I would like to add my comments in reference to your editorial on June 23, in regards to the Dennis DeWitt hearing held on June 21. In retrospect, I do agree with you that Commissioner (Susan) Stasny should have removed herself from further dealings with Mr. DeWitt’s situation simply because of the assumed conflict of interest.
As a matter of record, I do want to say that Commissioner Stasny has served Bee County in an exemplary and dedicated manner for the past 20 years, and I truly respect her for that. Her faithful record of dedication to Bee County should be her legacy. She did not solicit the individuals who brought the complaints against Mr. DeWitt. In your editorial you stated, “Some commissioners obviously have chosen to side with the alleged aggrieved persons, insisting that some ‘unprofessional racial remarks’ were made.” In truth, all four commissioners, not some, chose to side with the aggrieved persons. Jason Collins, Bee-Picayune staff member, was at the hearing to videotape the complete proceedings. If your readers had the opportunity to view the full video and read the entire transcript of the hearing, then I feel they would have a much clearer picture of why we took the action that we did.
You also stated that “we find it difficult to believe that more people would have come forward with complaints had DeWitt demonstrated this type of unacceptable behavior over his long career with the state and the county.” I have had several people and friends come to my office from time to time to complain about Mr. DeWitt. They have been unwilling to write a formal complaint for fear of job security and retaliation. Like two of the complainants, I, too, am willing to take a lie detector test verifying that individuals have come to my office with concerns about Mr. DeWitt.
Your last paragraph stated, “In fact, DeWitt may have a pretty good case against Stasny and the county.” I feel that the complainants have a much better case against Stasny and the county if, after having brought their complaints to the county, the county failed to act by not doing anything and sweeping everything under the rug like nothing happened. As public servants, we are obligated to listen to citizens’ complaints and act on them if we feel there is truth to their concerns. This is what four of the five members of the court have done. In your editorial, not once did you mention any sympathy or understanding towards the true victims of this hearing – the individuals who were humiliated by the racial remarks made against them.
In conclusion, I wholeheartedly feel that Dennis DeWitt is not a racist. I’ve known Dennis most of my life. I do feel that he made inappropriate remarks to individuals while employed by Bee County. I look forward to working with Mr. DeWitt come January. I feel he brings a lot of experience and knowledge to his new position.
Commissioner, Pct. 3