FOX19 Investigates: City's Public Services names new boss after employee study

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The City of Cincinnati Department of Public Services named a new acting director Friday after a study determined allegations of a hostile work environment.

Gerald Checco will be taking over the embattled department, replacing Mike Robinson.

Checco, who is currently serving as Superintendent of the Cincinnati Park Board, will begin the job on Monday.

After receiving employee complaints, the department conducted a study in which some employees described the environment as "slavery" or "prison." Other workers complained of mistrust, fear of retaliation and sabotage.

Interim City Manager Scott Stiles previously vowed to correct the problems with several phases of a Climate Assessment, which Gerald will implement in his new role.

Below is the memo from Scott C. Stiles, Interim City Manager:

Gerald Checco, currently the Superintendent of the Cincinnati Park Board, has been named the Acting Director of Cincinnati's Department of Public Services. I have asked Gerald to provide leadership implementing the Plan of Action that accompanied the Climate Assessment, provided to you on March 17. He begins his assignment Monday, March 24.

A native of France, Gerald started his professional life as a Math teacher before becoming an engineer with Masters Degrees from both France and the United States. He started to work with the City in 1991 as the Parks Engineer, after a successful career as an engineer in the private sector where he worked on design projects all over the world.

At the Park Board, Gerald created the Park Academy, a training curriculum which responded to his staff's professional development needs, without any additional funding. He positioned Parks as a leader in environmental achievements, and re-engineered the delivery of more efficient services. With his team-building leadership style, Gerald is responsible for the absence of grievances and for the good employee relationship characteristic of the Park Board during his tenure.

Gerald led the transformation of the Krohn Conservatory and the Riverfront Parks as revenue-generating facilities with employee-based programming. He has enjoyed a long-standing working relationship with Parks Director Willie Carden to achieve the positive national reputation Cincinnati Parks enjoys today.

With Gerald's placement, I am taking swift action in advancing the implementation of the Climate Assessment Plan of Action. I have also directed Gerald and his team to look at previous reviews of Public Services' operations, including the MSW Consultants' evaluation of Fleet Services in 2010. Gerald will create a work plan to address areas of deficiencies, bring needed work areas into EEC compliance, and work with staff and Union leadership to develop a productive working environment. He will oversee all daily operations of the department.

The issues identified in the recent Climate Assessment did not develop recently; these have been workplace issues that have developed over decades. Therefore, the successful change of culture will take time. I am personally meeting with the AFSCME and CCDE leadership in Public Services on Monday morning to talk about the department moving forward, and I am sure all Public Services' employees will provide their support.

I'd like to thank Michael Robinson for his work as Director over the past year and a half year, especially during this past winter, which was one of the coldest and snowiest on record. He will be using personal leave beginning Monday, and his last day will be April 20.

Related content:

Copyright 2014 WXIX. All rights reserved.