The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

June 3, 2011

OTA documents contradict claims

City administrator says city needs to ‘fully investigate’ contradictions

OTTUMWA — Documents obtained Thursday by the Courier show Ottumwa Transit Authority officials changed employee time sheets and received multiple grievances about the changes.

The documents appear to support employee claims that Director Pam Ward not only instructed staff to change time sheets to reduce pay, but that on at least one occasion the changes were made in accordance with official OTA policy.

Ward denied OTA ever changed time sheets when the accusations surfaced in a state auditor’s report last week. When union officials said they had filed the grievances and had the paperwork to prove it, Ward backtracked. She said there were no grievances filed since July 1, 2008.

But two of the documents obtained by the Courier show grievances filed in August 2008 and June 2009, after the date Ward cited.

The existence of the grievances also contradicts the city’s official response to auditors investigating the transit authority. The response, signed by City Attorney Joni Keith, pointed to an absence of grievances as evidence OTA management did not change timesheets.

City Administrator Joe Helfenberger said the city needs to “fully investigate,” the apparent contradictions.

“The city attorney and personnel director, working with Pam Ward and the transit authority attorney, put together the response. Since that time we’ve learned a lot more information,” he said.

The earliest document dates to January 2008, when a driver was notified his time sheet was altered. The driver had listed a 7:10 p.m. start time, “which would have been fine but I know that your 7:30 p.m. pickup at Osage Drive wasn’t picked up. I had to make the necessary changes and your sheet shows your first pickup was at 8:15 p.m.”

Four drivers with 10-15 Transit filed a grievance against Tom Jones, OTA’s operations manager, on Aug. 4, 2008. The grievance was filed by Bill Musgrove, then the drivers’ union steward, and alleged drivers were not paid for July 4, 2008. Jones’ signature appears on the grievance form with the notation it was received at 9:50 a.m. Aug. 6, 2008.

The document backs up Musgrove’s assertion in an interview last week that one of the grievances he filed as steward was because drivers were not given proper pay for a holiday.

A copy of an email sent by Jones on Jan. 2, 2009, indicates time sheets were altered to conform to Ottumwa’s Head Start program schedule over the 2008-09 holidays.

“Based on the route information that was provided to us by Head Start staff and applying Personnel Policy #2.08, I have adjusted your time sheets to reflect the information provided,” Jones wrote.

The most recent document is a letter from Ward to Musgrove, Jolynn Caylor and Bob Baird. Dated June 3, 2009, the letter notes a grievance received June 2, 2009, alleging Baird was “not fully compensated for funeral leave.”

Ward denied the grievance in the letter. She also made reference to the August 2008 grievance and notes “payment for those 4 holiday hours were paid to the grievants.”

Helfenberger on Thursday noted the Ottumwa Transit Authority is overseen by a board that is almost completely autonomous. A majority of council members have voiced support for an end to that autonomy, and Helfenberger said the OTA board’s status will “definitely” be on the agenda for the city council’s next meeting.

The city will seek to reach compliance with state transit requirements, Helfenberger said, and is asking for state assistance and training to do so.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Earth day color photo 1 -T -M Cargill celebrates Earth Day by educating ALBIA — In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, employees from Cargill Eddyville and Cargill Pork are visiting with students at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Center in Albia all this week. On Wednesday the Courier caught up with them as they went

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • 0417 OTT Saving Center color photo -T -L -M Hedrick building has friends HEDRICK — The community wants a civic center, and they've been willing to work for it. "I'd say we have 15 to 25 volunteers each time," Tommy Smith of Hedrick said. "These are all good people." Smith was volunteering his services at the Easter Brunch

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Southern Iowa farmers preparing for planting OTTUMWA — Even though the winter seemed to linger like Iowa was going through an ice age and cold and wet weather has highlighted the early spring, farmers are starting to get out to their fields to put down fertilizer and get fields ready for planti

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Carrying bookbags a balancing act OTTUMWA — Permission slips. Notes from teachers. School activity announcements, birthday invitations, report cards and homework to sign. Kids bring home a lot of stuff. But is it done fairly? The school board this week was asked by ranking members of

    April 16, 2014

  • Van Buren supervisors deny hog confinement permit application KEOSAUQUA — A proposed swine building in Chequest Township didn’t receive a seal of approval from Van Buren County Board of Supervisors. Supervisors voted Monday to recommend to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to deny the permit. Supervisor

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Beth Howard bw cover -L -T -M 'Ms. American Pie' tours with her new book ELDON — With many hours and countless miles on her RV "The Beast," Eldon's pie lady, Beth Howard, is celebrating the release of her new book with a tour of southwestern states. Howard's second book, "Ms. American Pie: Buttery Good Pie Recipes and Bol

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Van Buren to share FFA with Harmony KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren Community School Board approved a recommendation from its administration to share the ag program with Harmony for the 2014-15 school year. The decision means that Van Buren students would travel to Harmony to receive ag instruct

    April 16, 2014

  • Attorney withdraws after client disappears OTTUMWA — Authorities are still looking for an Ottumwa man who didn’t show up for court proceedings. When they find him, he’ll need a new attorney. Jacob Nordyke faces charges of interference with official acts and possession of drug paraphernalia. H

    April 16, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook
E-edition