Let’s play the Peggy West guessing game!

On April 25, 2012 Milwaukee County Supervisor Peggy Romo West terminated the employment of her Legislative Aide (LA). While Romo West’s termination of her now-former LA isn’t necessarily newsworthy, what’s curious about the termination is how Supervisor Romo West chose to terminate her Legislative Aide’s employment.

So how exactly did Supervisor Romo West fire her Legislative Aide?

Here are some guesses:

  • In person
  • On the telephone
  • Via letter
  • Via email
  • Telegraph
  • Carrier pigeon
  • Pony Express
  • A letter in a bottle
  • Smoke signals
  • None of the above

If you guessed “None of the above,” you’d be correct. County Supervisor Romo West actually fired her Legislative Aide via text message from her cell phone. Here’s Supervisor Romo West’s message:

I need you to get your things and leave. I have tried to very hard to work with you, I appreciate your service up to this point but at the very least, common sense must prevail, you cannot stay and jeprodize me or my office with juvenile antics.

Ironically enough, Supervisor Romo West went on to send a text message about the ineffective communication between her and her legislative aide:

I apologize but again apparently our relationship is such that we cannot communicate to the detriment of my position.

Perhaps I’m a little more old-school than Supervisor Romo West, but the last time I checked, text messaging wasn’t the most effective means of communicating, because it tends to be a little difficult to carry on a conversation 140 characters at a time.

In response to inquiries about the method she used to terminate her former LA, Supervisor Romo West wrote, “Out of respect for employees and former employees, we do not discuss personnel matters publicly.” Quite curiously, Supervisor Romo West also deflected my very specific questions about how frequently she (Supervisor Romo West) utilized text messaging to conduct official County business to County Supervisor Pat Jursik, as if Supervisor Jursik would have any meaningful insight as to how frequently Peggy Romo West uses text messaging to do the job she was elected to do.

In response to Supervisor Romo West’s unwillingness/inability to answer my questions, I’ve submitted a formal open records request to her office regarding her use of text messaging to conduct official County business. From what I’ve been told, Supervisor Romo West’s use of text messaging to conduct County business is extensive, leaving me to wonder if her use of text messaging is simply a matter of convenience or an attempt to skirt our state’s open records laws and the transparency they provide for citizens curious about the activities of their elected officials.


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6 thoughts on “Let’s play the Peggy West guessing game!

  1. What a cowardly way to conduct a distasteful task. If you are elected to a position of power such as she holds, surely you should have the strength of character to do the messy business yourself rather than hiding behind a screen. Your findings on the text messaging will be interesting I’m sure. Such an unprofessional way to carry out a role requiring a professional person.

    1. Jayne, apparently Supervisor West doesn’t have the text messages I requested, but that’s okay, because I have copies of a good number of the text messages she sent for a few months. My request was more of a test than anything, and Sup. West failed the test.

  2. Isn’t there some sort of requirement that elected officials maintain correspondences regarding their official duties? How is not maintaining text messages any different than shredding documents or deleting e-mails?

    Can’t the phone company retrieve these text messages, especially with a open records request?

    1. Doc, there are requirements regarding document/record retention, but the whole reason behind Sup. West using her personal cell phone and text messaging to conduct business is to avoid having to turn those records over.

  3. I see. But if Peggy’s L.A. was using a cell phone, while on the clock, shouldn’t those records be preserved, as they were clearly conducting county business? There’s no way she could argue that those records weren’t public records–since the L.A. was paid while making the messages. I assume the county would be paying for their phone usage, correct?

    I guess I just don’t understand how those records would be any different than an e-mail or typed memoranda. Is there any policy regarding such messages?

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