ON WEDNESDAY, a front page story, this newspaper recounted at some length a compilation of complaints about William H. Rumsey, director of the city's recreation department. From the prominence of this account and the way it began, one could easily jump to the conclusion that a tale of certain scandal was about to unfold: Dr. Rumsey, it said, "has been accused by several of his employees of abusing his authority by using maintenance workers from his agency to do repair work on his home and rental properties and continuing the nepotism and cronyism practices that have long plagued the department." So what's the story here?
Well, from our reading of it, Dr. Rumsey's a victim of unfair attack. The story is that "more than 75 present and former recreation department employees" have gripes about the department chief - none of which appears to constitute a serious indictment of his performance in office. On the contrary, the "allegations" amount to a string of unconnected tales or partial truths about the director's policies and activities.
Take the "allegations" that Dr. Rumsey used employees "to do work on his home and rental properties." To begin with, as the account does note, he paid them for their work. Some complained that they weren't paid enough, but really, isn't that their problem? Crucial here is that there was no evidence cited that Dr. Rumsey had any personal work done on city time.
Another "accusation" is that Dr. Rumsey "habitually used workers" to drive him to and from meetings downtown. The director replies that yes, he often took an employee along with him who could return the car " so that it could be ready for the next person needing transportation." Seems reasonable. Still other employees alleged that Dr. Ramsey has hired friends and relatives as summer workers. Dr. Rumsey replies, "I don't believe in favoritism. I was shut out too long myself for that." The pettiest complaints listed among the "allegations" was that the director has "angered" employees by insisting that they call him "Dr. Rumsey" even though his Ph.D. was awarded by an unaccredited school. Tsk, tsk.
What you have here, then, is not another Yeldell affair involving years of demonstrably imcompetent administration. In fact, Dr. Rumsey's record in this community - as a youth worker, high school principal and administrator - has won him high praise citywide. No doubt it has also made hime some enemies along the way. But in the absence of hard evidence, the sum total of their complaints is a bum rap.