Image Link 07/05//2017


--Rick Brown

Our county government’s culture of bullying, enabled by former Commissioners Schlegel and Rowland and fostered by the disgraced former county manager and the soon-to-depart county attorney, lives on as their malignant legacy. Its most recent manifestation occurred in the office and with the knowledge of Elbert County Assessor Billie Mills and has led to the resignation of one of the county’s appraisers, a woman who has worked in the office for years and whom I know from experience to be highly competent, professional, and courteous in her dealings with the public

On June 28, Mike Akana, a senior data analyst in the assessor’s office, entered the office of the appraiser and angrily accused her of giving a member of the public information about the number of protests filed in response to recent property tax reassessments. It’s not clear why Akana was angry about the release of public information, which, in any case, had not been given out by the appraiser, but he lost control of his temper and kicked the chair she was sitting in.

The appraiser’s immediate response was to walk to the office of the County’s Human Resources Director. There, she was joined by Ms. Mills, the deputy assessor, Akana, and County Commissioner Danny Willcox. Akana accused her of being insolent, and she received no support from the assessor or her deputy. According to sources, Willcox said nothing. In the face of the total lack of support the appraiser wrote out a resignation on the spot.

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Some of you may remember Mike Akana as the egregious suck-up who compared his boss to Galileo in the course of a power point presentation at a BOCC meeting. Mills is term limited, and I and others believe Akana hopes to convince voters to elect him as assessor next year.

In itself, this incident is disturbing, but it is also part of a pattern whereby female county employees are bullied or subjected to inappropriate conduct. A pending lawsuit against the county has arisen from such conduct. County commissioners seem to treat these issues as unworthy of swift and unambiguous discipline. Commissioner Richardson has reserved his most vigorous response for a letter to the Ranchland News accusing citizens concerned about such matters as having a “prurient obsession with the private lives of others” (for more on this letter see Robert Thomasson’s article here: ). It remains to be seen if any legal liability will flow from this latest incident.