Supervisor: ‘Something is going on’ with delay of 911 Center director’s contract

Contract renewal of director removed from board's Thursday agenda
Supervisor: ‘Something is going on’ with delay of 911 Center director’s contract
John Dejung, Dane County Public Safety Communications director

The contract renewal of 911 Center Director John Dejung has been removed from the Dane County Board’s Thursday agenda.

The five-year deal, which sought to pay Dejung $142,833 per year, was expected to be discussed after the County Board’s Personnel and Finance Committee unanimously approved the deal last week.

County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan cautioned against reading anything into the removal of Dejung’s contract discussion from the agenda. Recent investigations have shown the 911 Center below national standards in terms of answer times for 911 calls and dispatch times for getting emergency crews out the door.

“We have time to consider (his contract) at a future meeting,” Corrigan said in an email. “In putting together the agenda, I wanted to make sure that we allowed time for the Conditional Use Permit appeal hearing (for a proposed tavern in the Town of Dunn) that is scheduled.”

However, Supervisor Dennis O’Loughlin, who chaired the Personnel and Finance Committee, said in his 16 years on the board he cannot remember another example of a unanimous approval not being taken up at the next full County Board meeting.

“The delay indicates to me that something is going on,” he said in a phone interview. “I’m surprised they’ve postponed it.”

Dejung, whose current contract expired earlier this spring, said no one had voiced concerns about his leadership to him directly. In terms of the County Board’s actions delaying a vote on his future, he said “That’s up to the County Board.”

After a series of News 3 reports on the problems at the 911 Center, County Executive Joe Parisi, who will have the final say on Dejung’s contract, refused earlier this month to endorse the director for a second five-year stint running the center.

“I think it’s too early to say that the challenges at 911 are any one person’s fault,” Parisi said at the time. “I think until we address these systemic issues, I don’t think you can single out any one person or any one entity and say it’s their fault.”

Systemic issues being worked on by the 911 Center Board include doing away with the so-called police protocol that has dramatically increased the time of each 911 call thereby holding up operators from answering new calls, and finding a better way to handle abandoned calls to 911. That represents 15 percent of all the emergency calls to the center.

O’Loughlin defended Dejung, saying he is not to blame for the problems at the center.

“From an ability standpoint, John Dejung is one of the best of the best nationally,” he said. “He’s come into a situation that has strapped him of the power he needs. He’s trying to build a high-quality system that’s been underfunded and delayed due to problems with consultants and vendors.”

The County Board meets again on June 26.