Mayor Jeri Muoio, responding to a story in Sunday’s Palm Beach Post, ordered an investigation into the bitter disputes sweeping the city-run regional sewage plant and offered jobs to two employees who had been disciplined.
In a three-prong response, the mayor told commissioners Tuesday that she also would investigate whether city employees interfered in the work of the commission’s watchdog internal auditor, bring in a consultant to examine the city’s Human Resources Department and investigate the sewage plant, which has been the subject of worker complaints for years.
“I think there are significant personnel issues that must be addressed,” Muoio said.
As for the two employees who were yanked out of a tour with the internal auditor and sent home without pay, both would have jobs. Plant manager Rolando Nigaglioni, fired last week, has been offered the job of asset and capital planning manager, reporting directly to an assistant city administrator. He had not yet notified the city if he would take it.
The plant superintendent placed on unpaid leave, Scott Galloway, was told to report to his old job this morning, with full back pay.
The city’s investigations into whether they falsified a state certification application would be dropped, allowing the state to complete its probe. Both men said they did nothing wrong.
On Aug. 16, as they toured the plant with Roger Strout, the internal auditor, both men were ordered to city hall by officials in the Human Resources Department, whose director resigned about a week later. The men were suspended without pay and Nigaglioni fired 11 days later.
Both were prepared to answer the auditor’s questions concerning their boss, Joe Carlini, an assistant utilities director and former plant manager, The Post reported. The auditor had been receiving complaints about Carlini from workers, both signed and anonymous. Carlini has been reassigned since Aug. 21 so that he doesn’t oversee the plant anymore. He retains his $103,000 annual salary.
Muoio huddled with top officials this morning after returning from a weeklong vacation.
“It became very clear, very quickly that more was going on here,” city spokesman Elliot Cohen said. “We want to give these guys the opportunity to start over and give them the benefit of the doubt.”
Many employees complained that Carlini and HR managers disciplined employees out of Carlini’s favor while sweeping aside complaints against Carlini.
Muoio put the plant — which treats sewage for about 500,000 customers from the city, parts of the county and Lake Worth, Palm Beach and Riviera Beach — under Scott Kelly, who began working as an assistant city administrator on July 15. He will oversee the investigation of the personnel issues at the plant.
She told commissioners she took the auditor’s independence seriously. The auditor is one of the few city employees who reports to the commission, rather than the mayor.
“No one in this city can interfere with the work that he’s doing,” Muoio said. “If there was any interference with the internal auditor, those people will be disciplined.”