The Emmet County Board of Supervisors Tuesday met in closed session then approved an employment separation agreement with county engineer Roger Patocka who was placed on paid administrative leave Jan. 28.
Patocka was placed on paid leave after the board held a second closed session Jan. 28 for job evaluation purposes.
At the Jan. 28 meeting, supervisor Jon Martyr criticized the decision by board members to have the county's employment attorney, Mike Galloway, meet with Patocka 1 p.m. the next day - Jan. 29 - before the board had decided to place Patocka on paid administrative leave.
Martyr had the same objections Tuesday when the board came out of closed session and supervisor Bev Juhl moved that the board approve the agreement with Patocka. The board approved, with Martyr abstaining.
"I feel that the way the county is getting rid of Roger is wrong," said Martyr, adding that he believed that in addition to being ethically and morally wrong the other board members could be violating Iowa Code 381.212 relating to closed sessions. He said four members of the board knew about the decision to have Galloway meet with Patocka before the board formally made a decision.
"I feel this was done inappropriately," said Martyr. "I question whether it's legal or not."
"You hid this as an evaluation" said Martyr. "I'm disgusted with the board. I think it's absolutely ridiculous."
"At the very least you had a walking quorum," said Martyr. "Either you violated 331.212 or you had an illegal meeting. You already knew what you were going to do. I'll be honest. You guys lied to the public."
"You don't give anybody else a chance (to speak)," said supervisor Tim Schumacher.
"It's just black and white," said Martyr.
Board chair Alan Madden said the board had done an evaluation of Patocka one week and made its recommendation a week later. As for the board's contact with Galloway, said Madden, "Any contact we had with him was during union negotiations strictly on a casual basis."
Martyr said he had reviewed a taped meeting and that the board had retained Galloway before voting to place Patocka on leave.
When asked whether the terms of the agreement with Patocka would be made public, Madden said they would not.
After the board meeting, Martyr further clarified his remarks.
"I'm not happy at all," Martyr said. "The four board members (Juhl, Madden, Schumacher and Ron Smith) made a decision to get rid of an employee outside of a public meeting. This is not how our taxpayers expect our elected officials to do business."