Friday, October 17, 2008

Guy Costa: "I feel blindsided" (Now with Q&A audio)

Guy Costa

UPDATE: Now you can click the Play Button the audio player above to hear Public Safety Director Costa's Q&A with reporters. There's a brief sound effect to mark the spot where there was a brief break in the interview before the questioning by reporters resumed.

Next, here's Operations Director Art Victor's Q&A, in the audio player below his picture. Please let me know how this approach to adding audio to the blog is working for you.

Art Victor

Finally, here's a link to my Channel 4 Action News report.

Public Works Director Guy Costa notified the Mayor's Office last year when his office discovered four middle managers in Environmental Services were improperly getting overtime pay for which they aren't eligible.

Costa knew those four were to be suspended today -- but he was stunned when his family told him they'd heard on TV that -- unbeknownst to him -- he's was being suspended too. The Ravenstahl administration appears to believe that the buck stops at the top of the Public Works Department. The Mayor's Operations Director Art Victor says "in my opinion, and having looked at all of the details, I feel that he should have acted more swiftly in taking action to deal with the situation".

Director Art Victor says, however, that he agrees with Costa that the way word of Costa's one-day suspension got out is wrong.

Victor said of Costa, "he's a consummate professional. He certainly understood. He said if he was in my shoes, he more than likely would have done the same thing."

Some quotes from Costa's comments to reporters:

• "I'm very disappointed on how this was dealt with. Not the suspension, it was how it was dealt with. My family should not be able to watch TV and see the night before that i'm being suspended -- and it's not right."

• "It was handled improperly by someone in the Mayor's Office. I have an idea who it is, and I'll deal with that in the future. but, the part that's frustrating me is how it was dealt with."

• "I give my blood and sweat to this department and to this city, as you know. I'm always out there working, doing my best. I can accept responsibility, but it's how it was handled."

• "I get a call from a reporter saying 'you're being suspended', and I ask the administration and they say, 'no, you're not being suspended'. And it's kind of embarrassing then when they come back and say you are being suspended."

• "I feel blindsided. I've given nine years to this department, and it just isn't right. "

• "I want to emphasize, I'm okay with the suspension, I'm not happy or okay with the way it was dealt with."

• "I would hope that the Mayor would discipline the person who leaked this information to the news media. It wasn't right for my 18 year old son to see it on the news, or my wife to see it on the morning news, and all my friends and family to see it on the news, without me being notified first."

• "I hope the mayor -- I think he knows who it is -- and I think he should ask for that person's resignation."

• "Once we found this audit, I approached the administration. what it's telling me now is, I should have swept it under the carpet. but I would never do that, and i love this city..."

• "I'm going home and think about what my future's going to be."

Costa refused to identify which member of the Mayor's Office was responsible, but closed by telling reporters:

• "The time will come. I don't know why that person did what they did, but you know the old saying, payback's a bitch."

Trib coverage is here and the PG's story is at this link, with an UPDATE here. By the way, the Trib's Jeremy Boren broke the details of the overtime story way back in February.


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