Reporting Karen Anderson
BOSTON (CBS) – While the state prepares to raise your taxes and reduce government services, the I-Team found one well-paid public official who rarely puts in a full day at the office, if she shows up at all.
And wait until you hear how she explains herself to the I-Team.
It’s a good job. $90,000 a year to serve as the Register of Deeds for Northern Worcester County.
But an I-Team investigation found Kathleen Reynolds Daigneault is rarely in the the registry’s Fitchburg office.
“If you’re paying for someone to work a full time job they need to be here,” said Tennie Komar, a title examiner who conducts business at the registry every week.
Back in October, the I-Team’s cameras spotted Daigneault leaving her house in nearby Leominster just before noon on a Wednesday, more than three hours after the Registry opened for business.
Next stop was the post office, then back in her car and off to another home in Leominster, where she spent the rest of the day.
She was a no-show at work on two more days, and then put in only four hours at the office on a fourth day.
Daigneault agreed to meet with the I-Team in October and explain her lack of hours at the office.
“I will stand by my record of absolutely excellent, professional, ethical service up here,” Daigneault said
Asked if it’s reasonable for taxpayers to expect that for $90,000 a year she should come into the office every day, she said: “I think coming into the office is a bit of a misnomer. I think if I sat in my office all day I’d be doing the public a disservice.”
The I-Team went back to Fitchburg in January to see if Daigneault had changed her work habits since we last talked. She had not. All told, in October and January, the I-Team watched Daigneault on 10 working days.
Over those two weeks, Daigneault was at the Registry a total of 31 hours. That’s an average of about three hours a day.
“That is outrageous,” said Pam Wilmot, who heads the government watchdog group Common Cause of Massachusetts.
“That’s a full time salary and the public deserves full time work for full time pay and clearly they are not getting it,” Wilmot said.
Daigneault claims going to community events and meeting with public officials out of the office are important parts of her job. “The office is not just what you see here, it is my entire district,” she said.
“That’s just not true,” said Wilmot . “If she was a state rep, that would be true. If she was a city councilor, that would be true. But as Register of Deeds her job is that office and that office alone.
“What is she doing out in the community that has to do with what’s happening in this building?” asked Komar, the title examiner. “It doesn’t make any sense to me in my wildest imagination.”
When we contacted Daigneault for the second time, she gave us a statement which did not address her attendance at work, but said the office runs efficiently.
As an elected official, Daigneault has no boss or prescribed hours she has to be at the office. She answers only to the voters.
She was re-elected to a second six-year term in November.