Friday, June 9, 2006

Jane Desaulniers and Knox County Commissioners, Round Two

Knox County (Maine) commissioners voted on the advice of attorneys to agree to a $47,500 settlement to stave off a $300,000 lawsuit, according to the Courier-Gazette. The two semi-positive things about this development are (1) that the county taxpayers are saving a cool nine grand from the original settlement, and (2) that taxpayers and voters are getting some insight into what the whole deal was about in the first place.

There are lots of interesting accusations springing forth here. Either Desaulniers is putting forth lies of extreme intricacy, or the county commissioners are a bunch who should be turned out on their ears at their next elections, assuming they don't have the good sense to resign immediately.

In the claim, Desaulniers claims that Beebe-Center wanted to get rid of the treasurer, emergency management agency director, and building supervisor.

“Beebe-Center states that the treasurer’s position will be an easy fix since that position becomes my appointment under the newly adopted county charter,” the claim states.

She further claimed that on her first day on the job in August 2005, the former county clerk handed her a list of employeesÂ’ names that she and Beebe-Center wanted eliminated....

Desaulniers also claims that she warned commissioners about meeting after meetings are adjourned. She claimed that Commissioner Lawrence Nash told her to mind her own business.

The former county administrator also claims that Beebe-Center has repeatedly asked the sheriffÂ’s department to provide the names of juvenile offenders so that she can solicit them to attend the Community School in Camden where she works.

If any of those allegations are close to being true, they are really damning of the commissioners. Commissioners are supposed to enact policy, and the administrator is supposed to implement it. That's the point of having an administrator: someone who will hopefully handle personnel matters professionally and without consideration to political connections. I know that's not often carried out in practice, and that's certainly one of the main reasons that I'd like to see the county governments in Maine either eliminated or severely truncated.

But if the commissioners were so arrogant as to take advantage of the change of administrators to try and get rid of people in positions that they dislike, that's beyond outrageous.

To be fair, some of Desaulniers' filings to support her threatened $300k suit have nothing to do with the commission's responsibilities.

Desaulniers claims her aquaculture business will suffer a $60,000 loss because of the failure of the county to make the payment. Each year the family purchases seed stock, which takes three to four years to reach market size, and had to delay the purchase this year because the payment was not made.

The former administrator purchased an older home when relocating to the Midcoast because of the tight housing market, the document states. The home required major renovations, including the updating of electrical, plumbing and heating systems, the roof and chimney. Desaulniers said she is currently in the fifth year of an eight-year schedule to complete the repairs and has been forced to postpone the necessary projects.

Additionally, the document states Desaulniers may be forced to relocate in order to secure comparable employment and will not be able to obtain the return on investment for having to sell the home with incomplete renovations.

It's not the responsibility of Knox County taxpayers to make sure that Desaulniers' side business doesn't have a cash flow problem. If she had remained employed by the county, she presumably wouldn't have had the cash on hand to buy the seed stock, either.

Also, the fact that Desaulniers is living in a fixer-upper that she owns, rather than renting a small, affordable apartment somewhere downtown, was entirely out of the commission's hands. I can't imagine how the taxpayers should be forced to compensate her for the fact that she might have to sell her house before she finished all the renovations she had planned.



Linking to: Pirate's Cove, Leaning Straight Up, MacBros' Place, People Are Idiots, Woman Honor Thyself