Probation officers gathered at the Bexar County Justice Center in support of one of their own, now facing termination because the officer said she spoke to the media.Fitzgerald of all people should know that problems at the Bexar probation department's troubled urinalysis lab aren't new. It's been producing sloppy or questionable results for much of his tenure. You'd think he'd thank an employee for trying to fix errors instead of fire her over it.
Sheri Simonelli said she was recently placed on administrative leave pending termination for talking about a county-contracted drug testing lab producing a significant number of high positives.
"They are going to take retaliatory action against this individual for conducting herself in a manner of the highest calling of conscientiousness and conscience and duty to a fair justice system, attroney David Van Os said.
Bexar County currently contracts Treatment Associates on the 700 block of San Pedro Avenue for its drug testing.
In February, the number of positive urinalysis tests jumped dramatically, leading Simonelli and others to begin asking questions.
Simonelli, also president of the Central Texas Association of Public Employees, said some of the positive tests were taken to another lab, which produced negative results.
But then, this is Bill Fitzgerald's general modus operandi. He famously announced a couple of years ago just before Christmas that he would have all 430 employees re-apply for their jobs and submit to retention interviews. Why? He was upset some of his employees, including Simmonelli, were trying to form a union.
Now he reacts to news of flaws by a urinalysis lab by firing the employee who caught the errors?
Judges in Bexar County need to rein in Mr. Fitzgerald, and consider shipping him back to Phoenix. He seems a lot more concerned with covering up problems than fixing them. This boorish behavior can have no good result except to allow future problems to fester and further alienate his already disgruntled staff.