Last week the NBPC wrote about what we believe is one of the Border Patrol’s biggest issues, which is how it protects bad managers. We felt we had no other recourse but to bring this problem to light due to traditional methods being ignored. Sometimes it just takes a healthy dose of sunlight and truth to force someone’s hand and help marginal “leaders” find their way back. While this ultimately falls upon the Chief of the Vermont Sector, John Pfiefer, we will continue to mention both him and the guy who keeps digging his hole deeper and deeper, Paul Kuhn, Patrol Agent in Charge of Beecher Falls Station.
Kuhn is one of the worst managers that I have encountered in my 24 years in the Patrol. Sorry D’Arcy Rivers, this guy actually appears to be worse. While I have never met the guy, I have the unfortunate duty of reviewing grievances, disciplinary actions and arbitrations that come out of his station. I have also spoke to almost a dozen people who have directly worked for him and I have yet to find anyone who has something nice to say about him. At least Keith likes D’arcy, so he is outpacing this wonderful example of someone the Border Patrol keeps trying to hide.
This edition of “The Green Wall” is intended to share with everyone what petty, trivial matters lead to a termination in Swanton Sector and more specifically Beecher Falls. With the permission of the agent involved, Dan Dolan, we included the disciplinary proposal and final decision with this article. We want to let everyone read it and make their own decision on if Mr. Dolan deserves to be fired or if he is merely being targeted because he was an active Union Representative. I will also give you a brief explanation of the circumstances that led to this termination without getting into the technical issues.
The Proposal to terminate Dan Dolan started at Beecher Falls and then went to Swanton Sector Chief Pfeifer who thought it was so important that he actually forwarded it to the wonderful Discipline Review Board (DRB) in Washington, D.C. for consideration. I would love to see a termination case that the DRB did not uphold, but we will save the topic of the DRB for a future edition of “The Green Wall.”
Let me clarify a few things for those who choose to read the proposal and decision. In regards to the charge of failure to follow supervisory instructions, our collective bargaining agreement is quite clear on how an employee should request official time. The agency claims they were worried that Mr. Dolan would secretly turn in his official time requests and then take the official time before anyone could have a chance to approve or deny the time. This would be a valid concern, except Mr. Dolan did not do that. In fact, for the incident cited in this proposal, he turned in the request three days in advance; management then reviewed the request and denied the time. Clearly the system worked as it was intended.
Some other important details related to this situation are: management made special rules that they intended only to apply to Mr. Dolan, those rules were in direct contradiction to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the illegal rules were pending arbitration. Even if none of this were true, is this something you get fired for? It is like failing to fill out an OPM-71 for leave and then not taking leave because it wasn’t approved on an OPM-71.
The second instance was for Mr. Dolan’s alleged failure to follow supervisory instruction by putting the wrong mileage on a gas receipt after being told to put the right mileage on a gas receipt. There isn’t much to say about this; clearly a termination is in order in Bizarro World Swanton Sector.
I will say something though, when you mess up paperwork, it isn’t a disciplinary issue, it is a performance issue. People do not get disciplined for performance issues; instead, they get counseled and maybe trained.
Anyway there you have it, a perfectly good agent with 7 years in the Border Patrol was removed from his job because the Office of Border Patrol refuses to address bad managers. I have a paycheck to bet that Dolan gets his job back. In the meantime, the whole process will cost taxpayers six figures before it is over. Sadly, when it is done, nobody will ever be held accountable for the mistreatment of Agent Dolan, not in this Patrol and not behind “The Green Wall” that protects horrible managers like Paul Kuhn.
Vice President East