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Do as I say ... 

Franklin orders background checks for finance personnel

So far, Mayor Shirley Franklin has done a decent job of trying to re-establish confidence in city government. And her newest gambit is designed to make sure workers in the city's finance department are clean.

Franklin has mandated that all finance personnel submit to background checks -- checks that can charitably be described as invasive.

In the June 28 mandate, employees are advised that the background checks will be looking for a "pattern of financial irresponsibility." And that can include anything from defaulted student loans to bankruptcies to being part of the 99 percent of America that has had a bad credit report at one time or another. Investigators also will look for any criminal history, including misdemeanor traffic offenses or DUIs.

On its face, this seems like a good idea for managers, especially after Theresa Stanford and Raymond J. McClendon bilked the city out of millions of dollars during the early 1990s.

And even if investigators find anything, it won't automatically bar someone from employment, Franklin's directive states.

Still, the new policy has caused some grumbling at City Hall. One longtime finance department worker says the order has damaged morale, as a number of employees are suspicious of interim finance head Rick Anderson and suspect he will use the background checks as a pretense to get rid of employees.

The disgruntled employee also draws attention to the fact that Franklin herself had trouble paying her federal and property taxes during the 1990s -- a fact she attributed to complications from divorcing her husband -- and wonders if Franklin could now get a job in her own finance department.

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