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Disappointed, confused board members discuss issues
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DARLINGTON – Leon Wolfe prepared a speech to give at the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday night, June 6, that discussed issues that have been surging through the county, involving members of the county board.
He began with issues that arose from the October 2016 meeting of the Land Conservation Committee that a disorderly conduct ticket was issued to Chairman Jack Sauer for some boisterous and profane comments that were made. Wolfe stated that he added an item to the agenda that warranted having members of the State Farm Service Agency join the meeting, in which a “very spirited and energized meeting” then took place. The issue pertained to FSA officer, Monica Yates-Olson, who works for Lafayette County and many have made complaints against, according to Sauer and other members at the meeting.
Wolfe commented that he was troubled by the intensity of the meeting but did not attempt to control the tempo.
“Perhaps if I would have been more assertive at that time, he might not have had the disorderly conduct charges,” Wolfe stated.
The State FSA banned Sauer from the Lafayette County office and the Darlington Police Department issued Sauer a disorderly conduct ticket. Wolfe continued by saying that Sauer “wisely chose to have a jury trial at his own expense”. The trial took place April 24.
It was mentioned at the trial that there was little or no attempt to control the tempo of the meeting and for that Wolfe apologized. Sauer was found not guilty.
“Everything should have ended there, but apparently it has not. Restitution and consequences still seem to be occurring.”
Wolfe then alluded to two such issues; one on May 2 at the meeting of the Lafayette County Land Conservation Committee meeting, Sauer called the meeting to order and told the committee that Wolfe was no longer the chair and another member was appointed.
“There was no reason or explanation. One can only surmise. I was disappointed that that happened but I wasn’t going to make a fuss about it.”
Wolfe said the second issue happened when the Lafayette County Fair Board decided not to work with the Rural Medical Ambulance Service and voted at their April meeting to not have their service. Wolfe commented that it was an “injustice” and going with Paramount Ambulance out of Dubuque for twice the money “seems totally unreasonable”.
“As we move forward as county board members, all I can suggest or ask is that we make our decisions on county activities based on own merit and not be effected by actions of the past that have nothing to do with the matter at hand. As a county, we probably never should have gotten involved with the FSA issue. They are a federal program. We do have freedom of speech but no authority over them nor have any jurisdiction. We have enough issues ourselves that need to be resolved that are within our jurisdiction,” Wolfe stressed.
After Wolfe had finished Sauer stated that Wolfe was “the one that put it on [the agenda], not me” and he was “happy to bring the problems of the farmers to the meeting.”
Sauer also commented that he was not at the meeting when the Fair Board voted not to have Rural Medical be a part of the fair. Sauer stated there were many issues and some came from the meeting back in August when as a representative of the members and administration of Rural Medical, Jason King gave a prepared statement with concerns and questions regarding safety operations at the fair.
“It has been a festering problem with politics they have going on for many years. This is not the first year we have had Paramount down at the fair. We have had them at the Sunday night show that I have been a part of for many, many years and we got tired of the politics. No dollars are coming out of the Lafayette County Board budget or fair budget to pay for it.”
Board supervisor Steve Spensley said people don’t know what is going on. He commented on issues between the City of Darlington and the Lafayette County Board pertaining to the County K building. Spensley said he went to Mayor Dave Breunig to resolve the issues and Breunig would not speak to him.
Carol Korn, along with other board members said they would like to know the whole story. Many members stated they have been receiving phone calls, emails and other correspondence from constituents upset about the issues on the fair board.
Sauer again made the statement about 98 percent of the members of Rural Medical “are doing a very good job but there are a couple black eyes and they need to take care of that.”
“As a member of Rural Medical for years, this is a black eye. I don’t agree at all that you say 98 percent [are good] and two percent are bad. The two percent should not affect the 98 percent. It makes no sense. That is like us guiding [our decisions] off of the two percent of the population and the other 98 percent we ignore. I totally disagree,” supervisor Tony Ruesga said.
Ruesga also commented that the Lafayette County District Attorney, Jenna Gill, received a phone call about a possible ethics violation against the Fair Board about things that were posted on the minutes of the meeting.
“It makes us all look bad. The minutes reflect it was a witch-hunt against one or two people on Rural Medical. It doesn’t feel right or look right,” Ruesga said.
Supervisor Bob Boyle asked how does the county rectify this, to which his question went unanswered.
Kriss Marion said, “It’s complicated. It seems that the fair board has some things they want to do and Rural Medical is not comfortable dealing with and if they want to do certain things at the fair then they should go with a provider that is comfortable with that. But that is not what the minutes reflect.”
Sauer stated that there are several different issues going on.
There were two audience members who wished to speak but were denied because they did not contact the county clerk to ask to be placed on the agenda.
Ethics Violation Investigation
Upon further investigation into the complaint, DA Gill stated she did receive a phone call and because of a conflict of interest, she directed the caller over to Green County. The Green County DA Craig Nolen stated that he received a phone call and a complaint against members on the Lafayette County Board. Nolen could not comment more but said the issues are being investigated and that all parties involved are innocent until proven guilty.
Agenda Items
The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors approved:
-Resolution 17-17, Amending Resolution 15-17, providing Lafayette Manor RN’s with additional $5/hr for PRN status with no benefits with a base rate of $30.12 and LPN’s an additional $4/hr for PRN status with no benefits with a base rate of $23.80.
-Resolution 18-17, Amending Resolution 94-16, refilling the Accounting Assistant position in the Finance Office at full time, with a wage of $16-$18/hr.
-Resolution 19-17, creating a Judicial Assistant LTE position, with the wage range not to exceed $18.80/hr without benefits.
-Resolution 20-17, creating a full-time position of Economic Development Coordinator with a wage range of $40,000-$50,000 annually with benefits.