When Miami's director of solid waste management quit earlier this summer, city officials were sent scrambling for a replacement. They quickly hired Fred Hobson, a former assistant director of solid waste who had retired in 2005.
Problem is, Hobson's resumé is itself solid waste -- and the city should have known about it. According to his former supervisors, Hobson was fired twice from city jobs for lying on his resumé and rooting for his boss to die of cancer.
"People told me what he had been saying about me," says Clarance Patterson, who was suffering from prostate cancer when he was Hobson's boss at the solid waste department in 2004. "Hobson went around telling people: 'Don't listen to him. He's not going to be around very long.' "
"He was playing games with me," Patterson recalls. "So I fired him."
Nine years earlier, another of Hobson's bosses fired him after discovering he had lied on his resumé. "When he didn't provide me with his transcripts, that's what first made me suspicious," Ivey Kearson says. "But he also cost us about $1 million in funding because of his negligence." Hobson's first resumé listed degrees from London University and the College of the Virgin Islands - degrees Kearson found his employee did not actually have.
So how is Hobson now a department director making $100,000 a year? Both times, it seems, he persuaded higherups to keep him around. In 1995, an arbitrator acknowledged that his resumé was inaccurate but found that firing Hobson was too severe a punishment. For his part, Hobson insists he was never officially fired and has the pension to prove it.
"Everything is in my file," he says, refusing to discuss that same file. "The City of Miami is in the business of checking everything I put on there."
But officials didn't check his files, which are stuck in storage because of the city's ongoing lawsuit with Iron Mountain storehouses. When Riptide requested them, the city provided nothing more than his job application and his newest resumé, which now says he attended Columbia University in New York as well as the Polytechnic College in London before it "split" into Middlesex and Westminster universities. Yet Riptide could find only a Royal Polytechnic Institution in London, and it never became Middlesex.
To top it all off, the city granted Hobson a waiver when he could not provide his education credentials, despite his past indiscretions.
Now city officials are playing the blame game, shifting responsibility from one office to another. "Employee Relations is responsible for the employee hiring process," says Assistant City Manager Tony Crapp, Jr., who hired Hobson. "It's my understanding that they did the background check necessary."
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"We don't have his old files, not in our possession," admits Michelle Piña, director of Employee Relations. She says ER did know about his disciplinary history but assumed that since he was never officially fired, there would be no problem rehiring him.
Even still, Hobson's application should have raised red flags. According to his resumé, Hobson retired in 2005, but Piña says he stopped working for the city in 2003.
But hey - what's two years of taxpayer money wasted, anyway?