The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Where Was Kevin Thom?

Sunday's story in the Rapid City Journal on the fraud at the Rapid City Landfill (read it here) demonstrates that the city's Community Resources Department, Kevin Thom appears to have not been invited to the original investigation of the issue. Mr. Thom oversees the Human Resources Department.

So, it is odd that an investigation of fraud at the landfill including landfill employees, would not include the department head who oversees matters involving possible employee theft. It is even more odd, when you consider that Mr. Thom, prior to coming to Rapid City government, was for many years an investigator with the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI).

It would occur to me, if I were Public Works Director Robert Ellis, that having an experienced criminal investigator on staff would be quite helpful in his relentless (one day) pursuit of the truth at the landfill. But, that apparently didn't happen. And, it seems odd that as the department head in charge of human resources, Mr. Thom would not insist on being part of any such investigation. City Hall is a small place. It would be hard to believe Mr. Thom would not have known about such an investigation of city employees. It also seems Mr. Thom's expertise as a criminal investigator would not have been invaluable to such an inquiry.

But, Mr. Thom appears to have been left in the dark on the matter. Or if he had any involvement in the original one-day exhaustive investigation, his name was not included in any of the records released on the matter.

And, Mr. Thom wants to be Pennington County's new sheriff. That is troublesome, indeed.


Bob Newland said...

This is from a city web-page,

Kevin Thom
Community Resources Director

The Community Resources Department was formed in 2007 and provides a broad mix of services as it oversees the Human Resources, Community Development, Code Enforcement, Information Technology and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) divisions. The formation of the Community Resources Department allowed for an efficent Citywide consolidation of Information Technology Services into one department which enhanced services.

The 2009 budget for Community Resources is $1,732,086. Community Resources has a professional staff of 25.5 FTEs serving the City and Community

Mission Statement of Community Resources: "Excellence in Service to All"

Bob Newland said...

Looking at the Rapid City Human Resources Dept. website, I see that the department is charged with enforcing the Code of Conduct. If I'm reading the Code and its relationship to Dept. of HR correctly, it looks as if Thoms should have been the first person turned to.

On this page,, click on "Code of Conduct" to get a one-page .pdf that seems pretty straightforward.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mike. You continue to make my point that however well intentioned the fiscal concerns of Mr. Kooiker - he failed to adhere to process imperative to civil governance. Process is slow, messy, cumbersome and ever-so-necessary.

Anonymous said...

If the proper process is to shut up when your questions about corruption fall on deaf ears, then I don't want the proper process.

Michael Sanborn said...

Anonymous 1,
There exists no process that forbids an alderman from talking to concerned citizens, even if they are disgruntled city employees. There exists no process forbidding an alderman from asking questions of department heads.

Anonymous said...

Good reporting by Newland. The above exchange shows just how out of touch the council is with what people want. People, even city employees, want to be able to speak with their elected officials.

Chapman compared speaking with your representative to speaking with your boss' boss. He doesn't seem to grasp that every citizen, city employee or not, has a right, even an obligation, to bring matters of public concern to their elected officials.

This very city council passed a resolution affirming the right of a city employee to bring concerns to a council member. Most states have whistleblower statutes which protect government employees who report concerns to their elected officials.

The idea that the unhappy city employees or Sam did anything improper in this case is patently absurd.

What is improper is spending taxpayer money on a resolution which basically says, shut up, Sam.

By they way, how much, on top of the 17,000 the city already paid him, did Mr. Morris get for helping with the witch hunt?

Anyone else notice that, at the meeting, the Mayor went out of his way to praise the city council for spending 17,000 of the taxpayers dollars to censure Sam?

Something stinks, and its not just the landfill!

Anonymous said...

Why wasn't the experienced investigator asked to look into this? Why the one day investigation? Will I be targeted for asking questions?