072017jr-wastewater-plant

jeff.reinitz@wcfcourier.com Waterloo Wastewater Treatment Plant.

WATERLOO — The city has won a battle over unemployment benefits with a longtime sewage treatment plant employee fired for misconduct.

A ruling filed with Iowa Workforce Development this month stated Mark Brandes, a former Waterloo Waste Management Services employee who had worked 22 years for the city, was not entitled to unemployment benefits after being fired June 26.

Administrative law judge Jeremy Peterson also said Brandes was responsible for repaying $2,275 in unemployment benefits he’d received since his termination.

The city had appealed an earlier decision granting unemployment insurance payments to Brandes because city officials said he was disqualified from the benefit after being discharged for job-related misconduct.

Peterson said the city presented “substantial and credible evidence that on June 6, 2017, (Brandes) used profanity and made offensive statements” to a supervisor about a co-worker and his department head.

The supervisor, Ryan Broadhead, testified Brandes referred to Waste Management Services Director Steve Hoambrecker as “the fat little (expletive) Whinny Poo at the end of the hall” and to a female co-worker as the “(expletive) in her corner playboy office” and “the little boy.”

The city also accused Brandes of actions that left some co-workers uncomfortable, walking around the office in a dunce cap and leaving a note on Hoambrecker’s desk calling him “overpaid.”

Brandes, in an Aug. 23 telephone hearing, denied leaving the note or making profane comments.

But Peterson noted security video appeared to show Brandes most likely left the note, while some of the comments were corroborated by several city employees.

The firing leaves the city with two vacancies in key positions related to the waste water treatment plant’s capacity, management, operation and maintenance program. The CMOM effort is required under a consent decree the city approved with the U.S. Department of Justice two years ago to settle claims brought by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Broadhead, a key witness in the Brandes unemployment hearing, left his position Aug. 25 after working for the city less than four months. Broadhead pleaded guilty July 14 to felony misuse of public money based on actions with his previous employer in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was sentenced to probation.

The City Council, meeting as the human resources committee, voted 5-1 Tuesday to authorize city staff to start the process of filling both positions. Councilman Bruce Jacobs was absent and Councilman Tom Lind voted no.

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Staff Writer

Waterloo city reporter for the Courier

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