Rich Wright Sues Ada County

Former Ada County “Director of Administration,” Rich Wright, his filed a $1.5 million wrongful termination suit against the county after the newly elected commishes eliminated his position in favor of a “chief of staff,” during their first meeting.

Don’t look for the suit to go anywhere because the position amounted to a political appointment for the former TV newsy who had previously been doing the media work for the county. Conversely, the new chief of staff for the commishes, Larry Maneely who is also a former TV newsy, can’t plan on any job security beyond staying in the favor of at least two commishes.

All positions at Ada County are “at will,” which puts a lot of stress on staff on one hand, but makes it easier for elected officials to terminate employees. ALL departments are headed by an elected official in the county, including
PROSECUTOR, COMMISSIONERS, CORONER, ASSESSOR, TREASURER, CLERK, and SHERIFF. In cities the elected mayor and councilors hire those department heads usually called “directors”.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. I’ve noticed a trend in government. If they put someone on the TV talking about all the good works the government is doing… then they don’t have to actually do these things and can spend the money on perks, pay, and bennies. The pie chart from 30 years ago vs. now shows the trend away from money going back to bennifit the people. Hope the newbies will change this trend, but I suspect they got elected to reinforce it.

    We are overrun with RINOs, and even real Republicans are often not conservatives.

    Term limits! And destruction of two old laws for every new law created. New laws shall not exceed 100 words.

  2. Almost all private sector jobs are at will.

  3. He probably could make more writing a tell all about Sharon and Rick.

  4. This happens every election. When newly elected officials come on board, they hire department heads of their choice. It is expected. No different with the mayors, governors, presidents or commissioners. Just happened this time we have 2 new commissioners who are trying to clean up previous messes. Should be no suprise to see changes being made. We can look forward to new flowers blooming soon.

  5. Unless he can prove his former position enjoyed a status beyond at will ala fired Idaho Transportation Department Director Pam Lowe, his complaint is unlikely to gain any traction and will be costly. In Ada County news more important than Mr. Wright’s beef, today (February 13) is DYNAMIS DAY OF RECKONING — the final day of a 90-day ultimatum to pay its $2M debt to the county or forfeit its contract, according to Idaho Citizens for a Safe Environment and a Transparent Government Inc., which follows this issue religiously. Also, two Idaho state senators have introduced measures that affect Ada County:
    one, a bill to require public hearings for county energy projects, such as Dynamis’ waste-to-energy plant (Sen. Eliot Werk, D-Boise); and two, a bill to elect county commishes by commission geographical district instead of at large/countywide (Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise.) Not that it matters, but I support the legislation on energy-project public hearings, and oppose the bill to change the election status of commishes on the grounds that all other county officials are elected at large and the governing board should be as well. I find that voting for all three commissioners grants me a greater taxpayer-voter investment in my county.

    It’s been a beautiful day, so far. As always, let the SUNSHINE in!



  6. Welcome to RIGHT TO WORK IDAHO Mr. Wright. You have no recourse and all that will happen is you will run up a lot of legal fees and lose your case when it is all said and done.

    Additionally, the job smells of political patronage and you had to know that when you took the job.

  7. Grumpy ole guy
    Feb 14, 2013, 6:56 am

    Is your statement “all positions at Ada County are at will” literally correct? Surely the employees of the Clerks Office, the Sheriff’s office, the Assessor’s Office, etc. are civil service of some type, aren’t they? I can understand that the heads of agencies would be ‘at the pleasure of”, but the regular janes and joes have some sort of job protection against political caprice, don’t they?

    EDITOR NOTE–Sorry Grumpy, it is indeed true.

  8. My Two Cents
    Feb 14, 2013, 10:14 am

    I have not read the court papers, but the news indicates that the allegation that is the basis of Wright’s complaint is that he was terminated as some sort of personal revenge. Such a claim presupposes that the employee he investigated holds an incredible amount of power if, two years later, we are to believe that Commissioners Case and Tibbs – two professional men with a long history in public service – made their decision to terminate Wright due to the Svengali powers of an ex-employee, rather than as a sound business decision. Let’s be realistic. Political administrations frequently change important staff after elections. Elected officials require a standard of excellence and loyalty and must have complete trust with top staff. Given Wright’s background and history, it would have been contrary to the best interests of Ada County under this new administration to retain him. He was never qualified for the position to which he was elevated, he was being paid a ridiculously high salary and, most importantly, he had repeatedly displayed unwavering blind loyalty to Tilman and Ullman dating back to 2009.

  9. So hire the ex-employee back. Sounds like less than a handful wanted her gone but had the power to do so. Right the wrong.

    And take Wright’s case to trial so all the facts come out. Get a good law firm to represent the county, maybe the one hired for the Dynamis mess, and ask for attorney fees.

    Sounds like Wright opened a can of worms, but we can use ’em. Fishin’ is gettin’ good.

  10. My Two Cents
    Feb 15, 2013, 8:16 am

    I would agree with Sam that this is a can of worms. And I think as Mr. Wright marches forth publicly with these allegations, he would do well to remember the old adage that people in glass houses should not throw stones. He did many many things during his tenure at the county at the behest of Tilman and then Ullman. Even his elevation from a media/public information staff person to a position as director of administration was odd in and of itself. And while he now claims he had concerns about Dynamis, that is only because the worm has turned. Truth is, he was front and center in the whole Dynamis mess all along. Should all of Mr. Wright’s activities come to light, he may well regret having opened that can of worms to which Sam refers.

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