Washington County: the Purge begins? | Street Jazz

Washington County: the Purge begins?

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Newly elected Washington County Judge Joseph Wood - whose name will forever be linked with that of employer Mark Martin, the most cringe-inducing Secretary of State Arkansas has had for many a year, has already begun a purge of long-time county employees.

Not bothering to give them the respect of a face-to-face meeting for their dismissal, the three - County Attorney Steve Zega, Grants Administrator and Public Utilities Coordinator Renee Bilby and Planning Director Juliet Richey - received letters this week informing them that their services were no longer required after December 31. Oh, they met with the “interim” Human Resources Director, who told a reporter by phone he didn’t want to discuss the matter, but ignored an email message requesting information.

Well, maybe Wood deserves kudos for not sending a “You’re Fired!” text, but if you can’t even be bothered to face the people you are throwing to the side of the road, well, it doesn’t speak well for the beginning of your tenure.

Wood, who plans on working at his current job with mark Martin until the last possible moment before being sworn in, said that out of “respect” for the employees he would not comment on personnel matters.

That respect, obviously, didn’t extend itself to sitting down with them himself to explain why they were being fired. This is called selective respect.

There may well be others whose heads are on the chopping block. Perhaps a Christmas miracle will occur and Wood - someone who didn’t seem to want the job in the first place, but was persuaded to run when the first candidate dropped from the race - will give the folks whose heads he is lopping off the courtesy of a face-to-face meeting.

At the very least, Wood is depriving himself of individuals with years of institutional knowledge. The County is in enough trouble without depriving himself of the counsel of folks who know the ins and outs of county government.

******

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