Last week’s summary dissolution of a key position in the offices of the County Board of Commissioners raises questions any right-thinking individual would pose. That Commissioners Michael Lammers and John Schlumbohm — Commissioner Vince Schroeder voted against the issue — were well within their rights to eliminate the position of County Administrator is without question. It’s the manner in which the removal was handled, the haste with which former Administrator Jackson Betscher was shown the door, that gives pause.

Ostensibly presented as a cost-saving measure, Betscher’s firing — and let’s be honest here, it was precisely that; the dismissal of Betscher, not the dissolution of the position — smacks more of a personal beef than a well-considered budgetary action.

And here’s why.

By his own admission, Commissioner Lammers made no secret of his desire to lay the administrator’s position to waste. For the past year, he has broached the subject with any number of individuals in both the public and private sector. Yet, despite that discourse, the proposal left both former Commissioner John Love and Commissioner Schroeder at a complete loss. Both men expressed surprise: Love when his cell phone blew up on Thursday and Friday with calls concerning Betscher’s dismissal, and Schroeder when the issue was brought up for a vote last Thursday.

If the concern was purely financial and Commissioner Lammers above-board in that concern, why were Commissioners Love and Schroeder surgically excised from the conversation? Why was that concern not raised in a public meeting, or, when appropriate, in executive session prior to last week’s action? How, if Commissioner Lammers’ sole aim was to trim bureaucratic fat, were Love and Schroeder — men who have served the county and weathered the storms of local politics for at least 12 and 15 years respectively — caught completely flat-footed?

The answer is simple: the conversation never took place; not with two-thirds of last year’s board, at any rate. In truth, the surprise on the part of both men is understandable. Just three days before, during the Board of Commissioners last meeting of 2018, on Monday, Dec. 31, Love’s final foray in public office, all three commissioners at the time — Love, Schroeder and Lammers — approved a line item including the administrator’s salary in the 2019 budget.

On the opposite side of that coin, both Commissioner Lammers and newly minted Commissioner Schlumbohm assert they’d had no contact regarding Betscher’s dismissal, had never discussed the matter prior to the executive session last Thursday when the issue was raised. If they had, there’d have been no breach of law. Commissioner Schlumbohm, though sworn in on Dec. 17, didn’t assume the mantle of office until Jan. 1.

But no, both men say. No discussion.

Yet for a year, Commissioner Lammers sought input, tested the waters, gauged reaction to his objective, and never once discussed it with Commissioner-elect Schlumbohm, the man who won the Republican primary last May and ran uncontested in November’s general election?

Certainly, Commissioner Schlumbohm, in his former position as Pandora’s mayor, had the opportunity to interact with Betscher, a man known for plain speaking, for assessing and relating the truth as he perceived it bluntly and, on occasion, with a certain air of superiority, intended or not.

But is that enough, this basic understanding of perceived tactlessness, for Commissioner Schlumbohm, as his first act of business on his first day in the role of commissioner, to choose to eliminate a position those with significantly more experience describe as critical to the day-to-day operation of the office?

And then there is the assertion presented by all three sitting commissioners, made within hours of the vote eliminating Betscher’s position, that the decision could be walked back, the position reinstated, re-established.

Again, that those commissioners who elected to eliminate Betscher as administrator were well within their rights to do so is undisputed. That they did so with deliberate subterfuge, a lack of true understanding of the responsibilities of the position and its impact on the office, and possible antipathy is simply bad form.

Shouldn’t we expect more of our elected officials?