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UPBRAIDING BY BANGERTER IS INSULT, UPEA LAWYER SAYS

Gov. Norm Bangerter's weekend woodshedding of public employees regarding misuse of public money at Timpanogos Community Mental Health Center is an insult to the vast majority of hard-working and honest rank-and-file public employees, the attorney for the Utah Public Employee Association contends.

L. Zane Gill said Monday he is drafting a letter demanding Bangerter apologize to public employees."For the governor to come out and say he feels it necessary to chastise all the merit-covered employees is an indiscriminate insult to thousands of employees," Gill said.

Last week, the legislative auditor general released a report alleging that eight top Timp Mental Health administrators had misused and pocketed as much as $3.5 million in taxpayer money over the last four years. On Saturday, Bangerter held a news conference announcing he was sending a letter to all state employees warning them such behavior will not be condoned.

Gill, who is also a Democratic candidate for attorney general, said Bangerter's comments are not fair because the improprieties at the center were all by management-level administrators rather than the merit-covered, rank-and-file state employees.

"I think the governor ought to apologize to those employees and ought to retract his warning letter," Gill said. "To indict by association such a large group of people who have proved their honesty, integrity and dedication is far beyond the realm of acceptable behavior."