City Council members accuse public works director of treating employees like garbage

click to enlarge Scott Simmons - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
Daniel Walters photo
Scott Simmons

Monday night, City Council President Ben Stuckart and City Councilwoman Karen Stratton announced they would both be resigning from the city's Public Infrastructure, Environment, & Sustainability Committee due to their frustration with Public Works Division Director Scott Simmons.

"I'd rather not say something in those meetings than say something mean. So I'm not going attend those meetings," Stuckart says. "I have lost 100 percent faith in the leadership of that division."

Stuckart and Stratton's latest frustration came from the demotion of Scott Windsor, the solid waste collection director for nearly a decade.

"To me he was the most loved supervisor in any of the departments," Stuckart tells the Inlander. "He's been here a long time. Really good guy, didn't deserve that at all."

Matt Lowmaster, an employee with the city's Human Resources department, will replace Windsor. Simmons praises Lowmaster's experience with safety, heavy equipment and finding ways to get injured employees back on the job.

But Stratton and Stuckart also expressed other frustrations with another of Simmons' choices: During last year's budget process, the City Council allocated nearly $550,000 for hiring five refuse collectors and four city clerk positions. But the city never made those hires.

Simmons says the positions weren't necessary.

"As we grow the operations, we're going to look where we had a need to bring on a position or two," Simmons says, "but we're going to do so very prudently."

On Monday, the council transferred those funds into a category to help pay for sustainability initiatives.

"I've seen the data on why we need the refuse collectors. I'm disappointed severely that they didn't get hired," Stuckart says. "The refusal to hire those hurts the citizens most of all."

For Simmons' part, he says he's happy to work alongside the council members.

"It is important to the entire community, as we think about jobs and resiliency," Simmons says.

His optimism is not shared by the other employees.

"I'm just tired of our employees being treated like shit," Stuckart says. "I'm done."

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, staff writer Daniel Walters is the Inlander's City Hall reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...