Support the Timberjay by making a donation.

Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

EDITORIAL

Town board harassment

Greenwood is poorly served by town board intimidation tactics

Posted 7/29/20

At some point, the Greenwood Town Board needs to accept the will of its residents and end its campaign of harassment and intimidation of Township Clerk Sue Drobac. Ms. Drobac was elected by the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in
EDITORIAL

Town board harassment

Greenwood is poorly served by town board intimidation tactics

Posted

At some point, the Greenwood Town Board needs to accept the will of its residents and end its campaign of harassment and intimidation of Township Clerk Sue Drobac. Ms. Drobac was elected by the voters of the township in 2016 and she was re-elected this past March by a wide margin. Indeed, she was the highest vote-getter in the last township election.
The voters of Greenwood had four years to weigh her job performance and, evidently, they liked what they saw, re-electing her by a 186-102 margin, a far bigger vote of confidence than most of the members of the town board now trying to force her from office.
Perhaps the reason that Drobac has proven popular in the community is that she has tried to stay out of the political grudge match that has determined the township’s governance for a number of years. She’s acted like a public servant rather than a partisan.
The town board, of course, is exactly the opposite. Rather than fairness, they have adopted a series of job-dropping provisions over the past year, some of which have ultimately left board members with egg on their faces. Their motion to prohibit the release of any public information to township resident Jeff Maus was a notable example. Maus challenged it and the state Commissioner of Administration told the board that public information means public for everyone, not just their political pals.
Yet the board’s attempts to push Drobac from office have been even more astonishing.
In March, they attempted to take away the right of township residents to even elect their own clerk, instead giving the town board the right to appoint a clerk. Township voters rejected that transparent effort to oust Drobac by a 2-1 margin at the same time that they overwhelmingly re-elected her for another four years.
Prior to that, the town board had installed surveillance cameras in Drobac’s office, including one that points directly at her workstation. The board has claimed these are security cameras, installed for the protection of township employees, but that’s just fiction. If it were a security system, it would actually have an alarm connected to it. Drobac has repeatedly asked for a township policy on who has access to the surveillance footage and how the information is stored, to no avail. When she covered up the camera that points to her workstation, the board passed an ordinance making it a criminal offense.
They later tried to criminalize parts of her standard duties, such as providing public information to township residents. In May, the board adopted a bizarre and cumbersome information access policy that requires the okay of the town board chair for even the most routine request for information and allows the town board to prosecute the clerk for any violations.
Most recently, as we reported earlier this month, the town board voted to cut Drobac’s pay by 40 percent, from just over $2,300 a month to just $1,404. The cut in pay came despite the fact that her duties remain the same.
The town board amusingly tried to suggest the pay cut was simply an effort to keep township expenses in line, but they made no similar reduction in the pay for the township treasurer or the town board members themselves, nor have they shown any interest in cutting costs in other areas. The cut to Drobac’s pay came not long after the board approved a substantial increase in the pension for the township’s firefighters.
The town board’s actions are perfectly transparent. The board members don’t respect the choice of their own voters and they’re hoping that Drobac will finally throw her hands up and walk away, giving the board the chance to appoint someone of their choosing in her place. That’s exactly what they did when township treasurer Pam Rodgers recently resigned.
The town board, unfortunately, is representing only one faction in this troubled township. In doing so, it is furthering the divisions in the community and discrediting the very notion of public service. Greenwood residents are being poorly served as a result.

Comments

2 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
John Bassing

Your editorial is spot on. Through a combination of arrogance and ignorance the Greenwood Board thinks it can just bully people. They have eliminated correspondence from being read as well as taking away public comment. Transparency has disappeared and open government is a thing of the past in Greenwood.

Wednesday, July 29
Lee Peterson

One thing that puzzles and saddens me is how the township's attorney firm, Couri & Ruppi, a law firm with seemingly strong local government credentials, has been more than willing to dive down rabbit holes with the town board when it comes to crusading against our elected Clerk. I realize that Couri represents the town board, not the town's people. But I wonder if Couri & Ruppi are aware that two previous law firms backed out of the township in the not too distant past in large part to preserve their own integrity after being caught diving down strange rabbit holes with the board. To me, Couri has kind of taken on the role of the enabling parent of a juvenile delinquent. I had higher hopes for this firm. Picking on Clerk Sue Drobac doesn't reflect well on Couri.

Thursday, July 30