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Sunday, May 19, 2013
It's not OK to air some issues in publicPosted Friday, July 18, 2008, at 3:03 PM
When public officials have a problem with the job performance of an appointed supervisor, those kind of personnel issues need to be discussed in private -- not in a public meeting.
That was not the case Tuesday when the Greene County Solid Waste Management District Board met.
Several board members felt inclined to act on information or allegations they had received from "other" employees and confront the supervisor in a public meeting.
Fortunately, in this case I was the only member of the public attending the session to witness this management debacle.
We're not going to get into all of the reasons some of the board members are unhappy with the way SWMD Supervisor Debbie Haseman is doing or not doing her job.
That's kind of irrelevant to this particular discussion.
What is important is personnel matters need to be discussed behind closed doors -- out of the public's and the media's ear range.
That's the way any of us would expect to be treated in our private-sector jobs.
If my boss has an issue with the way I am handling things, he calls me into his office, we shut the door and we talk.
That didn't happen with the Solid Waste Management's board.
They used the public meeting as a forum to grill Haseman about the amount of time she spends in and out of the office.
In the end, they also directed her to purchase a time clock and for she and the other employees at the Recycling Center to begin punching in and out.
I wonder how many other supervisors or elected officials have to punch a time clock in this county?
I find it real strange that her office is the only county office -- other than the county highway department -- being directed to do the time clock routine.
You might say it's kind of a unusual to hear talk about closed door meeting from a veteran newspaper guy who has long been a proponent and vocal spokesman for open government and doing things under the provisions of the Indiana Open Door Law.
That hasn't changed at all.
Backroom meetings of governmental boards, councils or appointed committees of those elected bodies are wrong. Proper notifications need to be made every time there is a meeting or a special meeting.
The Indiana Open Door Law has provisions for calling an executive session when personnel matters are discussed. That's legal, ethical and simply the right thing to do.
The Solid Waste Management District Board missed the mark badly in this case.
There is no excuse to bring up personnel matters in a public meeting and cause the person being questioned, accused or grilled to break into tears before the session ended.
I understand that some board members might be frustrated -- especially when they "hear things" from people on the inside who are in a position to know better than they are what is going on. Some of the complaints might very well have some validity, but they need to be addressed properly.
The way it all happened on Tuesday was wrong.
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