County is correct to launch an investigation

Washington County Commissioners have called for an investigation into the operations of the county health board, and we’re glad to see our elected officials stepping in and taking notice of some seeming blunders by the board.

In recent weeks, the health board has ousted health commissioner Dick Wittberg, faced a potential lawsuit and hired him back. In the midst of this, two board members resigned, though one came back, and a longtime health department employee and leader resigned after expressing concern about a lack of communication from the board. Throughout all these comings and goings, there has been no reason given for Wittberg’s removal and no related information in his personnel file or past meeting minutes.

County commissioner Kevin Ritter called on the board for transparency with little result, so now Commissioner Ron Feathers has asked that the county prosecutor investigate the board and its activities.

We think that’s the right move. There’s clearly a need for some oversight here.

There is no room for a public board to be operating in secrecy, not correctly documenting issues and not adhering to proper procedure. Their intentions may not have been malevolent, but it seems that some of the board members may be in over their heads, not possessing adequate knowledge of public records laws or how to run a board that makes important decisions for health department employees and the county as a whole.

We hope if an investigation is completed, that answers aren’t the only thing provided. Education is an important piece as this board moves forward. There are few requirements for members of this board, so we hope they take it upon themselves–and perhaps work with the county–on ways to improve communication and procedures. If they are going to sit on this board, we feel that is their duty.

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