“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” So said John Dalberg-Acton, the first Baron Acton.
This is evident in Boulder City, especially among those who are put in supervisory positions with very little to no supervision themselves.
Consider the case against Mary Jo Frazier, Boulder City’s former head of animal control. Now facing two felony counts of animal cruelty after a grand jury indictment and under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration for alleged mismanagement of euthanasia drugs, her actions against animals — those she was sworn to protect and serve — went unchecked for too long.
Grand jury testimony indicates that Frazier took joy in killing animals. She apparently believed that she was in control and could do as she pleased.
Even when brought to the attention of her immediate supervisor, former Police Chief Bill Conger, who himself had little supervision and resigned as allegations swirled around his performance, the case was quashed until public outrage forced the city’s hand.
There’s also James Petrie, an administrator from the city’s utility department who was fired and a criminal investigation started after an audit found more than $50,000 missing from the city’s bank accounts.
The audit revealed that bank accounts were not reconciled monthly and that several “utility deposits were not deposited in the City’s bank accounts.”
Petrie was responsible for processing those deposits, according to a statement by City Manager David Fraser, yet Petrie’s lawyer says that although his client took the deposits to the bank, he had no hand in counting them before they were put into sealed bags by the clerks.
Whose responsibility was it? Would you deposit money into your bank account without having any idea of how much money you were actually depositing? Or allow someone else to deposit money into your account without them knowing how much was supposed to be put into the bank?
Add to that list Lynn Schofield-Dahl, director of the Boulder City Library who was asked to accept a severance package and resign last week by the facility’s board of directors.
There had been allegations of mismanagement of library funds and premiums provided by vendors.
Though she was ultimately cleared of any misdeeds, there have been numerous complaints by community residents about her tyrannical actions.
A prime example of Schofield-Dahl’s abuse of power is an incident involving a woman who was helping set up the 2014 BC’s Got Talent show.
In a letter to the trustees, which she shared with the Boulder City Review, Irma Hernandez said she was assaulted as she tried to use the bathroom. According to Hernandez, Schofield-Dahl tried to prevent her from entering the woman’s restroom, claiming it was reserved for patrons’ use only.
“I replied, ‘I am a patron,’ opened the door to the bathroom and walked in. Lynn followed me into the bathroom now shouting close behind me ‘You can’t be in here! You need to get out! This is for patrons only!” by which time I was entering a cubicle with Lynn now right behind me. I closed the cubicle door and used the toilet during which time Lynn hammered on the door shouting ‘You need to come out of there! This is for patrons only!’ I’m going to call security,” she wrote.
Hernandez wrote she saw a similar incident play out with a mother pushing her twins in a stroller.
But she is not the only victim of Schofield-Dahl’s abuse. Several residents stopped by the office to share their stories.
Loretta Barr, who is unable to drive, depends on others to help run errands for her. A simple request to drop by the library to pick up some DVDs she had requested turned into an ordeal complete with rudeness like she has never experience before.
In her July 2015 letter to board chairman Gary Berger, which Barr questions was ever given to him, she wrote that her daughter was “very bluntly told that she could not do that without my card. She asked if she could use her card and was impolitely told NO, she would have to go get my card.”
Barr went on to say she even called the library, explaining the situation and offering to give her library card number over the phone. The response, after checking with a supervisor, was “I’ll do it this time, don’t ever ask for this again!”
Schofield-Dahl, who is supervised by the library’s board of trustees, herself bragged about not having to answer for her behavior. In a report about an incident with members of the Friends of the Arts, it states “Lynn laughed and bragged that people make the mistake of complaining to the City about her behavior but as she does not report to the city they are wasting their time.”
To be fair, there are those who haven’t seen this type of behavior and say Schofield-Dahl is an upstanding and contributing member of the community.
Kevin Lampman, president of Boulder City Sunrise Rotary, for which Schofield-Dahl serves as secretary, said he has seen her multiple efforts involving the library’s outreach programs and has attended educational and cultural programs.
“On a personal level, I consider Lynn to be one of my friends with high standards and values. She is outgoing, hardworking, and great fun to be around.”
History has shown that giving a single person too much power results in terrible happenings. Even our nation’s top leader, the president, has his actions checked and balanced by the legislative and judicial branches of government. Perhaps it’s time for local governments and boards to establish their own systems to prevent such abuse in the future.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.