The manner in which County Administrator Michael Serpe was terminated was more than clandestine and unjust. In plain English, it was sneaky. All done behind closed doors. This process never saw the light of day. No public viewing. It's a big secret, folks! Why? You would have to ask at a minimum, these four bureaucrats: 1) Ms. Kelly Hendee - Human Resources Director 2) Ms. Shirley Scalish - Finance Director.3) Leo Zipperer - County Board Chairman. 4) Grant Thomas - Corporation Counsel. None of which are talking. Why? We don't know. Maybe there is something hidden. Something that needs to be protected. It is certainly not Mr. Serpe being protected. He was let go without even a fair hearing.
Let's start at the beginning. Politics can be a rough and tumble game. If an individual is not performing - not doing their job, it can cost Door County a lot of money. Door County came perilously close to losing its self-insured status recently because some of the bureaucrats were not on the ball.. Being self-insured is a good thing. It saves a lot of money because there is no middle man to pay. Door County comes out ahead. Some of the administrators that served under Mr. Serpe were called on the carpet in this matter. Mr. Serpe's attention to detail saved the day for this self- insurance. Some members of the administration took exception to being held accountable. Some members didn't like Mr. Serpe's tone. Some members didn't like the words that were used. It would appear they didn't like being held accountable.
It's an old story. If you don't like the news - get rid of the messenger. That is what Door County has done. In secret. Door County got rid of the man that was saving taxpayer money. Door County has been in the black during the time Mr Serpe became County Administrator. It is public record. Those concerned may look it up.
Can Mr. Serpe be hard-nosed? Sure. Most of us can be, when the need arises. Can Mr. Serpe be gruff? You bet. One has to be, when the county's finances are at stake.
So probably (this paragraph is speculation on the author's part), the Door County department heads got a stern talking to that they didn't much like. Maybe even got 'written up' for doing a bad job. So what did they do? They got together and rather than putting Door County first, they put themselves first. They complained and decided to get rid of Mr. Serpe. Sneakily, in secret. None of the mindset: "Let's put our heads together and work this thing out with Mike". No, quite the opposite attitude. So they laid wait for an opurtunity.
Mr. Serpe was out of the county for a no more than 48 hours. He had gone for a scheduled date to babysit his grandchildren. That is when the Door County Department heads chose to spring their attack. While the mans back was turned. Sneaky? Underhanded? One might think so.
I am a County Supervisor. I serve on a Finance Committee. I have witnessed political comings and goings. I have seen first hand how a small, organized group can railroad an individual. These are tough economic times. Foreclosures, tax delinquencies, unemployment. A county needs strong leadership. These days especially, a county needs a strong leader.
Two parting thoughts.
First, If ANY of the aforementioned bureaucrats were treated in this secretive, sneaky manner, it would not be tolerated. There would be cries of patent unfairness, duress, and probably lawsuits. Some sort of hearing and then possible arbitration/deliberation. All done openly and posted to the public. This what an average bureaucrat might expect. Fair treatment.
Mr. Serpe did not even get a chance to address any charges, defend himself or even comment. on any allegations. Not fair treatment.
Currently, the County Administrator(Mr. Serpes position) serves at the discretion of the county board, so there is no real legal issue with his termination. Rather the manner in which it was done, speaks of secrecy, innuendo and blatant unfairness.. The idea that these bureaucrats can expect to be treated with respect and due process, but yet deny the same treatment to another member of county government, smacks of hypocrisy and selfishness. Shame, shame, shame.
Shame on you small minded Door County bureaucrats!
Door County and its citizens deserve a far better, more OPEN government that what we have witnessed.
Finally, Where do we go from here? If indeed the current Door County bureaucrats seek a replacement for Mr. Serpe, what type of applicant will they seek? What types of persons will apply?
Strong, independent, and knowledgeable?
Or, middle-of-the-road, go with the flow, and laid back?
Ladies and gentlemen; it appears as though your Door County bureaucrats have made that decision.
Kenosha County Supervisor District 1