Friday, July 18, 2014

MCSD: Leist out, Wagner in

Don Leist hasn't been in the news much later, and the Northwest Herald didn't bother to report his departure a couple of weeks ago from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. Leist was the equal employment opportunity "officer" for the department; not a cop or deputy or law-enforcement "officer", he was a civilian employee.

Nygren hired him as the EEO officer after he re-wrote the job description to include a reference to the preferred skill or education as an attorney. The job itself didn't require that; in fact, the job itself wasn't even needed any longer and could have been provided by the McHenry County Government Human Resources Department.

But Nygren must have wanted his own legal beagle on staff and in-house, so he offered the job to Leist. In court a few times Don forgot that he wasn't there as an attorney and was admonished at least once by Judge Meyer to keep his mouth shut. That lasted for one court date. And, when Leist showed up at MCSD Merit Commission meetings, he acted like he was one of the good old boys and not there just as the sheriff's employee.

The handwriting was on the wall, when Zinke lost the Republican Primary earlier this year. Leist probably started looking for a new job then. If he didn't, he should have. A couple of weeks ago I received a text message that Leist had separated from the department. I presume he resigned, since candidate Bill Prim had announced that Leist's position would not be needed, if he were elected Sheriff.

Now Undersheriff Zinke has appointed Lt. Wagner to the EEO officer slot. Was Nygren's name on the order? Nygren is still Sheriff, isn't he?

Is Wagner qualified for the position of EEO officer? So far as I know, he's not a lawyer. Was the job description re-written and diminished from the "prefers legal background" condition that got Leist into the job? An EEO officer ought to have extensive human resources background. Does Wagner have that?

Was the job as EEO officer posted within the Department or advertised outside the Department? Did Zinke follow County HR guidelines in filling that position? He easily could have just moved any remaining responsibilities to the County's HR Department. Why "promote" someone to a position that Nygren knows will be abolished shortly after December 1?

What else will Zinke do between now and November 30 that will have to be unwound? And at what cost?

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