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Published each Thursday in Oswego, Illinois 60543
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Oswego Board members over-stepped authority : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Oswego Board members over-stepped authority
5/1/2014

The folks we elect to local governmental agency boards are there to set policies and to let other, full-time professionals carry those policies out. Board members should not become involved in the day-to-day operations and management of the agencies they are serving. Unfortunately, that's not what happened recently when two Oswego Village Board members, Gail Johnson and Pam Parr, assisted a village department manager who had left the village's employ retrieve her personal belongings from village hall.

As we reported last week, Parr went to village hall during business hours the day the department manager voluntarily resigned and picked-up a computer thumb drive the former employee had left in a village computer. Later that same day, Johnson accompanied the former employee when she returned to village hall after business hours to pick-up her personal possessions. Village Administrator Steve Jones and Christina Burns, assistant village administrator, were both at village hall and present as the former employee-with Johnson also present-removed her possessions from her former office.

Both Parr and Johnson said in assisting the former employee they were aware of their roles as village officials, but at the same time were seeking to assist a personal friend. Johnson noted that her friendship with the employee pre-dates her election to the board.

When a village employee resigns or is fired there is a protocol that must be followed to help minimize difficulties and/or conflicts. In this instance, the village's protocol was breached when Parr and Johnson inserted themselves into the situation. They clearly over-stepped their roles as policy-makers for the village and, by so doing, put village staff members in a potentially difficult situation.

In addition, we are concerned that Parr did not notify Jones-as the village's chief administrator-when she picked up the former employee's thumb drive at village hall. Especially concerning is the possibility that village information could have been on the thumb drive. Jones should have had the chance to check.

The next time a village employee resigns or is terminated, board members must put their personal feelings aside, step back and let village staff have full control over the process that is in place.





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