The Jefferson Iowa News®


  Courthouse Employee Discovered Using Computer

A source within the Greene County courthouse disclosed last week that a relatively new employee was observed using a computer while on duty. Phyllis Putnik, 73, claims she was accessing a state-wide data base while performing her duties in the records department. With only 11 years of service, Ms. Putnik is among the most junior members of the staff, and this perhaps explains her renegade behavior.

Co-workers observed Ms. Putnik (photo at left) accessing and responding to e-mails sent to her office by the public - a practice completely unheard of in Jefferson. She later stated that her phone was out-of-order and she was simply trying to access state-held public records necessary for her job.

Computers have been located in various offices throughout the courthouse for several years now, but most are either still in their shipping crates or being used as doorstops, coffee tables, or footstools. County officials have not yet determined what punishment will be administered to Ms. Putnik, and for now she has been relocated to an area devoid of computers.

When researching this article, we contacted various other businesses around Jefferson, inquiring about their policies regarding computer use. One large law firm on the square told us that they use their computers as a massive, expensive communications system, sending messages back and forth to people, even though the use of voice mail or phone dialogue would be virtually free.

The Jefferson Public Library told us that they do have computers which store current book titles and such, but that the bulk of their past records and archives are still manually stored on hard copies. They claimed that ongoing personnel cutbacks have left them completely unable to transfer these files to disks. They currently have 46 people on staff (excluding volunteers).

The local newspaper, The Jefferson Herald, does not currently use computers for anything at all. A spokesman for the paper stated that in order to make use of computers, they would be forced to hire staff who could actually operate them, as no one currently employed there is willing or able to learn.

It appears the best way to contact anyone at a local business remains to simply go down there and talk to them, providing, of course, that they are in.

 Spencer Straight, 11-13-2008