Our view: A novel idea: End the feud
It’s time to put the petty politics aside.
The Moffat County Libraries Board of Trustees, which we think should be the least controversial board in county government, continues to be a source of drama and intrigue. That makes for interesting newspaper headlines but doesn’t say much for the state of our local county government.
On Monday, the Library Board voted 3-1 to write a letter to board member John Ponikvar requesting he attend the January board meeting to discuss a breach of confidentiality the board says he committed.
Unbeknownst to the board, Ponikvar tendered his resignation from the board with a thoughtful letter on Dec. 9.
According to the state’s sunshine laws, the Library Board should not have gone into executive session to discuss Ponikvar’s future on the board without advising him first and giving him the option of having the executive session in public.
Ponikvar didn’t notify Library Board members of his resignation. He sent a letter to the commissioners. If the Library Board had contacted Ponikvar to advise him that he was the subject of an executive session, as they were required to do by law, they would have learned that he already had quit.
The good news is that Library Board chairman Dave Longwell is committed to correcting this oversight and implementing a protocol for having executive sessions.
But the issue left us wondering when the growing rift between the library board and the county commissioners will be settled. There seems to be a continual escalation of ill will.
The most recent tussle began with Commissioner Les Hampton’s motion to dismiss Linda Booker from the board Dec. 7, based on a letter that Ponikvar wrote to Booker about her conduct on the board.
During an emergency meeting in early December, Hampton cited the letter as evidence that Booker wasn’t serving on the Library Board with the best interest of Moffat County in mind, and he motioned to remove her from the board.
The commissioners have postponed the discussion about removing Booker from the board until a study of employee turnover at the library is completed.
The Library Board recently signed a contract with Public Sector Personnel Consultants of Arizona to conduct a survey of library employees and board members during the past 10 years.
After receiving the list of former employees, Public Sector plans to complete the survey in 60 days.
Ponikvar noted that his presence on the board “especially in the past few weeks, has been anything but positive.” We think he took the high road by realizing he had become a distraction on the board. He seems to have the county’s best interest at heart and while we’re sorry to see him go, it was probably the best thing at this point. Especially because the board indicated they were ready to oust him anyway.
“Some good things are happening with the library,” he wrote in his resignation letter. “The Board of Trustees have now adopted a yearly evaluation of the director and is in the process of hiring a consultant to study the employee turnover problem. Hopefully the results of the study will help in understanding some of the complaints that have plagued the library. I feel the consultant will help the Board of Trustee comprehend the culture that has led to the turmoil and controversy that has inundated this library for may years now.”
We concur. We hope the commissioners will refrain from responding to the latest action by the Library Board and let the consultant’s conclusions determine their next moves.
At the same time, perhaps other members of the Library Board may want to consider how their actions appear to the public and work diligently to solve the problems at hand, rather than playing tit for tat with commissioners.
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