From the Rocky Mountain News (Daniel Chacon) comes the revelation that Mayor Hickenlooper’s Manager of Parks and Recreation, “From March 1, 2006, through March 31, 2007, Manager Kim Bailey has been away from work on sick, vacation or administrative leave for 424 hours – or 10.6 weeks… …that’s 13.4 weeks off work, or more than three months. Bailey, who earns $110,423 a year, was paid for all those off-hours.”
A while back, I observed:
I was struck not long ago with the irony of an editorial in the Denver Post that heralded Denver’s Manager of Parks and Recreation, Kim Bailey, as a “diamond” of the Hickenlooper administration. Why? Well, according to the editorialist, Ms. Bailey has reactivated five of Denver’s water fountains (the one’s you sit and watch, not the ones from which you sip). The editorialist characterized this “accomplishment” as a rejuvenation of the City Beautiful movement…a legacy from Mayor Robert W. Speer’s administration.
The irony of the rejuvenation of fountains is that there is probably no more costly or maintenance intensive undertaking in any park, anywhere than that of a fountain. Fountains bleed resources. Yet, the grass doesn’t get watered, flowers don’t get planted, weeds infest with gleeful effusion, asphalt paths deteriorate, play areas fall into disrepair.
Okay. So, what the Denver Post characterized as a “diamond” within the Hickenlooper administration, appears rather to have abrogated her city responsibilities–for which she is handsomely compensated–for what, apparently, she believes to be a higher calling…that of obtaining a doctorate in design and planning.
One supposes, of course, that this revelation would bring a contrite response from Ms. Bailey. However, it seems she really doesn’t understand her egregious behavior is offensive not only to other city employees who the Hickies (and Career Service rules) hold to a higher performance/attendance standard, but, also to citizens, tax payers who’ve probably never in their careers bathed in the luxury of 13.4 weeks off from work. (I’m trying to remember when, in my 23 year career with the city, I enjoyed more than one week off in any given six-month period.) Additionally, those of us who love Denver’s parks and loathe the disgusting disrepair and neglect we see in those parks, are, indeed, offended by Ms. Bailey’s absentee suzerainty of the department responsible for maintaining (neglecting) those jewels of the city.
Ms. Bailey’s response to Chacon’s report speaks not so much to some little recognition that if you ain’t on the job, honey, you ain’t on the job; but, rather, to a sort of insoucient conceit that surely grates as fingernails against a chalkborad. Her response: “If the perception is that my educational pursuits are preventing me from doing the work well, then dicontinuing my studies is a sacrifice I’m willing to make.” Chacon reports she Ms. Bailey said, “…her time away from work didn’t interfere with her job.”
If Chacon’s report is accurate–and we have no reason to believe it isn’t–the inevitable questions arise. Why was Ms. Bailey allowed to utilize sick time if she wasn’t sick? One’s supervisor (the Mayor, in this case), can ask for a doctor’s note (a verification of illness) at any time during any employee’s illness. If I’m remembering correctly, after three days of an employee’s illness, a doctor’s note is mandatory in order for the employee to return to work. Then there’s vacation. Ms. Bailey’s accumulation of vacation time, after 3+ years of employment, is, I believe, capped at two weeks per year. I don’t believe three weeks of vacation time is accumulated until an employee has worked ten years for the city. And now, the most curious issue, “administrative leave.” Chacon reports Ms. Bailey was paid for all the time she was missing in action. Now, a supervisor must approve administrative leave and the same is usually granted if the leave relates specifically to job-related functions. I fail to see how Ms. Bailey’s educational endeavors were job-related. A “leave of absence” (non-paid leave) would, of course, have been the appropriate administrative vehicle for Ms. Bailey to have used.
But, then, it appears that Ms. Bailey’s supervisor, Hickenlooper, wasn’t, um, supervising. I wonder where he thought she was? Did he talk to or see her for those 13.4 weeks of absence? If not, why not? He’s her boss, for Christ’s sake!
Hickenlooper’s read on this whole thing. “…Mayor John Hickenlooper met with [Ms. Bailey] Monday. After the meeting, Hickenlooper said that Bailey would discontinue her graduate program and that she would no longer accept out-of-town speaking engagements. She made the decision to make sure there was no doubt her job comes first, he said.”
“She’s going to make her job her undisputed primary focus,” Hickenlooper said.
Shucks, mam, you just gotta start comin’ to work. Now, big hug for the Hick and, wipe them cryin’ eyes.
No discipline. No payback of ill-got fortune. No holding Ms. Bailey to the same attendance standards that every other city employee is required to follow. Nope. No problem. She’s a Hickie and, thereby, she’s somethin’ pretty special; kind of somethin’ pretty damn precious placed up there on that teflon pedestal where all the other Hickies pirouette with such grand aplomb…as the infrastructure of the city crumbles, as our parks disintegrate.
Oh well… The “business mayor” is just takin’ care of business. Right? I mean… Right?