To the Editor:
I attended the Middletown Common Council meeting Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, with the aim of bringing attention to and question the consistency of certain standards used by senior leadership in the City of Middletown towards employees.
It came to my attention and probably to the attention of many others that there was an incident recently that involved a member of your staff who was arrested for a DUI, outside of work hours. I repeat, outside of the workplace and outside of regular work hours.
Within a few weeks, less than a month, that individual was given an ultimatum – be forced to resign or be terminated. The individual was terminated, no longer an employee of the City of Middletown.
It also came to my attention and probably to the attention of many others that there was an incident recently that involved a city employee who admitted having possessed and used cocaine, on the job, here at City Hall, not far from this very room. Yet this individual was allowed to come back to work.
Clearly both offenses are upsetting but quite different based on the law and even policies and procedures of this city.
According to the City of Middletown Personnel Rules, Revised, April 4, 2016, under Behavior of Employees Policy, Section #2 Prohibited Behavior, the following conduct is prohibited and will subject the individual involved to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
- the reporting to work under the influence of alcoholic beverages and/or illegal drugs and narcotics or the use, sale, dispensing or possession of alcoholic beverages and /or illegal drugs and narcotics on City of Middletown premises
When an employee cited for DUI, usually a misdemeanor, is asked to leave or be terminated even when the event happened outside of work, and another employee who was cited for and admitted to a felony, possession of narcotics within the workplace, is allowed to come back to work, there seems to be a severe inconsistency regarding punishment. It is especially egregious if the individual asked to leave was a person of color and the individual allowed to stay, was white.
In a recent letter honoring a legacy civil rights organization in this community, Mayor Florsheim wrote, “We understand by our presence here, that power does not come free. We know, from the fights we have been a part of over the years, that those who hold and wield power also guard their power jealously—not always because they are using it for good.” The mayor went on to write, “How we proceed from here has everything to do with power—who has it, who uses it, and to what ends. So let us come to know and recognize our own power as a city, to dismantle the systems and power structures whose time is gone, and to continue building the beloved community we all believe in.”
The systems and power structures of yesterday… nepotism, cronyism, covert and overt racism MUST STOP. Their time is gone. Only you and this council can hold people accountable, with consistency. Keeping equity and integrity at the core of our conversations, are just the starting points to dismantling the systems that perpetuate nepotism, cronyism, covert and overt racism, and the power structures he wrote about so convincingly.
So, Mayor Florsheim, as the leader of this city, I implore you to fully investigate the situation and take immediate action regarding the imbalance of punishment levied on one person…and not the other. Look at the “systems and power structures” within the City of Middletown that have set up double standards that for decades have negatively affected people of color.
Anita Ford Saunders, APR