Complaints pile up against Washington County government’s COO

Multiple workplace complaints have been filed against Washington County’s chief operating officer, Jim Hovis, according to several Washington County government employees who contacted A Miner Detail and requested anonymity to speak freely.

County government employees with knowledge of the complaints told A Miner Detail that Hovis is largely responsible for the low morale infecting county government.

“Jim is Rob Slocum’s hatchet man,” one county employee told A Miner Detail. “He does whatever Slocum tells him to do so Slocum doesn’t have to get his hands dirty.”

Rob Slocum is Washington County’s administrator.

Another county employee shared that Hovis is “extremely temperamental” and has, on more than a few occasions, lost his temper in front of county employees. The same employee said that it is not uncommon for Hovis to lash out at female county employees, particularly, and often degrades his subordinates behind closed doors.

“Jim has decided to run county government like a para-military operation. His leads by fear, not by example. He’s generally unpleasant to county employees. He plays favorites – and he has a few, and they play that up,” a source inside county government shared with A Miner Detail.

Hovis, 53, was unanimously promoted last December to the county’s chief operating officer position by the all-male five-member commissioner board. He began his career with Washington County government in 2004, first as a gaming inspector. He was later promoted to the director of the county’s gaming commission.

In 2011, Hovis was elevated to the county’s director of community grant management.

“Most employees believe that Jim isn’t qualified for his current job. He holds no bachelor’s degree, which the position calls for. He appears to be unusually paranoid. Most of my colleagues are uncomfortable around him. He doesn’t cultivate a welcoming culture in county government,” another county employee told A Miner Detail.

Internal complaints filed by Washington County government employees fall under the protection of personnel and are not subject to public review.

A Miner Detail requested comment from Hovis last Sunday via email. Hovis has not responded to A Miner Detail’s request.

Hovis is an at-will employee of Washington County government. The all-male, all-Republican five-member board could, at any time, review Hovis’ employment with the county.

The new commissioner board will be sworn into office on December 4.

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