Nepotism Interfered With LP&L Operations, Grievances Claim

Published 03/30 2014 01:11PM

Updated 03/31 2014 12:14AM

By James Clark

LUBBOCK, TX -- Documents show that in mid-December two mid-level managers at Lubbock Power & Light complained that nepotism was getting in the way of their jobs. Specifically, they complained about Assistant Director Dale Stephens and his son.

In the last few days of December learned of nepotism complaints within Lubbock Power & Light and made an open records request on January 2. The city appealed to the Texas Attorney General for permission to withhold open records; however, on March 21 the A.G. ordered the records to be released with only a few names blacked out. Last week the city released the records.

LP&L’s Electric Distribution Superintendent, Stephen Comey, wrote in his grievance, “When I accepted this position, I was told that Gary Zheng would be my supervisor. Now it has changed to Dale Stephens will be my supervisor, except for on paper.”

Comey also wrote, “I am in the middle of a Nepotism situation between father and son. My supervisor does not help or support me in any daily operations.”

LP&L’s interim Electrical Engineering Manager, Kyle Sparks, wrote in his grievance, “The continued employment of both employees creates operational and management problems in my department.”

For example the manager claims he could not hold the younger Stephens accountable to properly fill out his time card. Sparks also claimed employees under his supervision were treated disparately because of the nepotism. He also felt his job and his career were in jeopardy of retaliation because he was filing a grievance.

On less than two-weeks’ notice Dale Stephens announced his retirement effective February 14. And an LP&L spokesman would only say, “Ben Stephens is no longer with LP&L.”

The grievances were submitted to City Manager James Loomis who chose not to comment except to say the situation resolved itself when Ben and Dale Stephens left LP&L. Loomis said he made no ruling on the grievances.

A text message to Dale Stephens’ last known number was not returned.

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