Stacy Twete, who serves as the veterans services officer for Ramsey County, was admonished by county commissioners at Tuesday's meeting for comments he made during the commission's last meeting Dec. 8.
Stacy Twete, who serves as the veterans services officer for Ramsey County, was admonished by county commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting for comments he made during the commission’s last meeting Dec. 8.
At that meeting, Twete described a call to his office regarding the Dakota Access pipeline protest that sparked an argument between himself and the caller. Twete said at the Dec. 8 meeting that he “chewed out” the caller, who he described as “a little old lady from south of here.”
Spirit Lake Nation is seven miles south of Devils Lake.
The commission remained silent throughout Twete’s report and moved on to other business without comment. However, more than one commissioner reported receiving phone calls from concerned residents after Twete’s comments were made public.
One resident wrote a letter to commissioner Lucas Wakefield, who read it in full at Tuesday’s meeting. In the letter, the resident wrote that she found “appalling” both Twete’s comments and the commission’s “complete lack of response.” She also wrote in the letter that “not all of your taxpaying citizens are willing to condone this behavior.”
The commission discussed different ways of dealing with Twete’s comments. Both commissioners Wakefield and Adam Leiphon acknowledged that the matter wasn’t handled well.
“I agree with much of what is in the letter,” Leiphon said. “It wasn’t our proudest moment.”
Newly elected commissioner Jeff Frith, who was not at the meeting during which Twete made his comments, offered perhaps the strongest condemnation.
“I agree with the letter and I’m surprised we didn’t get more,” Frith said. “I was a bit taken aback by his comment and how freely it flowed from his lips. I think this letter should be placed in Mr. Twete’s personnel file.”
Commission chair Mark Olson said that he spoke with Twete following the meeting, though he didn’t offer any specifics on what sort of reprimand Twete may face, if any.
“I had a discussion with Stacy about it,” Olson said. “I told him that he represents Ramsey County and that it was in poor judgment.”
The commission then began a discussion about how to address such incidents in the future.
“Maybe as a commission we should come up with plan for how we should handle it, some kind of training or something like that,” Leiphon said. “It shouldn’t go unnoticed.”
Wakefield talked about creating a structure by which future incidents could be handled while mentioning the county’s lack of human resources personnel.
“This emphasizes the importance of having somebody to handle these HR issues for the county,” Wakefield said.
Twete did not attend Tuesday’s meeting. The commission also voted during the meeting to expand its veterans services to both Benson and Nelson counties after those counties ratified a joint powers agreement.
The agreement means that Twete will spend three days a week at his office in Ramsey County, and one day a week in Nelson and Benson counties. It states that “the Veteran’s Service Officer shall perform 40 percent of the services for Ramsey County, 30 percent of the services for Benson County, and 30 percent of the services for Nelson County.”
The commission unanimously approved the agreement.