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Reader Says: “We Are Better Than That”

January 13, 2015
Emmetsburg News

To the Editor:

On most days I am proud to be a life long resident of Emmetsburg and Palo Alto County. On January 6th at 8:30 a.m. I am sorry to say that this pride was questioned after attending a Board of Supervisors Meeting.

Another fine young family whose husband and father was employed by the County as a County Engineer was terminated from his job by the Board with the Board citing "no cause" as the reason for termination. Joel Fantz, County Engineer walked into the meeting at 8:30 a.m. just returning from vacation with his family to find that the 8:30 agenda item was "potential termination of county engineer's contract". He also walked into this meeting having no legal counsel and facing an attorney to represent the county that the Board had hired at taxpayers expense to represent them. When Joel asked why he was not informed there would be legal counsel present he was told by the Bd. Chairman that "it's not my job to tell you to get legal counsel". Maybe not but it would have been the right and decent thing to do to let him know beforehand what he was stepping into.

After going into closed session for a few minutes the Board came back into session and immediately voted to terminate the Engineer's contact with "no cause". Law Enforcement had been asked to attend and Joel was told to clear out his personal belongs before the end of the day.

Joel was a class act the whole time and stated how much he had enjoyed working with the community and the citizens of the County but told the Board that "his integrity was not for sale". He is clearly a man of morals which we need in a leadership role.

As an outsider sitting in the Board meetings it is very evident that some of the members of the Bd. Of Supervisors "feel the power" and abuse it in instances like these despite the fact that they are ruining young families' lives and forcing them to leave this community. Board members, with the exception of one, were very cold and uncaring through this process.

As people of compassion you may want to ask yourselves why we have elected those to serve us who do not have the values to encourage and support their employees but seem to think people are expendable and it's best to terminate them rather than work through their differences. Termination should be a last resort only after everything else has been tried.

Another important question to pursue is how much money is the Board spending at taxpayers expense to "lawyer up" and protect themselves from their own actions. I can think of 3 special attorneys contracted and paid for with taxpayer dollars that are currently on the county payroll.

One last thought....if the Board of Supervisors had not talked about or made their minds up before the termination of the County Engineers contract why were both an attorney and law enforcement asked to be present? Hmmmm

My final thought is that it is a sad day to witness this type of behavior from those you have voted for and put your trust in. More is expected and should be delivered that firing employees for "no cause" but just to be vindictive.

This is NOT Washington politics it's Palo Alto County and we are better than that.

(signed)?Linda Koppie

Emmetsburg, IA



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