Dallas Responds to Complaint of Workers Wasting Taxpayer Time

YouTube video documents workers in a creek bed from May 1 through May 7

Tuesday, May 15, 2012  |  Updated 7:47 PM CDT
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Dallas said it's investigating city employees shown taking multiple breaks in a YouTube video posted by Mark Buskuhl.

Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News

Dallas said it's investigating city employees shown taking multiple breaks in a YouTube video posted by Mark Buskuhl.

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Dallas said it's investigating city employees shown taking multiple breaks in a YouTube video posted by a resident.

Mark Buskuhl said the footage in his video, "City of Dallas Workers and Your Wasted Tax Dollars," was taken in the first week of May.

Buskuhl said city workers were standing, sitting and lying down on the job when they were supposed to be clearing out trees from a creek bed on city property behind office buildings in the 8800 block of Greenville Avenue. In the video narrative, Buskuhl said the workers spent "about five minutes each hour actually doing work with a chainsaw and a Bobcat" to clear the trees.

Dallas said city investigators have reviewed the YouTube video and interviewed the employees on the work crew. In a statement, the city said the employees' accounts of the job conflict with the video, which reflects "only a few minutes" of the workday.

The city also said its investigation was not complete and encouraged Buskuhl to speak with city human resource investigators.

During the nearly 11-and-a-half minute video, Buskuhl also interviewed various neighbors who said they saw workers taking multiple breaks.

The city released this statement on Tuesday:

The City appreciates that concerns about City employees work were brought to our attention by a resident, and we take these concerns very seriously. It is imperative that City employees demonstrate the behavior and work ethic that meet expectations in order to maintain the full confidence and trust of our citizens.

After viewing the videotape early last week, the City immediately began an investigation. Human Resource investigators reviewed the edited video and have interviewed separately, each individual employee who was part of the crew. Each employee has a similar account of the challenges associated with the five-day job -- and which accounts are in conflict with the scenario depicted in the 11 minute, edited video (8 minutes of video and 3 minutes of interviews). The edited video reflects only a few minutes of the entire work day.

The investigation is not complete and will continue until all of the facts can be gathered and weighed.

City management appreciates this resident coming forward to share the edited video. It would be helpful for the person who filmed the video to also visit with the HR investigators. The City encourages this person to contact the City to share the raw, unedited tape in order for investigators to get a full and clear accounting of the events at that job site. The investigators would benefit by speaking with the person who filmed the video and who witnessed the events and with those individuals interviewed on the tape.

The city went on to report that five trees and 31 tons of debris were removed from the job site on May 1-3 and May 7.

The city said work was restricted to 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to avoid causing traffic trouble because the northbound lanes of Greenville Avenue had to be closed during the tree removal.

The city said staff break times during the workday were 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.

NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff contributed to this report.

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