Commissioners fire Paulding County EMA director
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 12:02 AM
BY JIM LANGHAM
Times Bulletin Correspondent
PAULDING – At a special meeting with EMA Director Randy Shaffer at the Paulding County Commissioners Office on Monday morning, the commissioners voted unanimously to dismiss Shaffer from his office immediately.
Commissioner Tony Zartman motioned that, “because of opportunities given Shaffer to redeem himself and hadn’t and opportunities for him to be a team member in work with other entities, I move that we dismiss him as EMA director immediately.”
Commissioner Fred Pieper seconded the motion and the three-person board consisting of Zartman, Pieper and Roy Klopfenstein voted unanimously in roll call to sustain the vote.
“I’m sorry this came to this,” commissioners said to Shaffer.
“I am too,” responded Shaffer. “I completed the task you gave me within the deadline you gave me. I don’t understand what happened between last week and this week.”
The latest round of ongoing tension between Shaffer and the commissioners’ office began on March 31 when Shaffer had assured commissioners that he had sent financial accountability reports for the last quarter of 2013 to state officials. Last week, however, Shaffer told the county board that he thought he had sent the report but was not sure. At that time, Zartman asked Shaffer for documentation to be presented at this week’s meeting. Zartman said at that time he had a reprimand in writing, but if Shaffer could clear things up this week, he would tear up the reprimand.
Monday’s meeting began with Zartman saying to Shaffer, “Do you have what I need?”
Shaffer responded, “It’s been submitted but I don’t have a letter from the state yet confirming it.”
“When I brought this to your attention two weeks ago, you said that it had been submitted,” said Zartman.
Shaffer replied by saying, “I have to go back and see.”
“I told you that I needed documentation. I had a feeling two weeks ago that you knew that the documents hadn’t been submitted,” said Zartman. “Am I wrong?”
“Yes, I remember that I had part of them done, but they hadn’t been submitted. Now they have. They weren’t due until July 10,” noted Shaffer.
Zartman told Shaffer that the problem is cash flow. He noted that they have become aware of how low the EMA Fund is.
“Personally, I feel that you lied. I feel that you broke your pledge to this office,” retorted Zartman. “I feel that you have misled us; I don’t see you being a team player. I feel that you have some hard feelings about us taking over this department.
“You have not been as responsive as we had hoped,” continued Zartman. “We gave you guidelines but they haven’t been met.”
Zartman said that commissioners had seen a little improvement in Shaffer’s performance at an earlier review, but the feeling now is that the improvement is gone.
“It’s getting very tiring deal with this issue and not seeing any improvement,” added Zartman.
Commissioner Fred Pieper said that he had asked Shaffer to bring information to the board several months ago that could lead to the purchase of an improved EMA vehicle.
“I hope your minutes reflect that when I brought up the new vehicle, Tony (Zartman) said that we are not dealing with that vehicle right now,” said Shaffer.
“I had asked for information,” responded Pieper.
Shaffer said that he had become encumbered in administrative duties because commissioners had not given him the administrative help he requested in December.
“This is April; you people are still dragging your feet on this,” Shaffer said.
Zartman said that the board had been reluctant to give Shaffer someone to help manage his affairs when he couldn’t manage his own time.
“At this point in time, we don’t see how you could ever overcome the obstacles before us,” said Zartman. “It’s something we don’t relish. We have had discussion every day on this.”
Shaffer said that he was surprised that commissioners were going to get rid of him before doing a drill.
“You are probably going to lose $20,000 doing this,” Shaffer said.
“Because you didn’t do it the last 12 years, don’t pin this on us,” responded Pieper.
Zartman said that the next step would be to file a report of the meeting with the regional EMA director who would oversee a temporary replacement until the position can be permanent filled.
In addition, said the commissioner, Paulding County has a reciprocal agreement with surrounding counties in the event of an emergency. “We will be looking for someone who is very efficient and confident in what they are doing,” said Zartman.
“At this point we are going to be looking at all possibilities. We will be under the advisement of our regional EMA director.”