City to hire indepdenent investigator
By Chad Koenen
The Henning City Council will be moving forward with a pair of investigations involving a city council member and the ambulance service.
During its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night, the city council approved hiring an investigator to look into allegations raised by Ambulance Director Jane Cook against council member Jim Haberer. Last month Cook contended Haberer asked for her resignation as ambulance director to avoid being terminated from the position. Haberer said he talked to Cook as a friend, but denied making such a request.
The council also approved moving forward with an investigation related to the ambulance department as a whole.
Based on the recommendation of new city attorney Tom Jacobson, the council approved moving forward with hiring an investigator to look into allegations of ambulance service management and moral. The investigator will report back to the city on the findings. He said the investigation would be based on the service itself, not necessarily a specific employee.
The investigations came after Reggie Thiel said it took courage for her to come forward with the allegations against a council member. He said the only way to restore the trust between the council and city residents will be to look into the back story of the allegations and conduct an independent investigation.
Another person in attendance also said she wanted to express her concerns regarding the decision not to look into the allegations about the ambulance department as a whole.
On the recommendation of Jacobson, the council approved moving forward with the two investigations. Jacobson said his office will not be the ones conducting the investigation and will provide a recommendation regarding a firm to conduct the independent investigation. He said it could be a conflict of interest for someone from his firm to conduct an investigation of this nature.
The council approved looking into the conversation between Cook and Haberer and to determine whether the threats, as described by Henning Mayor Darren Wiese last week when citing Cook’s August statement, were credible. The motion was approved by a 4-1 margin with Haberer voting in dissent.
The motion to investigate concerns within the ambulance department as a whole were approved unanimously.
The council approved spending up to $10,000 to conduct the two investigations. Jacobson said the investigation could cost between $5,000-10,000.