Palm Tran names two executives

Clinkscale
Clinkscale
Smith
Smith

Palm Tran has hired Sean K. Smith as Director of Operations for the county bus agency. Smith starts Nov. 14, Palm Tran executive director Clinton Forbes told county elected officials and staff in an Oct. 26 email.

Smith has 25 years in the transit business. He started as a dispatcher for the Greyhound bus line and for seven years has been general manager and CEO at the Durham, N.C., transit system. He will oversee more than 530 bus drivers, maintenance workers and training and safety staff, and a nearly $80 million budget, and will report to Forbes.

Forbes had announced Oct. 11 that he was appointing Keith Clinkscale manager of a newly-created office of performance management, starting Oct. 17. Clinkscale will produce performance reports.  Clinkscale joined Palm Tran in February 2015 as a paratransit dispatcher, arranging pickups for ill, elderly and disabled passengers.

Palm Tran Connection hires new director

hockman
Hockman

Palm Tran Connection, Palm Beach County’s call-ahead bus service for the elderly, disabled and ill, has a new director.

Chad Hockman, whose official title will be Senior Manager of Paratransit, starts Thursday. He’ll be formally introduced at Thursday afternoon’s meeting of the Palm Tran Service Board, the agency’s advisory group.

Hockman will oversee a staff of 75 and a $30 million budget, Palm Tran Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes said Wednesday in a release.

The Ohio State University graduate worked for the college, then spent 13 years at a private paratransit provider that worked in six Midwestern and southern States.

Hockman will earn $107,000.  His predecessor, Ron Jones, had earned $115,000.

In May, Forbes, who had been Palm Tran director since November, demoted Jones and accepted the resignation of  Palm Tran deputy director, and former director, Chuck Cohen.

And in June, he contracted with a private firm to provide an interim director for the troubled subsidiary and reassigned two supervisors of the Connection’s scheduling operation. In late March, a Palm Beach County Inspector General report had said the Connection was doctoring on-time statistics.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Vana blasts Palm Tran Connection allegations

Commissioner Shelley Vana
Vana

Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana went off at Tuesday’s commission meeting about  last week’s blistering report by the Palm Beach County Inspector General bout Palm Tran Connection.

The report managers altered, or directed dispatchers to alter, between 21,000 and 46,000 reports of when a rider was picked up or dropped off late in the past 14 months, making them “inaccurate and inflated” and allowing the agency to reach a goal of a 95 percent on-time record.

“We have concerns regarding this, and I talked about it at length on this commission for the last four or five years,” Vana told colleagues Tuesday. “I hope that now we will have some action taken and we will get to the bottom of what happened.”

Vana has been outspoken about problems with the Connection, a problem-plagued subsidiary of Palm Tran that provides call-ahead bus service for the elderly, disabled and ill.

Clinton Forbes, who came on as Palm Tran director in November, was at Tuesday’s meeting but did not speak. He’s said he intends to conduct an outside investigation of his own into the Connection.

Forbes (Richard Graulich/staff)
Forbes (Richard Graulich/staff)

Palm Tran Connection signed contracts in January 2015 with three companies for a combined $190 million to provide the service after reaching a settlement with its old vendor to end its contract. For years, the county had heard complaints of late service, rude drivers and unclean buses as Metro Mobility Management Group racked up $2.5 million in fines.

The on-time standard is used by Palm Tran executives in reports to both customers and the Palm Beach County Commission, and managers know a performance record below 95 percent could result in contractors being dumped and managers being penalized. A poor on-time performance cost Chuck Cohen, Palm Tran executive director for nearly a decade, a demotion in January 2014, and later led to a major overhaul of the Connection.

 

Inspector General: Palm Tran Connection dispatchers altered on-time records

010615 palm tran 3

Carey
Carey

Palm Tran Connection managers altered, or directed dispatchers to alter, between 21,000 and 46,000 reports, making them “inaccurate and inflated” and allowing the agency to reach a goal of a 95 percent on-time record in the past 14 months, the Palm Beach County Inspector General said Thursday.

“No one admitted, ‘we are doing this in order to meet the 95 percent goal,’” Inspector General John Carey said Thursday. But, he said, “that is a logical conclusion that people could bring.”

Clinton Forbes, who came on as Palm Tran director in November, told The Palm Beach Post Thursday he plans to hire an outside entity to conduct an investigation for him.

“If we find that any employee manipulated the numbers, or cooked the books, there will be severe administrative action,” Forbes said.

Proper time records could have led to penalties to contractors of as much as $1.26 million, the 100-plus page report by Carey’s office said. It did find more than 100 cases where contractors were penalized $60 per occurrence, but Carey said, “We believe there were obviously a lot more occasions.”

Forbes said the $1.26 million estimate is wrong because Palm Tran Connection doesn’t penalize for tardiness, only for failed pickups.

Jones
Jones

The report said management of the county bus service for the elderly and disabled “disagreed with our finding” but did concur with the Inspector General’s nine recommendations. They include “take appropriate personnel action.” Forbes said Thursday that Ron Jones remains the Palm Tran Connection director.

 

Forbes
Forbes

The report says Jones admitted ordering computer audit programs to be turned off, allowing people to go back and change previous reporting without any audit trail. The summary said Jones told investigators in September that he’d stopped, but that a Connection staffer came forward in February to say that the misdirection was continuing.

Forbes told The Post, and the ageny said in remarks included in the Inspector General’s report, Palm Tran said there are several reasons that on-time performances are changed after the fact.

But, Carey said Thursday, “why was it that when we brought it to their attention, it went down below that 95 percent, and it’s never been there again?”

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.OIG1