MUSKEGON BOARD OF CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSIONERS
Regular Meeting Minutes - AMENDED
Thursday, November 13, 2014
4:00 p.m. City Hall, Room 203
I. CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at 4:05 p.m.
Present: Commissioner David Wendtland, Commissioner Pamela Lynk, Deborah
Groeneveld, Human Resources Director, Chief Jeffery Lewis, Public Safety
Director, Frank Peterson, City Manager, Brad Vanderberg, Michelle Landis,
Diana Thompson, Curtis Adams, and Susan Deuling.
Motion was made by Pamela Lynk and seconded by David Wendtland to
approve the regular minutes of the October 9, 2014 meeting.
III. ACTION AGENDA
A. Disciplinary Appeal for Curtis Adams. Michelle Landis, Attorney for the City,
reported that Curtis Adams was disciplined for failure to notify his supervisor at
least thirty minutes in advance to call in sick under the policy. Firefighters have
24 hour shifts, 7:00a.m. to 7:00a.m. the next day. The policy requires that an
employee must call in thirty minutes in advance. She provided the City of
Muskegon Uniform Sick Leave Policy and the Muskegon Fire Department Rules
and Regulations. In the sick leave policy, it indicates all of the reasons one may
call in sick. Ms. Landis stated that in this occasion, Mr. Adams took a twelve
hour vacation for the first twelve hours of his shift, so he was scheduled to work
at 7:00p.m. At 6:45p.m. Mr. Adams called his battalion chief and asked that he
continue his vacation for another twelve hours, and the Chief responded that he
had nobody to cover his shift, so he told Mr. Adams he had to come in. Mr.
Adams then told the Chief to put him down as sick, and the Chief stated that it
wouldn’t look good because he just asked for vacation, and asked what his
sickness was. Mr. Adams said it was his stomach, and the Chief had to scramble
to fill his shift. Mr. Adams was then disciplined for not giving proper notice, 30
minutes in advance, as per the policy. His discipline was an eight hour
suspension, which is considered a one day suspension in the fire department.
That was given to him by the Chief because of a prior similar offense in the last
six months. This is why he wasn’t given a suspension. The prior offense occurred
March 2, 2014.
Battalion Chief Vanderberg was called as the first witness. Ms. Landis asked
what his current position is, and Chief Vanderberg responded that he is the
Battalion Chief and has been in the position for one year. He was asked if he
supervises Mr. Adams, and Chief Vanderberg reported that he is in charge of
supervising Curtis Adams, but that he has a more immediate captain. All of the
employees on a particular day, he supervises. Ms. Landis asked on August 11,
2014, how much vacation was scheduled for Mr. Adams, and what twelve hours
he took vacation. Chief Vanderberg responded that Mr. Adams took vacation
from 7:00a.m. to 7:00p.m. When asked what time he heard from Mr. Adams, he
stated that in his notes, Mr. Adams left a message on the Battalion Chief’s
phone at approximately 18:45, or 6:45p.m. Chief Vanderberg called him and left
a message that he could not take vacation, as he had no coverage, and because
he didn’t give 24 hour notice. A short time later, Chief Vanderberg said he spoke
with Mr. Adams and he told him the same thing, and short of calling in sick, he
couldn’t have the day off. Mr. Adams then told him to put him down sick, and
that per their previous conversations, it wouldn’t look good because he just
asked for vacation, and asked what his illness is, and Mr. Adams replied that it
was his stomach. Chief Vanderberg wrote this at 8:19p.m. on the date of the
incident. He then forwarded the notes to Chief Lewis and the other two chiefs to
let them know what had taken place. The phone log indicates that Mr. Adams
called at 6:36p.m. The last call came in at 6:40p.m. Chief Vanderberg stated that
he was estimating the time of call due to not having the exact records.
Ms. Landis gave Mr. Adams the opportunity to ask any questions of Chief
Vanderberg. He had none. Chief Lewis was asked if he spoke with the Battalion
Chief about the situation, and he responded yes, and that he received the same
information as was just testified at the meeting. Ms. Landis asked if Chief Lewis
determined the discipline, and he stated that he did because once they looked at
the facts of the case, they went back and looked at situations similar to this
situation, and based on recommendations of what the action was, it dictates
what happens. Ms. Landis asked if it was a group one offense, and Chief Lewis
stated that the August 11th incident was a Civil Service Rule X, Section 3, Group
1 B, absent for work without sufficient reason and/or notice, second offense
within six months. He also referred to the fire policy that the duty chief must be
called at least one half hour before the shift starts. Chief Lewis stated that on
September 9th, Mr. Adams received an eight hour suspension. Ms. Landis stated
that it was a group One Offense, and asked if Chief Lewis looked at the first
offense as a written warning and the second as a one day suspension without
pay, and Chief Lewis stated yes. Ms. Landis asked if the Chief followed the rules
for the discipline, and asked that the previous discipline was within one year.
Chief Lewis replied yes to both. The first offense was when Mr. Adams was late
for work. Ms. Landis asked if this was the only tardiness taken into
consideration for the suspension, and Chief Lewis responded that in the fall of
2012, Mr. Adams called in sick to work, and information came in that he was
working at a job. An in depth investigation took place, and during the
investigation, Chief Lewis saw Mr. Adams on television as a substitute ref for the
NFL. Mr. Adams then received a three day suspension. Ms. Landis again asked if
Mr. Adams had any questions, and he said no.
Mr. Adams then testified on his own behalf. He stated that in terms of this year,
he did have a call/trade time. They take a form and trade days and hours. The
shift in which he took vacation was not his to work, and Mr. Adams stated that
he forgot. The second write-up is the one in mention. Mr. Adams stated that he
was written up a.m. not p.m. He added that the rule states a.m. and not p.m.,
which didn’t apply to him because he was working p.m. Mr. Adams also added
that they said he didn’t call in on time. If the rule states 18:30, and he didn’t call
on time, his phone records show that he called at 6:07p.m. Mr. Adams also
shows a call in to the captain at 6:08p.m. Two calls were in at 6:36p.m. to
#6795. Mr. Adams stated that he also called the Union President and Captain to
try to get ahold of someone, and added that he went over and beyond what he
was supposed to do, regardless of reaching anyone or not. Ms. Landis asked if
he called at 6:07p.m. and not 6:07a.m., and Mr. Adams agreed. He said he
called at that time because he didn’t work in the a.m. She also asked him if he
left a message, and Mr. Adams said he had no choice because nobody answered.
Mr. Adams said that he left a message, but he wasn’t sure what he said. Ms.
Landis asked what Mr. Adams asked of the Battalion Chief and if it was that he
wanted extra vacation, and Mr. Adams said he wanted to use vacation time
instead of sick time. He spoke to him at 6:45p.m., and the Battalion Chief said it
was too late. Ms. Landis stated that Mr. Adams wasn’t sick, and he responded
that he was, that he had stomach issues. He just wanted to use vacation time
rather than sick time.
For rebuttal, Ms. Landis asked Battalion Chief Vanderberg if he received any
messages, and he stated that he left a message at 18:45, or 6:45p.m. requesting
vacation. Ms. Landis asked if he checked the voicemail to see if he left any other
voicemail messages from Mr. Adams, and he stated yes, that the message was at
6:45p.m. requesting vacation. Ms. Landis asked if there was a voicemail at
6:07p.m. and Chief Vanderberg stated that he only knew of the message coming
in at 6:45p.m. He added that he didn’t know when it came in, but his notes state
6:45p.m. Ms. Lewis asked if he wanted to take vacation or sick time, and Chief
Vanderberg stated that the message asked to take the second 12 hours as
Mr. Adams stated that the reason he wanted to take vacation time is because he
hadn’t taken any sick time yet, and he didn’t want to use it. He also stated that
he was already disciplined. When Mr. Adams received the letter, it spoke of an
investigation, but that he wasn’t informed of anything or asked anything
regarding the investigation. Mr. Adams said that he should’ve been included in
the investigation if it had something to do with him, and that he got no response
from the chief in this matter.
Commissioner Wendtland asked what they have the right to do as the Civil
Service Commission, and Deborah Groeneveld responded that they have the
right to leave things as they are or overturn the discipline. Commissioner Lynk
stated that she had a problem because she received little information before the
meeting, she walked in totally unaware of the situation, and that she should’ve
had knowledge of everything so that she could ask questions ahead of time.
Commissioner Lynk stated that if there is a problem with communication that it
needs to be addressed. She stated that she also feels as if this case is
unprofessional. Commissioner Wendtland stated that he would’ve liked to have
the information ahead of time as well, and that he knows Commissioner Lynk
requested the information. He suggested that they take this under advisement
and not take action at the meeting, and that they can have the Battalion Chief to
double check the time of 6:07p.m. to make sure that is not when the message
was left. Commissioner Wendtland also added that the rules need to be changed
to state 18:30 as well, regardless of what the rules state, and that Mr. Adams
should’ve made note of the rule. Commissioner Wendtland also added that one
set of records show a call at 6:07p.m. and one does not, and that this could be
due to not leaving a message. Mr. Adams added that he did leave a message. Ms.
Landis added that the records should be checked again, but that with the bill of
Mr. Adams it only shows increments of one minute, but that he also doesn’t
know what the message was. Ms. Landis also added that Battalion Chief
Vanderberg does not have a message coming in at 6:07p.m. She also added that
the rules state that individuals have to call by 6:30a.m., and that Mr. Adams
didn’t inform them that he wanted to take the full 24 hours for vacation, which
in turn left the department scrambling for someone to fill in. Ms. Landis stated
that she wants to have the IT department look at the records to make sure no
call came in at 6:07p.m., but also stated that the policy is very clear that you
have to call the department by 6:30a.m.
The Chief added that the call was for more vacation time rather than sick time.
Vacation time is scheduled in advance to make sure all of the voids are filled. He
added that the problem is that calling a half an hour before the shift asking for
vacation puts the department in a bind. Sick time and being is a different issue,
but more understandable because it’s uncontrollable. The Chief added that Mr.
Adams asked for vacation, not sick time. He also stated that the Chief’s aren’t
just there to answer the phone and that they are often times away from their
desk, out on calls, etc. Commissioner Wendtland asked if the message that was
received was stating that Mr. Adams wanted vacation time, and the Chief
responded that Commissioner Wendtland was correct. Mr. Adams argued that
and stated that he told him he didn’t want to use sick time and that he wanted
to use vacation time instead. Commissioner Lynk asked what the consistent
pattern is with Mr. Adams, and Ms. Lewis stated that the instances were farther
back than a year, but that the discipline in 2012 was not taken into
consideration for this discipline, but that it outlines a pattern for Mr. Adams.
Commissioner Wendtland said that the commissioners would take the discipline
under advisement, ask that they get to look over the information, and get the
information from IT as to whether a call came in to the Fire Department at
Motion was made by David Wendtland and seconded by Pamela Lynk to
postpone the disciplinary appeal of Curtis Adams until the December Civil
IV. NEW BUSINESS
A. On October 28, 2014 the Muskegon City Commission passed a motion to
contract with the Michigan Municipal League (MML) to review all the job
descriptions for the City of Muskegon. Frank Peterson reported that the City
needs to update their job descriptions, and they are using the Michigan
Municipal League to come in and work with each to determine what takes
place. The MML is determining if the jobs are doing more than what is
currently on the descriptions, and giving the City a better understanding of
what the qualifications for the different positions should be and if they’ve
changed from the past.
Frank stated that a survey would go around to the different individuals based
on what they do on a day to day basis, it would go to the supervisor, and
then eventually would go to MML to update the job description. This would
give the opportunity to all individuals to be involved, and would give a better
understanding of what is happening.
Frank also said that after the job descriptions are updated, they would go to
the Civil Service Commission. Debbie stated that in the past, the commission
has approved job description changes. After all of the changes are done and
the positions are signed, Debbie asked if it would come to the Civil Services
Commission to adopt. Frank stated that this was the process he saw playing
out with the new changes.
It was questioned of the City why they are using MML and paying for the
services, and Frank stated that it is due to the process and the expertise they
provide. He added that they will review the Charter while doing so as well.
Frank also stated that the second step of the process would be a wage and
salary review, but it is not being looked at yet. Ms. Lewis confirmed that they
plan to begin the process of January 2015, and the process will be complete
within three months.
V. OLD BUSINESS
Frank reported that the vacant position on the commission was not
discussed at the City meeting.
VI. OTHER BUSINESS
The meeting adjourned at 5:06 p.m.
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