Prince George's County must offer to rehire a building inspector fired last June for allegedly failing to report hundreds of defects in he construction of the L evitt Housing Corporation's Northview development in Bowie, an arbitrator has ruled.
Samuel V. Stiles, is who was dismissed after reinspections turned up major defects in the construction of the 122 single-family homes said yesterday that he has not decided whether he would accept the county's offer.
"I'm pleased," Stiles said, but "whether I go back depends on what the county offers."
Stiles' firing was appealed by his union, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) which said that he had failed to notice the defects in Northview because of his excessive workload. The union also said that he was fired because of the publicity given the defects and the resulting political pressure on then-county executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr.
"Northview was an embarrassment to Kelly and he made Stiles a scapegoat," said Paul Manner, a director of AFSCME. "We admitted that he made mistakes, but we attributed it to his workload."
Prince George's officials told the grievance arbitrator, Robert J. Ables, that Stiles had been fired for reasons of negligence, willful negligence, willful disregard of his duties, and moral turpitude. Ables found that Stiles had been negligent, but cleared him on the other four charges.
Ables ordered that Stiles not be repaid for the seven months he was out of work as punishment for the charge of negligence.
"I don't know what the next step for us to take is," said county personnel director Don Weinberg yesterday. "We will have to wait and read the official opinion before we decide." The country could appeal the arbitrator's decision to Prince Georges Circuit Court.
Ables has not yet issued his formal opinion on Stiles firing, and yesterday refused to comment on the reasons for his order.
The building code violations at Northview were discovered last spring after Northview residents organized to protest the condition of their $40,000-to $60,000 homes. When the deficiencies in the homes began receiving widespread publicity, the county ordered a reinspection of all homes and fired Stiles.
Subsequently, Levitt, which was forced to spend thousands of dollars last summer correcting the problems, was forced to give up its license to build in Prince George's.