After reading Langlade County Board Chairman Dave Solin’s comments in the Antigo Daily Journal on December 21, 2016 regarding the retirement letter I submitted on December 14, 2016, I feel the need to respond and provide additional details. First and foremost let me state that I stand behind everything that was included in my retirement letter. In Mr. Solin’s letter to the Antigo Journal and in a response to a television reporter’s question previously he stated that he was not sure what I as Sheriff was referring to when it comes to having problems with members of the Finance, Executive and Personnel committees of the County Board. During the past several months I have met with Chairman Solin on a number of occasions and described to him in detail the issues and problems associated with some members of the three committees mentioned above. Chairman Solin chose not to address those issues. Regarding Mr. Solin’s explanation of equipment purchases and approvals for additional personnel for the Sheriff’s Office approved by these three committees I would add this. The monies approved for equipment that was so old that in some cases replacement parts were no longer available. In the case of the $16,000 mentioned for replacement of laptops in squad cars I have attempted to budget for this expense for the last two or three years only to see that budget request eliminated by these committees when the final budgets were approved. As far as adding an additional dispatch position and two Deputy positions beginning in 2017, the requests for these positions have been ongoing for all ten years that I have been Sheriff and prior to that under Sheriff Steger’s administration. These equipments and personnel decisions are long overdue and are necessary for us to provide adequate services to do our jobs of providing public safety to all the residents and visitors of Langlade County. These decisions to supply law enforcement with necessary equipment and resources are not some special favor that the county board is doing for the Sheriff or Sheriff’s Office [but] they are long overdue necessities.
In October of 2015, Langlade County hired a Human Resource Director for the first time in the history of the county. Following the hiring of the HR Director, the Personnel Committee of the county board quickly began implementing new hiring and personnel policies solely on the recommendation of the HR Director without input from any department heads or other elected officials. Problems associated with the HR Director soon developed and a number of complaints were reported to county administration by department heads as well as county employees. These complaints were forwarded to the Personnel Committee as the oversight committee for the HR position and the County Board Chairman. For the better part of a year these complaints were either ignored or minimized while the Personnel Committee continued to enact more policies empowering the HR Director position. Several of the policies enacted mandated county department s and offices to include the HR Director in virtually every aspect of their hiring and promotional processes and included the threat to withhold funding for any positions that failed to follow that directive.
I became aware of several issues with the HR director that caused me great concern and prompted me to refuse to utilize the HR director in my hiring and promotional processes in the sheriff’s office. My refusal to use the HR director was met with considerable criticism from the Personnel, Finance and Executive committees of the county board. These committees ultimately attempted to strong arm me into utilizing the HR director by threatening to not fund or recognize the hiring of any positions in the sheriff’s office without directly utilizing the HR director.
On July 8, 2016 a joint meeting of the Finance and Executive committees of the County Board was held. The agenda for this meeting included a request to hire two additional deputy positions for the sheriff’s office beginning in 2017. Following discussion motions were made by both committees to approve the hiring of the two deputy positions for 2017, however at the recommendation of the finance director the motions included that funding for the two deputy positions be placed in the general fund and not transferred to the sheriff’s budget unless and until the sheriff utilized the HR director in the hiring of these two positions. The motions were passed unanimously by both committees.
In November of 2016 the Langlade County HR director resigned his position after information came to light that confirmed my initial concerns that prompted me to not utilize the HR director in my hiring processes. Following the resignation of the HR director I requested from the Personnel Committee and the County Board chair the opportunity to address the full County Board in closed session to discuss what led to my decision not to include the HR director in my hiring process.
I felt it was important for all the County Board members to hear from me my reasons, which were confirmed, as to why I refused to have the HR director participate in my hiring process. Up to this point the full County Board has only heard from the Executive, Finance and Personnel committees that I have refused to follow county policies in my hiring process. My request to address the full County Board in closed session was denied.
The Personnel, Finance and Executive committees are comprised of five County Board members on each committee. The Personnel and Finance committee members are appointed to the committees by the County Board chair. There are two County Board members who serve on all three of these committees and until recently two other County Board members including the County Board chair who serve on two of the three committees.
In my meetings with the County Board chair I have asked him on several occasions to reorganize the membership on these three most important committees to better reflect and utilize the entire body of the County Board. Obviously with a five member committee it only takes three members to obtain a majority and with many of the same members on each committee it diminishes the opportunity for a majority of the County Board to have their voices heard when it comes to important policy decisions. Again the County Board chair has chosen to leave the committee assignments as is.
In conclusion there are additional details which I am not at liberty to disclose at this time, however I do think it is important that some of this information become available to the citizens of Langlade County so they can make their own determination of the current government oversight in the county. If anyone would like further information or has questions regarding this information please feel free to contact me.
Sheriff Bill Greening