New job for coordinating cleaning of Monroe County jail now has description, on clear path to creation

Now finally settled is the wording of the job description for a new position at Monroe County’s jail, which is supposed to help put the jail into a clean and sanitary condition and keep it that way.

The job description was the topic of a Friday noon meeting of the county council’s personnel administration committee (PAC), which agreed to forward the job description to Waggoner, Irwin, and Sheele, Inc. (WIS)—which is the county’s HR consultant.

WIS will incorporate the job description into the county’s job classification scheme, which determines compensation. The final step in the process will be for the full county council to approve the creation of the position, and its compensation.

That approval could come at the county council’s March 14 meeting.

The PAC consists of county councilors Geoff McKim, Peter Iversen, and Marty Hawk.

County commissioners do not have a formal role in the county’s process for creating new positions.

The new position’s origins in 2019 are evident in the “Date Written” note in the red-lined version of the final job description. The final wording was hammered out on Thursday by county attorneys and representatives of the sheriff’s office.

The fact that the new job was originally proposed in 2019 got a mention in an email that was sent by Monroe County sheriff Ruben Marté on Monday night to the county commissioners and other members of the community justice response committee (CJRC).

It was not Marté who proposed the position—he was not sworn into office until the start of the year, having been elected in 2022. But it’s Marté who picked up the old proposal and has pushed it forward.

Marté has been frustrated by the pace of the action that he thinks is needed, in order effectively to deal with the bad conditions at the jail, which confronted Marté when started his service as sheriff seven weeks ago.

The delay in recent weeks in getting the job description settled relates at least in part to the fact that the wording has to respect the statutory division of responsibility between the commissioners, who have to “establish and maintain” the jail, and the sheriff’s office, which has to “take care of the county jail and the prisoners there.

In the job description, the word “maintain” is mostly, but not exclusively, reserved for duties of the commissioners. Maintenance of the jail building, which is the responsibility of the commissioners, not the sheriff, is handled under contract with David Gardner of ASI Facilities Services.

By way of example, in the job description the new employee “maintains and unplugs sinks, toilets, showers and drains,” but the phrase “repairs water leaks” is crossed out as a duty for the “facility conservation coordinator.”

In the initial draft, the job title of the new position was “jail technician,” but in the final version, it’s “facility conservation coordinator” (FCC). The word “coordinator” reflects the fact that the new position will supervise inmates in the performance of cleaning and sanitizing work.

As part of its Friday discussion, the PAC discussed altering the WIS recommendation on compensation—whatever it might be—to tie the FCC’s pay to that of a guard position.

Providing the logic for that compensation strategy was chief deputy sheriff Phil Parker, who attended Friday’s PAC meeting, along with jail commander Kyle Gibbons. Parker said if the FCC’s pay were lower than that of a guard, then he feared the position would be seen as an entry-level position, which someone would leave to take a guard position—if the guard were paid more.

What’s needed in the position is someone who will stay on for the long term, Parker said, so that there is consistency with the way the jail is kept up.

County attorney Jeff Cockerill agreed on the pay question, adding that he was also concerned that if the pay were lower, then given the nature of the job, someone might resent the guards for their higher pay and wind up just quitting, over their perceived unfairness of the situation.

Peter Iversen, who’s chair of the PAC, summed up the sentiment of the group about the new position on Friday by saying, “So I’m hearing broad agreement that we’re going to move forward quickly.”

Geoff McKim, also a member of the PAC, acknowledged that the process for creating the job had been “really difficult” and thanked county administrator Kim Schell and county attorney Molly Turner-King for their work. McKim thinks the position will have the full support of the county council when it’s put to a vote.

Parker put it like this: “It was a wee bit of a struggle. But you know, sometimes worthwhile things are a wee bit of a struggle.” Parker added, “It’s been a cooperative effort from a lot of people. And we are very, very appreciative.”

Marty Hawk, the third member of the PAC, analyzed at least part of the friction between the sheriff’s office and other county officials over the effort to get the jail cleaned and sanitized as a lack of good onboarding for new elected officials. “This is a training moment for those of us in county government: When we have a newly elected official, that’s a big change.”

Hawk continued, “And it would just be the correct thing to do to reach out to those newly elected officials, immediately, before they even take office,to go over budgets and how they work within the system. We shouldn’t expect people to just know that.”

At the work session held by county commissioners after their regular Wednesday morning meeting, the topic of Marté’s email message came up.

Commissioner Julie Thomas said, “I’ve been in this chair 10 years now. And it’s really difficult to work through things via emails sent out to media, or whatever.” With past sheriffs Thomas said, “we’ve just had conversations.”

She gave the example of a past request to have body cameras worn by those who do civil process service. The commissioners had negotiated that and worked it out. “I think this is about respecting everybody’s office and everybody’s authority and understanding the limits of authority as well,” Thomas said.

Thomas continued by saying she wants the sheriff’s administration to feel like it can sit down with the commissioners and talk through things: “We’re happy to do that.” Thomas added, “But we don’t control funding, we do not control new positions. We do not control cleanliness in this jail.”

About the condition of the jail when Marté took office, Thomas said, “I understand the hard work that it’s taking to get that repaired and updated, in terms of cleanliness and paint. And I know everybody in that facility, from inmates to staff, appreciates it.” She continued, “But that never fell on us. And it should never fall on us.”

Also at Wednesday’s work session, commissioner Penny Githens said, “I still have things to learn about being an elected official and what those roles are, how we divide things and, and work together.”

Githens continued, “I would urge sheriff Marté and his staff to reach out to us when there are questions—because we’re not looking to thwart anybody’s efforts and I applaud the cleanliness that he and his staff are trying to bring to the jail.”

Alluding to Marté’s email, Githens added, “It’s a little hurtful to have these kinds of things said, when I can’t push the button and make it happen.”

5 thoughts on “New job for coordinating cleaning of Monroe County jail now has description, on clear path to creation

  1. I believe the green stuff coming out of the Air-ducts is structure! PERIOD!! That is the commissioner’s problem.

  2. I am sorry that the commissioners have such tender skins and lean on their job descriptions rather than problem solving

  3. Emails provide transparency for the public and accountability for our elected officials. It’s no wonder the county commissioners don’t like dealing with emails.

  4. Also if ASI is supposed to be fixing some of the stuff, where the hell have they been and who the hell is supervising them — Commissioners. The state of the jail is just unacceptable. The commissioners need to put on their big person pants and fix problems and stop whining. Sorry, some are my friends but I don’t understand the attitudes.

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