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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lee County workers say officials are also wasting taxpayer dollars

Four days and there are still no answers from the Lee County Manager about major complaints within the Department of Transportation. But tonight, we're learning D-O-T officials could be abusing your tax dollars.

J.C. Rodriguez has worked for the Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) for eight years. He drove heavy equipment but claims Lee County's Operations Director, Clay Simmons drove him out of his job in 2009 . Rodriguez wasn't surprised to hear that Simmons hasn't wanted to speak to Four in your Corner about the issue, " he's running away from the truth, it's finally caught up with him he's done this to many people."
Lee County fired Rodriguez from his job citing, ‘poor attendance' and ‘excessive tardiness'. However, County records tell a different story. For example, on March 12th, 2009 Simmons cited Rodriguez for being tardy but when we reviewed the county timecards it indicated that Rodriguez did report to work right on time at 7am. He says his supervisors just made up the ‘tardy' excuse in order to get him fired, "I clocked in, I swiped in at 7 o'clock inside the building," says Rodriguez. He also states, "They lied, this is what they presented to Human Resources. HR goes by what they tell them and they did not investigate any of this stuff."
13800 Orange River Blvd. Fort Myers, FL
Many D.O.T. workers we spoke with today claim county officials should be investigating how supervisors there are wasting taxpayers' money. Late last year D.O.T workers say Simmons ordered them to deliver 130 truckloads of dirt from Buckingham to a private residence on Orange River Boulevard in Fort Myers. The single family home is situated on a 10 acre lot and belongs to Warren, Emily, Russell and Darlene Berner.
The Berner family who lives there tells Four in your Corner that they used the dirt to build a slope along their pond. D.O.T workers say the job took 10 hours and 7 workers to complete. That would mean dump trucks made 130 trips, driving about 7 and a half miles each way racking up nearly 200-thousand miles on county time, in county vehicles and funded by taxpayer dollars. Rodriguez says, "You're looking at $300 to $400 dollars easy a load, a truckload."

Four in your Corner went to D.O.T's operations center in an attempt to speak with Clay Simmons at his office yesterday. Instead, supervisor Chuck Speake told us, "I didn't get a hold of Clay but if you guys want to make an appointment and come back he should be here tomorrow and I'm sure, he's not going to 'not' to talk to you."

Once again, Four in your Corner visited the operations center the next day and found the front gates locked shut. One D.O.T. worker angrily confronted our cameras, "I don't care if this is public property Clay Simmons is sick today and that's it. He's not at work."

Clay Simmons, Lee D.O.T Division Director

Even though Simmons was out sick he managed to write a two page letter to County Commissioners in response to Fox Four's reports. In part, Simmons writes , 'We have always had an open door policy. Employees are welcomed to approach any of the supervisors, including myself."
But workers say that's not true. Rodriguez reported the poor work environment in his grievance letter to the county and says, "I've been complaining about that and not just myself, a lot of other people and Human Resources knows about it but they ain't doing anything about it."
In Clay Simmons' letter he also claims that D-O-T has conducted numerous surveys, encouraging workers to voice their concerns anonymously. He says he hasn't heard of any negative complaints. Of course, Four in your Corner will continue this investigation and call the county manager, Karen Hawes, to get to the bottom of this.

To view the video for this Fox 4 Investigation click on this link:

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