Public Works staffers fired City dismisses eight amid allegations of missing materials

Law office investigating

Park Terminal yard was subject of probe by department

May 07, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Eight employees of the Baltimore Public Works Department were fired this week over allegations involving missing materials at a municipal work yard.

City officials acknowledged yesterday that they terminated the workers, some of whom were supervisors, but would not discuss the reason. However, employees at the city's Park Terminal yard at 2231 N. Fulton Ave. said the department investigation began because of allegations of missing materials, including city equipment, bricks and wood.

Public Works Director George G. Balog said yesterday that the workers were fired after an internal department investigation.

"Some things didn't look good to us," Balog said. "We found that some things weren't right."

Word of impending firings began circulating last week after Balog and other department administrators visited the Park Terminal site and the employees were ordered to leave the premises. The matter was turned over to the city Law Department, which refused to comment, stating that it was under investigation.

City police, queried about the issue last week, said they had received no report of theft at the facility. Asked why suspected thefts at the terminal were not reported to city police, Balog said: "We went through the proper channels."

A hearing officer has been hired by the city to review the firings, Balog said. Workers would also be able to appeal dismissals through the Civil Service Commission, he said. The city has been contacted by attorneys for the employees, Balog said.

The Public Works Department is by far the city's largest operation, involving 6,000 workers who carry out 10 functions including trash collection, road repairs, water and wastewater treatment and parking enforcement. The department has an annual budget exceeding $500 million.

The incident is the latest trouble for Public Works, which has been under FBI investigation for the past two years over allegations of bid rigging and contract steering in relation to a Quarantine Road landfill pond contract. A federal grand jury has subpoenaed city records in that matter.

Department leaders have refuted the allegations, saying that they were instigated by disgruntled former employees.

Pub Date: 5/07/98

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