Letter: A Chat With Bob Weisman

After reading about County Administrator Bob Weisman’s call that Inspector General Sheryl Steckler be fired, I sent him an e-mail on April 23, as follows:

“Dear Mr. Weisman: With regard to the article in today’s Palm Beach Post, where you call for the ‘firing’ of the county inspector general, please note that I highly respect you, but please also note that the inspector general is ‘ours,’ not yours! There is a very good reason for that. Such comments and actions on your part are not appreciated by ‘we, the people!’”

Within an hour I received a reply e-mail from Mr. Weisman as follows:

“Mr. Zakrzewski: With all respect, the inspector general is an office occupied by a person. The public voted for the office, not the person. The person in this case is Ms. Steckler. I hope you would agree that just because a person is employed and given a title that they should not be viewed as infallible and that their job performance can be challenged. I think her job performance should be severely questioned. As there is no real oversight/supervision of her decisions and her office’s work, I am prepared to make a case in public forum, which is my only alternative. It is my position that Ms. Steckler does not conduct herself in accordance with the principles of the Association of Inspector Generals or in accordance with her office motto: “enhancing public trust in government.” If I am correct, the overall public good is not being well served. I hope you will have an open mind as her job performance is publicly reviewed in accordance with ordinance procedure in coming months. I may or may not find support for my position. You are absolutely right, she is not ‘mine.’ If she was, I would have terminated her some time ago.”

After receiving his e-mail, I sent a response back as follows:

“Dear Bob: Again, with all due respect, as a business owner for many years contracting with the federal government on nationwide engineering and construction projects, my firm was always open to the government’s Office of the Inspector General, meaning full-blown financial audits, of which we had no control whatsoever in directing how that office and their auditors were supposed to act or what to do. That is the nature of the beast, in order for it to work, whether I, or others liked it or not. As the highest and almightiest longtime non-elected county public employee, you obviously do not like the idea that there is another non-elected county employee who is able to act above you. Sad, Bob, but that is the real world that all other non-public employees in our country deal with daily. You have been in your position so long that you have forgotten. By the way, other than this and a couple minor issues, I fully support what you have accomplished as our county administrator, and I fully support you. And what I know of you from the press and Channel 20, you seem like an outstanding person. P.S.: There is a very good reason why the people have decided that the inspector general not fall under your purview. The inspector general’s oversight is provided by the people. If ‘we, the people’ do not approve of her actions, all will know. We will act and let all know. Just look at [former] Congressman Allen West. No amount of money could stop the uprising of people against his hate-filled rhetoric.”

Hopefully this will enlighten your readers who do not have real life dealings with an inspector general and an understanding as to why IGs must have full autonomy and answer only to the people, and to work in hand with the state attorney.

Ed Zakrzewski, The Acreage