Channel: 13 - ATXN
Recorded On: 4/19/2013 6:00:00 AM
Original Air Date: 4/19/2013
Transcript Generated by SnapStream Enterprise TV Server


>> I want to thank everyone for coming out today. This is a very important decision that we're about to make. We passed a ballot item tha said we would have a municipal civil service commission and we're going through the process of finding out who that will be. I especially want to thank mark washington and his department for all the work that they have put in to bring us this far and I want to thank the clerk's office, janette for all the work that she has put in and all of their professional staff. I am chair of the audit and finance committee, but I do that with three other people, and they are all here. Councilmember bill spelman, councilmember laura morrison. And councilmember kathy tovo. We are a hard working committee but I tell you we are the funnest committee. [Laughter] and I also want on everyone to give a special thanks to councilmember morrison for bringing and paying for all the treats. [Applause]. She wants to make doubly sure that the other councilmembers know that we are sharing that cost. [Laughter] so what we're going to do today is let the candidates introduce themselves to you. We will not be taking question and answers because we're having interviews tomorrow and we don't want to prejudice any of the interviewees or put them in any difficult situations right now. I anticipate that -- I know, bill, it's difficult being here right now. I anticipate that we will have those deliberations tomorrow and that we will announce publicly who we have selected on april the 24th. And without any further lipping, I will ask for pamela lancaster to start. Then you guys just go in order.


>> My name is pamela lancaster and I thought i would start with my -- discuss my most relevant experience first, which is the fact that I've held this contract with the city of austin for 18 years to conduct grievance hearings since 1994 for these very matters that civil service commission will now consider, termination, disciplinaryctions, denial of promotion. And with the assistance of the able hrd staff, I think that I have -- hope that i have learned a lot about how the city personnel policies work. About disciplinary guidelines and I hope I've done a good job with those hearings. I have been an attorney licensed in the state of texas practicing in austin, travis county for 32 years. I practice mostly criminal law and a little employment law. This is the second time actually I've asked the citycouncil for an appointment. I did ask in 1983 to be appointed as a municipal court judge. I was appointed and I sat for eight and a half years doing the work of a municipal court judge. I have also held a lot of other kinds of jobs that i can bring that experience to the table and I just wanted to point out a couple of these very briefly and the things I learned from them. Before I finished college and law school I had some breaks because I married my high school sweetheart, but at one point I found myself in lubbock, texas, going to college there. Even though I could type 120 words a minute with very few errors, I could make more money pumping gas at a gas station. And of course there's a lesson contained in that, but I won't really talk about that. So I went to work in lubbock pumping gas and the first thing I learned was just how cold the winter wind blows across the planes, through the gas station in lubbock, texas. I learned to live with the cowboys and their cadillacs who drove up, who had a lot of fun, with the fact that i didn't know how to open ehud because I don't know if it's true now, but back in the day cadillac hood opened by


the windshield, not at the front of the car, so I would be up there like this and looking for the latch trying to get it open and the cowboys were very entertained by that until i figured out how to do that. I learned to stand back when you put water in the battery because the acid splashes up on you. I still have the shirts with the holes in them. And I learned that no matter how much soap or how much hot water there is, it's really hard to get the smell of gasoline off your after you get home from work. And so that's a job that helps me relate to people who work outside, and particularly in fleet services. Another job that I recall was in atlanta, georgia. I lived in atlanta when my husband was in the military. I was hired to work as a billing clerk in a medical lab. It was a small lab downstairs and it was a small building about three stories and I was up on the second or third floor. And the floor sloped. The building was not level. And I sat at a little workstation like this up towards a window that looked out on a brick wall and i filed insurance policies all day long. And the floor sloped. Unfortunately for me away from my workstation. As often happens in things like this in life, I had a chair with wheels on it. So that meant all day long i just slowly drifted away from my workstation. So I learned in that job what it's like to work in an office and all the politics in an office and i eventually learned to press my knees up against the underside of the desktop all day long to keep myself at my workstation. So that helps me relate to people who work inside and who deal with the politics of office jobs. Finally, I bring to the table my parents' teaching, which is that a person who works an honest day's labor at an honest day's job brings dignity to their existence and they deserve fair treatment and respect. They owe their employer a debt of gratitude for giving them an opportunity to support themselves.


They owe a full day's labor. And they owe commitment to the goals. And the employer in return owes fair treatment, fair analysis or evaluation and respect in doing the job. And that's what I write to the job. So thank you very much. [Applause]. >> Cole: Next we have lynn rubinett. >> Hello, everybody. Thank you all for being here and for all the people who work to put this together. It's great to meet all these folks from different departments in the city and kind of inspiring to hear just all the different things that you all do for all of us. I was born and raised in austin, and went to -- through austin public schools. I have three children who have also gone through austin public schools and I've been involved in lots of different community organizations and volunteer efforts along the way. And very much love austin, which is one of the main reasons that I'm here. Professionally I -- I'm a lawyer and I spent the first five, six years of my career as a labor and employment lawyer here in austin. I represented labor unions and employees in austin and throughout the state in all kinds of employment matters. And did a lot of employment arbitration and one of my favorite aspects, I was thinking about it as I was listening to pam talk, of doing that work was learning about everybody's job and how that works and that's one of the things I love about labor and employment law. I started out doing that, but for the last 20 years I've worked only as a third-party neutral. Either mediating or deciding cases. I started out with an employment to the texas commission on human rights.


I was appointed by governor ann richards to serve as the commissioner at large. There are three labor, three employment and one commissioner at large. And I was that commissioner. And many of our duties on that state commission which was responsible for enforcing fair employment and fair housing laws throughout the state was similar to the kinds of things that the civil service commission service would do. Dealt with a lot of rule making and working with staff around those rules and also deciding cases for cause, whether or not there was cause to believe that discrimination had occurred. I did that for a five 'year term. In addition to that my professional work I spend most of my time as an administrative law judge hearing disputes between parents and schools about students with disabilities. Those are fairly complicated hearings that involve -- i manage the whole hearing process from start to finish. They involve somewhat long records, written decisions with findings of fact and conclusions of law and those are appealed to federal district court. I do that a lot of the time and then the rest of the time I serve as an arbitrator for labor and employment cases. I do that through the american arbitration association. I'm on their labor roster and their employment roster. And I am very much enjoy that work because in that setting both parties get to select who it is that is going to hear the case. So you're there because at least you're the least evil on the list. They may not love having you there, but at some level everybody has agreed for you to be there and I value that very much and I like that work quite abit. I also work as a mediator which i love very, very much and i have a owe the highest credential of a mediator through the texas mediator association which which means I've spent way more hours in mediation than probably anybody would want.


But in that context I've done some really interesting labor and employment mediation that I've really enjoyed. I spent two -- I was jointly selected by alcoa and the united steel workers for a two year mediation project at the rockdale facility and more recently I was able to serve as a mediator for capital metro and the transit workers here in austin. And those kinds of cases whereas a mediator it's different than a judge because you get to work more intimately with parties and really speak with them about the matters and dispute in a much different way. And you have the ability to really learn a lot about the dynamics, what's going on, how people think about it, in a little bit different way than you do as a judge. I like that quite a bit. In all of these experiences in neutral, what comes in common for me is that I work really hard to earnhe trust of both parties that are involved in a dispute. Because the relationship between the parties and their ongoing relationship when I'm not around and the success of that relationship really depends on both of them believing in the integrity and the impartiality and the fairness of the process that's going to be in place when disputes need to be resolved. I'm a firm believer in workplace justice and fairness and I believe at the cornerstone of that is fair and impartial body that can assist in resolving disputes that everybody feels that they trust. That doesn't mean anybody agrees -- that everybody agrees with the decision every time, but what it does mean is that they can count on the person in charge to have carefully considered the evidence, everyone's position and render a decision that makes sense and where they've explained their reasons to the parties so that people really understand what's going on. And that is my philosophy and my commitment as a neutral. So why do I want to do this?


Sorry, I'll tell you later why I want to do this. Thank you. [Applause]. >> I could have given you some of my time. First off, you will see from my bio that I work for the city of georgetown and i kind of have to explain that. Early on in my career in georgetown, I looked at moving to the city of georgetown and georgetown is a pretty small city and we were at a wal-mart one weekend and I had been there for about three weeks and i noticed an employee that had had a negative interaction with. This was someone who had gotten fired. And that employee saw me and leaked over at his wife and whisper and he pointed to me and it was at that point that I realized that i probably didn't want to live in the city. I live in south austin and i commute to work. It's not that bad of a commute. It's only about 40 minutes on i-30 high speeds. Another thing you will notice is that I work for hr now. Before I hear boos or anything like that, hr is not always a bad thing. I like to consider us an equal opportunity hr department in that we're hated by management at time and hated by employees. Our philosophy or my philosophy and what I would bring to this particular commission is a sense of fairness, but more so a sense of accountability. Holding management accountability to whatever it is that they've established as a rule and holding employees equally accountable to following whatever it is management has established as the rules. I've got a pretty diverse background. My very first job was working for texaco putting the little rail spikes on railroads. I've driven forklifts, I've worked for a police


department. I've been a professional in hr for 20 or so years. And at texas state university I went through their mediation program and received that certificate in mediation. We use a lot of that mediation in working through problems with employees and management and I'm also using some of that mediation in working through problems with the city and citizens who feel that we have wronged them. I think I bring this level of accountability or this requirement of accountability to this particular commission. I want to work in something where I can serve the city that I live in. We've been living in the city of austin for more than 20 years. I'm one of those people i was born and raised in southeast louisiana. Graduated, came to the university of texas and now I've been in austin than I've been in the other place. So I consider austin my home. And I want to do something that I can contribute and support in my community. So I'll leave it at that. >> Good evening, I would like to first thank each of you for participating in this process. It is to important and with this being the first municipal civil service commission for the city of austin, we need to have supporters here. I'm elated about this. I wasn't sure opposition 10 was going to pass. I told my husband, honey, pray, pray that this passes. And it passed. It really did in a big way too. And me being a previous employee as you can see, i was -- I was at the MANAGEMENd LEVEL. I had firsthand knowledge of the internal process in hr. And that is to me, it's huge to know the system already,


so that will be something i have in my pocket, I guess you could say. This commission will be tasked with making several recommendations to the city of austin regarding the municipal civil service rules. You'll also hear appeals and make final and binding decisions, as you know. And this will be in regards to employees being discharged, suspended, demoted, denied a promotion or placed on disciplinary probation. This responsibility is major. It's so important, the individuals that are appointed have the appropriate skill set and able to maintain the highest ethical standard as well as the highest level of integrity. I believe the commission should be held accountable for creating the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect with all parties involved. I'm confident that I would be a valuable asset to this commission. I have extensive experience and incertainly and external investigations, along with years of human resource management. I'm also a certified mediator and I'm armed with a law degree. I can do this. In closing, you notice we have eight applicants, yet there will be a five-member commission. So three of us will not be appointed. However, whether I'm appointed or not, I welcome this process with open arms. Other cities and states have adopted the municipal civil service commission and they're working and have been for quite some time. Again, I want to thank you for supporting this process and know that you can expect the highest level of commitment, honesty and integra arety if I'll appointed. Thank you. [Applause]. >> Good evening and I'm going to do a little cheating. I did a lot of what some of these folks did so that i don't have to repeat that part, but I don't have the privilege of having a law


degree. It was in my schedule in life. I got laid off from the city of austin in 1981. I had been there four years and nine months, a few months from getting a pin. I'm still upset about that part. [Laughter] it was my first real job, but I also have the ability of having worked in 39 states and three foreign countries representing workers. I've negotiated contracts against the dod. That's a real interesting group. They all come in with pled medals and hats and all this stuff and we're not the military. It was a wonderful experience at the panama canal and that was a wonderful experience because it was the last contract negotiated before we gave it back. I have arbitrated and I have mediated for the worker. But I have worked with management in many, many, many, many states and many, many, many cities. I always knew that the only way to progress was to be able to -- for both groups to come out of it with dignity. There was no reason for us to kill eac other. We just wanted to resolve an issue. So one of the things that i worked many times was trying to come up with creative ways to get out of a mess that a worker was in. I also had a degree in journalism. That's where I picked up all my skills for investigating. I wasn't an investigative reporter because the city offered me more money as a clerk than the newspaper offered me as a cub reporter, 8750 and benefits and I came to the city. That's where I met some of the folks sitting here, like carl. She used to work at the bank across the street where all of us went to cash our checks. You meet people in this world in many different ways. I started as a volunteer at the age of eight -- age of seven actually, 1959, hurricane karla in corpus christi, texas. So I know what it is to be a


volunteer. I have belonged to a lot of groups here in austin. I've been here 40 years. It makes me really old. I came here as a u.T. Student and I never intended to leave. So it wasn't like i accidentally stayed. I have been involved in not just representing workers, but in political things. I've worked -- I probably ran about 300 political campaigns around the country. Some of them were because there were some really bad ideas out there. Some of them were because there was some wonderful candidates and they needed to be able to get in to represent the citizens, whether it was city, state, county or federal. I believe when you have a civil service commission it's the best way to be able to come up -- to present your case before a third party gup is an economical way to represent a worker and for a city to have -- to go to this position because right now a case that i started in 1996 is just now going to court. It was an eeoc case, but i represented prepare the case to point that it did go to court, it was accepted by the eeoc and she is still waiting, this is 2013, so obviously I would tell workers that is not the route. We have got to mediate it when it's possible to arbitrate something, we arbitrated it, but you pretty much always had to have a contract to be able to arbitrate. I've worked in states with right to work and I've worked in states that allowed workers to have contracts. I know the difference. I think it's an incredible privilege for the citizens to be able to have -- that work for the city of austin, the opportunity to have a civil service commission. I would be very honored to get on this commission. Originally I thought I was going to be an attorney. That was the route I was going and here I am today trying to be on the commission. Thank you very much. [Applause].


>> Cole: [Inaudible]. >> Good evening, my name is zenobia orimoloye, but you can call me z. [Laughter] if you look up the sheet there are a lot of things i did on there. I will tell you about some of the things that's not on the sheet. When I first got out of college I taught school in knoxville, tennessee. I realized that that wasn't really for me, so then i moved back to chicago and that's when I got a job with the internal revenue service. I know most of you think that internal revenue service just does taxes, but we don't. I did that for awhile, but i used to be over a unit and our goal was we used to go in and investigate cases where there was discrimination, sexual harassment, disability cases. Also sometimes we had to go in and investigate commissioners, directors, division chiefs. So we did the whole gap muslim. That's what we used to do. We would go in. So there would 'a lot of conflict, but our main goal was trying to get a win-win. And if you didn't violate any of the i.R.S. Code we may be able to work something out. Or if you did, maybe we didn't. Now, I also did some mediation with the i.R.S. Inside and outside. The outside mediation I did, I did some work with the court system. Normally if you were getting a divorce, they would tell you. Mediate. So people would say I want to mediate, I hate him, i hate her. But one of the goals for that county before you had a divorce you had to mediate. Another part of mediation i did I dealt with the milwaukee police department and what that was is when neighbors had disputes and things, they would take those cases and give it to us to see if we could work it out so that they would have to maybe put people in jail.


So mediation is always good to see if you can get the parties together and the main point of mediation for me was always win-win, nobody should go out. And I would tell them if you're not comfortable with this, don't do it or don't accept it. Another thing I did that's not on the sheet, I used to be a trouble is shooter for the internal revenue service. What that is is say I had to go to -- if it was an area where there was a conflict resolution in a department, I had to go in. So I would like -- I was like the cleanup woman. So when there was an issue, they would say z, can you go up to detroit? We have a manager that are not effective. The employees are upset. We're getting complaints from the managers. What can you do? So what I had to do was i had to go in and do fact finding. I had to make up a report, talk to everybody, all the parties, and I had to make a recommendation. So I had a mentor once. I always made three recommendations. The one recommendation was always so outrageous that i knew they wouldn't do it. So by time they got down to the recommendation that i really liked, they were like it's not a bad idea. So I would always tell my people when we were going to negotiate or make a report, always put something really high pie in the sky. You know you're not going to get there. But what it does is it makes people really looking outside the box. Looking another way to do something. I applied for this when i was looking in the newspaper and I i saw the word new and I said the word yes. I worked on new things when I was in the service and when it's new you can always think of something different. And it's not like we used to do it this way. You can think outside the box. You can get all kind of information ideas. So that was one of the reasons that I applied for this. And when I was growing up i


was raised by my grandmother and I would say it's not fair. She would say who told you life was fair? But I always feel that you can make it fair. We, each individual, we can make it fair. We can make it better. So that's me. I'm zenobia orimoloye, but can you call me z. [Applause]. Cole I want to thank all of you for your wonderful presentations and we all look forward to seeing you tomorrow. Thank you guys for coming out. One more time, I want to thank councilmember morrison and her office, barbara rush, for doing the heavy lifting of putting the departments together so that they could make this happen and even the very idea of having this event. That being said, let's mingle.