What do you get when you cross a fired social worker and a politician?...Let's hope we don't find out! Here is the information that many of you have asked about:
15th District candidate Marichalar was fired from DSHS job
BY LEAH BETH WARD
YAKIMA HERALD-REPUBLIC, Tue. Aug. 11, 2009
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Donicio Marichalar, a Democratic candidate in the 15th Legislative District, was fired last year as a state social worker for failing to properly investigate allegations of child abuse, lack of productivity and for missing too much work, according to state officials.
Marichalar, 41, of Grandview, worked in Yakima in the regional office of the Department of Social and Health Services, where he supervised employees who investigate complaints of abuse and neglect of children in state care, such as foster homes and day-care centers.
His job classification was "social worker 4," the highest level in social work, in the Division of License Resources/Child Protective Services within the Children's Administration of DSHS.
"Your lack of production and performance failures diminish the overall effectiveness of meeting the mission of the Children's Administration," administrator Pleas Green wrote in the August 2008 letter dismissing Marich-alar.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Marichalar confirmed that he was dismissed but declined to elaborate. He said he has filed a complaint contesting the action with the state Human Rights Commission.
"I really don't want to state anything right now," he told the Yakima Herald-Republic.
Marichalar is running for the state House seat held by Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee. His name is on the Aug. 18 primary ballot, along with Democrat John Gotts of White Swan and Taylor. Gotts ended his candidacy in June, when he decided to move to California.
Both Marichalar and Taylor will advance to the General Election.
Marichalar was the subject of a 2008 investigation by the state Auditor's Office into a whistleblower's allegations that he failed to properly investigate or report at least five allegations of child abuse and neglect at two day-care centers.
In one incident, the auditor found that Marichalar didn't act on a report that workers at a day-care center had been advised to sedate crying babies.
The Herald-Republic published a story summarizing the audit findings in March 2008. At the time, neither DSHS nor the state auditor identified the supervisor who was the subject of the whistleblower's complaints, citing personnel rules. Both agencies confirmed recently that Marichalar was the unnamed supervisor in the audit.
As a result of the audit, he was transferred to a nonsupervisory job with DSHS in Yakima before he was fired.
Marichalar said the claims in the whistleblower audit are false. He also said he filed his own whistleblower complaints against DSHS management, but he declined to elaborate.
Ken Nichols, DSHS child welfare director for Yakima, said an internal agency investigation found them to be accurate.
At the request of the Herald-Republic, the agency released a copy of its termination letter to Marichalar on Tuesday.
"There was merit to the whistleblower's complaint," Nichols said Tuesday in a telephone interview.
He said Marichalar's dismissal was the result of the audit, his failure to complete "investigative assessments" -- reports on potential problems in foster care and day care -- and unauthorized and excessive absences over a five-month period.
He was supposed to complete three investigative assessments per week. Instead, he completed eight in a six-month period in 2008, according to DSHS's termination letter.
The letter states that he took leave from work without required approval 16 percent of the time between Feb. 25, 2008, and June 25, 2008. In May of that year, he was absent 46 percent of the time, according to the letter.
He also visited Web sites unrelated to work, according to DSHS, including "myspace, match.love.aol, (sic) hallmarkstore.com."
Marichalar had worked for the state agency since 1998.