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Board upholds firing of Port Richey public works supervisor

PORT RICHEY — A personnel review board voted Thursday to uphold the firing of a former Port Richey public works supervisor accused of violating the city's purchasing procedures.

The ruling by board members Holly Kolinski and Jim Priest, a former City Council member, was exactly what Chuck Latwinas expected as he walked into City Hall.

"It's pretty much a done deal," Latwinas said before learning his fate.

In June, acting City Manager and Chief Dave Brown fired Latwinas for purchasing street signs without proper authorization. The street signs purchase came on the heels of a two other purchases for which Latwinas received spoken reprimands, according to a letter Brown sent Latwinas informing him of his firing.

Latwinas, 45, appealed his firing — it came just short of six years as a city employee — saying he bought the signs because Brown ordered him to.

He also presented documents to the personnel board showing Brown and other city finance officials had signed off on the purchases.

Brown later said at a July hearing in front of the personnel board his concern stemmed from how much Latwinas paid for the signs. Brown could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Both Priest and Kolinski upheld Brown's firing of Latwinas, saying their review of the case showed the former public works supervisor violated city purchasing procedures.

Priest and Kolinski both declined comment after the hearing.

"I know this is difficult for a lot of people," Kolinski said during the hearing, before announcing her decision.

After the ruling, Latwinas received a few handshakes, including from Port Richey Council member Terry Rowe, and one resident told him, "I think we're losing a good man."

Latwinas said he still feels like a scapegoat for the roughly $30,000 sign purchases, pointing to approval signatures from Brown and city finance officials.

"I feel like I have been violated," he said of the city's handling of his firing. "After years of dedicated service, I guess I'll have to move on with my life."

Board upholds firing of Port Richey public works supervisor 08/04/11 [Last modified: Thursday, August 4, 2011 6:13pm]
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