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Viewpoint: 'Due process' respects, protects privacy of city employees

I've received a number of letters and emails, and have had numerous conversations in the past month pertaining to how the administration of our city is functioning regarding personnel matters. I want to clarify to everyone about what is known as "due process" regarding this matter.

There are laws that protect and respect the privacy of our city employees. This process is in place for the purpose of protecting the best interests of the employee and is done so in private with all parties represented legally. No decisions on employees can be made arbitrarily. Due process takes into account the facts, testimony, documentation and the law. As a member of your city council for the past nine years I have been careful to assure our citizens that everything we do as a city is done with that in mind. Your city council is not in the business of falling prey to the trappings of social media with all its misrepresentations and innuendos.

Our city employees are all highly respected and are guaranteed contractual rights. By the same token, all our employees are expected to maintain a high standard of job performance. Our citizens wouldn't want it any other way and neither would I. If employee performance is called into question, then due process is set in motion. It's the law. Due process unfolds in private in order to protect the employee. It is very important to keep in mind that questions and allegations can come from any manner of sources, including allegations made by any employees such as subordinates, and not necessarily from supervisors. It is very important that the public understands that.

Due process is not a quick process. It is methodical, governed by the rule of law and by employee contract. There is nothing hasty or arbitrary about it. To try and circumvent the process will not work. The social media blitz that has been occurring here in Hastings regarding how employee matters should be handled is not respecting due process, employee contracts, the law and the rights of the employee. Nor is it respecting the responsibilities of our city administration to investigate allegations and questions when they occur.

Would any citizen whose job performance is called into question want due process or social media to dictate the outcome of their performance review? Given the choice, would anyone want allegations put on social media or handled through the process of protected privacy and the decency of due process? Our local government demands that our city administration afford all employees the right of due process, and that's what our city administration is required to do.

Social media is best left for the purpose of being social to each other, and not for the purpose of rumor or innuendo. That being said, it is paramount to understand and agree that we are a society of laws, because we are a decent society that treats everyone with equality, no matter their gender, age, race or job description. If we lose sight of that fundamental value, we lose our moral compass.

Please note these are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of the entire Hastings City Council.

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