Below are extracts from questions posed by NewsLanc reporter Matt Henderson to the County Commissioners at Tuesday’s work session and their responses. The exchange can be heard in its entirety at www.newslanc.com/Commissioners_Worksession_4-15_ReEsterbrook.mp3
NewsLanc: “It gives the appearance that you are giving a lot of money in exchange for keeping [County Administrator Mark Esterbrook’s] mouth shut. Why should public money be used to stifle the ability of a department employee to express any concerns he may have and to have those concerns vetted publicly? ... Don’t you think the public is entitled to know what is going on here.”
Vice Chair Scott Martin: “[I’m] not going to comment too much... but it goes to the terms that are adjusted both ways that are mentioned in a settlement agreement.”
NewsLanc: "....Seems like a gag order on him not to say anything negative about the commissioners or any one he worked with."
Solicitor Don Lefever: "That type of provision is not uncommon in all sorts of settlement agreement and releases and employment severances. Both parties have an interest in putting the past behind them, whatever it may be, and moving on... in this case Mark [Esterbrook] was interested in other opportunities and it was beneficial to both the county and Mr. Esterbrook to move forward....The parties, to the extent there may be differences, and that type of provision does not necessarily mean that they are, but to the extent that there are, bygones are kind of bygones, and we are not going to discuss details of differences that may have been had...all sorts of things like that. That is not at all unusual. You will find many agreements out there like that that include that provision.”
Dennis Stuckey: "We are not or do we intend to consider any adjustment to the contract. So long as we are in agreement with Mark, there is no reason for us to reconsider."