Schoharie County supervisors to hear results of probe into employee complaints

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
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— Schoharie County supervisors will learn Friday the results of more than 400 interviews conducted by a downstate law firm about allegations of harassment, intimidation and discrimination lodged by county employees.

The update will be given orally during an executive session the board is holding, and only after that will the board vote on whether to request a written report be issued.

County Attorney Michael West said he’s advised the Board of Supervisors to first hear what the White Plains-based Fitzmaurice & Walsh law firm learned before deciding whether it’s anything they want in writing. West has not learned what the law firm found, or its conclusions. Nor has board Chairman Phil Skowfoe, D-Fulton, or anybody else, apparently.

West said Tuesday he considers the special meeting, scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, to be “one of the more critical executive sessions” the board could hold because it’s unclear yet whether attorneys will be revealing embarrassing details that could impugn the reputation of officials or employees.

“There’s always the potential for lawsuits. I just want to know, as an attorney, what I’m facing,” he said.

Skowfoe said he expects supervisors will learn what the probe uncovered and then, at their next monthly meeting, vote on whether to request a formal report.

“I wanted people to have time to digest it,” he said.

Skowfoe said he believes employees and others are eager to learn the results and see what the county government does about them.

“I think they’re all wondering where it’s going, like everybody else,” he said. “They do deserve to know the results, I would believe, at some time.”

Schoharie town Supervisor Gene Milone, who made repeated calls for the investigation last year after hearing accusations of maltreatment from employees, said he will call for a report to be issued.

“There’s absolutely no reason for the general public, nor the media, to not be informed about its content,” he said.

Regardless of what it says, Milone said details should be released.

“Let the chips fall where they may, I don’t care what’s in it. These are tax dollars, these are county problems that affect our county employees,” he said.

As of the end of December, the county had spent about $203,000 on the investigation.

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