Indian Hills officials squabble over trustee’s action
Tension between elected Indian Hills officials has resulted in an accusation of misconduct against one and a call for possible censure by two others.
The Indian Hills General Improvement District board is planning an open hearing Monday night to discuss allegations by chairman Steve Weaver and vice chairman Ron Kruse that fellow member Joanne Riekenberg made negative remarks about district employees.
The action follows what Riekenberg says has been months of tense meetings and challenges to her efforts to follow up on district business.
“They’re trying to discredit me in the public eye,” she said. “As a trustee, I feel it’s my right to question things. I think it’s just totally blown out of proportion.”
Letters submitted recently by district employee Rick Watkins and Indian Hills residents LuElla Rogers and Kurt Christensen accuse Riekenberg of making disparaging remarks about Watkins and district manager Jim Bentley at the Carson City post office, where Riekenberg works. Watkins says Riekenberg “berated and embarrassed” him about weeds at Sunridge Park while he was at the post office on personal time. Rogers said Riekenberg urged her to “fight the big raise proposed for Jim Bentley” while she was at the post office, while Christensen asserted Riekenberg “talked bad” about Bentley on several occasions.
In a statement calling for discussion of Riekenberg’s alleged remarks, Weaver called them “reprehensible and unwarranted.”
“I am concerned that the constant barrage is beginning to have a detrimental impact on staff morale. And confronting staff directly in a public place like the post office is stepping over the line, in my opinion,” Weaver wrote. “Apparently, Ms. Riekenberg believes in pounding staff into submission, discrediting them at every opportunity and doubting their expertise and credibility.”
Riekenberg, who has been in office six years, says she’s the victim of a political battle. She said she has had disagreements with Bentley over district business and hasn’t been able to get information on certain issues despite repeated attempts.
Monday’s agenda says Riekenberg’s “character, alleged misdconduct, professional competence or physical and mental health” could be discussed, which Riekenberg called “a slap in the face by my fellow board members.”
She acknowledges asking Watkins about weeds at Sunridge Park, but says she was following up on an earlier inquiry.
“He thought I was picking on him, and that’s not how I meant it,” she said. “I didn’t berate him. I didn’t yell and scream. I don’t see anything wrong with my remarks about the weeds.”
A proposed resolution on Monday’s agenda would require trustees to refer their requests for information or work assignments to Bentley or the board chairman.
Bentley declined to discuss Riekenberg’s comments about their relationship, but said he supports the resolution, which was proposed by Weaver.
“That’s a logical followup to the comments Steve made,” he said. “It (trustee involvement with daily tasks) leaders to confusion and it does complicate things.”
The GID board is to meet at 7 p.m. at the district office, 924-D Mica Drive.