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Tampa public works employee caught making dozens of unauthorized trips in city truck on city time

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Via Adam Walser of WFTS-TV:

He was fired after the City of Tampa caught him visiting restaurants, stores and even more in his city truck on city time.

But now a Tampa Public Works employee is speaking out, saying he was not the only city worker wasting taxpayers’ money.

“I was never told I couldn’t get the truck and ride around,” Mark Williams said.

Williams was fired by Tampa Public Works last week.

For nearly 15 years, he set up and took down cones and signs for special events like Buccaneers games, Gasparilla and the Republican National Convention.

“I might work 15, I might work 18, it done been times I worked 21 hours in one day,” Williams said.

The ABC Action News I-Team discovered Williams earned $111,000 in overtime over the past 10 years.

But between Feb. 3 and Feb. 7, Williams’ discipline report said he barely did any work at all.

After receiving anonymous complaints that his truck was seen outside his assigned work area, the city put a GPS tracker on the vehicle.

A report prepared using information from the tracker showed Williams made 36 unauthorized stops outside his assigned work area during a single week.

Some of the stops included Ikea, the Florida Lottery Office, the Florida Child Support Office, apartment complexes, Denny’s, McDonald’s, 7-Eleven and several stores and restaurants.

Records show Williams spent two hours and 13 minutes on three visits to a Jamaican restaurant in one day.

“One of the guys, when I bought my food, he wanted some, so I took him back and he went and got some,” Williams said.

He said that during half of the days his travels were being monitored, he had a temporary worker paid by the city to assist him.

“Well it’s always been like that for the last 10 years. They always picked up, and we supervise them,” Williams said.

And he said it’s common for public works employees to do personal errands during “down time.”

“It’s a lot of stops, but like I said, I could make those stops or be out here sitting around,” Williams said.

The city declined an on-camera interview, saying the discipline “speaks for itself.”

Williams has filed an appeal, saying union rules said he should have been reprimanded and suspended before being fired.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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