Little diplomacy, assess blame to all for ugliness

Opinion

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In all likelihood, Sgt. Dan Harder is going to be fired from his job with the police department sometime in the next few weeks. And for reasons other than those argued by the chief of police and his attorney, it's probably better that he not return to duty.

For everyone involved, the past 14 months worth of hearings before the Fire and Police Commission have not been pretty. Aside from the mountain of legal bills and countless hours spent away from more worthwhile projects, the whole ordeal degenerated into a finger-pointing, mud-slinging, political mess in which no one walked away unsoiled.

Frankly, we can't imagine Harder would feel comfortable working side-by-side with those he has done battle with, and vice-versa. But that is his choice. His safety is not the commission's concern, and Sgt. Harder should not lose his job because of how he defended himself against these politically motivated accusations.

Going back to the original 10 complaints filed by Chief James Ryan, it's difficult to square his assertion that Harder's liberal use of allotted sick time takes priority. The first seven charges deal with the undisputed fact that Harder swore at a colleague. In other words, 70 percent of the reason Harder will likely lose his job is because he lacked "courtesy," "failed to be patient," "impugned his integrity" and "failed to use sound judgment" when he dropped the F-bomb.

It surely must have been a sad day on June 4, 2005, when a room full of adults had to bear witness to such foul language.

It is far more concerning that during the first 165 days of 2005, Harder cashed in almost 55 days worth of sick time. No doubt these absences were disruptive and frustrating for those relying on Harder's attendance. But amazingly enough, Harder could have missed another 25 days of work for his ailments before any legitimate gripe could be made. A department policy in place at the time allowed sergeants 80 days worth of sick time per year. Such absences won't put him in line for a promotion, but Harder was well within the legal bounds of an absurd policy.

It should be noted that village commissioners voted in July to allow just 1.5 sick days per month.

In his closing arguments last week, the chief's attorney, Patrick Lucansky commented that officers might only grudgingly assist Sgt. Harder if he is reinstated. Because the defense was repeatedly accused of misdirecting attention from the real issues, let us remind commissioners to remain focused on the most important matter as outlined by the charges -- the use of four-letter words.

Correction

In a Dec. 6 story on the village's late payment of its bills, information was incorrectly attributed. The hourly rate of $175 charged to the village by Giglio & Del Gado should have been attributed to Commissioner Terry Steinbach. Post-publication, the rate was confirmed by village officials.

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