The Investigators: Men NOT At Work FIRED - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

The Investigators: Men NOT At work fired

(WMC TV) - The city's public works division has terminated two code inspectors on several charges after an Action News 5 Investigators hidden camera investigation found them hiding out in their city vehicles instead of performing their duties.

Memphis Public Works Division Director Dwan Gilliom and AFSCME Local 1733 Deputy Administrator Havier Smith confirmed Wednesday the city fired inspectors Burnie Mitchell and John Finley for neglect of duty, not responding to assignments and refusing to perform reasonable work assignments.

"We're investigating the city's termination of these employees," said Smith. "We are requesting to see Action News 5's surveillance footage of the inspectors. They are civil servants who have ten calendar days to file a grievance and appeal their firings."

The men were relieved of duty when The Action News 5 Investigators revealed footage Monday of the former inspectors spending several afternoons inside their marked city vehicles in a secluded dead-end off Hindman Ave. in Frayser.

We tailed the inspectors for a week after receiving several complaints from residents who claimed to spot the inspectors hanging out on the street for weeks (for our original story, please click here).

Wednesday, exactly a mile away from where the inspectors are accused of willfully neglecting their assignments, we found Parent's Dream day-care facility, 2811 Signal St. The property is littered with discarded appliances, construction debris, neglected vehicles, even a railroad box car with the facility's sign tacked on to it.

A neighbor who asked not to be identified said she filed service request #1074052 with city code enforcement in February to force the property's owner to clean up. She said the request was administratively closed July 2.

More than a month since the case was closed -- and seven months since the complaint was filed -- Parent's Dream is still a neighbor's nightmare.

"We've already talked to code enforcement. My husband is taking care of it," said Tawldra Love, the property's owner. She would not acknowledge when she and her husband talked to code enforcement.

Gilliom said code enforcement has been "bounced around" from city division to division and has lacked discipline. He said he requested it be moved under the purview of public works because of what he described as a "missing layer of management."

"There's really a lack of supervision there," he said. "That is one of the reasons why we are in the process, as we speak, of deleting the senior inspector's position, creating three supervisors to give us that extra layer of supervision, which in essence, allows us to monitor their activities from one day to the next."

"They're not doing their jobs very well," said a Nutbush homeowner who asked not to be identified. City code enforcement records revealed she has filed 10 service requests since May about piled mattresses, an engine block and multiple vehicles with Mississippi license plates at two of her neighbors on Graham St.

Our inspection of the properties Wednesday revealed the junk and apparent code violations still exist. Code inspectors showed up at the properties 20 minutes after The Action News 5 Investigators reported the homeowner's concerns.

"It shouldn't take this for them to do what they are getting paid to do," said the homeowner. "We're paying their salary. They need to do their job."

"(The properties on Graham St. have) been the subject of numerous violations over the past three years, intensifying during the last three months," said Onzie Horne, deputy director of neighborhood improvement for the public works division. "The offender(s) will make corrections and then again fall into non-compliance."

Horne said the property where multiple vehicles with Mississippi license plates are parked has been turned over to the Memphis Police Department for further investigation.

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