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May 27, 2011

More OTA audit details emerge

Ward denies altered time sheets

OTTUMWA — More details are emerging about the alleged alteration of driver time sheets at the Ottumwa Transit Authority.

The new information came one day after the state auditor released a report accusing OTA of the alterations and of deliberately inflating its ridership numbers.

OTA Director Pam Ward responded by flatly denying any alterations had taken place and saying the drivers’ union never filed a grievance. Both of those assertions have come under attack from employees and from the union’s business representative.

On Wednesday, Bill Musgrove, a former steward for Teamsters Local 238, said multiple grievances were filed against OTA for altering driver timesheets to cut or eliminate overtime pay. Kimbra Wilson, one of the union’s business representatives, supported Musgrove’s statements on Thursday.

Wilson said one grievance filed against OTA included multiple drivers’ signatures because the authority was not going to pay the drivers for working on a holiday. She said there were others as well.

On another occasion, Wilson said she and the union stewards went to Ward’s office to talk about changes made to timesheets by Tom Jones, an OTA employee.

“I didn’t write a grievance on this. I told her if it happened again I would turn him in,” Wilson said.

During a Wednesday press conference, Ward also denied there were any informal complaints to OTA about the timesheet alterations.

When asked for comment about the union’s timesheet allegations on Thursday, Ward said she went back to check OTA records.

“I went back and reviewed files, and for the period of July 1 [2008] forward there have been no grievances filed,” she said.

Wilson had said grievances were filed in both 2006 and 2008.

The audit report is also receiving attention from the Iowa Department of Transportation. The Iowa DOT is one of the transit authority’s major sources of grant money.

Copies of the audit were sent to the DOT, along with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration and the Wapello County Attorney.

On Thursday, an I-DOT representative contacted the Courier about obtaining a copy of the audio from Ward’s Wednesday press conference. The recording was provided and had already been made available to the general public on the Courier’s website.

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