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One man, two jobs

St. Croix County Medical Examiner Casey Swetlik has submitted his resignation, but the offer has been put on hold while County Board members work out disagreements over the appropriateness of an employee having a second job.

Swetlik, who has been medical examiner on a contract basis for two years, was hired in April as director of the county's Emergency Communications Center. Prior to that, he worked as the center's assistant director. His pay as communications director is $66,837 a year, and he is paid $900 a month to serve as medical examiner.

The resignation was apparently submitted in response to complaints about possible conflicts with job duties and loyalties. On Monday Swetlik said he offered the resignation "for personal reasons."

"I was worried that what was happening here will only be detrimental to my career," said Swetlik, who started working in the dispatch center in 1988.

He served as medical examiner while working as assistant communications center director.

"That seemed to be fine for a couple of years, but now it's not," said Swetlik, alluding to "politics."

Last Thursday the Finance Committee reviewed the draft of a policy that would prohibit full-time county employees from taking second jobs with the county or being hired by the county as independent contractors.

The draft policy -- which would allow the County Board to approve exceptions -- was not adopted but was sent back to staff for further work.

"What is the issue?" asked Supervisor Denise Gunderson, who serves on both the emergency communications and the public protection committees.

No full-time county employee should have a part-time contract position with the county, replied Finance Committee member Tom Caflisch.

"In essence that's telling me that that full-time employee is not a full-time employee," said Caflisch. He also suggested there might be conflicts of interest between the two jobs.

That is possible, but the probability of conflict of interest is low, said Gunderson. She said when potential conflicts arise, investigators from other counties are tapped.

Gunderson said Swetlik has been doing a good job as medical examiner.

"He's definitely brought us up to date and beyond," she said. "I don't even want to go into how bad it was."

"The Bible says no man may serve two masters," observed County Board Chairman Buck Malick. He said if both jobs made demands at the same time, choices would have to be made.

But, said Malick, the previous communications director had no problem with Swetlik working both as assistant communications director and as medical examiner.

"We have had a situation where we could test it," said Malick. "I think the Casey situation is likely to work."

Any county policy ought to be "personality neutral," responded Finance Committee member Daryl Standafer. He said the intent is to address a policy matter, not a personnel matter.

Public Protection Committee Chairwoman Julie Speer, who also serves on the communications committee, said she told Swetlik she doesn't feel it's her place to accept his resignation without meeting with her committee.

"I said, 'Let's just hold this for a while.'"

Speer said the committees discussed the situation thoroughly last spring.

"I don't think there's a problem at all," said Speer. She said the assistant medical examiners provide round-the-clock, on-call coverage and Swetlik goes out on calls only as needed.

"Casey does the administrative job," said Speer. "He has done a fantastic job."

Speer said when records were reviewed for one work week, Swetlik had taken 30 minutes to go to a funeral home to sign a death certificate. She assumed he made up that half hour another time.

Speer said concerns raised about Swetlik answering to two committees are unfounded because four of the five County Board members on the two committees are the same people.

Also, said Speer, if the problem is with supervision, the medical examiner position could be placed under the direction of the communications committee.

"We could solve that real easy," she said.

Swetlik said he is reluctant to give up the medical examiner position but offered his resignation "for the integrity of both departments."

He and the two assistant medical examiners "have taken the department in the direction it needed to go, but we have a lot to do," said Swetlik. "I'd hate to leave that behind."