Employees in the Controller's Office Should Think Twice About Swearing

By Aaron Kase
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 24 | Posted Feb. 29, 2012

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Trash talk: Potty-mouthed employees will feel the wrath of the Controller’s Office.

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.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 24 of 24
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1. Anonymous said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 08:58AM

“also read the article on the right
"The City Controller, a Councilman and the PPA All Use the Same Consultant. Is It a Conflict?"


Read more: http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/news-and-opinion/news/Alan-Butkovitz-City-Controller-Harvey-Rice-Marty-ORourke.html?page=2&comments=1&showAll=#ixzz1nmMJ7NOr”

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2. Anonymous said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 09:38AM

“So who investigates the Controller's office? Where's the DA?”

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3. Anonymous said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 01:25PM

“Two points:
1. Maybe the allegation on the bathroom door is perfectly correct - but does it matter and if so, why?
2. If Kaplan was promised anonymity, the City should keep its promise. Kaplan was asked to express his personal opinion and he did so under the rules the City set down. The City broke its promise. He should sue the City.”

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4. Aaron Kase said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 02:00PM

“Re: Comment #2: In general, various law enforcement bodies could investigate suspected criminal offenses, depending on their nature, like the DA, the police, the FBI.
There are other city agencies that could peek into certain specific things.

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5. Melanie Davis said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 02:30PM

“Mr. Kase, rather than making light of homophobic graffiti on the bathroom stall, you should comment on the impact of acts like this on the people they're directed at. These are rarely isolated incidents; rather, they indicate on-going threats from bullies who intend to cause embarrassment and pain. Often, those who make and those who tolerate such acts become emboldened to become even more aggressive. Put the focus where it should be: on the victims of homophobia and hate.

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6. Dr. D. G. Berger said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 02:38PM

“When "sexually explicit" graffiti is also a hate crime, it is the victim, Mr. Butkovitz, we should be protecting. What does it feel like to be attacked at his own workplace, possibly by a co-worker? An investigation is totally appropriate, and identifying the perpetrator of the crime is a necessary goal.”

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7. Anonymous said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 03:03PM

“It does not matter if the graffiti is referring to two men or a man and a woman. Although it is a childish way of making a statement.

Marty O'Rourke and Harvey Rice are lovers and live together. Marty, who is not even an employee of the city, calls the shots and Harvey acts. Butkovitz does nothing except show his face. Harvey Rice was or still is on the school district payroll, not the city's, so he is able to live outside the city with Marty. Every other city employee must live within the city. Media, please investigate further. You don't have to dig too far.

This has nothing to do with sexuality. 45-50 employees have left the controller's office since Butkovitz took office. The morale in the office is horrible. Everyone wants out.

The interrogation of the employees was absolutely illegal! This is not a gay/straight thing. Not a hate crime. The office in charge of investigating fraud is one of the most fraudulent in the city. Investigate the Controller's Office!”

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8. Anonymous said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 04:44PM

“it sounds like the Controllers office has become some kind of petty fiefdom where the managers are petty demagogues who don't have to answer to anyone for their actions. They are allowed to break the law and abuse their employees with impunity and I'll bet there are a whole lot of other ex-employees who have been victimized by these jerks that we pay. I hope Kaplan sues them big time and then maybe someone will take this situation seriously. I'd rather have my taxes go to settle the law-suit than pay those arrogant , destructive, incompetent, self-serving bureaucrats.”

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9. Anonymous said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 06:33PM

“Sorry, Ms. Melanie Davis, EDD, CSE, You don't know what you're talking about. This is not a story about hate crimes. It's a story about thuggery and overreach and bullying and horrible judgment at the top of the Controller's office. Let's grant that "harvey sucks marty" is a hate crime (and under the circumstances most reasonable people would not agree ) . That does not justify using outside security consultants, on the public's dime, to launch a private investigation. If it's a hate crime, call the cops. If you just want to get your fucking rocks off scaring the shit out of people because you're used to getting your way, well...read the story. O'Rourke and Rice are done. And good riddance. Now, let's see how Butkovitz plays this one.”

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10. Anonymous said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 08:12PM

“Mr. Rice and his partner are a disgrace to this city. We are facing a budget crisis and here are two pigs bleeding us dry. The rule in the City of Philadelphia is if you work for the city, you must live in the city. How are Mr. Rice and his boyfriend getting around this law? It is disgraceful what Rice is doing to this city.
I feel badly for Kaplan. He was unjustly fired and for what?! Was Rice a friend of this Antar guy? Was Mr. Rice profiting off Antar's speech? And why are the taxpayers of the City of Philadelphia paying for a criminal to profit off his crimes? Was there any other evidence the Kaplan would have been so-called embarrassment? Does anyone know if Kaplan has been able to find employment?
What was written on the bathroom stall is gross, but to deny people their basic civil liberties under the law is worse. The city Controller's office has shown that is no better corrupt dictatorship with a God-complex.”

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11. Sam E. Antar said... on Mar 1, 2012 at 12:16AM

“America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free". ---- President Andrew Shepherd (Movie: The American President)”

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12. Anonymous said... on Mar 1, 2012 at 02:31PM

“Aaron, nice reporting. Welcome to the scene!! The crap that Butkovitz and O'Rourke have been peddling has been dangling in front of the dailies for years. O'Rourke is too good a source to mess with for most of them. Sad and shameful all around.”

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13. Anonymous said... on Mar 1, 2012 at 04:44PM

“This article was poorly written two separate incidents.First ,yes it's a "hate crime" & disgrace for someone to attack a fellow co-worker. I say a coward. Reveal yourself !!!!!! Second, looking for a story why not investigate Isaac Whitaker, uses a city vehicle for napping in Fairmount Park, meeting up with girls, the gym extened lunches, personal errands ....Are any job sites being visited ? HMM. Smell a real story for starters , then there is fraudelent overtime among several employees. He collects overtime while playing games on a City Computer...... You really want to dsicuss tax- payers money ? This is a story for a real newspaper and network.... YOU CAN'T HANDLE IT !!!!!!”

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14. Rafael Kaplan said... on Mar 2, 2012 at 02:36AM

“Mr. Antar, I was both surprised and delighted when I heard that you were taking a stand in my defense. I take back every negative thing that I’ve ever said about you. Hopefully, the Philadelphia City Controller’s Office will take note of your position in favor of freedom of speech on anonymous surveys.”

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15. Anonymous said... on Mar 2, 2012 at 10:49AM

“Time to have an outside agency investigate the Controller's Office. Like a DA from another part of the state.
To waste all of this money in a witch hunt when the City needs every dime is just amazing.
Bet Mr. Butkowitz gets reelected.”

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16. Anonymous said... on Mar 4, 2012 at 08:53PM

“Harvey Rice and Marty O’Rourke are flat out bullies. They have created a hostile work environment using fear, disrespect and intimidation. I know this first hand because I was one of the 12 employees’ interrogated by Keystone Intelligence. We never filled out a psychological questionnaire, the "so called" investigator did all the writing except for the twenty five times each of us had to write what was on the bathroom stall door. What was written on the stall door was childish and wrong and they should have called the police if they thought it was a hate crime. Having to write “Harvey Sucks Marty’s Dick” over twenty five times was uncomfortable and very offensive to all of us. There was no representation from human resources or other management present. We were lead into the conference room under false information that Mr. Rice wanted to see us for a “Meeting””

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17. Anonymous said... on Mar 12, 2012 at 03:54PM

“25 times ?
What the hell is Butkowitz running ? An elementary school ?”

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18. sisterdisco said... on Mar 18, 2012 at 08:39AM

“It distresses me that a random act of tire slashing in center city Philadelphia has been attributed to someone in the city controller's office, and used as supposed evidence that Harvey Rice has been harassed by someone under his management. And as for the urine in the water bottle. Where is the evidence of that? Harvey had a sample of his bottled water sent to a lab almost two years ago. If it came back with urine in it, why was this never addressed in the office when the results came back? Now it is conveniently dragged out as more supposed evidence that Harvey is the victim here. The real victims here are the employees in the City Controller's office who have been lied to, investigated without representation, forced to give an illegal hand writing sample and had there personal and medical information illegally used during the investigation. Can You say HIPPA? The problems brought up by this whole fiasco are staggering. Unfortunately, the root of the problem is poor manageme”

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19. CPA from Philly said... on Jan 14, 2013 at 10:12PM

“A few things:

1. Love this news!
2. Ralph you are the man! Excellent finding. I am a CPA and I left the Controller's Office as soon as I got my CPA. You can start a practice and make more than $39K a year. I make more than that working for myself part-time!
2. Harvey Rice is a bully. I used to work there and I could tell you that they made the work environment unbearable. I'm glad its all out in the open now how his boyfriend has a contract for lip service. Rice doesn't work for the School District. He works for the Controller's Office. You should visit that office and see where he seats and ask him what he does everyday... That is the only way you would know what employees do and who they work for.
3. Antar is an ex-felon. If he committed his crime after sarbanes-oxley, he would still be in jail. White collar criminals that get paid to talk about their crimes are piece of sh*t. That is what I would call him all day everyday!

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20. Anonymous said... on Aug 28, 2013 at 09:34PM

“It seems that Ralph Kaplan is known for embarrassing himself and taking things way too far.

http://sexologist.tumblr.com/post/56811061145/my-most-wtf-sexologist-moment-to-date-an-open-letter

He did not agree with a sexologist's opinion on condoms, so he wrote her a rather rude letter. (He seems to think that what she does in the bedroom with her husband is his business.) When the lady got understandably upset, Ralph proceeded to call her parents and get them involved.

This guy is a creep no matter how you look at it.”

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21. Gus said... on Sep 23, 2013 at 11:45AM

“It is unclear if the "Ralph Kaplan" that is referred to in the previous comment (Comment #20) is the same person that is the subject of this Philadelphia Weekly article. If you do a Google search for "Ralph Kaplan", you can see that there are about a dozen different people with the same name. One thing is for sure, though...the "sexologist" who wrote the open letter is obviously a mentally disturbed person. Furthermore, the author of the previous comment is someone with way too much free time on his or her hands.”

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22. Anonymous said... on Oct 8, 2013 at 07:51AM

“I read the idiotic tumblr blog entry referred to in comment #20. It is obvious that the person who wrote the e-mail to the "sexologist" is a family friend. Why else would he and his wife have her parents' phone numbers? To me, it is clear that the e-mail that the sexologist was complaining about in her blog was sent to her as an off-color joke to a family friend. Instead of taking the tongue-in-cheek humor for what it was, the sexologist used the opportunity to write a sensationalistic blog entry to get herself some attention. As the sexologist's blog states, even the sexologist's step-mother tried to stop her from engaging in this immature online shaming. Not only did the sexologist not take her stepmother's advice, but the sexologist even trashed her own stepmother on her blog for giving her this ethical advice. I suppose this incident shouldn't be too surprising given that this sexologist has a reputation for trying to get attention for herself at any price.”

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23. Jimmy D. said... on Oct 10, 2013 at 12:03PM

“Alan Butkovitz doesn't care about cursing when his friends do it. Read this article about how Butkovitz's political ally, John Dougherty, repeatedly referred to Butkovitz's political challenger as a "piece of shit" while speaking onstage at an election fundraiser for Butkovitz:

http://articles.philly.com/2013-05-17/news/39338433_1_brett-mandel-john-dougherty-2015-race

For a good article on the REAL reasons why Rafael Kaplan was terminated from the Controller's Office, please see the following website:

http://blogs.lawyers.com/2012/12/philly-whistleblower-retaliation/”

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24. Jimmy D. said... on Oct 10, 2013 at 12:04PM

“Alan Butkovitz doesn't care about cursing when his friends do it. Read this article about how Butkovitz's political ally, John Dougherty, repeatedly referred to Butkovitz's political challenger as a "piece of shit" while speaking onstage at an election fundraiser for Butkovitz:

http://articles.philly.com/2013-05-17/news/39338433_1_brett-mandel-john-dougherty-2015-race

For a good article on the REAL reasons why Rafael Kaplan was terminated from the Controller's Office, please see the following website:

http://blogs.lawyers.com/2012/12/philly-whistleblower-retaliation/”

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