Even with knowledge of the hiring practices of the current Commissioners, I am still shocked at the news of how difficult it has become for county employees to be effective in their positions. With the appointment of Valerie Stamey as County Treasurer, the Commission allowed their personal politics to outweigh their responsibility to the public. With the resignation of two highly experienced employees in the Treasurer’s office, our county administration is now in more disarray than in any time in my memory. What makes this situation NOT surprising is that a pattern of radical administrative practices started by Stoltz and Foss, and, with the addition of Burrows, continues to this day.
The commissioners repeatedly hire political cronies to fill county positions regardless of ability or pertinent training. In the case of the Planning Director, the commissioners lowered the requirements for the job so they could hire Terry Nelson, Chairman of the Republican Central Committee. Terry got the plum job without a degree in planning, while others with degrees in planning did not even get interviews! And now, the Treasurer’s office debacle is unfolding.
In addition to the Treasurer’s Office turmoil, we also have a dysfunctional road department. Since the Commission fired Road Department Supervisor Dave Ohnstad (who had no poor performance job reviews) the commission hired two people to replace him and still has had to micromanage the department. While Commissioner Stoltz had his finger on the pulse of the road department, I had an unsettling driving experience: my car slid out of control as I headed to town by way of Oertli hill on Blodgett Camp Road. I have lived on Blodgett Camp Road for 42 years and I have never before slid on that hill, as it has always been sanded by mid-day. But not that day! I wonder what other dangerous road conditions exist in the valley under the current County Commissioners’ lack of leadership? Ironically, Commissioner Foss ran on the platform, “My job is to pave the roads and get out of the way!” Wouldn’t that include sanding for safety reasons?
The Commissioners voted down health care for 400 Ravalli County women and are hiring incompetent people in leadership positions. They have put up signs claiming their approach is “Jobs and Safety”. I think this Commission is dangerous to our physical and financial health! It is time to make a change.