Why? The key to reasoning

Why? The key to reasoning

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Socrates always challenged his students with the question; “Why?”. That is how I start this next part of my story about our Board of Supervisors and their openness to questions from the public. To remind everyone, I submitted four requests for public records to four of our supervisors: Nathan Mather, Scott Sauer, Jeff Sorensen and Santo Saucedo (The Four Amigos). Their responses to the first three requests I will cover in this discussion. The fourth request concerning all of the private emails that these supervisors used while in office will come in the next installment.

The first three requests for public information I submitted were: 1. Provide all documents and emails concerning the committee work for the selection of James Barry as county attorney; 2. Provide all documents and emails concerning the committee work to develop the contract for Alan Ostergren; 3. Provide all documents and emails praising the selection of James Barry as county attorney. Why these specific requests, because each action or statement from these four supervisors impacts our county and I wanted to see their thought process?

These electronic documents were collected, printed by county staff and I was provided with the opportunity to review 290 pages of printed documents at the county administration building that had been vetted by the county attorney, James Barry. (After paying $50) The results are as following: Question 1. James Barry listed no references in his 2-page resume, James Barry had an incomplete work history in his resume (e.g. He failed to list his work as an attorney for a private law firm in Atlantic during the time he was a part-time county attorney), the supervisors showed no documentation that they ever reviewed this 2-page resume in detail, followed up on the incomplete work history, or contacted any reference for James Barry.; Question 2. No committee work was shown on how the exact work requirements in the contract for Alan Ostergren were determined and what the appropriate reimbursement would be based on the current legal hourly scale in Muscatine County.; Question 3. Only one other email was received on the question of the appointment of James Barry as county attorney. This email did not either praise or condemn his selection but wandered off into complaints about the process of his selection.

Now, it is time for you the reader to ask WHY. Why did James Barry not list references or a complete work history in his resume? (Always a red flag) Why didn’t the supervisors follow-up up the incomplete work history? (Lazy) Why didn’t the selection committee provide the references they contacted? (Remember, Nathan Mather bragged at the supervisor’s meeting that he contacted both the references provided by James Barry and other ones he knew) Why didn’t the committee that developed the contract for Alan Ostergren do more work to develop it? (Did they do any?) Why is Alan’s monthly payment $4000? (Is it a house payment?) Why did Nathan Mather brag at a supervisor’s meeting that he had received multiple emails praising the selection of James Barry as county attorney when he didn’t? (Embarrassment?)

I will leave it here now for you to think about and ponder. But, to help you answer these questions I will quote Nathan Mather, “If they don’t like our decisions then they can vote us out in November.”

Edward F. Askew

District 3 Supervisor Candidate


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