Current and former screeners with information about Wade urged to come forward
Major General William H. Wade II was nominated for Adjutant General, the top post at the California Army National Guard. Although Wade's confirmation hearing has not yet been scheduled, the California Senate Rules Committee is accepting information from individuals who endorse or oppose his confirmation.
Wade is the former TSA Federal Security Director at Sacramento International Airport, where he endured controversy among screeners there during his tenure. A number of TSA screeners who worked under Wade have information about him that may be of interest to Senate Rules Committee members.
"Anyone has the right to come forward and provide information about him that they think we should consider," Nettie Sabelhaus, Appointments Director for the California State Senate.
That right extends to those screeners who suffered abuse or wrongdoing under Wade's administration, and anecdotal evidence suggests that there are quite a few of them.
Wade's Post-9/11 Assignment
Wade took command of the Army National Guard's airport security function -- dubbed Joint Task Force Aerosafe (JTFAS) -- in October, 2001, following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He was also Oakland Airport’s General Manager, according to a news report.
Before they were deployed, guard personnel underwent a "comprehensive Federal Aviation Administration training program" and received "federal law enforcement training to include conflict management and resolution, as well as additional weapons handling safety procedures," according to one news article.
The National Guard troops were withdrawn at the end of April, 2002, under a security directive by the newly formed TSA.
"That security directive instructs the airport authorities to have in place with the TSA by the 30th of this month a memorandum of agreement under which the airport will arrange for uniformed police officers -- trained, sworn deputies -- to take the place of the National Guard at the security checkpoints," said Paul Turk, TSA spokesman in Washington.
Wade Hired by TSA
Taking advantage of his new contacts and experience in the airport security business, Wade applied for a position with the TSA and on August 2 2002 was appointed Federal Security Director for Sacramento International Airport by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta.
"These experienced professionals will be on the front lines in the war on terrorism and are integral in furthering the (TSA's) commitment to first-class security and first-class customer service," Secretary Mineta said in a press release.
Soon after the TSA began active service during the "roll-out" at Sacramento airport in September of 2002, TSA employees working under Wade started to learn what sort of leader he was.
Wade Shows His Darker Side
Yelling at employees, failing to direct proper investigations of complaints, retaliating against employees who file EEO complaints, submitting false statements in response to a Congressional inquiry, losing paperwork related to workers comp claims and promotion applications, attempted intimidation of employees and their spouses, inappropriate and offensive comments about African American and gay employees, and more happened under Wade, say screeners who worked at Sacramento.
"That entire meeting was a farce," said one former TSA employee who attended one of the Town Hall meetings. "I heard these remarks and even another which was just as outrageous."
A number of TSA employees filed Equal Employment Opportunity complaints with the TSA's Office of Civil Rights while Wade held his Senior Executive position with the agency, and others submitted complaints to Internal Affairs, to Wade's management and other agencies.
Not all of the complaints directly named then FSD Wade, but Wade was the top management official at the airport and was thus involved in or at least aware of most if not all of the complaints.
Some screeners have said that Wade and his senior managers ran an incompetent administration at Sacramento airport, losing important documents such as promotion applications, resumes, and even forms needed by the Department of Labor for workers compensation claims.
Rock bottom morale has been blamed for the airport's high turnover rate of TSA screeners. "It doesn't surprise me at all that people are leaving there," said one former TSA employee. "I am still hopeful that one day, it will all be brought out in the open."
Wade's administration has also been accused of actively working to get complaints thrown out by providing statements to senior TSA officials designed to discredit the complainants, failing to properly investigate complaints against other employees, and even providing false statements to a Senator in response to a Congressional Inquiry.
Sworn testimony by TSA managers at Sacramento, provided during depositions conducted as part of one EEO case, have corroborated some of the complaints. False statements by Wade, mismanaging an investigation, losing Workers Comp and other documents were all verified by members of former FSD Wade's staff.
The TSA management at Sacramento Airport was characterized as "incompetent" by one union attorney familiar with at least one EEO complaint against the agency. That case was settled by the TSA shortly after local management officials illegally placed the pregnant employee on Leave Without Pay for being placed on a "light duty" status by her physician due to a high risk pregnancy.
Airport and Airline Officials Also Unhappy With Wade
TSA employees weren't the only ones unhappy with Wade. According to a newspaper article published last year, Sacramento Airport head Acree complained about Wade in a letter to Washington, D.C., in January, 2003. The letter complained that federal representatives were "dogmatic, domineering and uninterested in partnership."
The hard feelings were mutual according to documents, said the article.
Bill Wade sent an e-mail to Frances Sherertz, the airport operations director, telling him "Frankly, I'm fed up with the name-calling, the finger-pointing, the lack of cooperation, ad infinitum. Everything with this airport and the carriers is an exercise in futility."
A review of documents and interviews with airport and federal employees, there were a number of disagreements between Wade's office and the airport and airlines.
One such disagreement involved who would be required to carry luggage from the bomb-detection machine in the lobby to the baggage conveyor belt. For some time, TSA Screeners were carrying the bags, being told that it was required. "Later," one screener told Screeners Central, "we found out that Wade had made a deal with the airlines." Apparently the policy had nothing to do with TSA ops and everything to do with Wade trying to please the airlines.
"Wade was not a popular guy," said another TSA employee.
TSA Screeners from the "Wade Era" Urged to Come Forward
I encourage anyone with information of wrongdoing or abuse (including current or former TSA employees) while he was the FSD at Sacramento can and should contact the Senate Rules Committee. Personal statements and supporting documents add substance to claims made, according to Sabelhaus.
I will be going to the Capital myself and I would be more than happy to forward your comments and information as well.
If you have information to share with the Senate Rules Committee concerning Wade's nomination, you can contact me by telephone or e-mail to discuss your information. Documents can be sent to me via fax or sent as a PDF file.
Please be sure to include your name with such submissions.