Hagan: Bean, Lee, and Barnes Must Go

03/10/10 Kate Bradshaw
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County Adminstrator Pat Bean, Attorney Renee Lee, and Internal Performance Auditor Jim Barnes finally got the chance to defend their jobs. On Tuesday, County Commission Chair Ken Hagan called for their resignation and mentioned possibly firing them if they did not quit.

Before they spoke, Commissioner Kevin Beckner asked Catherine O’ Robbie, a human resources staffer, how much it would cost to fire them without cause – that is, if they did not explicitly violate their contracts.

Beckner did some quick adding, before asking the board not to act hastily.

Commissioner Kevin White asked the board why they want Internal Performance Auditor Jim Barnes, who is being accused of sloppy work, gone. He questioned the timing of the resignation request.

Commissioner Jim Norman said he was concerned over the haste of the decision.

When given his say, Barnes, did not mince words.

Bean, whose awarding of a one percent pay raise to herself, Attorney Lee, and others despite layoffs, said that she wanted her attorney to speak for her when the matter is brought up at the next regular board meeting, which happens March 17. But the county administrator, who earns more than $225 thousand annually, maintained that she did nothing wrong, and has the lie detector results to prove it.

Lee, who did bring her lawyer, said that Barne’s report told quite a story, but was lacking in substance.

Chinwe Fawcett, Lee’s attorney, delivered a passionate appeal to the board, said that Lee’s reputation is stellar, and that the accusations she faces are based on speculation. Fawcett warned of the trouble that results from action based on speculation, and embattled commissioner Kevin White concurred.

The board did not elect to move forward on asking the three staffers to resign. Instead, at the advice of Lee, they decided to hire a human resources attorney to represent them, given the compromised position of their regular council. They plan on taking up the issue at next Wednesday’s regular board meeting.

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