Clout: Controller's Office training mimics 'The Office'

City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

IN THE SECOND EPISODE of the hilarious sitcom "The Office," titled "Diversity Day," a clueless boss prompts the need for sensitivity training and then bufoonishly takes over the class.

You can still find the show, which aired in 2005, on YouTube.

Or, if you work at the City Controller's Office, you could have watched it in person during a four-hour "Diversity & Sensitivity Training" class earlier this year.

We recommend YouTube, which is free, rather than the class, which cost the Controller's Office $17,671.

This mess started in February, when someone wrote on a bathroom-stall door in the Controller's Office a crude description of a sex act between a top aide there and his partner, a former office contractor.

Controller Alan Butkovitz, furious about that and other incidents of anonymous harassment, paid Keystone Intelligence Network $7,746 to question a dozen employees and find the culprit.

The private-investigations firm had employees fill out a four-page "forensic assessment interview technique" form with penetrating questions such as "What is this interview and investigation about?" and "Who would you suspect?"

At least one person interviewed was also told to write the slur 18 times on a piece of paper. This was for handwriting analysis. But that and fingerprinting the stall door didn't solve the case.

The training soon followed. The entire office was split into nine groups to attend the sessions, which included some role-playing as bullies and victims, and an exercise in which they wrote examples of stereotypes of city employees.

That seems to have had the unintentional result of some employees now blaming the victim for the investigation and training.

"I think some people had that approach," Butkovitz said. "What happened was the training was an open zone for people to talk about what was on their minds. It was part of the thing to mix things up."

Asked if the training worked, Butkovitz said progress on such sensitive issues is incremental.

"How do you measure it?" he asked. "I think people were sensitized to the issue."

Butkovitz is irked that anger about the investigation and training, much like the original slur, is coming from inside his office, since someone leaked invoices for the firms that did the investigation and the training.

"You know how much aggravation I get for doing this right thing all year?" Butkovitz asked.

 

Speaking of which ...

Butkovitz is a potential candidate for mayor in 2015, but first must navigate what is shaping up to be a crowded Democratic primary in May for a third term as Controller.

Mark Zecca, a 20-year veteran of the city Law Department, left that job on Oct. 31 and is now a candidate for controller. Zecca, who in the past represented the city in Election Court, spent the Nov. 6 general election assisting President Obama's campaign.

Working for the city, Zecca handled cases involving casino applicants, campaign-finance legislation and an attempt to regulate lost and stolen guns.

Brett Mandel, who ran in 2009, is again a declared candidate. Michael Williams, who also recently left the Law Department, is considering a run.

 

Tartaglione's revenge?

We have noted several times in this space that new City Commissioner Stephanie Singer, who deposed nine-term Commission chairwoman Marge Tartaglione last year, has had a tough time with the new job.

Singer, ousted as chairwoman earlier this month by colleagues Al Schmidt and Anthony Clark, may have a new problem on her hands. Some Democrats are urging Tartaglione's daughter, Renee Tartaglione Matos, to run against her in 2015.

Oh, the revenge!

Tartaglione Matos resigned as chief deputy city commissioner in November 2010 after admitting to nine violations of the City Charter ban on political activity by city employees. The Philadelphia Board of Ethics, which built the case against her, fined her $2,700.

She was also prohibited from working for the city or running for office for one year, the maximum allowed in the charter.

Tartaglione Matos confirmed there is a push for her to run and stopped short of saying no to the idea, noting that many people called her and her mother all day for advice during the Nov. 6 general election. Some are also calling for Marge to run again.

"It was like I'm still working there," Tartaglione Matos said of the Election Day calls. "My phone didn't stop."

 


Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: philly.com/phillyclout