By Craig Marx, Editor
It’s been a very interesting week for Langlade County. Sheriff Bill Greening resigned earlier this week, stating that certain committees and members of the County Board of Supervisors had “made it nearly impossible for me to perform the duties I was elected to perform,” per a resignation letter sent to County Clerk Judy Nagel.
The news comes as a shock to most citizens of the county – the author included. While people will always have differences in politics, and perhaps that has never been as amplified as this past year’s elections have demonstrated, to learn that the cooperation of the county’s functional parts of government were strained to the point of one’s resignation seems to point to more underlying problems.
The county board held its usual meeting – third Tuesday of every month, 9 AM – this past week and went about with its business as if nothing had happened. I waited to attend the meeting before conveying the story behind the board’s influence on Greening’s departure, hoping the members would discuss some of the issues that could have led to such drastic action from an elected position.
Except there was no mention of the incident. There was never even a chance for any of the agenda items – some of which specifically involved business concerning the Langlade County Sheriff’s Department – to steer towards either the underlying animosity between the board and the former sheriff or any mention of what would be done to move forward into the future.
Specific issues hit home with many members at Tuesday’s meeting despite no mention of the week’s earlier shakeup. When it came to the voting process over the payment of one-time payouts to four county jail employees that had worked extra time while the county searched for a new jail administrator this past year, the conversation turned rather real – a welcomed and refreshing change from the stoic indifference that usually befalls such meetings.
There were multiple references to there being “a lack of morale” in the sheriff’s department, and apparently that boiled over all the way to the top level of its structure. It is easy to see why morale could be an issue when it took 15 minutes of deliberation to determine that hard working employees of the jail should receive a singular sign of appreciation in the form of $1,500. With three of the correctional officers present for the board’s decision, the county board demonstrated why its old-fashioned mentality of frugality can come across as insulting. After trying to amend the proposal for the original payment amount to $800, one could sense the frustration that the county’s already hope-waned employees felt.
This was just a microcosm of the stagnation that I am sure the former sheriff felt. While cooperation between journalists, law enforcement, and local government can be a tricky relationship, as a citizen of Langlade County I am a part of and affected by the decisions that are made by the county board as much as I am a publisher of their outcomes. By sending everything back down to their respective committees and not making informed but timely decisions, being ill-prepared for the monthly meetings and occupying board positions for so long as to become complacent with the status quo, the county board seems unable to make the decisions that basic governmental bodies are supposed to in an expedient fashion.
“I find it very disturbing that this small group of county board members [has] allowed personal animosities and personal agendas to dictate policy decisions that have had an adverse impact on [my] county employees,” Greening stated in his resignation letter.
More will come to light on this issue as time goes on, particularly the specifics of why the county board was such an impetus in Greening’s resignation. While I have had no personal qualms with any such board members and even hold a few in very high regard, the majority of decisions or lack thereof have obviously caused a crack in the foundation of our county that was made obvious by this unexpected departure.