Newburgh city manager says DPW head’s Facebook post to be ‘taken seriously’

Newburgh City Manager Michael Ciaravino said a Facebook post in which Public Works Superintendent George Garrison seemed to vent about an unnamed employee or employees’ work ethic is taken “very seriously” and not going to be “swept under the rug.”

In a post last week, George Garrison wrote: “Wanted: If you are not ambitious, don’t want to work, show up once in a while, be a straight up scum… and lie through your teeth, please fill out an application with the City of Newburgh for openings. Again we are not looking for hard working honest people.”

During Monday’s Council meeting, Ciaravino used part of his regular update to address the post, which drew complaints from Councilwoman Cindy Holmes, DPW workers and the Civil Service Employees Association, which represents the department’s rank-and-file.

“It not only reflects on all of our employees, which I know the overwhelming majority of them not only work hard but they’re busting their backsides to get work done at rocket speed around here,” Ciaravino said. “I personally feel it reflects on me as well.”

Garrison defended the post, saying he has a First Amendment right to post what he wants on his Facebook page and that other Newburgh employees have posted disparaging remarks about him and city officials without punishment.

But Billy Riccaldo, president for the Southern Region of the Civil Service Employees Association, called the post a “rant” and a violation of DPW rules.

Under city workplace rules revised in 2012 and applicable to both union and non-union DPW workers,“ no employee shall publicly criticize or ridicule the City, Department, its policies or other employees by any manner, shape or form.”

“While this matter, by no means, is going to be swept under the rug, it’s not going to be hurried to a just conclusion,” Ciaravino said.

“We are going to handle this in the manner prescribed, and I can assure all of you that if you’re feeling even half of what I do, as it relates to how that reflected on our community, this matter’s going to be handled in the serious manner that’s required.”

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