Former BOE director logged questionable hoursWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben Roberts, the former director of the Lucas County Board of Elections, recorded that he worked eight hours the weekend of Aug. 6 and eight hours the next weekend.
He recorded that he worked four hours the weekend of Sept. 17 and two on Sept. 25. A few hours one weekend, a few the next. By the time he resigned in early December, the weekend total from July to December added up to 66 hours. That’s $3,103.98 worth of work on an $85,594 annual salary for 35-hour workweeks.
But he wasn’t in the office.
Building officials confirmed that One Government Center security policy requires everyone who enters the building on weekends to sign in. Toledo Free Press examined the sign-in logs but could not find Roberts’ name recorded on any Saturday or Sunday he reported working.
“The reality is that he was not here much,” Deputy Director Dan DeAngelis said. “I got tired of playing the game ‘find the missing director’ because it was a game I had to play often and rarely won.”
Roberts told Toledo Free Press that he worked tirelessly — sometimes 80 hours a week — communicating with board members, communicating with the secretary of state’s office, compiling research, studying the best practices of election law and meeting with media.
“With that job, I got up early and I stayed up late,” he said. “There are a lot of things I do on the weekends in which I could be working but not at that building.”
DeAngelis said he does a little work at home — such as making a few phone calls or reading over documents — but that he only claims his hours when he is at the office.
A Toledo Free Press review showed DeAngelis recorded working four weekend days and signed the building security logs for all of those days.
Two logs recorded by two board employees suggest there might have been more hours Roberts was absent.
Rita Clark, who resigned this summer after six years on the board, asked employees to document Roberts’ hours. She had stopped in to meet with the director in the mornings only to find him absent.
The two employee logs are not comprehensive, but the dates in which both tracked Roberts’ activity correspond with each other. On Sept. 30, for example, both employees recorded that Roberts did not show up in the office at all. His time sheets indicate that he worked seven hours that day.
DeAngelis and Clark both said that there is little work to be done outside the office, particularly as the director. Working from home is mostly abnormal, if not impossible, given the duties, Clark said.
“I would be surprised,” DeAngelis said. “I am interested to know what his work product was if he was spending all that time at home doing research for this office.”
There is no policy about working from home in either the secretary of state’s office or the county’s employee manual. However, many portions of the job description involve working together with the deputy director and managing the staff, assuring that employees are meeting responsibilities. Clark questioned how Roberts could fulfill any of these duties if he wasn’t in the office every day from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or later.
“It’s not a typical job,” Roberts said. “I put in many 80-hour weeks that aren’t even recorded on the time sheets.”
The Lucas County Commissioners allocate election board member and employee salaries from the general fund. Generally speaking, the commissioners would not investigate such cases because the jurisdiction falls within the Board of Elections, said the Commissioners’ Chief of Staff Bridgette Kabat.
Democratic Board Member Jim Ruvolo said that if he sees substantial evidence that the time sheets were inaccurate, he would seek the prosecutor’s advice on how to proceed. Ron Rothenbuhler, a Democratic board member, said he could not comment on Roberts’ hours. Republican board member Tony DeGidio referred comments to board member Jon Stainbrook, who did not return a call for comment.
Kabat said there would be no comment from the commissioners’ office regarding Roberts’ hours.
Roberts resigned Dec. 9, writing that rigid partisanship kept him from making positive changes and running an efficient elections board.
Clark resigned about a month after Roberts joined the board. She said the office warped from what was once like a big family to a hostile work environment. She had joined the board in June of 2005 and put voter trust at the forefront, she said.
“You’re working for the people and at the board of elections, you want everything to go smoothly to make those people proud and give them the confidence that yes, their votes are counted,” Clark said. “It’s the taxpayers’ money that is paying your bills and your payroll and you have to live up to that standard.”