Bosses should not supervise their relatives

Warren city worker Celestino DiVieste, who was caught driving a city truck during work hours last month to a restaurant where he remained for nearly two hours, now is challenging his punishment.

DiVieste argues that his 40-day unpaid suspension is too severe.

A grievance hearing will be scheduled, and we suspect his union representation will argue that the punishment should be softened.

His supervisor, Warren Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa, who also happens to be DiVieste’s nephew, handled the investigation and disciplinary action, finding him guilty of gross misuse of city equipment; gross neglect and dereliction of duty; and being absent without leave.

While DiVieste has not been charged with any crime, we believe he could have been — possibly even with theft of time or services, considering he was absent without leave while collecting his hourly pay rate of $18.21 while he was away.

It’s no secret that organized labor and management frequently view employment and disciplinary actions very differently. Still, we have a hard time believing anyone — labor unions or management — would argue that theft of time or services does not deserve harsh punishment.

Based on that, coupled with prior disciplinary action against DiVieste, we see no reason this suspension should not be upheld. Not only is the punishment justifiable, but we question whether it shouldn’t have been even more severe.

Even city Councilman Ken MacPherson is pointing out that if DiVieste worked elsewhere, it’s very likely he would have been fired.

Councilman John Brown told the Cleveland area news station that first reported on DiVieste’s stay at the restaurant that it was common knowledge DiVieste spent much time there in the city truck on a regular basis.

He now says he told Cantalamessa more than a year ago about those allegations involving DiVieste. Cantalamessa tells us that’s simply not true and that he only became aware of the incident when the Cleveland news station brought it to light. Brown has failed to return multiple messages we left requesting that he elaborate on the statement he made to the Cleveland news station, Fox 8.

Cantalamessa tells us the extent of his investigation was limited to asking Fox 8 for the station’s raw footage, which they declined to provide. He did not further question Brown about what he knew, and he did not investigate any further.

Certainly, it appears Cantalamessa passed on the opportunity to dig further into this incident or to get to the bottom of how frequently DiVieste was using work time and his work vehicle for activities that weren’t work related.

Now Councilman MacPherson is bringing forth legislation that would ban city officials from supervising or disciplining any family member or more distant relative. That would be an expansion of current city policies that apply only to immediate family.

Good.

For the protection of everyone involved — including eliminating even the appearance of impropriety — no employee should ever be supervised by a relative.

Whether or not Cantalamessa’s limited approach to this investigation stems from his relationship to DiVieste is unclear. But we do know we are disappointed with Cantalamessa’s reaction, and we believe it paints a picture of favoritism.

Cantalamessa should have seen that coming and should have stepped away from the investigation and the subsequent disciplinary hearing. Mayor Doug Franklin should be embarrassed by this situation, and he should have ordered Cantalamessa to step away.

Since the administration failed to take that logical action, we see no other option but to legislate the situation.

We agree with MacPherson’s legislation that would create new bans on employees being supervised by relatives. Council should adopt the measure in an effort to guarantee this never happens.

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