City records found outside in parking garage

Payroll, other documents contain names, addresses, Social Security numbers

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Boxes of city payroll records, parking tickets and other personal information were left out in the Water Street Parking Garage for anyone to see.

The man who did see it in the parking garage, downtown between Broad and Pearl streets, was outraged when he called Channel 4 to report it because this is not the first time it's happened.

The city of Jacksonville admits the records -- one in a box clearly labeled "payroll" -- were left out Wednesday afternoon. Some of the records contained employees' salaries, addresses and Social Security numbers.

The whistleblower doesn't want to be identified, but he parks in the garage every day.

"First thing I saw were names and Social Security numbers and addresses," the man said. "I said, 'That can't possibly be payroll records out there.' So I went out and looked at it and sure enough it was payroll records of every city parking employee dating back to 2001."

Last March the man saw a similar pile of records and told management of the garage, and the records eventually were removed. So he was shocked it happened again.

The man even provided a photo (right) he'd taken last spring.

"I was curious if they were the same boxes and I looked and they were," the man said.

We compared the photo with video shot Thursday and at least one of the boxes appeared to be the same.

While Channel 4's crew was at the garage Thursday, the head of the city's parking division showed up along but he would not comment, referring all questions to the mayor's office. City workers also showed up with a flatbed truck and carted off all the boxes.

Later in the day the mayor's spokesman, David DeCamp, did send a statement:

"The documents at the Water Street Garage are in a secure location. Our initial review indicates the records are from 1996 to 2002. We continue to review the records, and the City of Jacksonville will take all necessary steps to ensure individuals with personal information on records are notified as appropriate and receive support. While this review is ongoing, the City is also committed to ensuring employees receive information and training to handle records responsibly. The Employee Services Department along with the Office of Public Accountability and the Office of General Counsel are conducting the review and any follow-up steps."

Tom Stephens of the Northeast Florida Better Business Bureau said the fact that payroll information and other material were laying around with no one watching is a problem. He says it opens every one of those employees up to credit abuse.

"I am sure there is a logical explanation as to why that stuff is sitting out there," Stephens said. "Whatever the reason they sat them there, there is probably a better way to do it."

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