Keith Ellis took the coward’s way out when he unceremoniously dumped, via email on Friday, a competent and experienced professional woman on the procurement and professional services committee set up to look into the county’s purchasing policies. He wrote to Ann Neuhierl, his own appointee, that his original candidate is now available for duty and that he would offer Neuhierl’s seat to that person.
Ms. Neuhierl deals with state and federal contracts in her career. She knows the ins and outs of ethics policies and strict accountability that is demanded when state and federal governments spend taxpayer monies in procuring goods and services. I attended both the first and second meeting of that committee at which time I was thoroughly impressed with her straight-forward comments and suggestions to tighten the rules that would protect taxpayers from seeing their money spent unwisely or loosely with no accountability.
We all know that one of the reasons behind the creation of this committee was public and media outrage over unchecked legal expenditures paid to Tommy Craig, some $1.1 million in 2014, possibly $1.2 million this year.
I suspect, and others will too, that Craig and his supporters, including Ellis who calls Newton “blessed” to have Craig’s services, were feeling uncomfortable at the idea of a committee including Neuhierl that might recommend purchasing and ethics policies that could infringe on Craig’s ability to submit a million dollars worth of billings every year. So Neuhierl had to go. She said too much when she suggested that state and federal purchasing policies require all vendors to be current with state and federal income taxes owed. Tommy Craig can’t say that.
Here’s hoping Ellis won’t waste his breath or our time in trying to explain his un-appointment any further than the weak and transparently ridiculous way he did Friday. And thanks to Ann Neuhierl for her willingness to serve this county at the request of a thankless chairman.