At today's Benton County Board of Supervisors Meeting, I found that I might just need to go back on blood pressure medicine. Today's meeting left me frustrated and wishing that as a teenager someone would have said, "Get a county job, or state job, basically any government job will do." In a government job the rules are optional, doing things that should not even hint at being questionable is normal, sometimes. 

I know some of you hate mixing the bible and government, but I think one verse should be above every government office, I Thessalonians 5:22,  "Abstain from all appearance of evil." Basically, it means don't do anything that remotely LOOKS suspicious.

There is one thing I hate to hear, "well it's not illegal.." No, but often it looks hinky, questionable, suspicious, not above board, etc. and our officials are fine with long as it's not illegal. 

So this is reason 1,472,358,234,7453,189 of why you should be a government employee.

Did you know that Iowa law says that a closed session can be held, "To evaluate the professional competency of an individual whose appointment, hiring, performance, or discharge is being considered when necessary to prevent needless and irreparable injury to that individual's reputation and that individual requests a closed session." Today the supervisors held a closed session to assess the performance of the HR Director. 

The government body must keep detailed minutes and must tape record the closed session. These records can only be opened under a court order. 

Supposing that the laws are followed by our supervisors, yes it's okay to laugh here, the only thing that can be discussed in this closed session today would be, "professional competency, performance, or discharge" aka firing.

There should not be ANY OTHER discussion of other matters.

I mean, I suspect as long as the meeting was, there was more discussed. How long does it take to say, "Good job!" or "we think you need to change something..." or "You're fired?" not long. 

At the 1:07 mark of the video, Supervisor Primmer says, "I know this going to be out of the ordinary..." then he asked the Auditor to leave the room. The auditor is basically the secretary/bookkeeper for the Supervisors as well as taking care of elections and bookkeeping for the entire county. 

So I found it odd that they asked the auditor to leave and NOT take notes like she always as Primmer said, "out of the ordinary."

When I asked at the 1:15:18 mark who recorded and took notes of the evaluation, as required by law, Primmer said that the HR person had. Another member of the public asked to clarify that. "So Sue was taking notes on her OWN evaluation?" Primmer said, "Something wrong with that?"

I answered that for everyone in the room. "To the general public, probably." I mean I MIGHT be wrong, but from the chuckles, I don't think I am.

Primmer then contradicted himself, "This is not unusual. We have had evaluations before, without an auditor." The resident asked, "Doesn't Hayley serve as the secretary to the board?" Primmer answered, "There are some issues I needed to address with Sue, and so I asked Hayley to step out."

So yes, if you work for the county apparently during your job evaluation you can go into a closed meeting, and be in charge of recording and taking the official minutes of your evaluation. 

Makes perfect sense to me.

Tell your kids to get into government jobs, seriously. 


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JG October 31, 2023, 4:12 pm So these are super closed door sessions now, where individual supervisors can discuss their own agendas with an employee without a proper record... and right after a settlement for illegal behavior with and towards a county employee. Don't forget the fact that the touching wasn't the only charge but also retaliation and they made her quit! It is up to the voters of this county to end this!
PK October 31, 2023, 5:02 pm Seems to me that from the TOP ON DOWN...INSANITY RULES THESE DAYS. Hasn't anyone taken the time to notice??? Look around...I'm sure there are note cards for any crazy situation that may arise.
DE November 1, 2023, 4:09 am How the h@[[ did you guys elect these clowns?

And I'm hoping you don't do it again.
RB November 1, 2023, 1:59 pm Next BOS meeting, the employee handbook needs to be read by each supervisor, and not in closed session, so at every point they don't understand, the public or our auditor could explain it to them. Mostly in question is why is our supervisor that got caught on video doing a No-no still on our county's BOS payroll. Any other employee would be fired immediately. Maybe the employee handbook forgot the part of look but don't touch. BOS should have known, I believe all county employees have to read and attest to the rules "herein". Oops! Didn't understand or is the handbook without pictures? One other thing, why have a closed session for your review when you're getting an across the board raise? Just seems strange unless employee's review was to complain about the boss or fellow co-worker(s )

Not sure I feel better or not.
SJW November 1, 2023, 6:20 pm I believe you should tell your kids to get an ELECTED county job in a Republican county and you can do whatever the heck you want. Can't be fired or recalled, accountable to no one, and it's almost certain if you do have am opponent in the next election it will be another Republican. Rinse and repeat.
MB November 2, 2023, 9:48 am As a GOVERNMENT employee, I take great offense to the editor, presumutiously painting government employees as careless, and ethically unsound. This narrative is not only unfounded, it is down right dangerous. The overwhelming majority of YOUR government employees work hard (despite to wisecracks to contrary), and are not doing anything deceptive or underboard. We are crendtialed in our fields, attend continuing education training, attend conferences and seminars, all in the name of providing better quality services and ultimately the best quality of life for all of our citizens. It is unfortunate that some elected officials are sullying the good name and hard work of employees who at their core are trying to do a quality job. Do we always get it right..NO, we are human beings. But imagine your city and county without the services that delivered by government employees. Next time you decide to paint, maybe put down the broad brush!!

Matt Boggess, CPRP, CPO
Vinton Parks & Recreation Department

Editor's Note: I probably should have clarified this by saying "elected" officials...
JO November 2, 2023, 9:56 am It doesn't seem as though there were any issues that would have harmed her reputation. The law reads "To evaluate the professional competency of an individual whose appointment, hiring, performance, or discharge is being considered when necessary to prevent needless and irreparable injury to that individual’s reputation and that individual requests a closed session". session".
So, was the closed session warranted?
Then the issue of having the Auditor leave! The law states ". A governmental body shall not exclude a member of the governmental body from attending a closed session, unless the member’s attendance at the closed session creates a conflict of interest for the member due to the specific reason announced as justification for holding the closed session." That was not the reason Primmer gave you.
You can check with, or file a complaint with the Iowa Public Information Board. The law does allow an ombudsman to review closed meetings without a court order, I don't know if you can just contact them or if IPIB does that.
Seems Benton County and Vinton both have some shady stuff going on!!
DE November 2, 2023, 12:02 pm I'm watching the BoS meeting.


Does the sound always drop out like this? I'm fairly certain it's not blanking bad language. Lol

Y'all screwed up reelecting Mr Lough, I think. Why was he voted out the first time, when he was CA in the 90s?

All these elected officials need to be replaced.

Please don't let the shenanigans with the BoH overshadow that BoS chairman is a creep and the other two members apparently complicit in their silence/lack of response. I did hear it get mentioned, but then it was right back to the BoH/VGH stuff.

Any new contact with VGH MUST include requirements for accountability and full accounting of ALL public monies.

DE November 2, 2023, 12:06 pm You are 100% correct, Matt. And I do believe a majority of residents would stand behind you. To paint all county employees with the same brush is irresponsible. Such tactics should only be expected from the extreme right-and-left-wing nut jobs at CNN and Fox News. This county's government has become as big of a joke as Washington. We have a president that means well, but is past his prime and needs to retire. On the other side, we have a pu@@y-grabbing crook and a women's-rights-hating homophobe (among others) competing for residency in the White House. Apparently Reagan's theory of trickle-down economics actually works well as 'trickle-down politics', because what was stimulated in Washington on January 20, 2017, has finally trickled down and corrupted our own local government.
GP November 3, 2023, 9:09 am JO - they are fine to request the auditor to leave. The auditor is not a member of the government body. The government body is the BOS. The auditor is not a member of the BOS. Don't cherry pick your code sections, you actually have to read and understand the law. The BOS gets to choose who remains in a closed session. They don't need to have anyone present except for the members of the BOS themselves.

Editor's Note: Not according to the Iowa Attorney General...
GP November 3, 2023, 9:15 am DE - you are spot on with the mistake of electing Lough as county attorney. Elections have consequences. I would note however that it was not Lough at the meeting. They had outside counsel present. So they are paying thousands to a different attorney to represent them because Lough is too incompetent to do the job.