What to do about Carlos?

Carlos Busty Bustamante Orange County CEO Tom Mauk has a problem. The problem is Carlos “Bubba BustyGump” Bustamante. The Director of OC Public Works Administration cannot seem to figure out when to keep his unfunny sexist jokes to himself. He also forgot rule #1, Never tell an off color joke to, or in earshot of a reporter.

UPDATE: just got an answer, wrapped in a non-answer, back from the Media Relations Office. “The County Executive Office is unable to comment on personnel matters. Hmmm? Last week Carlos was allegedly speaking as an individual and member of the Santa Ana City Council. Today, it is now a personnel matter. Well, I guess we could call this movement in a positive direction. Or we can see it as the beginning of an effort to orchestrate a way to frame Busty’s behavior as acceptable. Time will tell.

OC CEO Tom MaukTom Mauk now has to figure out how to deal with a senior manager responsible for Human Resources functions in OC Public Works who is also a high profile elected official, who through his “joke” has painted his image as that of someone who is unable or unwilling to uphold the County EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) policy.

By all standards of ethics and integrity some action is warranted. At a minimum, Mr. Bustamante should no longer be in a position of oversight of Human Resources functions for his agency. Regardless as to his prior level of performance, his credibility as an unbiased manager responsible for the implementation of the County EEO Policy in th OC Parks department is questionable a best, damaged beyond repair at worst.

I’m still waiting for a response to my Monday afternoon inquiry of Mauk that I posted about yesterday. I’m not really holding my breath because Mr. Mauk has previously made his feelings about bloggers clear (he doesn’t like blogs or bloggers).

At any rate, I’m still waiting with the rest of you to see if once again one of the boys in management will escape responsibility for his actions? It has happened many times before, particularly with senior managers in this department, I wonder if the same will happen again?

  12 comments for “What to do about Carlos?

  1. June 18, 2008 at 10:12 am

    No longer Bubba Gump, Chris: it’s Busty!

  2. Northcountystorm
    June 18, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Gustavo, that’s just downright hilarious!!!!

    Chris, don’t hold your breath. Mauk can’t/won’t talk about employee discipline even if he was willing to do something about it. He should make it clear that comments like this are not appropriate. And if he doesn’t, someone on the 5th floor should. Don’t you have some influence with one of the Board members now?

    Maybe its time for the countdown. It worked for Fox with Obama. I forget whether it worked for you and Jubal with Hoa(I’m really trying to forget that race).

  3. June 18, 2008 at 11:32 am

    NCS,

    I understand your point, but here is a hypothetical…

    You are the CEO and this comment was made and is widely know because it was published in the LA Times.

    How do you make it clear that such comments are inappropriate to the thousands of employees who have heard about it? Short of firing the guy or a non-Human Resources reassignment to oversite of a County dump, what do you do.

    If Bustymante keeps his position supervising the management of a HR department, I would hate to be the County lawyers defending an EEO complaint against OC Publc Works, or for that matter any county agency. Can anyone say “a pattern and behavior of tolerating statements by management that imply or infer a predisposition towards gender bias in hiring and promotional decisions?”

    Bustymante’s coments were made in a manner which caused them to become public. As a senior management and “at will” employee, the correction of his behavior can not simply play out behind closed doors. If no one sees a consequence, the appearance is that there is none. Given his position, that option is unacceptable.

  4. June 18, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    I have posted an “uplifting” update in the body of the main post. The CEO’s office is now trying to “implant” the idea that this is now a confidential personnel matter.

    Well, at least they got back to me.

  5. Gustavo Arellano
    June 18, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Good job, Chris!

  6. junior
    June 18, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Okay Chris – SHOW ME THE PATTERN !!

    Or, …… show me incident number 2.

    There is no “pattern”; this is a single incident.

    This was a private conversation – we are allowed private conversations in the workplace whether we work in the private or public sector.

  7. Dan Chmielewski
    June 18, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Junior –
    The pattern is the county’s response, not Busty’s behavior. And even private conversations at work can get you into trouble. I know a recruiter who lost a contract because his VP of sales candidate remarked to the CEO, after they shook hands on a job offer. what a “nice rack” the CEO’s admin had (after she left the room). The CEO withdrew the offer on the spot. So the pattern here will be the county ignoring the problem hoping it will go away

  8. junior
    June 18, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Dan,

    The county’s response is not a “pattern of behavior” – this is still a single incident.

    Your anecdotal example is not relevant to the incident. A private person or company can pretty much do as they please in response to a single incident.

    You have failed to put up an argument to back up your statement that this incident represents a “pattern of behavior.”

  9. Northcountystorm
    June 18, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    I think the County’s new position is a sign they realize their initial response was inadequate and only partially correct. He may not have been speaking “for ” the COunty but he certainly was a County employee and County manager on County time and County property when he said something that was published now to probably the entire County work force.

    Chris— He may be an at will employee but that doesn’t mean that the County should can him for this just because he is at will. Think progressive discipline. It’s an isolated instance as far as Busty’s conduct and status. But if I’m reading the Busty Shift correctly, the County is giving him a verbal warning to clean it up while he’s on County time and County property. Can you just imagine the conversation ” Busty, if you want to crack sexist jokes, walk over to City Hall.”

    junior–You’re mixing apples(the need for the County to do something here) and oranges(the standard required for developing a hostile environment or a pattern of practice in a legal case). You’re probably correct that,, without more(and it would not have to be just about Busty), there is no pattern of practice by the County of tolerating gender bias or creating a hostile work environment. But isolated acts that are offensive need to be dealt with by the employer. If not they can become the pattern referenced above. So when and if Busty breaks loose with another off-color joke and the County does nothing than they could have some exposure. Or just as likely if some other Bubba working at the County thinks to himself ” You know, Busty got away with a pretty raw comment, I bet I can too,.” the County failure to respond creates a pattern of tolerating unacceptable conduct and a hostile work environment. Not to mention a disparate treatment defense pushed by one of the OCEA stewards if Bubba belongs to the collective bargaining unit and the County decides they will finally set an example with poor Bubba after having let poor Busty go scot free.

    But I suspect the County will do something–a verbal warning or letter of reprimand, with Busty . While the County is somewhat constrained as to what they can say on personnel matters, Busty of course can tell people exactly what discipline, if any, will be meted out by the County. Given that he is an elected official he should make this easy for the County and just tell some blogger or reporter what happened, apologize, and move on. Problem is, who does he tell? Not you Chris. Certainly not his most vocal critic Art. No Probably not even Jubal who admirably told the truth even though he somewhat defended Busty. I doubt he’ll be talking to the L.A. Times anytime soon. Maybe Peggy Lowe. But if he really wants to come clean than he needs to confess to Father Gustavo Arellano who will most certainly think of a creative penance for Busty.

  10. June 18, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    NCS,

    Thanks for clarifying the patern and practice thing. My point was indeed meant to be that if Busty appears to “get off the hook” without any consequences they set themselves up for future hell.

    The comparison I have here is that, like in large corporations, the at-will provision is kind of like a morals clause. It provides the county with the ability to jetison a senior executive if their conduct, no matter how isolated, causes them too much of a problem. A warning to a senior executive overseeing a human resources department, who’s base level and multiple years of county service have been in an HR management capacity, just doesn’t seem to provide significant discipline to an employee who knows better.

    I am not sure Busty should lose his job here, but I have a major problem with him continuing to hold a supervisory position over an HR department. And what only Mauk and Busty know whether this is an isolated instance. My understanding from conversations I have had with people in the department is that this is not isolated behavior. And while there may be no substantiated complaints, based upon my personal experience with the County EEO office, there is a greater likelihood of President Bush admitting it was wrong to invade Iraq than there is in getting a complaint substantiated by the EEO office.

    So absent an executive level management position, where he neither influences or makes hiring or promotion decisions, I don’t see how he can stay. The minute a woman doesn’t get hired or promoted in OC Public Works, will come a discrimination complaint. The minute a man doesn’t get hired or promoted then comes a complaint as well claiming the department is over compensating. Any way you look at it Busty has placed Mauk in a no win situation. The only discipline that Mauk can deal out that will restore management credibility is reassignment or termination. Reassignment is the weaker of the two.

    Also, the window for an apology closed when Busty denied making the comment when Christian called him on it. He could have apologized right away and there would be far less of a mess. And even if the window didn’t close then, a week later it is nailed shut.

  11. Paul Lucas
    June 19, 2008 at 12:52 am

    Chris, Is Bustamante up for reelection and if so who is his opponent(s)?

  12. June 19, 2008 at 1:33 am

    Paul,

    Carlos is up for election this November for a second term. The filing deadline has not arrived as yet and so far no one has expressed an intention of challenging him.

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