Stabosz accuses Matias of “moral abdication” of county employees

 

Press release from La Porte County Auditor Timothy Stabosz

Stabosz

La Porte County Auditor Timothy Stabosz has issued a press release commenting on what transpired at the last county commission meeting on March 17, where Commissioner Joe Haney expressed his intent to bring forth a Whistleblower Protection Policy at a future meeting. Stabosz criticized what he claims was Commissioner Sheila Matias’s false representation that the county already has such protections in place.

Stabosz stated, “I agree wholeheartedly with Commissioner Haney when he reported that he is hearing concerns from county employees who are scared of retaliation, not necessarily from an immediate supervisor but from either an elected official or a professional advisor. I have heard similar concerns from department heads and others who are in grave need of shelter and protection from we, the highest level county officials, to prevent their being subjected to coercion, intimidation, or otherwise being thwarted in the lawful execution of their duties. Furthermore, I agree with Commissioner Haney that such protections do not currently exist locally in any form.”

Stabosz continued, “It was deeply troubling to me what I saw at the last county commission meeting, where Commissioner Sheila Matias knowingly and falsely represented that the county has whistleblower protections laid out in our employee manual when she knows full well that the employee manual speaks solely to violations involving equal employment opportunity and sexual harassment. To watch Matias hold up a large poster board at the commission meeting with the phrase ‘whistleblower protection’ boldly at the top, when such term is not mentioned anywhere in our employee manual, was both manipulative and deceptive. As she claims she made the poster board herself, it is disturbing to me why she would be so willing to hang county employees out to dry and put forth such a charade.

“The concern I have is that no one could possibly be more interested in preventing the county from having a true and robust Whistleblower Protection Policy than County Attorney Shaw Friedman, who continues to engage in an inappropriate pattern of exerting undue influence, on a day-to-day basis, upon county officials and department heads from the top down, starting with all three commissioners themselves. It appears to me that what Ms. Matias is doing is ‘walking the plank’ for Mr. Friedman in order to protect him and sacrificing the well-being of our employees.  In my mind, this represents not just a moral abdication of county employees, but a damnable betrayal of them.”

Stabosz continued, “It is outrageous for Sheila Matias to assert, with a straight face, that county employees have someone to turn to in their appointed department heads, when such department heads are directly answerable to the county commissioners and two of the three commissioners have shown that they are directly answerable to an outside contract attorney who asserts his will upon those commissioners in an unseemly fashion. In so doing, that attorney possesses direct authority upon department heads themselves to get what he wants, how he wants it, when he wants it and in the way he wants it. And no one can stop him if the commissioners won’t. This creates a culture of fear, terror, desperation and duress in the minds of department heads (not to mention the broader county employee base) whose ability to maintain authority over their departments is stripped from them by an unelected 4th commissioner with the inherent blessing of Commissioners Matias and Mrozinski. That is wrong. In fact, Commissioner Haney has directly attested to, in at least two recent commission meetings, not just how such intimidation has been placed upon himself, but how county employees have been confiding to him about it happening to them. Similarly, as auditor, I continue to hear such stories myself.

“It is said that a fish rots from the head down. It is clear that the operating authority of La Porte County is completely rotten because the county has a dysfunctional control structure at the top with no moral authority possessed by the commissioners, because Matias and Mrozinski have relinquished it to an unelected professional advisor, which has resulted in an authoritarian structure that is reminiscent of Soviet Russia, run in a dishonest, manipulative, indecent and bizarre ‘Wizard of Oz’ fashion. The reality is that no employee truly has any security because the people at the top refuse to act as grown-ups and assert the proper controls necessary to secure our employees. For Commissioner Matias to support a masquerade that suggests the county has protections it does not is disgusting and perverted.”

Speaking directly to county employees, Stabosz said, “I would encourage any employees, past or present, who are experiencing or have experienced undue influence being placed upon them, or experienced intimidation or threats of retaliation if they do not take a specified action, to come directly to me or Commissioner Haney to share, in confidence, what you have been put through.   We cannot do anything about the abuses of power that are going on in La Porte County, directly endorsed by Commissioners Matias and Mrozinski, unless people come forward and their stories can be told securely, safely and in confidence.”

Stabosz concluded, “I want to commend Commissioner Haney for having the best interests of our employees at heart and being the true protector of them. When Commissioner Haney said ‘I will shut this down’ at the March 3 commission meeting, I know exactly what he meant and I stand with him. Our employees need to have a restoration of hope and faith and of their human dignity so they can be empowered to possess the moral freedom to fulfill their duties as they see fit, without pressure or coercion being placed upon them. By enacting true whistleblower protection, we can ensure that the yoke of fear, terror and helplessness that has been placed upon our people can finally be lifted.”

12 Responses to “Stabosz accuses Matias of “moral abdication” of county employees”

  1. Mike

    Apr 02. 2021

    Hopefully we can slowly get away from the “LaPorte County is the Cook County of Indiana” nickname.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Keith

    Apr 02. 2021

    Well said Mike.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Kevin

    Apr 02. 2021

    Great job Tim and Joe. Drain the swamp in LP county. Thank you both.

    Reply to this comment
    • Mary K.

      Apr 03. 2021

      What can we as citizens do to help you. …we totally agree with you

      Reply to this comment
      • Tim Stabosz

        Apr 03. 2021

        The fact of the matter is, the most common form of duress and intimidation placed upon our employees is the threat of losing their jobs. The intent is to TERRORIZE them to take a specific action they would otherwise not want to, by making them think that they may have their livelihood, their security, their dignity, and that of their family taken away, if they don’t comply. It’s a form of extortion that is completely evil and corrupt, and I simply will not stand by, knowing such immoral and outrageous behavior is going on. Shame on Commissioners Matias and Mrozinski for tolerating it, endorsing it, and even covering it up! By the way, under Indiana State law, threatening someone with the intent to coerce them to act against their will is also a criminal act, the crime of intimidation, and may either be a misdemeanor, or, in some cases, a felony. See the following link:

        https://casetext.com/statute/indiana-code/title-35-criminal-law-and-procedure/article-45-offenses-against-public-health-order-and-decency/chapter-2-intimidation-and-other-offenses-relating-to-communications/section-35-45-2-1-intimidation

        The answer to your question is that we need to create a safe enough environment where people feel free to come forward and tell their stories. Once the first few courageous souls are willing to speak, I have no doubt there will be a “me too” movement out there that will leave your head spinning….especially when you start hearing the stories.

        Reply to this comment
  4. Bill Proud

    Apr 03. 2021

    The sewer will be drained next election when we get rid of Stabosz and Haney..I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t at the Capital in Jan. following their cult leader.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Derald Borton

    Apr 03. 2021

    Most people in LaPorte County are embarrassed by the actions of Auditor Stabosz.
    Mr. Haney and Mr. Stabosz should read the employee manual first, there are plenty of protections for the employees. Instead of attacking Sheila and Shaw who have a long record of protecting the employees, please do your jobs.
    Both of you are not interested in doing the job you were elected to do but to attack your political opponents.
    Before attacking Commissioner Matias of moral abdication, please look at yourself in the mirror, you will see the source of the problem Mr.Stabosz.
    By the way where was this moral indignation when one of the Republican member of the County Council was investigated by the Election Board for serving on the Council and not living in the County? Is this not hypocrisy Mr.Stabosz?

    Reply to this comment
  6. Alan Zeller

    Apr 03. 2021

    Tim Staboz seems in love with his own voice. each of us has to choose whose advice we follow.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Silliness

    Apr 03. 2021

    This is much todo about nothing. Indiana employees are already covered by whistleblower protections, especially those in governmental occupations. The county employees are already legally protected via their employee handbook as well, as Councilwoman Matias already pointed out. Haney and Stabosz want to create a narrative that employees are under draconian leadership that will not allow their complaints to be filed.

    Please, Mr. Stabosz. Get to work as the County Auditor. Try and make LaPorte County a better place. Do a better job for the County than you did as a city councilman.

    Mr. Haney has a lot of great potential as a county commissioner. But, if he doesn’t stop with these silly political stunts, he’ll find that the public will grow tired of his antics.

    Serve the people. Do your jobs. Quit trying to play Chicago politics, Haney and Stabosz. It doesn’t help LaPorte County, our county employees, or your reputations.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Jeff

    Apr 03. 2021

    You county officials have so much energy to argue amongst yourselves. Take that energy and go outside and clean the bird crap off the sidewalks of the courthouse in downtown LaPorte.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Mike M

    Apr 03. 2021

    Sheila and Shaw I appreciate and trust in your tireless work protecting the rights of Laporte County citizens. Please keep it up you are truly appreciated

    Reply to this comment
  10. Bproud

    Apr 07. 2021

    I think you have a problem with strong intelligent women. When you were in city government you made a habit of attacking Mayor Milo at every meeting. Now you doing the same with Commissioner Matias. Please try to get along and work with people. This is getting old

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