State workers must behave

The hot air in Albany is not only coming from the Sheridan Avenue Steam Plant, but also from bureaucrats who claim this time steps have been taken to solve misbehavior by state employees.

New York’s inspector general reported Monday that poor supervision at the steam plant serving the Empire State Plaza led to misbehavior by workers that included being drunk on the job and leaving bedrolls and beer cans in the facility.

Investigators say an engineer responsible for maintaining boilers exposed thousands of people to potential danger by working while intoxicated, and that two supervisors knew and did nothing.

One employee, who has since retired, brought to work a television, a 15-foot antenna, a chair and a portable power generator to watch his favorite show, “Dancing with the Stars,” during his shift in an enclosed parking deck after co-workers locked him out of another unauthorized break room that had a television, the report said.

This is not the first time problems have been reported with Office of General Services workers.

In 2009, an inspector general’s report focused on two OGS workers, later convicted of fraud, who established in a state parking garage a hidden lounge with couches, a television and scales to weigh marijuana.

This time, of course, Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said the agency has taken steps to fortify management, including bimonthly tours of every shift at its facilities statewide, with reports forwarded to her office.

The Office of General Services disciplined seven workers and supervisors with fines ranging from $228 to $13,212, the report said. The intoxicated employee was subjected to two years of random drug and alcohol testing. Two others facing disciplinary charges retired last year.

Sadly, it seems unlikely more tours of the facilities are going to change much of anything. We can reasonably say most people who worked while intoxicated – especially if they put others lives in danger – would be fired.

Something needs to change at OGS – even if it involves outside management being brought in by the state.

The latest scandal makes us wonder what else is going on at OGS.

We’ll probably find out when a sternly-worded report is issued in a couple of years.