Leonards use of sick time raises questions
- Don Hamilton
- Portland Tribune - News
City officials check to see if council candidate is following policy
City officials are sorting through city, union and Portland Fire Bureau policies to see if Lt. Randy Leonard did anything wrong in using sick time while campaigning for the Portland City Council.
Leonard, in a heated race against Serena Cruz, has worked fewer than a half-dozen days since June 1, using up much of his accrued career sick time in the process.
He said he has been off because of a rotator cuff injury that he suffered two years ago and aggravated earlier this year. He chose sick time over disability leave, he said, because employees are reimbursed for unused sick time upon resignation or retirement. That means his sick time ultimately comes out of his own pocket. He said he will use vacation time before the campaign is over.
The director of the city's Bureau of Human Resources, though, frowned on that approach.
'That's not OK,' Yvonne Deckart said. 'They cannot use their sick leave for anything they want because it may be there in the end. It's for when they're sick. We'll put a system in place that rectifies this immediately.'
Portland Fire Chief Ed Wilson, though, isn't as sure.
'I have no indication there's been inappropriate use of sick leave,' he said. The practice, he added, has come into general use in the bureau, and not just by Leonard. He said Leonard registered his sick time with battalion headquarters.
Wilson knew Leonard was having shoulder problems but didn't know specifics.
Portland firefighters are allowed four straight shifts off sick before they need documentation from a physician. But the rule hasn't been enforced diligently, Wilson said.
'We're making sure we're all on the same page and interpreting the language correctly,' Wilson said. A new sick-time directive to the bureau will be produced, he said, once the various policies are studied.
'I have no indication there's been inappropriate use of sick leave,' he said.
City Commissioner Erik Sten also planned to look into the practice. Sten oversees the fire bureau on the Portland City Council.
'I wasn't aware he was out on sick leave,' Sten said, 'but I'll be checking to make sure everything's being done properly.'