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Don’t Expect To Learn More

It is unlikely Belmont County residents will get full details of why county commissioners undertook a major shakeup at the Department of Job and Family Services. It was one of those personnel matters about which public officials’ standard reaction to questions is to clam up.

On Tuesday, commissioners announced they had terminated the employment — fired, most would say — DJFS Director Vince Gianangeli. According to their statement, he was let go because he “disregarded a prior vote by the board (of commissioners) and then undertook another course of action.”

Gianangeli also released a statement that his firing “involves a personnel matter that I thought I handled properly.” He added that commissioners had voted to fire another county employee from whom Gianangeli had already accepted a resignation.

Because Gianangeli’s job was overseeing the DJFS, it would appear the other person was an employee of that agency. If Gianangeli’s account is correct, one wonders why it was important to commissioners that they fire a DJFS employee instead of allowing the person to simply leave county employment.

As we have pointed out previously, the reason why public officials often refuse to comment on such unpleasantness is not necessarily that they want to keep secrets. It is that their attorneys, sensitive to possible lawsuits, have informed them that the less said, the better. One never knows when a comment may be used against one in court.

Still, the situation with Gianangeli is troubling. He has been a county employee since 2004, serving as DHFS director for about five years. Clearly, some sort of major disagreement has occurred. No doubt some Belmont County residents would like to know more about it.

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