Janesville22.3°

Did relative's hiring cause problems at ice arena?

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
August 28, 2008
— Problems that followed the hiring of City Manager Steve Sheiffer’s teen relative to work at the city ice arena illustrate the possible pitfalls of hiring the boss’s relative.

One top city official—Mike Williams, leisure services director—is heard on tape saying the girl would have been fired if she had not been related to Sheiffer.


Bonnie Davis, recreational director, said the relationship hampered staff’s efforts to discipline the relative when the girl didn’t do her job. Consequently, supervisors found it difficult to reprimand other teen employees for the same offenses, she said.


Davis tape recorded her conversations with Williams, her boss.


Memos obtained by The Janesville Gazette indicate that Sheiffer several times earlier this year injected himself into a personnel matter involving the relative, who has a seasonal job at the ice arena.


Sheiffer continued to be involved into April, even though the city in January officially closed its investigation of an accusation made by the girl, according to the memos.


The name of Sheiffer’s relative remained on the work schedule at the ice rink Tuesday.


Wald Klimczyk, city attorney, told the Gazette he doesn’t consider the hiring of Sheiffer’s relative as nepotism and didn’t see how it would cause an awkward situation for anyone.


“Nepotism is when an individual employee hires his or her own immediate family member or spouse (or shows) favor in terms of employment,” he said.


“I don’t see this as being a nepotism thing,” Klimczyk said.


Sheiffer in a letter to a Gazette reporter responded to several questions outlined in an e-mail and then said he would not speak again to the reporter.


He wrote that the city’s administrative nepotism policy and a 2006 e-mail that encourages supervisors to fill seasonal positions with the children of city employees do not apply in the case of his relative because she is not a member of his immediate family.


“Moreover, as I have always understood the policy, the concern has been over the hiring of regular full-time or regular part-time employees … not LTE, temporary or seasonal employees,” he wrote.


WHY TAPE IT?

Why did city employee Bonnie Davis tape record conversations with supervisors?


Davis said she was afraid for her job. She said she has been reprimanded for things she didn’t do. And she had several conversations in which people told her that it was her word against theirs, she said.


She said she also wanted to protect her employees.


Davis recently fell and seriously hurt her head and said she “couldn’t take the risk of not knowing if I said or had done something.”


Davis is currently on medical leave.



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