Reacts to Palo Alto firing

To the editor:

Most days I am proud to be a resident Palo Alto County. On Jan. 6 at 8:30 a.m., this pride was questioned after attending a Board of Supervisors meeting.

Another family whose husband and father was employed as a county engineer was terminated from his job with the board citing “no cause” as the reason. Joel Fantz, county engineer, walked into the meeting to find that the 8:30 agenda item was “potential termination of county engineer’s contract.” He also had no legal counsel and faced an attorney representing the county that the board had hired at taxpayers’ expense. When Joel asked why he was not informed of legal counsel being present he was told by the chairman that “it’s not my job to tell you to get legal counsel.” Maybe not, but it would have been the right and decent thing to do to let him know beforehand.

After going into closed session the board came back and immediately voted to terminate the engineer’s contract with “no cause.” Law Enforcement had been asked to attend and Joel was told to clear out his personal belongings.

Joel stated how much he had enjoyed working with the community and the citizens of the county but told the board that “his integrity was not for sale”.

It is very evident that some board members “feel the power” and abuse it in instances like these despite the fact that they are forcing young families to move. Board members, with the exception of one, were very cold and uncaring.

You may want to ask yourselves why we have elected those to serve us who do not have the values to encourage and support their employees but seem to think people are expendable and it’s best to terminate them rather than work through their differences. Termination should be a last resort.

Another important question is how much money is the board spending at taxpayers’ expense to “lawyer up” and protect themselves from their own actions. I can think of three special attorneys contracted and paid for with taxpayer dollars that are currently on the payroll.

It is a sad day to witness this type of behavior from those you have voted for and put your trust in. More is expected and should be delivered than firing employees for “no cause.”

This is not Washington politics – it’s Palo Alto County and we are better than that.

Linda Koppie



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