Town of Middleton Releases Shaw Performance Review

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MTT News's picture
Kevin Murphy
The wavy lines painted on Airport Rd. in 2017 were blamed on David Shaw’s inadequate supervision of the field operations manager.

MIDDLETON–Nearly a year before town of Middleton Administrator/Treasurer David Shaw resigned, board supervisors were concerned with his failure to report a crew member’s DUI citation and his work productivity, according to Shaw’s recently released 2017 performance review. 

Shaw resigned in November 2018, along with then Deputy Treasurer Patti Keichinger. Board Supervisors have not disclosed why Shaw’s employment ended after 10 years on the job. And, there are not many hints in his last performance review, the only one that exists, said Town Administrator Greg DiMiceli.

“There are no others…There are none for (Keichinger),” DiMiceli said Friday.

The Times-Tribuneoriginally asked for the documents on Nov. 1, 2018, immediately following the resignations of Shaw and Keichinger, through an Open Records Request.

According to the review:

Overall, Shaw met or exceeded job standards in eight of 10 graded performance areas. His work excelled in attendance, job knowledge and problem solving. He met the board’s expectations in communication, interpersonal skills, adaptability, leadership and planning and organization. He fell below expectations in work quality and delegation and supervision.

It was noted that in the work quality/productivity section of his 2017 review, Shaw should have informed the board in advance that a crew member that was in jeopardy of losing his commercial driver’s license.

The crew member ultimately lost his commercial driver’s license.

An agent for the town’s insurer was surprised to learn in December 2017 that a crew member had a DUI citation and should immediately be prohibited from driving any town vehicle. 

Any infraction on the job could significantly increase the town’s Worker’s Compensation premiums for up to three years.

Shaw also didn’t “proactivity” inform the board and its outside attorney of the date that crew member’s status changed from seasonal to full time employee. He was still classified as a seasonal hire for payroll and retirement purposes.

The review acknowledged that the town relies on outside consultants to help address the varied and complex nature of issues that come before the town board and committees. And, it’s Shaw’s job to keep the board informed of relevant information in a timely manner.

The squiggly pavement markings applied after a section of Airport Rd. was resealed in the summer of 2017 was also noted in the Work Quality/Productivity section of the review.

The wavy lines laid down by a city of Middleton crew was necessary after Dane County Highway Department, which did the resealing, couldn’t paint center and fog lines until after the opening of the 2017-18 school year.

The town’s “contract” with the county evidently allowed the county to restripe the road at its convenience. 

Many calls came into town hall about the lack of pavement markings, including those concerned about the start of the academic year for Sunset Ridge Elementary.

The town turned to the city as it had striped Pleasant View Rd. Unfortunately, re-striping Airport Rd. went embarrassing wrong with more calls received about the wavy lines causing motorists headaches and vertigo.

Town Chair Cynthia Richson said the town took a beating on social media as well and explained that the city, although its effort were notable, didn’t have the proper equipment to adequately do the job.

Town staff’s response was to let the squiggly lines wear off, Richson said, which the board felt was unacceptable. So, at a cost of $20,000 and significant public embarrassment, the lines were redone that fall.

The work quality section of Shaw’s review pinned the blame on him. The expense and embarrassment could have been avoided had Shaw more closely supervised the Field Operations Manager.

Pierson was presumed to be unfamiliar with the town’s roads and had some previously unstriped roads, striped for no passing without the benefit of an engineering study.

Although Shaw meet expectations for communications, he didn’t inform the board that large amount of tree and brush debris removed after a large storm in 2017 was dumped on the town-owned Eastwood property.

While the board was told the town crew was busy chipping this larger-than-normal amount of debris, it wasn’t mentioned that it also was being dumped at Eastwood, Richson said.

Richson walked the property and was surprised to see the massive piles of trees and brush. The piles were unsightly and evidently embolden the disposal of unwanted furniture, too, she said.

After rejecting contractor bids to remove the debris, town crew members hauled it off during the winter of 2017-18.

Shaw’s resignation coupled with Keichinger’s suggests the board wanted staff with more financial expertise to curb the deficit budgets that have been approved in recent years.

Board Supervisor Paul Connell probably made the most pointed public comment on the deficit budget situation when, at a December meeting to approve the tax levy, he criticized former staff.

“We were poorly led by an administrator and a finance person for a long time which is why we’re in the position we are in now,” said Connell.

Better preparation of annual budgets was included in the seven items in the List of Concerns in Shaw’s 2017 review.

“Improve the presentation of the 2019 budget and budget process, to make it more user friendly and transparent from the perspective of the Town Board and Town residents,” according to the review.

Another concern was better utilization of the new Public Works Committee to increase input from residents regarding priorities, effectiveness and efficiency in delivery of town services.

The review noted that in 2017 Shaw was the town’s administrator, clerk and treasurer which requires a lot of hours on the job. In 2018, the board created a clerk position to ease Shaw’s load and provide separation of accounting matters. 

In addition, Shaw often went beyond his job description tasks including rolling up his shirt sleeves to help clear debris from roads during July 2017 storm, and fixed plumbing leaks at town hall.

His dedication to duty resulted in his forfeiting 19 days of unused vacation in 2016.

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