WILLIAM NANGLE: Intrigue over NIRPC boss hasn't let up

2012-10-25T00:00:00Z WILLIAM NANGLE: Intrigue over NIRPC boss hasn't let upBy William Nangle nwitimes.com
October 25, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe not.

The phone calls and emails have been pretty evenly mixed.

It’s the response I received to my Tuesday column containing a letter of apology to Tyson Warner, the fella the NIRPC board left at the altar of employment.

Warner was selected to be the next executive director of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission by a search committee with the help of a professional “search firm.” He showed up Oct. 18 for confirmation by the full board but was left hanging when the vote was postponed.

Who is to blame? Well, that depends on who you talk to.

I noted in my column that Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. helped lead the “bit of a rebellion” that resulted in a delay in voting to put Warner to work.

McDermott called Tuesday afternoon to chide me about the column and to argue he had done the right thing. “It’s just a common courtesy to know the guy’s background,” he said. After all, as mayor McDermott represents some 80,000 plus people and needs to be certain the right person is being hired.

“This is a shady deal,” he told me “There are others locally that are qualified. I don’t know this guy from Kansas.”

Two other mayors called me, both without saying so but tending to support McDermott.

Fellow Democrat Brian Snedecor, mayor of Hobart, said repeatedly the vote being postponed was his fault.

“If anyone is to blame, I will accept the responsibility,” he said. As chairman of NIRPC’s finance and personnel committee, he had not met Warner but said he was asked to have his committee approve a contract for a $130,000 salary and other benefits.

“These are taxpayer dollars. I have a responsibility to the taxpayers.,” he said. “We were simply rushing too fast.” So his committee held off approval and thus a favorable recommendation to the full NIRPC board.

GOP mayor James Snyder of Portage took a similar position. “I started the fuss because I didn't even know his name,” he said.

Snyder suggests the search committee and NIRPC staff “could have done a better job of communicating.”

And so, now what? I asked McDermott if once familiar with Warner what would he do. "The guy's from Kansas,” he said.

Snyder is concerned the ruckus “will probably put us out of a good candidate.”

I hope that’s not the case. Warner has a glowing reputation as a strong professional.

Was I right or was I wrong in my initial column? Not so fast.

Adding to my quandary is an email from Munster Clerk-Treasurer Dave Shafer. He writes, in part, “Congratulations on writing a spot-on article about the highly politicized situation at NIRPC over hiring a new executive director. I am personally embarrassed by the behavior of some of my fellow NIRPC commissioners …”

I guess deciding whether I was right or wrong must await the decision by NIRPC’s 52 commissioners. Can they come together in a show of regional unity and hire a truly qualified professional to fill the all-important executive director’s post?

Or will there be further delay, distraction and disruption? Stay tuned.

William Nangle is executive editor of The Times. He can be reached at The Times, 601 45th St., Munster, IN 46321 or at bill.nangle@nwi.com.

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