The town of Warner has apparently fired Mike Wittmer, the man who caught town employees on tape calling Martin Luther King Day ”(N-word) Day” back in January.
The employees resigned after public backlash, though one of them was mentioned as a name to replace a resigning town council member last night.
Town Manager Johnny Lewis, who kept the minutes from last night’s meeting, said he would release them when he “gets to it,” even though state law requires meeting minutes to be released immediately and pronounces stiff civil and criminal penalties for failure to do so.
Retaliation against whistleblowers is also a crime, though no one has been officially accused of that at this point.
He referred any questions to the town’s attorney, who said he could not say anything other than what is in the meeting’s minutes.
UPDATE 12:10 p.m.: Lewis sent the minutes from the meeting. We are printing the relevant part below:
Discussion/Action on driveways that were put in by Michael Wittmer using Town of Warner gravel, Town of Warner Equipment and wages paid by the Town of Warner. Please decided disciplinary action; up to and/or including termination. Please advise whether to report to applicable authorities. Please decide whether to seek reimbursement from Mr. Wittmer for the cost of each driveway. May go into Executive Session pursuant to Title 25, O.S. Section 307-b.
Council Action: Barbara Watson made the motion to go into Executive Session at 6:54 p.m. Jacquie Marshall seconded the motion. Voting to approve: Roger Thomason, Caryn Miller, Barbara Watson, Sarah Hubler and Jacquie Marshall. Motion carried.
Council Action: Barbara Watson made the motion to come out of Executive Session at 7:41 p.m. Sarah Hubler seconded the motion. Voting to approve: Roger Thomason, Caryn Miller, Barbara Watson, Sarah Hubler and Jacquie Marshall. Motion carried.
Council Action: Barbara Watson made the motion to terminate Michael Wittmer. Jacquie Marshall seconded the motion. Voting to approve: Roger Thomason, Caryn Miller, Barbara Watson, and Jacquie Marshall. Sarah Hubler, abstained. Motion carried.
Witnesses say Wittmer did the work on private driveways at the request of his superiors. Asked if that allegation was true, Lewis issued a one-word response: “No.”
UPDATE 2:38 p.m.: Wittmer’s attorney, John Harper, just called to say Wittmer was wrongfully terminated.
“We deny any and all allegations against him,” he said. “We consider them pretextual and retaliatory for him exposing the racist statements that were made in January. Not even three months later, his employment has been wrongfully terminated.”
Wittmer, he said, had nothing to gain by exposing the racism, and now he’s being repaid by losing his job.
“Edmund Burke said all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” he said. “My client did something.”