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Favoritism charge levied

Clerk of Court Jed Pittman provides free transportation to work for several of his employees, and the candidate seeking to unseat him calls it favoritism.

"He's not treating employees fairly," said Democrat Betty Thompson, noting that most employees don't receive free transportation to work.

But Pittman said the "five or six" employees who do ride to work in county vehicles report that benefit on their income tax, and that no one is excluded from taking advantage of that car pool.

"Betty is clearly, desperately trying anything and everything to find an issue," Pittman said.

Most of those employees car pool from West Pasco to Dade City, but one Clerk of Court employee, Danny Newsome, drives a county vehicle from Dade City to work in New Port Richey.

Thompson, who was interviewed by the Times editorial board Wednesday, noted that in one recent case, Pittman rearranged jobs to accommodate an employee whose driver's license had been revoked.

Charles Earle Duffy, who has been courier for the clerk's office for years, was arrested last April for driving under the influence. Duffy drove his pickup truck into house in New Port Richey, according to a police report. He subsequently pleaded guilty to the charge, and his license was revoked for six months.

That meant he could no longer serve as the clerk's courier, driving documents to and from the east and west Pasco government offices. Pittman then assigned Duffy to handle microfilm work in Dade City, and had the person performing that job take over courier duties.

"He's not receiving any special treatment, not at all," Pittman said. He acknowledged Duffy is a friend of his, but said that had nothing to do with his being reassigned to microfilm.

"We kept a good worker who had a problem on his off-duty time."

Thompson said most workers do not expect to receive free transportation to their offices, and she said several of Pittman's employees had complained to her about the practice. She would not name them.

"They feel the people riding that vehicle are getting treatment more than they are and getting fringe benefits more than they are," she said.