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Its time for a decision on Chance
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Forsyth County News
County commissioners have to make tough decisions. The responsibility for doing so comes with the office.

That said, it’s time for commissioners to make a decision about the fate of Planning and Zoning Director Jeff Chance.

Already delayed several times, a vote on Chance’s fate is expected next week, though there is no guarantee one will take place, considering that he has been on paid administrative leave since May with no action taken.

Not that the situation isn’t complicated. It is. The entire affair is an entanglement of politics, personalities, legal issues and government bureaucracy.

But it’s up to the commissioners to untangle the mess, and it’s time for them to do so and move on.

An investigation into Chance’s performance as a county department head found a number of potential ethical and policy violations, among them misuse of county computers and e-mail, profanity, showing favoritism to employees and practicing his golf game in the halls of the county’s planning department.

Chance, meanwhile, has filed suit against the county. He argues that the investigation into his performance was a witch hunt launched after Planning Board member Brant Meadows threatened his job when Chance refused to side with Meadows on a land use decision.

In a separate issue, the commission last week discussed the possibility of an investigation into whether Meadows also threatened the jobs of two other county employees.

A tangled web indeed. But enough is enough.

Chance has been in limbo for three months. It’s time for commissioners to weigh the evidence against him and decide if the violations discovered in the county’s investigation rise to the level of requiring the termination of a veteran department head, or whether some other action is appropriate.

While they must be cognizant of the lawsuit pending against the county, it should not be the deciding factor in determining what to do with Chance.

As with any good employee management decision, commissioners have to think about whether they are consistent in their level of expectation for all employees, the precedent they will set with their actions, and the overall impact on the operation of the county government.

Would they terminate others for doing what Chance is alleged to have done? Is there merit to the complaint that the situation is politically motivated? Is the timing of the complaint against Chance suspect? Are the violations serious enough to result in termination.

Those are questions commissioners must resolve for themselves, but the time to do so is now. Three months is long enough.