MINET board to shift focus

But first, it discusses employee benefits, board policies



MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE — Monmouth Independence Networks board of directors believes it needs to stop “playing small ball” and refocus on the big picture of telecommunications and running the business.

But before that, the board addressed whether MINET employees should receive free cable, telephone and Internet as a perk of working there.

MINET General Manager Don Patten said board members need to focus on “appropriate agenda items” that will move the company forward.

“Too much negative attention is being attached in public and press to the board, and, by association, to MINET,” he said. “This board has been focused on the small issues to such a degree that it misses the big ones.”

Patten said members of the board have focused on employee manuals, job descriptions and “chasing legal citations.”

“While these are genuine issues, over-focus on details presents a poor public perception,” he said.

Board member Mike Lodge agreed, saying, “This board has been wound pretty tight, to the point of micro-managing.”

Lodge said the term “manage” should not be part of the board, as a board’s role is broader, focusing instead on policies.

Board vice-chairman Scott McClure said the board has been playing “small ball for a year.”

He said that the managers at MINET have a handle on the day-to-day operations, and that he would like the board to shift focus.

Board member David Ritchey agreed.

After the board came out of an executive session to discuss records exempt from public records laws, Lodge said Chad Stokes, MINET’s attorney, was not on retainer and cost $200 an hour each time he is called.

“Anytime anybody picks up the phone and calls the attorney on behalf of MINET, he drops a bill on MINET,” Lodge said. “In view of that fact, I would suggest that the board agree that none of us call him unless we agree.”

Board chairman David Clyne said they couldn’t agree to call the attorney as a group before Stokes was called because it would be considered an illegal public meeting. Instead, McClure will look into creating a board policy about calling the attorney. The board approved a code of conduct at its August meeting, but has yet to establish any board policies or bylaws.

Since May, MINET has paid $3,700 in attorney’s fees for various investigations, including the tort claim filed in June by Laura Rodriguez for discrimination.

McClure, who had been working on possible bylaws for the board with board member Jerry Hoffman, said they decided the MINET board did not need more documents, but would let the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) stand alone.

He said revisions should be suggested to the two councils — Monmouth and Independence — to clean up the IGA document, such as redefining the role of the secretary/treasurer.

After a discussion about employees receiving free telecommunication services, Clyne was the sole negative vote.

Clyne said giving employees services for free could mean up to $3,000 per year value if they received the top package MINET has to offer. He wanted to reduce that to the basic service package, if not remove the benefit completely.

“MINET should be able to offer benefits to their employees,” Ritchey said.

Monmouth-Independence Networks board of directors and their connections:

David Clyne—Independence city manager, MINET board chairman

Scott McClure—Monmouth city manager, MINET board vice-chairman

David Ritchey—Monmouth police officer

Jon Carey—Monmouth city councilor

Jerry Hoffman—Independence city councilor

Mike Lodge—married to Nancy Lodge, Independence city councilor

Other connections:

Marilyn Morton—MINET administrator, Independence city councilor

Board members are appointed by the Independence and Monmouth city councils, according to the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that formed MINET.

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