Background . The Situation Involved A 60 Year Old Building

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The situation involved a 60 year old Building Official who had been an employee of the county for 38 years. In addition to being the county’s Building Official, he was the county’s Zoning Administrator and supervised the county’s storm water and erosion control activities. He also had long time personal and business relationship with three of the four Board of Supervisors (BOS) members. Two months prior to this incident he was issued a counseling memo for violating Personnel Manual policies. In early May I received a citizen complaint that a garage was being built in clear noncompliance with county building and zoning ordinances.
Investigation and Key Events
I immediately began a compliance review of this case and examined
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I also recognized that Chairman’s involvement made the matter particularly sensitive given that he was the BOS Chairman, and as such, the employee would be deemed his employee.
I concluded that, as the County’s personnel officer, it would be appropriate and necessary to place the employee on leave with pay while I conducted a more detailed compliance review. I felt this was necessary given that the employee was seeking to undercut my investigation by having the Chairman’s business signs removed from the property and claiming the Chairman was not really involved as a contractor on this project. Furthermore, the staff in the employee’s office were now telling me that a broader review would show that Chairman failed to follow building code requirements in a number of cases, and that the employee had failed to enforce these requirements against Chairman. I necessarily therefore would have to spend time in the employee’s office reviewing files and discussing matters with the employee’s staff, and it would be inappropriate for the employee to be present or be in a position where he might tamper with evidence or intimidate staff.
In view of all this, I met with the employee and formally advised him orally and by letter that he was suspended with pay pending my review of the matter. The formal suspension letter stated that it had been
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