Saturday, February 1, 2003

Portune says he's for contract review

Post surgery, he's getting back to commission work

Todd Portune, who has been on the sidelines of the Krings contract debate the past two weeks while recovering from surgery, could break a deadlock next week between fellow commissioners Phil Heimlich and John Dowlin.

Heimlich, who wasn't on the board when commissioners approved the contract 3-0 in December, wants a prosecutor's written opinion on whether it's legal. Possible grounds, he says, are that the contract binds future boards and essentially allows one commissioner's statements to have the weight of a board decision.

Dowlin has refused to give him the second vote needed to request an opinion. Instead, he wants to discuss Administrator David Krings' contract behind closed doors - a suggestion Heimlich opposes.

Both may get their way Wednesday, when the commissioners take their meeting to Portune at the Drake Center.

Portune will support a legal review of the contract, he said Friday - just as he supports having all contracts reviewed by the prosecutor. Regarding the controversial terms of Krings' severance package, however, Portune said that was a matter for discussion in executive session.

"I feel really sandbagged," he said, because Heimlich made an issue of the contract when Portune couldn't be there to respond. "That's no way to start a term where you say you want to work with people."

Krings has offered to discuss renegotiating his contract but without agreeing in advance to remove the new severance terms, as Heimlich has demanded.

Separately, Auditor Dusty Rhodes has requested a prosecutor's opinion on whether the contract is invalid on the grounds that it was not certified by the auditor before approval. State law requires the auditor to ensure money is available to cover contracts before they're approved.

Cindi Andrews

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