According to (apocryphal) legend, prolific British writer Rudyard Kipling was never knighted because of his vulgarity. A Kipling tale beginning, “‘Shit!’ said the Queen … ” didn’t sit too well with the prudish Victoria.
Apparently, City Controller Alan Butkovitz doesn’t fancy cursing, either.
Employees in his office are walking on eggshells after two separate incidents in recent months involving the use of naughty words resulted in the firing of one auditor and the investigation of another dozen employees.
Victorian-era morals, indeed.
According to numerous sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the latest firestorm was set off at the beginning of February when a sexually explicit note was found scrawled on a bathroom stall in a men’s room near the Controller’s Office on the 12th floor of the Municipal Services Building. The writing referenced a sex act between Chief Deputy City Controller Harvey Rice and his partner, political consultant Marty O’Rourke, who ran Butkovitz’s election campaign and is now contracted to provide public relations and communications services to the office for $30,000 a year.
The powers that be were not pleased. Sources with knowledge of the situation say Butkovitz quickly brought in a private investigator from the Keystone Intelligence Network, which removed the stall door and dusted it for fingerprints.
About a dozen employees were interrogated on city time by the investigator, with no union representation, and forced—under implied threat to their jobs—to provide fingerprints and a handwriting sample by transcribing the message on the stall, “Harvey sucks Marty’s dick.” Employees were alarmed that during the course of the interrogations they were questioned about what they thought was confidential information from their personnel files and medical records.
Employees under investigation say they were also told that a hate crime had been committed. A police spokesperson said the PPD had no record of any recent contact from the Controller’s Office regarding a hate crime.
Keystone Intelligence Network Director William Fleisher confirmed that his firm was hired to undertake an investigation for the Controller’s Office, but declined further comment on any details.
Asked to confirm the incident, Butkovitz Spokesman Brian Dries said only, “This is a personnel matter that is currently under investigation and as such, there will be no comment.” The office declined to confirm or deny any facts or address additional questions about how much the investigation cost, why the dozen employees were singled out of an office of more than a hundred, or whether any HIPAA privacy rules were broken through disclosure of employees’ medical records to the investigators.
According to one source, after PW contacted the Controller’s Office for comment, the employees questioned in the door- writing incident were told by upper management that anyone suspected of speaking to reporters affiliated with the newspaper would be subject to further investigation by Keystone and subsequent punishment.
Rice, apparently upset because no one has been fired, reportedly walked out of the office nearly two weeks ago and hadn’t returned as of yesterday. He didn’t respond to phone calls and email requesting comment.
His absence has reportedly resulted in a void of leadership, since a number of sources close to the office claim that he and O’Rourke run the whole show and Butkovitz is a mere political figurehead.
Whether the mysterious bathroom scribbler will ever be caught and brought to justice, and how many taxpayer dollars will be spent hunting him down, is still up in the air.
For now, whoever did the deed still has a job. Unfortunately, Rafael Kaplan isn’t so lucky.
Kaplan was a promising young auditor certified as a CPA and boasting a 4.00 M.B.A. from Rutgers Camden School of Business. He joined the Controller’s Office in June 2011 after stints with the city’s Department of Revenue and the IRS.
In an October progress report reviewed by PW, Kaplan received rankings of satisfactory and superior across a 10-point evaluation signed by his immediate superior, Audit Supervisor Eugene McQuary. McQuary checked a box indicating that he would request to have Kaplan on his team for future assignments.
What Kaplan didn’t realize at the time was that he had already sealed his fate, signed in ink with the s-word.
The precipitation of his downfall came in early September, during a course on white-collar fraud taught by one Sammy Antar. Antar was the chief financial officer of Crazy Eddie, the electronics retailer that perpetrated one of the largest and most notorious security frauds of the 1980s, a precursor to more recent Enron and Madoff scandals.
Incest has long been taboo among human societies for its propensity to produce deformed offspring. Among political circles in Philadelphia, however, incest is a cherished, closely guarded tradition, which might go a long way toward explaining our deformed government. Like our own little Gabriel García Márquez novel, everyone’s in bed together, while our mess of a city is left to be carried away by ants.
Savage Love: Sondheim is solace