Who Does Osceola County Attorney Bob Hansen Really Work For?
Osceola County County Compensation Board members received a letter from County Auditor Barb Echter calling for the County Compensation Board meeting on Monday evening, November 23, 2009. In the letter Echter noted that most elected officials were calling for a 0% pay raise but that "the Sheriff will need an increase due to the union contract." This is referring to the union contract between the Sheriff's deputies and dispatchers and the Osceola County Board of Supervisors.
Only later was it reported by Echter to OCTA board member Rochelle Buchman that it was Sheriff Weber and County Attorney Robert Hansen who came to Echter's office and instructed her to place that statement in the letter to the Compensation Board members.
This statement prompted Compensation Board member George Braaksma (and board member of the OCTA) to initiate a request of clarification from Osceola County's attorney Bob Hansen. Braaksma sent him this letter, inquiring as to the lawful authority of this statement. Braaksma felt the question merited enough of a response from the county's attorney that he sent it to Echter for distribution to his fellow comp board members.
Attorney Hansen responded with a highly questionable letter. But he didn't refrain from limiting his response to the comp board members. He took it upon himself to send it to the NW Iowa representative of the IFSCME union and to the rest of the elected officials in the county. Comp board member Braaksma never consented to any further distribution. (The OCTA wonders if this was intended to play a role in rallying most of the courthouse employees packing in to the Supervisors room that evening.) Hansen's letter to Braaksma is found here.
Why Does Bob Hansen, One of The Highest Paid County Attorneys in Iowa, Need to Pass Off a Routine Legal Question to The Opposing Party's Negotiating Representative, Who is Not Even an Attorney?
Worse, in response to a letter from an appointed county official to his office - one seeking legal advice and knowledge to better carry out the comp board member's duties - county attorney Hansen then recruited a heavily biased union official to answer Braaksma's inquiry. It was Preston DeBoer, the representative who negotiated the contract on behalf of the local union. Amazingly, Hansen apparently thought the representative from the opposing party could better represent Osceola County in this matter than he, the elected county attorney, could do. The union representative's letter is found here.
Compensation Board Member Braaksma Fires Back This Rejoinder to Hansen!
Braaksma fired back this letter exposing Bob Hansen. Though not necessarily agreeing with any portion of this letter, fellow board member Pam Vande Hoef did agree to read this letter aloud to the nearly 30 people gathered November 23, 2009.
During vigorous debate Braaksma asked board chairman Kosters three times (in Hansen's presence), why Hansen left out Iowa Code 20.28 in his letter to the compensation board members, while at the same time asserting the county would lose in any lawsuit over the matter? Kosters acted as if he never heard the letter read aloud. All Hansen could say was, "Oh, George you just didn't like what the letter said." Hansen had no defense for his critical omission. This code makes it clear the union contract would need to be rolled back if Sheriff Weber would be required to live with the 0% pay raise - that which the other elected officials have agreed to do. Think about it - how can a union contract drive an elected official's salary?
As far as the threat of a lawsuit from the IFSCME union goes (highly quoted in the Sibley and Ocheyedan newspaper) as a result of the Sheriff being denied a pay raise, the OCTA has learned that this is a highly unlikely event. After all, the contract between the Sheriff's deputies/dispatchers and Osceola County already provides a grievance procedure. If any employee thought his salary increase trumped Iowa code 20.28, he or she would be free to file a grievance under Article IV (Grievance Procedure), Section 2 (Grievance Steps). If not remedied at the first levels their grievance could be appealed all the way to the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board.
Who Does County Attorney Bob Hansen Really Work For?
Why did Bob Hansen play a role in drafting the first letter being sent out to compensation board members stating the Sheriff was required to receive a pay raise? Why did Bob Hansen have the employee's union representative (who is not even an attorney) answer a routine legal question on behalf of Osceola County? Why did Bob Hansen send his reply to a county official's request for a legal guidance, to a much broader audience of county employees without permission from Braaksma? Why did Bob Hansen so hastily conclude that if Sheriff Weber wasn't given a pay raise the county would lose any lawsuit the union might file? Why did Hansen leave out Iowa Code 20.28 which contradicts his assurance on the lawsuit? Why did Bob Hansen not answer this very question, asked repeatedly at the public meeting by George Braaksma? Why did Bob Hansen not remind the compensation board members of the grievance procedures? Who does Bob Hansen work for?