April 24, 2014

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Lorain City Garage chief Bob Evans suspended over blow-up doll

LORAIN — The head of Lorain’s City Garage has been suspended for 30 days for not taking the appropriate steps to deal with a male blow-up doll that spent months in the facility.

Lorain Safety Service Director Robert Fowler wrote that he was suspending Garage Superintendent Bob Evans because of his “failure to properly dispose of the blow-up doll and your failure to investigate how the doll was in the City Garage.”

Evans has appealed his suspension, according to city records, and the city’s human resources and risk management director, Geoffrey Smith, said a hearing is scheduled for next week before the city’s Civil Service Commission.

In his letter informing Evans of his suspension, Fowler wrote that there were at least two incidents involving the blow-up doll, including on June 18, when “the aforementioned doll was taped to the tool box of a new probationary employee.”

A second incident took place on Aug. 27, but the city records didn’t specifically state what happened in that instance and Smith declined further comment because of Evans’ pending appeal.

Had the August incident been investigated, Fowler wrote, it “would have led to discipline and discovery of the ongoing horseplay in the garage.”

Fowler wrote that the doll incidents and Evans’ failure to take action were “particularly egregious” because “Paul” was written across the doll’s stomach.

That appeared to be a reference, Fowler wrote, to another city worker, Paul Pentito, who was disciplined and demoted in July “for actions unbecoming of a supervisor.”

Smith said Pentito, who has since announced that he will retire at the end of the year, had put up a sign in a bathroom that was inappropriate.

The blow-up doll and Evans’ inaction also could have led to retaliation, Fowler wrote.

“All the behavior described above is unacceptable and has led to utter chaos in the City Garage,” he wrote.

Kenneth Stumphauzer, Evans’ attorney, did not return a call seeking comment Monday, but in an October letter, placing Evans on paid leave while the investigation was ongoing, Smith wrote that Evans knew there was a problem.

“During the course of the investigation you admitted that you did not handle the situation properly,” Smith wrote.

Evans’ suspension began Oct. 30 and will run through Dec. 10, according to city records.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.