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Rock County closer to replacing Heinig

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ANN MARIE AMES
February 3, 2010
— An ad hoc committee Tuesday interviewed three finalists to replace former Rock County Planning Director Scott Heinig.

The county could be ready to hire a new planning director in the next couple months, said Lori Pope, assistant human resources director.


Heinig resigned in July after the human resources department started an investigation into allegations that Heinig was having a personal relationship with a female subordinate, County Administrator Craig Knutson said.


The Gazette obtained copies of the documents initiating the investigation as well as a copy of Heinig’s personnel file under the Wisconsin Open Records Law.


The investigation was not completed because Heinig resigned, so no final report is available, county attorney Jeff Kuglitsch wrote in a letter to the Gazette.


Under the open records law, an investigator’s notes are not public record.


Investigators found no evidence of sexual harassment, Knutson said.


The issue was brought to the attention of the human resources department by a third employee who had a complaint about another matter, Knutson said.


Before releasing the documents, Kuglitsch blacked out the names of county employees other than Heinig. Kuglitsch also notified Heinig that he had the right to add material or notes to the documents being requested.


He did not do so.


The investigative documents include a small number of e-mails between Heinig and the woman. Other e-mails appear to be to and from the woman and another county employee.


The documents also contain pages of a handwritten log kept by a third employee who worked in the planning department. The six-page log was started in September 2008 and ended in June 2009.


The log documents the dates and times when Heinig and the woman came into and left the planning office. It makes note of lunch meetings and notes when the woman attended a conference.


The log indicates the employee thought he or she was competing with the woman for a promotion.


“I am increasingly concerned about my position and my inability to compete with (name blacked out) …,” the log states.


Investigative documents indicate former human resources Director John Becker conducted the investigation.


Becker resigned in September. In August, the county hired an attorney to help “with regard to an investigation into the conduct and/or alleged misconduct of John Becker,” according to the contract with the attorney.


The Gazette obtained a copy of the contract under the Wisconsin Open Records Law.


Becker resigned before the investigation was completed, so no documents are available to describe the nature of or the reason for the investigation.


PLANNING DIRECTOR FINALISTS

Lori Pope, assistant human resources director, said the three finalists interviewed for the job of Rock County Planning Director are:


-- Alexander Ikefuna of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. He is he is self-employed as a planning professional. He previously worked as the community development director for Post Falls, Idaho.


-- Paul Benjamin of Madison. He works as the chief of party for ARD, a U.S. agency for international development in Nepal. Before that, he was program and policy analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.


-- Lee Nellis of Middleton. He is a self-employed consulting planner in Middleton who has lectured at the UW-Madison Department of Urban and Regional Planning. He also worked as the town planner in the town of Williston, Vermont.


The next step is background checks, Pope said.


County Administrator Craig Knutson will appoint a person to the position with the approval of the county board.



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