Archive for January 31st, 2010

by jhwygirl

I can’t even follow it all as it’s played out over the last year or so – hell, you’d need a multi-post series – but the number of questionable things in this Missoulian story leave me with little comfort that things are going to get better.

Earlier this month, the Chicks-n-Chap’s breast cancer fundraiser rodeo clinic pulled itself from the Western Montana Fair after county commissioners failed to act on two allegations that oft-controversial manager Scott Meader had groped two females at a fair convention in Great Falls.

Note that in the story linked to above, Scott Meader is said to have “immediately reported” to county’s chief administrative officer Dale Bickell. Bickell is then quoted as saying “We had a very long conversation about it, to the point where I’m certain that Scot won’t have an incident like that again. That was his reprimand at that point.”

Aww, how warm and cozy. And apparently, whether Bickell ever really brought the matter to the county commissioners appears to be in question.

Who could follow all the flurry going on..but last Wednesday, as if anybody really cared, Meader announced he would be resigning the next day. I mean – a pre-announcement? Who does he think he is? Rod Blagojevich?

So Thursday we get his resignation.

Only – what kind of friggin’ resignation is it? He’s under contract, he resigns, and yet he gets a full year’s salary?

We’ll get back to that.

Then, the very next day, the Missoulian has a story that the Board of County Commissioners is “pulling back” on its Thursday afternoon meeting with someone who had thrown their hat in as interim manager.

Good Goddess. The fairgrounds are a mess and they were interviewing an interim manager less than 24 hours after ushering Meader out the door? After ushering a guy out the door that they’ve stood behind for the last two years after accusation after controversy swirled? I mean, it doesn’t seem to show that anyone knows what they want down there. What did they get? Instant clarity?

But let’s get back to that resignation – that is now called “the buyout” in the “pulling back” story.

Just exactly what is this Meader/County Fairgrounds Affair going to cost taxpayers?
Meader had a 3-year contract worth $69,000 a year.
Did that figure include healthcare? Retirement?
While he “resigned” on the 29th, he’ll be getting paid as usual through March 6th.
After that, Meader gets the $63,000 remaining on his contract that runs through Feb. 7, 2011.

Now – that the county is going to have to absorb the cost of Meader’s “resignation” is one thing that people should be questioning. Someone is at fault on the county’s side if they’re making a payout on a contracted employee resigning. Will we be finding out or is this all getting swept under the rug?

There is something suspect, too, with the length of time that he will be “getting paid as usual” and the fact that he’s getting a payout on the remaining length of his contract, which runs 11 months – less than one year – from his official last day of work (March 6th).

Isn’t there some milestone in the county retirement system with salaries that last a period of 3 years?

While the figure being thrown around for Scott Meader’s “resignation” is $71,776, me thinks he’s costing us a bit more. Taxpayers might want a clearer picture of that.

County chief administrative officer Dale Bickell got off pretty luck in this whole affair, it seems. Remember above that I note that the Great Falls incident was “immediately reported”? Well, in the “pulling back” article, county HR director Steve Johnson says “Bickell took care of the issue with a verbal reprimand when Meader brought it to his attention several months later.”

This is where I really wish Shakespeare still ventured to his satire every once in a while. Picture the Bickell/Meader “confession”:

Meader: Man – did I get wasted again in Great Falls! Those chicks were there from that breast cancer thing? You should have seen what they were wearing!

Bickell: Yeah? Was that chick there from Glasgow that was there at the Chicks-n-Chaps last year?

Meader: I don’t know – all I know is that those gals have some hard asses. And they get pretty uptight when you slap ’em.

Bickell: You slapped someone on the ass? Scott – you probably shouldn’t do that. Did they really get mad?

Meader: Ah…yeah – I probably should have told you. Two of ’em.

Bickell: Scott, my man – don’t be slapping chick’s in chaps in the ass, OK? (har,har,har)

Meader: OK. (har,har,har. wink-wink)

Bickell: Good – now – what was she wearing?

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