Don’t blame the prison guards. Someone should have explained to them that being told to wear a watch to work didn’t mean going out and buying one for $315 and charging it to taxpayers.
But will the three Luzerne County prison guards who did just that get a slap on the wrist for abusing their clothing allowance? Hopefully not. Hopefully they will be ordered to either reimburse the county or return the expensive watches immediately.
We learned of this latest revelation of public employees thumbing their noses at taxpayers in today’s Times Leader. The newspaper reported that “embattled watchdog” county controller Walter Griffith discovered the purchase and alerted county Manager Robert Lawton, who reportedly was incensed because he only wears a lousy Timex. (just kidding on the last part.)
This all came about after then prison warden Joseph Piazza ordered all prison correction officers to wear watches because one of them submitted a report without noting the time. The guard had a good reason as it turns out. He wasn’t wearing a watch so he didn’ t know what time it was.
Okay, you can stop laughing right now.
Because apparently there are no clocks in the prison, Piazza issued a directive, before retiring, that all guards must wear watches to work, effective Jan. 1. I’m guessing the guards are glad this tyrant is gone.
So three of the prison guards jumped into action and purchased the $315 military-style watches out of their clothing allowances. The TL quoted a website that said the watches are designed to be “better, stronger and stealthier, just like you are.” Cabela’s website said these watches were “originally developed for Navy Seals.”
We should all take comfort in this since at least three of our correction officers are now stronger and stealthier just like their new watches - not to mention that if another Osama bin Laden ends up in the Luzerne County prison, the guards, armed with their new watches, will be ready for him.
The only problem is that watches are not included in the correction officers’ clothing allowance. Under their union contract, the county must deposit annually $425 at one of two designated stores for each guard to buy clothes to wear to work. On top of that, they each get a check for $200. It’s unclear whether they just get those checks no questions asked or only after providing receipts.
And if all of this doesn’t already make you gag, county taxpayers provide newly hired guards with two pairs of trousers, two shirts, a winter jacket, a pair of shoes, a set of handcuffs and a badge, the TL reported.
We’re okay with the badge and handcuffs. But why should we have to pay for their winter jackets and a spare pair of pants? Ask yourself, when was the last time your boss bought you a new winter coat?
County Manager Lawton immediately put a stop to watch purchases. But what about the three smart alecks who bought $315 watches with taxpayers’ money after being told to wear a watch to work?
Since they were not allowable purchases, it’s pretty simple. Make the Navy Seal wannabes either return them or reimburse the county.
- Betty Roccograndi