Bad behavior in Murray County

One of the more bizarre displays of government infighting and crazy drama has been unfolding in Murray County since January.

That drama hit a high-point two weeks ago when the board of commissioners called for Sheriff Steve Telkamp to resign in connection with allegations Telkamp was creating a hostile and retaliatory working environment. A report conducted by an independent investigator alleges “troubling” conduct.

The sheriff not only refused to resign, he vowed to run for re-election. So the board decided to hire a director of sheriff operations.

This bizarre drama was first reported back in January when Telkamp said he would provide documented evidence that the personnel committee was working on a “conspiracy to retaliate against (sheriff’s) employees, including getting some fired.” During this time period, a budget battle was brewing between county officials and Telkamp.

In announcing the call for Telkamp’s resignation, the county released a CD with three audio/video surveillance recordings involving Telkamp and some of his staffers inside an office. Conversations in one of the recordings were almost impossible to make out. A second recording starts out fine, then goes completely silent. And the third contains a vulgarity-laced tirade by the sheriff mostly directed at county coordinator Aurora Heard, but also at county commissioners. He is also heard threatening the employees in the room that “everybody here is at will.”

The language was vulgar and threatening.

While the county should shed some light on how these recordings were conducted, there is no doubt that the sheriff’s conduct was shamelessly unprofessional and threatening. Should Telkamp resign?

If he doesn’t, the matter eventually will go to the voters in the next election. They will decide his fate.

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