Reprimanded Animal Services workers can stay on

One agrees to a demotion , and the other has a chance to appeal a recommended suspension.

Published January 9, 2007

Two Animal Services employees sharply reprimanded in a recent county investigation will remain employed by the county, Human Resources director Randy Petitt said Monday.

In an investigation released in December, director of Public Safety Charles Poliseno said Barbara Geer and William Gordon should be fired.

But Gordon has agreed to a demotion instead, Petitt said. And after an appeal hearing on Dec. 29, director of Public Works Glenn McCracken recommended suspending Geer for five days without pay.

The veteran county employee also must attend and complete an anger management course at her own expense, McCracken wrote in a letter outlining his findings last week.

Geer has five days to decide whether to appeal McCracken's decision, Petitt said.

Petitt said Gordon "chose not to have a hearing," deciding to take a demotion and transfer instead. He will work as a maintenance worker for the county's Water Resource Department, with a wage of $8.97 per hour.

Geer and Gordon could not be reached for comment Monday.

Poliseno's investigation report detailed an alleged altercation between Geer and Gordon in the Animal Shelter parking lot Aug. 10.

Geer told Poliseno in interviews that she grabbed Gordon's shirt for several seconds and pulled him closer to her "so he knew she was serious."

Gordon told Poliseno that Geer drove toward him, grabbed him by his undershirt and pulled him in her truck window.

The report also includes multiple descriptions of "horseplay" at the shelter, including allegations that Gordon threw water balloons at other employees and exposed his nipple rings.

Poliseno recommended firing Geer for "fighting while on duty." He recommended firing Gordon for "conduct unbecoming a county employee."

In a letter to Geer, McCracken said details from the appeal hearing and information from her personnel file did not support her firing.

But he said her behavior Aug. 10 did not meet the standards expected of a county employee.

"Your conduct during this episode created a very tense situation for all concerned. ... Any further incidents of this nature or further displays of anger involving you will seriously jeopardize your continued employment with Citrus County," McCracken wrote in a letter to Geer last week.

The reprimands of Geer and Gordon came amid a larger investigation of the county's Animal Services division. Former director Xan Rawls resigned from her post last month, citing personal reasons.

This week county officials are slated to meet with representatives from the Humanitarians of Florida to discuss the possibility of privatizing the county's animal shelter.

Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at cshoichet@sptimes.com or 860-7309.