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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Employee grievances could delay evaluations

By Charlene Sims,

MOUND CITY – As the Linn County Commission meeting drew to a close on Tuesday, Dec. 26, County Clerk David Lamb reminded the commissioners that they needed to post an opening for an appraiser and also that he needed to finish the salary schedules and asked the commissioners when they were going to complete the evaluations of the department heads they supervised and that is when complications arose. 

Commissioner Jim Johnson asked, ”How are we going to do them? There are still some grievances, I guess, we are waiting for answers on? Where are we at on them?” 

In the Aug. 7 meeting, County Counselor Gary Thompson said that because the grievances were a confidential matter he could not go into detail about what they contain. He said that while they were separate grievances they both come out of the same incident and both grievances are aimed at one of the commissioners and one grievance is filed by another commissioner’s wife. 

At that time, Thompson gave advice to Johnson and Commissioner Jason Hightower to recuse themselves from any action on these matters. 

Until now only one was known to the public. That was Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower’s and her evaluation is done by her supervisor, Public Works Director Shaun West. 

At Tuesday’s meeting, Thompson said he did not know where the county was at on the grievances but he would hesitate to make a connection between the evaluations and grievances. 

“I am not sure there can be a tie between the evaluation and grievances,” said Thompson. 

Johnson said it would determine who was doing the evaluations. 

The commissioners do the evaluation for Public Works Director Shaun West, Information Technology (IT) Director Chris Martin, Linn County Health Department Director Amanda Snyder, Fire Chief Randy Hegwald and the appraiser when there is a permanent person in that position. 

Since the interim appraiser already had an evaluation done on her before the appraiser left a couple of months ago, the commissioners decided that it was too early to do one on her. 

Johnson asked how a husband can do an evaluation on his wife’s boss. 

Thompson said he would look into the questions and meet with the commissioners in executive session to advise them on these issues. 

“Where are we with the grievances?” repeated Johnson. “We’ve paid a bill, didn’t we?” 

Lamb and Thompson both said they had not been notified about the conclusion of

the investigation. Johnson said he had not heard anything either. 

Lamb said that he had received a bill from a law firm for $9,525. 

Thompson said that he thought that the county had an understanding that the evaluation of any employee who had filed a grievance against a board member would be done by the employee’s supervisor and held, sealed until after commissioners were through with the employee evaluation system. 

West said, “From my portion of it, you are correct, I have done one employee evaluation and left it sealed at the clerk’s office until mine is completed and for my portion of this, I would waive any conflict on any comment of any evaluation to speed the process along. As far as my evaluation goes, I’ll take no stance on any commentary or comment, as long as its done, it’s done. And it is accepted as is. 

“My concern is, and I understand it is the commission’s concern as well, my concern is the employee pool and not myself or a small group of supervisors. So whatever conflict I may have, I will waiver any of it.” 

In a later phone conversation when West was asked about whether he was one of the people who had filed a grievance, he said, “I won’t speak to who are on the grievances, but I will confirm that my status in Tuesday’s meeting is because I am a part of that process. I wanted to speed up the business process for the employees and did not want to slow down the evaluation process.” 

Next, discussion was held on the appraiser’s position and that it needed to be made official. Lamb informed the commissioners that there were two employees now in-house who have the certification to be appraiser. 

Commissioner Hightower said that he thought the commission had left it with the employees in the appraiser’s office that the county was going to post it externally and for them to apply themselves. 

Lamb said he would work on a posting for that and he would get it out before long because the six month interim position was going to run out soon. 

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