City of Buffalo HR Director Points The Finger

September 16, 2010 Updated Sep 16, 2010 at 6:37 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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September 16, 2010 Updated Sep 16, 2010 at 6:37 PM EDT


BUFFALO, NY

Thursday was the first hearing in the mayor's efforts to fire Karla Thomas, the city's Human Resources Commissioner.
However, Thomas says she wants to keep her job, but more importantly she wants to repair her reputation that she says has been slaughtered in the media. Thursday's hearing was led by former U.S. Attorney, Michael Battle from New York City. The mayor read a statement detailing the reasons for Thomas' termination. In December of last year, city auditors made several recommendations to the HR Department. One was to subscribe to a monthly social security death master file
to avoid paying health insurance premiums for deceased employees and their families. The mayor also directed Thomas to purchase the master file. But after eight months officials discovered Thomas never purchased the data, which resulted in 80 families receiving health benefits they weren't eligible for.

"Regrettably her not following my directive in January 2010 has cost the City of Buffalo a significant amount of money that we cannot recover," said Mayor Byron Brown.

"My only hope is that the decision you come to after hearing the facts of this case will make us all proud once again," said Thomas.

According to reports, the HR Department paid out more than $2.7 million in health insurance benefits to deceased employees and their families. Thomas read a statement saying she is qualified for the job and blamed the problems on lack of resources to effectively perform her job duties. The termination hearings are adjourned until October.