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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is Palm Beach County School's Chief Financial Officer Joe Moore. They get the award for giving out thousands of incorrect paychecks over the last two months. A new software system is the reason given for the problems that have dated back to July. Yesterday 60 school bus drivers walked off their jobs because of the most recent round of wrong paychecks.

I've been tempted to give the Moore a knucklehead for almost two months, but decided not to hoping they'd get their act together. He hasn't. I'm sure the elected school board, Moore and the bureaucrats who run the county school system have gotten paid, for they'd be howling right now. They apparently care little for what is happening to both teachers(TFM knows a few teachers.), school bus drivers and other employees is just unacceptable. This farce has gone on long enough and if Moore can't do the job, he should resign or be fired.

For failing to do his job and see that school board employees are paid properly, Palm Beach County School Chief Financial Officer Joe Moore is today's knucklehead of the day.

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BOYNTON BEACH — More than 60 Palm Beach County school bus drivers walked off the job Friday afternoon after they said they received inaccurate paychecks for the second time in a month.

The district said a total of 87 drivers either didn't come to work or left early. The problem was most severe at the southern compound.

The walkout kept students in the southern and western parts of the county from getting home on time and prompted concern that the workers may not come back if the problem is not resolved.

The district used backup drivers and mechanics to take over routes of drivers who left, softening the impact of the walkout.

It was unclear how many schools were affected by the absence of the drivers. At Sunrise Park and Del Prado elementary schools in suburban Boca Raton, one bus was 45 minutes late, prompting parents to pack the schools' entrances to pick up children. Rolling Green Elementary was alerted to the potential problem and dismissed students early. Crosspointe Elementary in Boynton Beach reported a bus was 20 minutes late.

Some principals and district officials said late buses are typical on Fridays.

"People sometimes plan Fridays for their doctor's appointments and legitimate stuff," said Nat Harrington, spokesman for the district. "We are not saying our employees are taking advantage of that, but Fridays can be those days that employees want to take a personal day. And as long as they have the time, they can take it."

The paycheck problems that prompted the walkout stem in part from a new software program implemented this summer, which has caused paycheck problems districtwide. The district has yet to determine exactly how many employees received flawed paychecks.

Chief Financial Officer Joe Moore said as many as 300 district employees have had payroll problems that have been fixed. That doesn't include many of the drivers who stayed away Friday.

The district has been trying to resolve the difficulties for two months, but its 12-person payroll department is ill-equipped to correct all of the inaccurate paychecks in a timely fashion.

Initially, more than 60 drivers left the southern compound in Boynton Beach, which transports students in Delray Beach and Boca Raton. But after district officials assured transportation supervisors they would attempt to correct the problems quickly, 30 drivers returned to work, said Valerie McClendon, the compound's senior transportation coordinator.

In Royal Palm Beach, an estimated 20 workers didn't return to work, said Jackie Griffith, a bus driver and union steward. The district has roughly 700 bus drivers.

"Some still haven't gotten paid for the summer yet," Griffith said. "And they are not explaining the situation very well, and that's why there's an uproar."

Kathy Santoli, a union steward in Boynton Beach, said hundreds of drivers received inaccurate paychecks, including some who got significantly more money than they were due. The most common problems were not getting overtime pay or merit pay, which rewards drivers for coming to work and avoiding accidents.

For some drivers, the problem was compounded by the fact that they get two more paychecks this year than last year — but the same salary — making it appear they are making less money.

"I guess most people figured it would be fixed by now and now they're mad," Santoli said.

Last month, Frank Sosa, who represents the drivers, filed a class-action grievance against the district for not paying employees properly. On Friday, when paychecks were given out, he drove around to each of the district's six compounds to see if problems had persisted.

"I talked to more than 300 employees and everyone said their checks weren't accurate," said Sosa, who plans to bring dozens of drivers to this month's school board meeting to voice their complaints.

Despite the problems and the walkout, district and union officials are confident drivers will return Monday.


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