Beaver County Controller David Rossi is demanding commissioners remove his nonunion employees from a county time card system that validates the hours they work each week.
The move by Rossi came after BeaverCountian.com revealed state investigators have begun inquiring into a company owned by him and Deputy Controller William Calhoon. In a new revelation, BeaverCountian.com has obtained five years of Calhoon’s time cards, which show they’ve been routinely altered and do not match the times he’s entered the courthouse using his access card.
Agents with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office have asked county officials to provide them with documents detailing some of the actions of Rossi and Calhoon, who have been buying properties at public auction tax sales through their company iCPR LLC. The company is registered to the law offices of attorney Albert Torrence, who also serves as solicitor for the Controller’s Office.
In a Jan. 24 BeaverCountian.com article detailing their private business ventures, Rossi insisted that he and Calhoon were not conducting any personal business activities on county time.
Commissioners Dan Camp and Sandie Egley have been advised of issues involving Calhoon’s time sheets by county employees who have reviewed them. The time sheets have been “corrected” manually by the Controller’s office each week, and county officials say they have found that records kept by a courthouse security system show discrepancies between the amended time sheets and logs detailing the times Calhoon used an access keycard to enter a courthouse side door.
On several occasions in recent weeks, other county employees noted to BeaverCountian.com that Calhoon has pulled up to the courthouse in a dump truck and quickly entered and left the building during the workday.
Five years worth of Calhoon’s time cards obtained by BeaverCountian.com show they are regularly altered manually from the automatic entries made by the system as he logs in and out of his computer workstation. A comparison of Calhoon’s time cards with his building access keycard records show the abundant discrepancies noted by officials.
For example, on Oct. 19 of last year, Calhoon’s timecard shows him starting work at 10 a.m. and leaving at 4:15 p.m. But records from a courthouse side access door that requires a tracked key card not available to most county employees, show him arriving at 1:29 p.m. Key cards are not required to leave that side door. Calhoon nearly always uses the side door to enter and exit the building.
Rossi was dismissive of the discrepancies when BeaverCountian.com reached him on Friday.
“I don’t understand what that has to do with anything? What does that prove? That proves nothing. That’s not viable. … Matching up the times? If I walk in (the door) with somebody else the times on the door aren’t logged for me. He could be going out and coming back in. … I don’t know the ins-and-outs of that stuff.”
According to county officials, the day after BeaverCountian.com’s Jan. 24 investigative report was published, Calhoon met with county Payroll Director Barbara Rossi (no relation to David Rossi) and demanded that he and two other nonunion employees in the Controller’s Office be removed from the county’s time clock system. The system tracks the coming and going of county employees by monitoring when they log in and out of their computer workstations and through fingerprint readers installed in the courthouse.
Barbara Rossi documented her interaction with Calhoon in an email to county commissioners on Jan. 29.
“On Friday and again yesterday, Will Calhoon came to me telling me to (sic) Pat Franitti, Sonia Joseph and him on ‘auto pay’ since they are salary. He also stated ‘it’s no one’s business if he comes in at 10 and leaves at 3 or whatever he does. He’s the Chief Deputy.’ Please advise as to what I’m to do.”
In response to the email, county commissioners met with Human Resources Director Sidney Shaw and decided that no action would be taken as the request was not made by David Rossi, the office’s elected official.
Barbara Rossi subsequently received an email from David Rossi on Thursday, formally requesting that Calhoon and the two other nonunion employees of his office be removed from the time tracking system, and that they be paid by their scheduled workweek rather than by time clocked in and out.
“Please have all nonunion employees pay to schedule,” he wrote.
Rossi said he is puzzled with concerns being raised by commissioners.
“I don’t think anyone in the county knows the laws about salary employees,” Rossi said.
“Salary employees are salary employees. … Does anyone know what a salary employee is? It’s not an hourly worker. … (Calhoon) does his job, that’s my point. This is picking out one employee. What about the other employees in this county? They have 50 or 100 people paid to schedule. What about them? This makes no sense.”
The county’s law department told BeaverCountian.com its office has been made aware of the issue and is still reviewing the matter.
Calhoon told BeaverCountian.com that he puts in his time and does his job.
“I make sure I put in my 70 hours (every two weeks) as a salary employee, and if not I use vacation and sick time,” Calhoon said.
“If there’s anytime I do come in at 11 and I do put in I came in at 9:30, it’s became I was doing something earlier that morning or the night before from home. I review hundreds of records a week. If you look at any county document my name is on it, I sign it. There is nothing that physically couldn’t get done in the county because I wasn’t able to ok or approve it. That’s every expense slip, employee record, you name it, I’m the final signature before it gets passed on.”
Camp said any issues involving Calhoon’s absence from work are David Rossi’s responsibility.
“This is a personnel issue with David Rossi, not the commissioners. But the commissioners will now be addressing the issue of time cards on a county-wide basis.”
Egley expressed outrage at Rossi’s request to have his office removed from the time card system.
“Beaver County government does not need less accountability,” said Egley. “Maybe everyone can just come in whenever they want and we’ll just write out paychecks for them all. I will absolutely not approve this, a hard ‘no’ on that from me. The public wants accountability in government. I will talk with our law department about this and will be bringing it up at the next public meeting.”
Rossi told BeaverCountian.com he has not been contacted by state investigators but is not concerned about their inquiries into the company being run by he and Calhoon.
“They can do what they want,” Rossi said. “There’s nothing there.”
Calhoon concurred, “Everything is 100% above board.”
Commissioner Tony Amadio, Payroll Director Barbara Rossi, and Human Resources Director Sidney Shaw could not immediately be reached for comment.