Date: Friday, April 05 @ 02:40:00 CST
Topic: News and Views

Lancaster County Commissioner Robert Workman seems to have had a personality change. Prior to becoming elected by his colleagues as chairman of the board he was an easy going relatively nice guy. I believe the chairmanship of the county board has gone directly to his head, the contents of which, in my opinion, are not firing on all cylinders. Workman wants to further limit public participation in board hearings. The details of that action will follow in a few days. When taxpayers take time out to go and exercise their rights as citizens, Commissar Workman, in my opinion, is far too often an overbearing intimidating ass. Voters, file the contents of this article away in your memory bank and remember it at election time..

On 5 March 2002, I appeared as a taxpayer, to question some of the 736 requests for tax exemptions which were scheduled to be heard when the Lancaster County Board convened as the Lancaster County Board of Equalization. Prior to showing up for the hearing, I went to the Office of the Lancaster County Assessor, Norman Agena to review a sampling of the forms related to the exemptions in question. What I found was incredible!

Agena had not only used or caused to be used the official stamp of his signature to endorse the box on several of the request forms entitled "Assessor's Recommendation" which had been marked "Approval", but he had used or caused to be used the official stamp of the signature or Bob Workman in the box entitled "For County Board of Equalization Use Only" that had also been marked "Approval." The same date stamp had been used to stamp "Mar 5 2002" by both signatures. I had obtained copies of the fully executed forms close to an hour before the meeting was convened on 5 March 2002.

When Chairman Workman recognized me for comments, I pointed out that several of the Form 451A, forms entitled "Affidavit of Use for Continued Tax Exemption" were not fully completed as required by law and thus ineligible for consideration, notwithstanding, Agena's recommendation. The assessor, in his usual overly verbose and often untruthful style, attempted to rationalized his unlawful conduct. When I further noted that an "Affidavit" legally requires the endorsement of a person qualified by statute to administer an oath, Agena convinced the commissioners that he and "his deputies" were authorized to do that. Even though Agena was not telling the truth, I pointed out that the "deputy" would, if actually authorized, have had to sign the forms above the line provided for "Signature of Officer Administering Oath."

The discussion became heated and, for better or worse, I advised Workman that Agena had lied to the board. [The video tape of the event is available from Channel 5 and I believe can be pulled up on county board Internet site for viewing} Workman jumped to the defense of Agena. It was thereafter that I presented to Workman copies of the exemption applications where HIS OWN SIGNATURE HAD BEEN FORGED BY AGENA prior to the beginning of the hearings.

When confronted with documents to back up my statements, Workman crudely using and abusing his position as presiding officer, tried to prevent me from giving further testimony.

Commissioner Larry Hudkins then asked me specific questions about the forms, and Workman attempted three times to prevent me from answering Hudkins' questions.

After further discussion, Commissioner Kathy Campbell moved and I believe Commissioner Bernie Heier seconded the motion to accept all 736 applications and exempt the properties, notwithstanding the fact that NONE OF THE COMMISSIONERS HAD EVEN LOOKED AT ALL 736 REQUESTS.

Because I sincerely believe the taxpayers of Lancaster County, Nebraska are getting screwed by Agena who is not conducting the affairs of his assessor's office in consonance with the law and because the Chairman Workman and the other commissioners approved unlawfully constituted and forged requests for exemptions, I wrote the following e-mail to Workman. The communication was intended to be private, but Workman on 2 April 2002 during the meeting of the country board, directed County Clerk Bruce Metcalf to make a copy of the e-mail part of he minutes of the meeting, thus placing it in the public domain.

The following two documents are exact copies of the original and follow-up e-mails I sent first to Workman and second to all members of the county board as well as to representatives of the Lincoln Journal-Star Newspaper.

-----Original Message----- From: Robert J. Van Valkenburg [mailto:rjvv@inebraska.com] Sent: Monday, April 01, 2002 11:21 PM To: workbob@msn.com Subject: Follow the Law
Robert: You are strongly admonished to FOLLOW THE LAW and to FOLLOW THE PUBLISHED RULES of the County Board. If you fail to do so, I can assure you there will be a Court action filed against you and I will use www.vansopinion.com to the maximum to expose your future irresponsible if not malevolent conduct.

I fully intend to expose your effort to unilaterally change the rules of the County Board to keep members of "the public who did not have direct involvement in an issue" from giving testimony on any of such in public hearings. I'm informed you actually signed a letter as "Chairman" doing just that without first getting the concurrence of your colleagues. Be advised, if you ever again attempt to block full and proper public participation in board activities, such will be reported to the people via the media, the world wide web and, if such becomes necessary, through a Mandamus action.

You are a public servant and it is reasonable to expect you to conduct your official affairs as a gentleman. As "chairman" you can do very little, other than preside and sign documents (if you don't let Norman Agena do it for you by forging your signature with a stamp in advance of approvals), without the consent of a majority of the other commissioners.

Some of us worked hard behind the scenes to get you elected. Your recent pig headedness as a "big shot" presiding officer has made some rather ashamed you were encouraged to run in the first place. Don't forget, the public sees your conduct on Channel 5 and your reviews are not very high at this point!

Taking the chairmanship of the board in an election year was one of the dumbest thing you have done during this term of office. Acting like an arrogant ass toward me and Bob Valentine were acts of overt stupidity. For your information, Bob has a penetrating column located at www.hellolincoln.com You would be a fool to ever again treat him the way you did a few Tuesdays ago.

Others apparently led you to believe that if you bullied, harassed and intimidated me enough, I would go away. Ask Kerry Egan if that was good advice, then get a second opinion from the County Attorney's office.

Commissioner Hudkins asked me a question and you butted in three times trying to stifle my answering such. I believe you owe me and Hudkins public apologies ON CAMERA, since that is where you made an ass of yourself.

Robert J. Van Valkenburg (402) 486-0000

-----Original Message----- From: Robert J. Van Valkenburg [mailto:rjvv@inebraska.com] Sent: Thursday, April 04, 2002 11:00 PM To: Kathy Rutledge; Kevin Abourezk; Bernard Heier; Ray Stevens; Larry Hudkins; Kathy Campbell; Robert Workman Subject: For the record - Obey the Law
The e-mail concerning the unusually bazaar conduct of Robert Workman dated 1 April 2002 was intended to be a private communication, but since Workman has caused such to be made a part of the minutes of the 2 April 2002 meeting of the county board, I feel nothing now restrains me from including the contents of such in a story to be posted on www.vansopinion.com in the near future, together with the contents of this communication.

I discussed the ungentlemanly conduct of Workman and his totally inappropriate behavior as chairman of the board with Larry Hudkins who I have known for decades. Later, I called Hudkins to share with him the language contained in the final draft of said e-mail prior to sending it to Workman. Hudkins suggested I tone it down a bit or not send it, but my purpose in sharing the contents of the e-mail with him was not to give him editorial input, rather, to inform him of what was coming and why. Hudkins was not involved in any way whatsoever in the choice of words, the writing or any modification of the e-mail in question.

Most of you and the world knows Workman was not the easiest candidate to sell to the voters of Lancaster County and his opponent was, in some quadrants, popular. Thus mustering the where-with-all to get Workman elected was no small task. Those who supported Bob were perhaps more interested in getting the then incumbent replaced than in getting Workman elected. Many have since become disappointed in the way he treats people and the dictatorial image he portrays on Channel 5.

Right now, Workman thinks he is unbeatable. It would be well if some of you who have a bit of long- term political memory tell him the story about how Steve Fowler, an unknown hippy-type university student beat Bill Swanson, an educated, well financed, well known incumbent. If a hippy can become a senator, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that a cabby can become a commissioner.

And for you Workman, I have not been two-faced with you and have told you to your face and through a personal e-mail that your conduct as a presiding officer, is that of an overbearing ass. I told you that you owe Hudkins and me a public apology for your lack of consideration for a colleague and for a taxpayer answering questions which he asked. If you are indeed a gentleman, you will do just that. In the absence of an apology, the next several months will be very interesting.

For the record, I have not asked you, Workman, or the county board for anything that would make or save me money. All I asked is that you follow the law in doling out non-profit tax exemptions. You, on Assessor Norman Agena's recommendation, ignored my input as a taxpayer and exempted organizations from taxation which did not comply with the law in their applications for such exemptions. You, Workman, showed no concern that Agena was FORGING YOUR OFFICIAL SIGNATURE on official documents even before the required public hearings on the exemptions requested in the documents were held. THIS WILL STOP, or I promise you Workman, and the other members of the board, I will file in the District Court of Lancaster County a Mandamus action and seek to have a judge order each of you to obey the law. If you think this is a bluff, call my hand!

If you have any allusion you can stifle the public by keeping any or all taxpayer desiring to do so, from speaking on any issue on the county board's public agenda, I flat dare you to try to do it.

Finally, Workman, I caution you to be very careful in what you say about me to others. You have no idea of the number of friends and readily available sources of information I have both within and without the county/city building, and where they are located.

You can not limit me to "five minutes" on any subject I care to post on the world wide web. In the future, I will be talking about the semi-secret agenda rigging so-called staff meetings which the county board holds in Room 113 on Thursdays. Look for me to show up at some of those as well as the Tuesday meetings occasionally accompanied by media reporters and their cameras.

Please have the clerk make this e-mail a part of next Tuesday's official minutes of the board meeting and hence in the public domain. I will be including both in a story to be posted on my web site so folks who can't get to the county/city building can read them.

Have a nice day.

Robert J. Van Valkenburg (402) 486-0000

Those of you reading this article obviously have access to the Internet. Why not contact Bob Workman and let him have your opinion about allowing non-verified non-profit organizations who submit unlawfully prepared applications for tax exemption to BE EXEMPT FROM PAYING TAXES? Workman's e-mail address is: workbob@msn.com

This article comes from VansOpinion

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