The Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners has been soundly chastised by the community and has deflected, bowed, scraped and returned the COVID-19 money wrongfully taken.
No real remorse has been shown, and nothing has changed. No investigation has been done to find out how County Coordinator Brian Boggs came up with this self-interested scheme. If not for the happenstance of Commissioner Marlene Webster’s disclosure to the public, none of us would have been the wiser. It is sobering that our commissioners will continue to need incentives stronger than the truth and shame to convince them the Surbeck Building must be fumigated.
The board’s immediate focus should be on firing Boggs. Right now, and for cause. Boggs wants a performance review, per his contract. He anticipates negotiating a good review from the board for his “work” balancing the county budget, and there may be enough fools on hand to give it to him. Still, Chairman Greg Brodeur knows full well that cause for termination exists due to the COVID-19 fiasco, as do Plowman and Marks.
Will these men join Webster in such a vote?
The county coordinator position is more powerful than that of any single commissioner in many ways. He has access to all county records. Commissioners have to ask to see anything and even then must be supervised in their viewing of certain documents. The votes of four commissioners are needed to accomplish anything. Boggs can accomplish a tremendous amount with the stroke of his pen because of the power delegated to him by the board. He may hire and fire.
Boggs should be fired because he fosters a toxic workplace and a culture of retaliation within county government.
As coordinator, Boggs makes many, if not most, day to day decisions on behalf of this county. He swings at pitches before the board even sees the ball. He has the opportunity to suggest and bring matters to a vote and set up his friends for choice contracts with the county, a la former county attorney Ryan Painter. Boggs, in fact, changed the million-dollar investment vehicle for the employee self-funded retirement plan without consulting or advising county employees in advance. The board did vote to approve, but for Boggs to do this after such a short time on the job and with such limited if — not nonexistent financial and investment experience — is shocking. This had to be a tremendous plum generating huge commissions for the lucky new broker.
To make matters worse, Boggs has admitted that he has been working and conducting county business on his personal laptop for over a year now. He does so even though ransomware attacks on municipal governmental bodies are increasing, and 70% of ransomware attacks target state and local governments. This is the same machine on which he conducts his personal and family business, and one presumes, attended law school remotely.
Common sense, let alone best business practices, require that all Boggs’ communication, including email and text messages, be managed by some sort of security protocol and stored for public records — and definitely not on his personal laptop. This behavior leaves the county open to potential hacks, which are increasing in frequency and are all over the news, as well as legal liability should those records ever be sought in a lawsuit. Boggs has access to significant financial information that could be easily compromised through an email hack.
If Boggs is reluctant to abide by sensible network security measures in doing the county’s business, it is quite reasonable to ask why not? Is he hiding illicit dealings? Chairman Brodeur says “there is no policy on this,” as if that were an excuse. There is, one assumes, a policy that a county employee should act in the best interests of his employer and that common sense regarding information security, as well as basic duties of government recordkeeping, should guide one’s actions in this regard.
Boggs has made himself unaccountable to anyone who might need to rely upon records he himself created to establish the fact of a matter. He is a serious liability to this county. He clearly does not know what he is doing. Bringing your own laptop to work for a governmental entity is not just wrong, it is stupid. He should be fired for this breach of legal and fiduciary duty to keep county documents and business safe.
Brian Boggs is a ticking time bomb. It is just a matter of time before this county faces a lawsuit because of his actions. He has demonstrated a comfort level in actions not only unethical but outside the public view; ones involving direct and indirect threats to county employees; and showing contempt for the rule of law. Shiawassee County can do without a county coordinator for the relatively short period of time it will take to find a replacement.
The county cannot do with Boggs any longer.