September 18, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain garage supervisor makes deal with city, returns to job today

LORAIN — With complaints about a blow-up sex doll deflated and the dispute over payment for an aging snowplow truck smoothed over, Garage Superintendent Robert Evans is due back at work today.

Evans had his 30-day unpaid suspension reduced to 15 days in a settlement last week with city officials.

He was accused of not properly disciplining Street Department employees at the City Garage after the blow-up doll was found taped to the toolbox of a probationary employee in June. A second unspecified incident involving the doll occurred Aug. 27.

City Council members on Monday reluctantly agreed to pay nearly $8,900 in repairs for the truck, which city officials said Evans had verbally approved without supervisory approval.

Council members questioned whether the truck — built in the 1990s and essentially held ransom by the repair shop W.W. Williams for about 10 months — was worth $8,900.

“Why would we spend taxpayer dollars, almost $10,000, for a vehicle that is sitting in mothballs and may or may not run?” Councilman Eddie Edward, D-5th, asked Mayor Chase Ritenauer. “Let him have it and sell it.”

Ritenauer said Law Director Pat Riley recommended payment. Ritenauer, who took office in January 2012, emphasized the authorization by Evans dated back to November 2011, near the end of the administration of former Mayor Tony Krasienko.

“Nobody’s happy with how the matter was handled,” Ritenauer said, adding that the repaired truck will be used.

Council members Brian Gates, D-1st Ward; Dennis Flores, D-2nd Ward; Tim Howard, D-3rd Ward; Myroslaw “Mickey” Silecky, D-7th Ward; Frank DeTillio, D-8th Ward; Dan Given, D-at large; and Tony Richardson, D-at large, voted yes. Edwards, Richard Lucente, D-6th Ward, and Anne Molnar, D-at large, voted no. Bret Schuster, D-4th Ward, was absent.

Fowler said after the meeting that discipline and morale have improved within the department and the City Garage since Public Property Manager Hal Kendrick took over in October. Kendrick replaced disgraced former Street Department Commissioner Chuck Camera, who was fired in May after being convicted of records tampering and theft related to missing money from the Lorain Youth Baseball league.

“We have an atmosphere where people are not transferring out,” Fowler said. “You hear people saying already we’re addressing the problems that were neglected previously.”

Evans’ attorney Daniel Wightman said his client disciplined employees over the doll, but didn’t properly document it. Wightman said Evans is anxious to get back to work.

“He’s learned something in terms of his management role over there,” Wightman said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.