OGDEN -- An Ogden police sergeant who contends he was unfairly passed over for promotion in 2007 because of a double-dipping system is again taking his grievance to the city's Civil Service Commission.
The commission is scheduled to hear the complaint from Sgt. Blaine Clifford on May 11.
Clifford maintains the Ogden Police Department refused to promote him to lieutenant despite his ranking first in an exam for the position.
Instead, the post went to returning retiree Lt. Mike Ashment, according to Clifford's 14-page grievance.
The same thing has happened at least four times: Qualified OPD sergeants have been denied promotion in favor of recirculating retired lieutenants through the city's system, the grievance maintains.
"The (police) department's practice of essentiality recycling its retired lieutenants through the limited number of lieutenant slots also has a negative impact and domino effect upon the remaining officers of the department as it imposes an artificial ceiling upon their promotion," the grievance states.
State law allows police officers who retire to return to active duty and draw both retirement benefits and salary.
Clifford's complaint alleges the city, in filling vacancies, improperly gave preference to retired lieutenants over sergeants on the promotion eligibility list.
Clifford has requested that the Civil Service Commission promote him to lieutenant with pay and benefits retroactive to May 2007.
Clifford declined this week to comment on his allegations, deferring to his attorney, Elizabeth Peck, who could not be reached.
Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner said Clifford has the right to file an appeal with the Civil Service Commission but denied any wrongdoing in the department.
"The conspiracy he thinks happened didn't happen," Greiner said.
Ogden Civil Service Commission members Joseph Murray and Chris Zimmer declined to comment, saying they haven't reviewed Clifford's appeal.
A.K. Greenwood, who is also a member of the commission, could not be reached for comment.
Clifford first took his grievance to the Civil Service Commission in September 2007.
However, Clifford and the commission stipulated in October 2008 that the complaint would be dismissed without prejudice, meaning an appeal could be renewed later.
At the time, the city asserted Clifford's appeal was not a case of discharge or suspension and was outside the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission.
Clifford disagreed but acknowledged it would be improper for the Civil Service Commission to hear the appeal because it approves certain hiring and employee promotion decisions for the police department.
Clifford then filed a petition for emergency relief in 2nd District Court.
Judge Ernie Jones dismissed the petition in February, directing Clifford to exhaust administrative remedies with the city's grievance processes, either through the Civil Service Commission or the administrative appeal process with the city's chief administrative officer.
Clifford's allegations are similar to those included in a demand for a Utah Retirement Systems investigation that Detectives Brian Eynon and Kory Checketts, president and vice president of the Ogden Police Benefit Association at the time, made to state lawmakers in November 2009.
Eynon told the Legislature's Retirement and Independent Entities Interim Committee the URS failed to enforce its own rules, resulting in reduced retirement benefits for Ogden police officers, in order to provide double-dipping benefits of $45,000 to $55,000 a year for Lieutenants Ashment, Scott Conley and Marcy Korgenski, as well as Assistant Chief Wayne Tarwater.
Korgenski has since been promoted to assistant chief.
The URS spent more than a year investigating the OPD's double-dipping system but notified the city in February it will not take any punitive action.
However, the URS will audit the OPD over the next year or two to ensure it continues to comply with state retirement laws, Ogden City Attorney Gary Williams has said.
Conley has refused to comment and referred all questions to Greiner. Ashment has also declined to comment. Korgenski and Tarwater have referred all questions to Williams.
The Standard-Examiner has filed a Government Records Management Act request with the URS and city for all documents related to the URS investigation.
City Attorney Mara Brown said the city can't release the documents because it's still subject to a URS audit.
Robert V. Newman, executive director of the URS, also refused to provide the records, saying the URS is exempt from GRAMA.