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Johnson County supervisors respond to Slockett's latest claims

BY BRENT GRIFFITHS | NOVEMBER 12, 2012 6:30 AM

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Johnson County Auditor Tom Slockett defended his unauthorized spending of $58,000 on new technology and further accused supervisors of “voter suppression” in an email he sent to The Daily Iowan.

Andy Johnson, executive assistant for the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, sent Slockett a list of questions, and Slockett forwarded his responses to Johnson and several members of the media. In his reply, Slockett furthered the debate surrounding his purchase of the equipment, which included laptops, identification scanners and printers, among other items.

“This equipment was especially needed in the precincts providing voting services to polling places serving students and rural residents,” Slockett said in the email. “These precincts were the targets of voter-suppression efforts, first initiated over my objections during the process for redrawing rural precincts, by Supervisors [Janelle] Rettig and [Chairmen Rod] Sullivan.”

Newly elected auditor Travis Weipert said he has “good rapport” with all of the supervisors and does not expect those to worsen because of Slockett’s decisions besides the impact on the budget.

“We are going to have communication with supervisors, and work through our budget and find other areas to trim,” Weipert said. “Some way, somehow, we’ll make sure we get our budget.”

Weipert said one of these ways could be passing a budget amendment, which would draw from county reserves, but regardless of the solution he wants to improve communication with the board during his term that begins Jan. 2.

“I want to make sure there’s no miscommunication with the [supervisors] and that they will know what we will be doing at all times and the cost associated with it,” he said. “He is his own elected official, and he has his own budget as long as he is within his budget; at the same time when [the supervisors] think some not a good idea warrants further discussion then just going ahead with the purchase and seeing what raised the red flag.”

Rettig said Slockett’s purchases were denied by all five of the supervisors and further described him as “disoriented and confused” during the last meeting he attended.

“The government has a budget process, and he has thumbed his nose at this authority,” Rettig said. “I hope this is over, and that he has wasted the last dollars he got a chance to waste.”

Slockett couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday evening.

Sullivan denied to “dignify Slockett’s email with a response” but said the budget shortfall will have to be addressed by Weipert or from the county’s reserves.

Slockett further said in the email that Rettig and Sullivan were “extraordinarily unprofessional and rude” in their behavior toward him as well as their questioning of the county’s information technology director. 

“Now these two supervisors feign to ask why [information technology] was not asked to assist the Auditor’s Office in purchasing equipment needed in student and rural precincts,” Slockett said in the email, responding to why the equipment was not purchased through the department.

Rettig said had Slockett consulted with the department they would have gone through a claims process, and bided out to local vendors, which could have possibly lowered the cost of the technology.

“He paid too much money for them…” she said. “It’s not just the laptops it’s the rest of the overpriced accruements: the 70 scanners, 70 printers, 70 mouse pads and mice.”

One supervisor said the recent elections were “incredibly well run” by Slockett and hopes for a smooth transition to Weipert. He also added the impacts of Slockett’s decisions will not be visible until around April next year.

“I talked with [Slockett] about doing his best to live within bottom line of his budget,” supervisor Terrence Neuzil said. “We’ll have more teeth in the game when it gets to March and April if the budget is way out of whack.”


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