CHARLESTON - With two lawsuits down and one to go, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper admits he should be relaxing instead of reaching for a club.
"These things pop up," Carper said. "It's kind of like that game where you whack the weebles."
"It's like Wack-A-Mole."
Thursday, the commission voted to settle two lawsuits with former Sheriff's Department employees who said they were not paid for sick leave and vacation time under former sheriff Dave Tucker.
Shirley Cottrill, a former human resources manager, and Beverly Jarrett, a former executive administrative assistant, will be paid $5,000 apiece, with a similar suit still pending.
Carper said the record-keeping was so bad under Tucker that the county could not disprove the claims. He added that county attorney Marc Slotnick called the situation "a travesty."
Since the problems were brought to light, Carper said he has required all county offices to submit employee work logs to a central depository in the county clerk's office.
"It wasn't well-accepted when we did that by the previous sheriff, but that was one of the reasons we did it," Carper said. "We had the same problem with the prosecuting attorney's office. Reasonable people can disagree on things and talk about a better way to do things, but now we have a central depository and we don't think that will see this problem again in the future."
Carper, an attorney with Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee and Deitzler in Charleston, added that the types of problems described in the lawsuits usually occur when an office changes hands.
Upon the advice of Slotnick, the county agreed to pay up. Because of the poor record-keeping, the county would not be able to disprove the evidence amassed by Cottrill and Jarrett.
"We had to look at the cost of paying it against the cost of fighting it," Carper said. "We decided to pay it."
And, just like with Wack-A-Mole, the more money put into it, the more moles might keep popping up.
"We'd had another problem or two, but I think this is the last one," Carper said.