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Kingman Daily Miner | Kingman, Arizona

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6/12/2012 6:00:00 AM
Jerry Sides: I'm being punished for campaigning
Public Works employee says County Manager Ron Walker is behind his suspension
Jerry Sides
Jerry Sides

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - A county employee believes County Manager Ron Walker is trying to punish him because he is running for the District 1 Supervisor's seat.

Walker was contacted but did not return calls seeking a comment. Public Information Officer Darryle Purcell said the county does not discuss personnel matters.

Jerry Sides is a senior facilities and grounds worker for the Mohave County Public Works Department. On May 21, Sides and two other Public Works employees were placed on a 10-day paid administrative leave.

Sides said he was not given a reason why he or the other two employees were put on leave. He believes that Walker may be trying to punish him for his opposition to the new County Public Works Building and the questions he has raised about county equipment and employees being used to complete some of the work.

At first, an investigator hired by the county told Sides he was placed on leave because two Public Works employees had complained that he was campaigning while at work.

Sides said the investigator asked him a number of questions about a trip he took on his day off to the Beaver Dam and Littlefield areas in northern Mohave County. While in the area, he met up with two other public works employees, who agreed to show him around on their day off.

He said he has never campaigned while on the job and did not coerce the two employees into driving him around.

"They could have said no at any time and I would have been fine with that," Sides said.

He grew more suspicious about the investigation when he received a call a few days before his leave was due to end and was notified that his leave had been extended and he was to report for another interview on June 5.

This time, the investigator asked questions about Sides county cell phone and computer use.

Sides admitted that he occasionally receives phone calls on the phone from his elderly parents and an ill friend. However, he asked and was told when he first received his county cell phone that personal phone calls could be accepted but should be kept to a minimum.

He also admitted that he sometimes searches for things on the Internet while on lunch, but everyone in the office does it and he doesn't feel that he's abused the privilege. He's also never seen anyone called on the carpet for doing it.

Sides said Walker is using the county's Human Resources Department to get rid of him.

"(Walker's) the only one who has the authority to do something like this," he said.

Walker doesn't want to retire and doesn't want a new Board of Supervisors, Sides said. He wants Gary Watson, Tom Sockwell and Buster Johnson to get re-elected so he can claim the Board wants him to stay on as county manager.

Sides said he is a threat to Walker because he has vowed to fire him and get rid of the four deputy county managers, if he is elected.

Sides pointed to a request Walker made to the Board in November that the county merit rules be changed to require county employees to resign from their jobs in order to run for elected office as proof.

"I was the only county employee who had announced at that time that they were running for office," Sides said.

In November, Walker defended the merit rule changes saying that the county has had significant difficulties in the past with county employees running for office while still working at the county. He pointed to the 2008 Treasurer's race, which pitted Melissa Havatone, who worked in the office at the time, against Lee Fabrizio, who was the treasurer at the time.

Walker also said he was trying to level the playing field for employees who did want to run. Some employees may not be able to get the time off from work to run for office, even if they wanted to, he said. Their particular department may need them on a daily basis or their boss, who they may be running against, may be reluctant to give them the time off. What happens when one employee gets the time off but the other can't, he asked.

The Board did not approve Walker's request.

Sides also believes that Walker is punishing him because he has drawn attention to the fact that county equipment and personnel are being used to work the soil at the site of the new Public Works Building.

He said the contractor, Mesa-based Concord, notified the county shortly after starting work on the project that a sub-contractor hired to dig into the soil encountered conditions its equipment could not handle.

This should have required a change order in the contract to allow the contractor to hire additional equipment, which would have cost the county an extra $100,000, Sides said. This would have required approval from the Board of Supervisors. Instead, county officials decided to not to do a change order and to use county equipment and employees to handle the soil situation. In exchange, the contractor would improve the protection for the main fiber optic line into the building.

Sides said he also heard that county staff working at the site was told to keep quiet.

Sides also pointed out that millings from the state yard are being transported to the site for use as fill. The county has an agreement with the state that the millings are not supposed to be sold or given away, he said.

According to Sides, the county could be in violation of this agreement because the contractor "owns" the site until the project is finished and it is turned over to the county.

County Public Information Officer Darryle Purcell stated in an email, "The Public Works facility construction contract is being followed. Any changes are going through proper change order processes and so far there has been a zero-cost impact to the contract."

A review of the contract for the project shows that contractors are responsible for inspecting the site and making sure they can handle the conditions before they bid on a project. It also states that contractors are required to notify the county as soon as possible about any situations they may not be able to handle. It is then up to the county as to how to handle the situation.

Sides said he plans to fight back. He has already spoken to and plans to hire an attorney to represent him.

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Related Stories:
• Sides: Silence of witnesses sabotages case
• Sides' case ripped apart at appeals reading
• Three Mohave County employees placed on administrative leave

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, June 15, 2012
Article comment by: Do Tell

Aw, Mister Sides you have just felt the first blow of dirty politics. I believe if Ron Walker wants you gone, be asurred you will be. It would not be the first time political powers have used intimidation to prevent the desire and ability of a person to run for office. If you believe in the reasons you are running for office then this will be your first test.

I voted for Gary Watson because I thought he would stand his ground on what he knows is in the best interest of the people of the county. Unfortuantly he on many occasions went along to get along. We don't need people like that in office. What we need is someone who will take the heat and hold to his/her beliefs and promises made to the people of the county. You may always get out voted and change may never come but at least it shows you tried. The county supervisor's are Ron Walker's boss not the other way around. It would be wise to remember that for anyone in or running for office.

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Article comment by: Roy Leggett

I have omly lived here a few years but I can not believe the people of Mohave county would put up with Walker, Johnson and their mafia mentality. These people need to realize they work for the people not for themselves. I have lived in 48 states and 6 foriegn countrries and have never seen such a screwed-up county government.The people need to take back control of this country, starting at the City-County level, then State, and finally Federal . Government needs to wake up and realize they work for the people not for themselves..

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Article comment by: No name provided

Also To Jerry Sides

Everyone needs to remember that Gary Watson voted in favor of Ron Walker’s contract the first time. He also voted ‘yes’ on the appointment of four very expensive Deputy County Managers. Maybe he didn’t vote for Walker’s contract the second time because it is campaign season and he knew the other two supervisors would vote for Walker’s contract to be renewed.
If Gary Watson dislikes Ron Walker so much and wants to get rid of him, why, in the four years of Gary Watson’s term, has he never put it on the agenda to fire Ron Walker? It is all smoke and mirrors from ALL the good old boys.

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Article comment by: No name provided

@ Thinking it over.

You apparently have not been following the newspaper articles about Mr Sides. The county administration let information leak in order to discredit Mr Sides. He simply responded with the truth. You, also, do not understand that The Daily Miner and the other papers are unable to get information from the county or its propaganda officer who writes his own stories then tells the papers to publish them. That is how Pravda used to operate in the USSR. There is no transparency from the county administration, only walls around Ron Walker’s fortress stronghold.

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Article comment by: Give it up should get it right

Jerry Sides cocky? The answer is 'No'.
Does he tell it like it is? Yes.
I like that. It is about time we have a candidate who does.
If you are comparing Jerry Sides to Ron Walker, it is obvious you do not really know Mr Sides at all. It sounds as if you may be one of Ronny's minions.

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Article comment by: Leonard Crabtree

Side's concernes regarding the construction of the new Public Works building sound awfully bureaucratic, especially considering his anti-establishment, anti-waste and anti-political correctness positions.

So, I am guessing when Mr. Sides becomes supervisor, he will do everything by the book even it means wasteful spending of tax payer dollars.

Am I wrong?

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Article comment by: Come on People!

HR and the Board say they can not discuss personnel issues after they leak out the information to everyone and their brother. Hello People!! Look at this board's past. If you are a threat you are gone! Wake up. Come on now, this not free campaign publicity. Mr. Sides is a family man and his livelihood, his means of taking care of his family, is on the line because he is telling us the truth. Because the corruption we have taken a blind eye to is now in our face. The truth hurts the board. So, what do WE do about it?

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Article comment by: Joe Blow

Somebody asked for some "investigative reporting from the Daily Miner."

That will be the day. They don't get much heavier than traffic tieups on Stockton Hill Road.

Someday maybe Kingman will get lucky and have a newspaper that has some intestinal fortitude. Maybe if Walker knew he had some people on his tail he'd clean up his act. Ain't gonna happen given this environment.

Sadly the Daily Miner isn't much better than lining one's bird cage.

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Article comment by: Give It Up

I've dealt with Jerry Sides at work, and I am of the opinion that is he is no better than Ron Walker and he's cocky. I won't be voting for him.

I agree the miner should do some investigative reporting instead of giving him "face time" in the paper.

I'd be surprised if he wins. Surely the last two elections should tell him what people think.

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

If one has done nothing wrong, then being fired/put on leave illegally can result in a very profitable civil law suit, any good lawyer worth his salt can determine if its one of them gift horse cases they all love! Now if one has done a act contrary to policy, campaign law one might better slither away and count ones blessings they were not indicted! Cannot say but it will come out in the political wash as they say!

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Article comment by: Sounds Fishy

All of this sounds fishy. He said she said is basically what I am reading here. One side can't and won't say a thing and the other is just spewing his beliefs. Give us facts I say, not hear say!

I just wish the elections were here so we can put all this bickering behind us and move on!

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Article comment by: Al DiCicco

This is a struggle for the establishment to maintain cronyism and the status quo of power in this county and country It will fail. We are taking over the Republic with actual conservatives with ethics that follow the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Walker was supposed to be gone. Why is he still here?

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Article comment by: Truth Balance And Order

It sure sounds like the county manager has it out for Jerry Sides. Why won't the supervisors step in and tell Little Ronnie Eugene Walker to step back and leave things alone. If they don't then the county could be in violation of eleciton laws.

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Article comment by: thinking it over

Having worked in Human Resources in the past, I know that HR or anyone else involved can NOT discuss personnel matters. That gives Mr. Sides a wide open avenue to tell the story he wants the public to hear. Maybe some investigative reporting by the Miner would be in order. Some of the people who work or have worked with him may have some interesting stories to tell.

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Article comment by: David Gaither

Just one more example why this County Supervisor Board needs a complete clean out!

County voters, if this county is ever to get back to a sane county govt....all the incumbents must go. First order of business after that...FIRE WALKER and his deputies!

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Article comment by: To Jerry Sides

Watson dislikes Walker to the extreme and vice versa. Watson would have gotten rid of Walker if not for Johnson and Sockwell. Walker would do anything to save his butt right now. Anything.

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Article comment by: Trained Observer

Others know why this has happened so I sort of think he does too. Saying he doesn't know is one way to get more publicity for his attempt to be elected. The Miner needs to quit giving free publicity to people.

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Article comment by: Sides getting bum deal?

Sounds like Sides may be a threat to existing County staff if elected. Walker should be gone and the current BOS did not do the County Residents a favor when they renewed his last contract. Our County is a laughing stock and Walker is mainly to blame. The current BOS should be voted out. Sides sounds like he will make adequate changes and I hope he gets voted in. Seems to be the most qualified among candidates and existing Supervisor in District 1.

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