. Connolly’s representative throughout the Commission hearing process could not be reached for comment.
According to Raymondi, the Commission acted appropriately.
“The actions of this employee fell substantially short of the professional conduct that the public expects and deserves from public employees, especially public works. So, yeah. It was a thorough decision,” Raymondi said.
Whether or not Connolly appeals the ruling is undecided, though he has an option to object to the ruling before the Supreme Judicial Court.
Even if Connolly decided to appeal, his termination should be a message, Raymondi said.
“These are public assets that are important and we take them seriously. We’ve had other issues we’ve taken strong and aggressive action on…but we’re going to continue to do so. It’s not going to be tolerated,” Raymondi said.