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We’ve been flooded with information regarding the firing and re-hiring of County Building Inspector Steve Clark over the past week.
Within hours (maybe minutes?) of Clark’s dismissal, our phones started ringing and accusations of retribution were flying from one side while accusations of “false documentation and reporting” came in from the other.
While very little information has been publicly presented with reasons for Clark’s dismissal and the pending criminal investigation, one thing is extremely clear and that one thing was summed up by Magistrate Hobert Judd after Friday’s special meeting of the Fiscal Court.
Judd told Judge-Executive Bill Karrer: “The dilemma is not that you fired him, but the fact that they’re [builders, etc.] left being without a building inspector.”
Before we move on, Clark’s firing is a huge piece of this picture. Dozens of members of the building community spoke out on Clark’s behalf over the last week and our reporters haven’t heard a bad word about him. But let’s state a really big if — if Karrer did in fact find information of possible criminal activity, one can’t fault him for reporting it.
However, one, or heck, the whole county, can fault him for the way he went about it.
When coming to this determination, either Karrer didn’t think about the effect it would have on builders, realtors, families, etc., or he thought about it but it didn’t matter enough to alter his plans. In either scenario, those actions are irresponsible and potentially disrespectful.
Several of the builders at Friday’s meeting advised Karrer that he should have had a backup plan in place — a temporary replacement or a state inspector on standby. We absolutely agree.
A large and vocal chunk of the business community — including those hoping to work on county projects — have been left in inspection limbo while the clock on their projects ticks and their pockets are continuously emptied.
We commend the four magistrates on hand Monday to reinstate Clark and address the concerns of the building community. Until more proof is presented or charges are actually filed against Clark, we see no reason why inspections can’t be completed as they have been in the past if for no other reason than to get the building economics moving again in Spencer County.
Magistrates have said Karrer acted on his own in Clark’s firing and they had “no reason, no documentation [and] no written warnings” from Karrer regarding Clark or his job performance. They obviously see no reason Clark should be dismissed and at this point, neither do we.