New personnel rules proposed to the Mesa City Council would allow the city manager to instill citywide discipline policies — the very issue that incited a lawsuit from police unions last year.
In May, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled that Mesa City Manager Chris Brady violated his legal authority when he decided how Mesa police should be disciplined over misuse of city e-mails.
In response to that ruling, a new personnel policy proposed to the city council would grant the city manager the authority to “direct and implement citywide disciplinary action (discipline that impacts multiple departments).”
The new rule would give Brady the latitude to direct discipline issues should a situation like the e-mail scandal arise in the future, said Mesa human resources director Gary Manning.
“We’re all hoping it doesn’t occur, but we need to give him the authority to do what we all thought he had the authority to do,” he said. “This is our opportunity to say that as the head of an organization, the city manager does have and should have the authority to make sure discipline is provided for and implemented.”
Mesa Police Association President Fabian Cota said the new policy hit him “out of left field.”
“We weren’t consulted on this,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that we weren’t included.”
The public will have a chance to speak on the issue at the Feb. 19 City Council meeting.
The 2006 e-mail investigation found that 521 city employees had sent sexually and racially explicit e-mails. Following the scandal, city management created a disciplinary matrix to rate the severity of the offenses and determine the consequences.
The matrix hit police personnel the hardest, as 200 of the employees cited were from the police department.
The Mesa Police Association filed a lawsuit on behalf of 45 union members, and Superior Court Judge Douglas L. Rayes ruled that Brady stepped on the independence of city departments and violated the Mesa city charter.
Mesa finalized a settlement with the Fraternal Order of Police and the Mesa Police Association on Tuesday.
The settlements allow employees who were disciplined to request that the records be removed from their personnel files after 18 months.
But Cota said the fallout from the lawsuits has been significant.
“It took a lawsuit in order for the right thing to be done,” he said. “It brings a lack of confidence in management.”