County wasted tax money on investigation

Most of us have disputes at work at one time or another. Sometimes employees complain about the boss — and vice versa.

These issues are usually resolved when the adversaries sit down and talk. Or maybe staff meetings are held and policies are reviewed and changed. In some cases, there’s no way to work things out so the offended just agree to disagree, or find new jobs.

In the case of Curry County, however, when workers can’t get along, a grievance is filed and an investigation ensues and the county spends tax dollars. They pay for a purportedly independent investigator to conduct interviews, collect evidence and prepare a document complete with a summary of the grievance allegations, facts and conclusions.

Most workplaces don’t go through all that because it costs thousands of dollars and the issues are more effectively resolved when people get together and simply talk about what’s upsetting them.

But not if you work for Curry County. Its most recent dispute, revealed this week, cost taxpayers $2,000. The time before, the price tag was $5,000.

Of course nobody is happy with the results of these investigations. As best we can tell, everybody’s just as mad today as they were when the grievances were filed.

Well, OK, maybe former County Finance Director Mark Lansford is not so mad anymore. He ultimately did what most of us do when we think we can be happier somewhere else — he went somewhere else.

What’s really odd is that Lansford said he never wanted an investigation to take place. He just wanted it on record that he didn’t like the “confrontational tone” he alleges was used by County Commissioner Bobby Sandoval in a conversation they had about Lansford’s boss, County Manager Lance Pyle.

Sandoval said he just wanted Lansford to stop doing things behind Pyle’s back. Lansford said he wasn’t doing that anyway.

This kind of thing happens at workplaces around the country every day. It’s no more unusual than the September complaint a secretary made alleging County Commissioner Dan Stoddard was yelling at Pyle.

It’s not nice to yell — Stoddard says he wasn’t — but, again, most of the working world has figured out how to resolve disputes among employees without spending thousands of dollars on investigations.

They bring all the offended parties together and they work it out.

It’s cheaper that way.

And it works better, too.