Officials continue to display adolescent arrogance
Nancy Conzelman, Plymouth Township Clerk
Oct. 29, 2013 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
One might even conclude that his mistreatment at the hand of his employers was a result of this “whistle blowing.”
We would strongly urge anyone who voted for the current office-holders in Plymouth Township to watch a tape of a special meeting which took place Tuesday, Oct. 15. The meeting tapes are usually available on the township website for the public. We will not, however, be surprised, if these tapes do not make it to the internet after all. We almost expect some “technical problems” or other difficulties may keep this latest exercise in arrogance and demagoguery from public view. We cannot imagine that most of the members of the board of trustees would want this to be seen by anybody, much less anyone who has the ability to vote or launch a recall effort.
The conduct exhibited by Township Supervisor Richard Reaume and Treasurer Ron Edwards was beyond despicable and lowered rudeness to a new level of disgust. They were aided, of course, by Township Clerk Nancy Conzelman who was apparently channeling some Saturday Night Live character with statements so bizarre they bordered on comic. That foolishness provided the only level of comic relief, however, as this group heckled Township Fire Chief Mark Wendel with sarcasm, insults, misinformation and discourtesy seldom seen outside an effort at extraordinary rendition. At one point, Edwards could be seen actually laughing at Wendel’s attempts to present a report trustees had been requesting for months.
It was an ugly, unpleasant and hostile environment in which Wendel attempted to explain the danger township residents and firefighters face in light of the board approved “restructuring” of the fire department. Wendel brought reports, research and corroborating documents to support his presentation which should have taken about 20 minutes or so. It stretched on to just over 90 minutes because of the constant sarcastic interruptions, ridicule, misstatements of fact and even a few legitimate questions from the board members.
This special meeting was called quickly and no agenda item announcing Wendel’s long-awaited report was to be found, which may have accounted for the total citizen audience of four people. Perhaps this rude, contemptuous, churlish conduct might have been contained if there had been a few more members of the voting public as witnesses.
No matter which side of the fire department issue seems the most tenable, no matter where sentiments and opinions lie about the decisions made, the conduct to which Wendel was subjected is unconscionable. The discourtesy, crudity, boorishness and effrontery displayed by the administration of Plymouth Township toward a department leader, in a public forum, were nothing short of shameful.
Mark Wendel remains an employee of Plymouth Township and as such has certain expectation of his employer. While township officials certainly have the right to question his report, to inquire about the data he used and to ask how he arrived at specific conclusions, they do not have the right to humiliate and disparage him publicly and treat him as any less than the professional he is.
He has a right, and some would argue a responsibility, in the performance of his job to inform the members of the board and the administration of the actual status of his department and the dangerous consequences of the decisions they have made, despite his advice and counsel.
He also has a right, under the law, to be treated with common courtesy and respect. A clear definition of “hostile working environment” is certainly obvious in viewing the recording of this meeting during which Wendel revealed the escalating jeopardy evident in Plymouth Township today.
One might even conclude that his mistreatment at the hands of his employers was a result of this “whistle blowing.” No one, in any profession, should be treated or expected to endure the disdain, impudence and disrespect evidenced by elected officials during this meeting, particularly when the target of their bullying is attempting to conscientiously perform the job for which they were employed.
Officials in Plymouth Township could easily be soon referring to Wendel not as “chief ” but rather “plaintiff.”
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