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The trouble with democracy

Tim Turnstone, Minot

The problem with democracy, even as the most perfect form of government available, is that idiots can vote and morons can be elected. That is the position Ward County finds itself in today.

The Ward County Commissioners, either by sophomoric ignorance, gross incompetence, or corrupt cronyism, made the wrong choice at its meeting. Instead of focusing on the problem at hand and excising a toxic leader, the Commissioners instead wondered out loud why an employee, who they were about to fire for making a complaint, would not make a complaint sooner and work with a department head accused of criminal activity, harassing behavior, and racist, homophobic commentary. No, the irony was lost on that board of Good ‘Ole Boys (and a Girl) that they were creating the very environment that forced a long-suffering department supervisor and staff to take their time and document behavior that was previously ignored by this Board of Selectmen some years prior when the last person to hold the job dared complain and get fired.

Ward County can and should do better. We can and should hold these Commissioners accountable. They ignored accusations of criminal behavior and chalked it up to a personality conflict between the hard-working and effective supervisor making the complaint and the entrenched department head again accused. The Commissioners reframed complaints of unlawful employment discrimination based on religious bias against Jehovah’s Witness’ and making racist and homophobic comments as a lack of communication. The Commissioners were confused why the complaining employee didn’t communicate to the offending department head that being yelled at and belittled was inappropriate. The Commissioners neglected wholly the duty to make informed decisions by not offering the supervisor the due process afforded the department head.

It is probably a shocking revelation to the Commissioners that a person accused of crimes would deny them. Perhaps they could ask the Sheriff next door if criminals lie. I am sure it is a revelation to the Commissioners that a department head accused of creating a hostile work environment would deflect such criticism by manufacturing wrong-doing on the part of the accuser. And it must be a daunting and confusing time for the Commissioners to consider that firing whistleblowers has a chilling effect on employees’ ability and willingness to bring forward information again. The Commissioners wanted the department head and supervisor to work together. Tell me, should one be required to work for a person who refers to non-whites as “dark skinners?” Could you work with that? Should you? Is that a communications problem? What privilege it takes for a white department head to, with impunity, refer to non-whites in such a way. Is this the County we live in? Do we want to live in a County that fires employees for shining light on the fact that the department head broken county property, allowed a private citizen to take the blame, ordered double the parts to fix it, and then attempted to charge that citizen the doubled price? How about firing the employee who refused to cooperate in the fraud and instead report it when she had enough information?

It appears the Commissioners did not want to fire the department head. After all, they ignored prior complaints and the last supervisor was fired, too. But put in the indisputable position (thanks to the very time they criticized being taken to compile the complaint) of having to address the wrong-doing of their department head, the Commissioners could not allow the complainant to go without retort. They fired both because they had to fire their friend. This County Commission’s decision is the definition of retaliatory behavior. The fired supervisor is the definition of a whistleblower. And County Commissioners are the definitions of moronic.

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