View Full Version : Read the paper tomorrow...

10-26-2007, 01:12 AM
Read the St. Pete Times tomorrow.

10-26-2007, 06:01 AM
Campus police salary brings bias complaint
USF St. Petersburg's chief raised the pay of a new hire by $6,959.
By NICOLE HUTCHESON, Times Staff Writer
Published October 26, 2007


Five police officers at USF St. Petersburg have filed a discrimination complaint against the department, accusing the police chief of playing favorites.

The controversy stems from the May hiring of Jonathan Dye, a former campus officer who left in 2006 to work for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Dye was hired for a position that had an advertised salary of $35,041. However, personnel records show Dye's salary is $42,000. His direct supervisor, acting Sgt. Ada Bell, earns $4,000 less.

The officers contend that Dye is paid more because he is friends with Rene "Benny" Chenevert, chief of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

The university's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which oversees both campuses, has opened an investigation into their complaint.

"Our rewards system appears to be based on favoritism and cronyism rather than education, expertise and knowledge base," said Pearl Williamson, a recruitment specialist for the St. Petersburg campus and liaison to the Tampa campus-based EEOC office.

School officials are calling the issue an "administrative oversight."

"We've identified a problem," said Holly Kickliter, a spokeswoman for USF St. Petersburg. "We realize we have to change our process."

Hiring managers have the power to negotiate pay only if the job listing indicates there is a salary range being offered, she said. In this case, the advertised salary was not negotiable.

"We do that because if we had advertised at $41,000 we could have gotten more applicants," Williamson said. "That's the primary reason why you've got to stay within the advertised range. Otherwise, it's deceptive advertising."

Salary was changed

A hiring report filed in April listed Dye's final salary as $35,041. It was signed by Williamson, Chenevert and Ashok Dhingra, the campus's regional vice chancellor for administrative and financial services.

Later, the police chief upped Dye's offer to $42,000.

"I didn't realize I didn't have the latitude or flexibility to hire above base," said Chenevert, who has supervised the seven-member department for three years and earns an annual salary of $77,651.

Chenevert attributed Dye's higher salary to his knowledge of the campus.

"This officer was a former employee of ours, starting out in communications, and he was sponsored through the academy by our department and was later promoted to sergeant," Chenevert said. "With that being said, he knew our campus well. Once he decided he'd like to return I felt this was a prime candidate."

Bell complained to the chief about Dye's bump in pay after learning of it in July.

"We're all doing the same job, and we should all be getting the same pay," she said.

In July, Sgt. John Spicuglia wrote a memo to the chief expressing concerns about Dye's pay and the effect it was having on officer morale.

In August, the officers called a meeting with the chief, but said they left with few answers.

"He Chenevert said he went behind closed doors and it wasn't that easy to get that $42,000 for Dye," Bell recalled from the meeting. "I said then, 'Why didn't you go around those same doors and get us some more money?'"

Chenevert said he recalled the August meeting, but does not remember the specifics of what was said.

"I thought once again that I had the flexibility to hire at this rate," he said.

When asked about the hiring document he signed listing Dye's salary at $35,041, he said: "I saw it at the very beginning, but at the end I was not really cognizant of what the posting was or what my flexibility was to hire above that."

What's still unclear is how Chenevert's order to pay Dye $42,000 was approved by human resources officials, who process new hires and salary offers, according to policy.

"Perhaps the lack of policy may be explained by the fact that the University of South Florida St. Pete is breaking with Tampa and hasn't evolved to the stage where their policies are clear and understood," said St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Goliath Davis, the university's senior adviser for diversity and community affairs. "Nonetheless this case demonstrates a need for appropriate checks and balances."

University officials say they are readvertising Dye's position. Dye, who could not be reached for comment, will have to reapply and is not guaranteed the job. And the $42,000 is off the table, Chenevert said.

'Crippled morale'

Even with attempts to correct the situation, Williamson said the incident has "severely crippled morale at USF St. Pete."

And some feel the situation may be indicative of a deeper problem.

"My experience is revealing that there appears to be a lack of adherence to policy and procedures, which is generating some discord with employees," Davis said. "And to some extent the discord runs along racial lines."

Even though the chief is also black, Bell said she plans to file a complaint with the NAACP over the discrepancy in pay for Dye, who is white.

Nicole Hutcheson can be reached at nhutcheson@sptimes.com or (727)893-8828.

10-26-2007, 12:11 PM
It sounds like USF HR is taking care of this problem. I dont's see how this is a NAACP complaint???. Unless Bell is being under paid compared to other co workers with similar job experience, education, or rank.

10-26-2007, 12:50 PM
Its all just a ploy to NOT pay USF officers any more money. USFs administration is spineless. Tampa and St. Pete officers need to get together and take care of this.

10-28-2007, 02:40 AM
Why doesnt the school disban the police department and pay the local police to have cops assigned to the campus ?

10-28-2007, 02:47 AM
Campus Security Act 1990, passed by Bush.

10-31-2007, 03:33 AM
Campus Security Act 1990, passed by Bush.

Doesnt require CAMPUS police, only require the reporting of statistics. In fact there is a Community college in Sarasota/bradenton that is bigger than our USF st. pete campus. The have security guards ONLY, not armed.

10-31-2007, 09:02 AM
FSS 1012.97 University police.--

(1) Each university is
empowered and directed to provide for police officers for the university, and such police officers shall hereafter be known and designated as the "university police."

Community colleges are not required to have police.