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Linn County Auditor Accused of Hiring Deputy Behind Supervisor's Backs

The ongoing legal battle between the Linn County Board of Supervisors and the Linn County Auditor has revealed new details and raised new questions about the role of county officials in county government.

One of the most contentious issues in the  between the Linn County Board of Supervisors and the Linn County Auditor has been the auditor's authority of hiring and firing of deputies.

Deputies are managers in county departments appointed by department heads. One of the core issues with this particular lawsuit is whether the Linn County Supervisors were right in denying pay to a deputy hired by the auditor.

Linda Langston, a Linn County Supervisor, said during Tuesday's trial the reason the board took this action was because Auditor Joel Miller didn't allow the board to approve the deputies hiring.

"He jumped the gun," Langston said.

Langston spoke at the witness stand on Tuesday and said that Miller had spoken to her about hiring a deputy with the qualifications to do internal audits. While she said she didn't agree with the proposal, Langston told Miller that she would talk it over with other supervisors and get back to him.

She claims he never gave her that chance.

The initial conversation took place on a Friday, but Langston said Miller appointed his deputy the following Monday.

The supervisors are given the authority to approve or reject deputies in open meetings. But since they are required by open meetings law to post an agenda of a meeting within 24 hours of a meeting, this would not have allowed them time to approve the county official.

The supervisor's attorney, Assistant County Attorney Bob Hruska, suggested that Miller appointed the deputy behind the backs of the supervisors to financially investigate county officials.

Miller said he didn't feel that he was rushing the decision and disagreed with Hruska's suggestion that he hired the deputy behind the supervisors back.

"I had a job opening and I had to fill it," he said.

The trial is expected to last three days. The second day of the trial is underway.

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