September 13, 2006
Augusta city leaders are continuing their investigation into the Recreation and Parks department.
Today, director Tom Beck came to respond to claims he waived education requirements for several jobs without the commission's approval.
Last week, he was on vacation, and that's when claims were presented about Beck along with human resources allegedly violating the city's hiring policies.
Today he was able to tell his side.
It's an investigation city leaders say is still turning up more questions than anything.
This time they're asking why Beck changed job descriptions and waived degree requirements.
"We do not need anyone to be changing job descriptions without going through all of the natural processes that they're supposed to go through," said Commissioner Calvin Holland.
Beck told the committee he got the okay from former city administrator George Kolb, who sent a letter in 2001 requesting minimum education requirements be changed due to difficulties in finding qualified candidates.
"He was my supervisor, he was the administrator, he sent back the approval to change it, that was a decision he made to change it," Beck said.
But the committee told Beck he violated city policy since the changes were never approved by the commission.
"If the commission did not approve it, then it's inappropriate," Holland said.
And while Beck says he knowingly did nothing wrong as far as hiring, at the end of the meeting he did admit he may have violated the city's nepotism policy by allowing one worker to manage another worker, who were both in-laws.
After hours of questioning, Beck told the media how the ongoing investigation is affecting him.
"You feel like there are times maybe your integrity might be questioned a little, but they have the right to ask the questions they feel need to be asked," he said.
Commissioners were expecting to wrap up this investigation today, but we're told there is more they plan to look into, including claims that the department accepted thousands in donations without going through the city's procurement office.