TN water quality inspectors slouching on the job, email reveals

Chris Butler
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Posted: Apr 30, 2014 5:24 PM
TN water quality inspectors slouching on the job, email reveals

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE — Big government types say that without bureaucracy, and without taxpayer money to support it, no one would ever inspect the quality of the water.

Well, going by an email the deputy director for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation sent this week,  these water quality inspectors aren’t exactly paying attention to their jobs anyway.

SLOUCHING: Water quality inspectors in Tennessee aren’t paying attention to their jobs, an internal TDEC e-mail says.

“I am seeing a lot of non-productive, non-work related activities during the work hours,” said a mass email Britton Dotson sent to employees Monday.

Dotson, with the Water Quality Branch under TDEC’s Division of Water Resources, was very direct in the email Tennessee Watchdog obtained this week.

TDEC spokeswoman Kelly Brockman confirmed the email’s authenticity Wednesday.

“There are a number of staff that can’t get everything done that they are expected to get done and are stressed out about it. There are also a number of staff that seem to spend as much time on the internet, reading the paper, walking around to different cubicles, walking around on different floors, as they do working,” Dotson continued.

“I expect you to address these any and every time you observe the activity and keep some sort of log as to the items you observe. I am going to start addressing them directly as I observe them. Staff should have the initiative to find something to do if they do not have anything to do.

“Please forward this to your staff so we are all on the same page,” Dotson wrote, adding that supervisors will share notes on the matter and take appropriate action at managers’ meetings. 

Brockman told Tennessee Watchdog she didn’t know how many employees work in the Water Quality Branch or the Division of Water Resources.

“That email was sent to make sure expectations were met with the staff. It’s a pretty straightforward email,” Brockman said, adding she knows of no specific instances of employees neglecting their jobs.

“It’s just like any other staff. It’s making sure expectations are met and making sure people are getting the work done that they need to do during their work day and that no personal work is being done.”

Tennessee Watchdog readers may recall from December this isn’t the first time a person of authority at TDEC admonished employees in a mass email.

Water Resources Division Director Sandra K. Dudley, the Tennessee official most responsible for maintaining the quality of the state’s water and public works systems, reminded her own employees how to use a toilet correctly.

Dudley’s email included a warning they’re not supposed to flush their shoes down the commodes at the department’s main offices in downtown Nashville, at the Tennessee Tower.

Dudley also advised employees not to flush ink pens and paper clips down the crapper.

TDEC spokeswoman Shannon Ashford said Dudley wrote the email in a lighthearted attempt to discourage what she called “thoughtless actions.”

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org. or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

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