February 21, 2014                                                    NACO E-Line Archive 

Upcoming Events

Southeast District Meeting
March 13, 2014
Mahoney Park, I-80

Panhandle District Meeting
March 19, 2014 Bridgeport, Prairie Winds Community Center


West Central District Meeting

March 20, 2014

Bridgeport, Prairie Winds Community Center

Northeast District Meeting
March 21, 2014
Norfolk, Lifelong Learning Center

Central District Meeting
March 27, 2014
Kearney, Holiday Inn


NWCS Spring Training-Recertification

April 1-2, 2014

Central Community College, Hastings

Assessors Spring Workshop
May 22-23, 2014
Lincoln, Cornhusker Hotel 




To view all upcoming events, click here.






AssocMembersAssociate and Sustaining Members

NACO Associate and Sustaining Members enable NACO to enhance its continuing education programs for county officials across the state. Visit NACO's complete associate and sustaining membership list here.


EducationFoundationEducation Foundation Memorial Program

A gift to NACO's Education Foundation ensures that the children of county officials and county employees are eligible to apply for scholarships to continue their education at Nebraska's higher learning institutions. Whatever their passion - history, art, music, science, education, sports - the NACO Education Foundation will provide them an opportunity to fund their education beyond the K-12 level. Memorial gifts to NACO's Education Foundation are tax deductible and will be a lasting legacy in honor of your loved one's commitment to educating the children of Nebraska's county officials and employees. For more information about how to make a memorial gift, please contact Larry Dix  / 402-434-5660 ext. 226.

In This Issue

2014 NACO Scholarship Applications Available     

NACo Cyber Symposium for Counties 

Legal Line 

U.S. Communities  

Order NACO's 2014 Directory of County Officials Now  

April is National County Government Month 

County Government Day PowerPoint 

2013 County Board Handbook and Revisions  

News Across the State 

News From NACo 

NACo Web-Based Education 

Legal Calendar 

County Classifieds 

Associate & Sustaining Members 

NACO Education Foundation Memorial Program 


 NACO_Scholarship_Application2014 NACO Scholarship Applications Available                             

Nebraska high school seniors who are the children, stepchildren, or under the legal guardianship of county officials or employees are encouraged to apply for one of twelve $1,000.00 NACO scholarships.  Additional information and the application form can be found under the 'Services' tab on the NACO website.  The scholarship application deadline is March 1, 2014.  To access the application, click here.     

Cyber_SymposiumNACo Cyber Symposium for Counties
Protecting information and infrastructure has never been more important for counties. With the increasing prevalence of cyber-warfare, county governments need to not only understand what to do to safeguard their data but new resources at their disposal should they be attacked.

Join NACo for one and a half days of educational programming developed to meet the needs of both local elected officials as well as information technology personnel. The NACo National Cyber Symposium will include two tracks of programming with the goal of helping county leaders and IT staff understand the large human and technical networks involved in keeping counties cyber secure.

Developed in partnership with the Peter Kiewit Institute at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and with support from AT&T, Cisco and HP, the sessions will include speakers from local, state and federal governments, in addition to the private sector and academia.

The dates for the symposium is April 9-11, 2014 and the location is Embassy Suites Omaha, 555 South 10th Street.

To view a draft agenda, click here.

For registration costs and information, click here.

Legal_LineLegal Line

Editor's Note: Legal Line is a feature that will periodically appear in NACO E-Line. This edition has been prepared by Beth Ferrell of the NACO legal staff. Legal Line is not intended to serve as legal advice. Rather, it is published to alert readers to court decisions and legal or advisory matters important to county government. For a specific opinion on how the information contained in this article or that which will be discussed in future issues relates to your county, consult your county attorney or personal counsel. 


Public Employee Termination Case Decided

A recent Nebraska Supreme Court case provides a good opportunity to review the free speech rights of public employees. In Carney v. Miller, 287 Neb. 400, ___ N.W.2d ___ (2014), Carney, a nurse employed by the Department of Health and Human Services, was terminated. Carney alleged that she was terminated because she had raised questions about her supervisor's actions cancelling services to clients, filed internal grievances, and filed charges of discrimination with the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission (NEOC) during her employment. She filed suit against Miller, her supervisor, on several retaliation, due process, free speech, and equal protection claims under the state and federal constitutions.

Although the court ultimately dismissed Carney's First Amendment claim for lack of jurisdiction, the case outlines the elements of First Amendment rights for public employees. As a threshold matter, the speech must address a matter of public concern. Then, the interest of the employee speaking must be balanced against the interest of the state, as an employer, in promoting efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees.

The Nebraska Supreme Court applied the test used by the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether speech addresses a matter of public concern. If the speech addresses a matter of public concern, the question becomes whether the government entity had an adequate justification for treating the employee differently from any other member of the general public. The content, form and context of the statement must be considered and the speech must relate to a matter of political, social, or other concern to the community.  The test prevents every case from rising to a constitutional level and gives public officials latitude in managing their offices.

The first issue revolved around Carney's private comments with her supervisor about the cancellation of services to clients. The Court found that First Amendment protection is not lost when a public employee communicates privately with his or her employer rather than choosing to spread his or her views before the public, but the internal nature of the communication is a factor to be considered. Carney's comments on behalf of clients affected more than just her interest and the court found her to be more of a concerned public citizen that an employee and thus, her speech touched on matters of public concern.

A second issue arose from Carney's grievances and NEOC claims. The Court stated that a public employee's free speech on matters of purely personal interest or internal office affairs does not constitute a matter of public concern and is not entitled to constitutional protection. The fundamental question is whether the employee is seeking to vindicate personal interests or bring to light a matter of political, social, or other concern to the community. The court found that Carney's comments were directed to her self-interest and that she had no First Amendment cause of action based on her employer's reaction to the speech.

Because the court found that Carney's speech about the cancellation of services to clients was a matter of public concern, it proceeded to balance her employer's interest in promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees.  Some factors that have been considered in other cases include whether the speech creates disharmony in the workplace, impedes the speaker's abilities to perform his or her duties or impairs working relationships with other employees. The court found that Miller did not present any specific evidence that Carney's speech adversely affected the efficiency of the programs administered or substantially disrupted the work environment.

Because the court found that Carney alleged a cognizable First Amendment violation, it proceeded to determine whether her free speech rights were clearly established at the time. The court followed an Eighth Circuit holding that speech touches upon a matter of public concern when it deals with issues of interest to the community.  It concluded that at the time of Carney's termination, the law was clearly established that a public employee cannot be terminated for speaking about a matter of public concern.
The final step of the court's analysis is whether the collateral order doctrine applies. Under the doctrine, the denial of a claim of qualified immunity is appealable, notwithstanding the absence of a final judgment, if the denial of immunity turns on a question of law. It provides a shield from liability for public officials sued in their individual capacity, so long as their conduct does not violate clearly established constitutional or statutory rights of which a reasonable person would have known. This calls for a determination of whether the evidence shows that the particular conduct alleged was a violation of the right at stake.  Because there were issues of fact and not strictly legal questions, the court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

The full text of the case is available by clicking here.
US_CommunitiesU.S. Communities
NACO_DirectoryOrder NACO's 2014 Directory of County Officials Now
NACO's 2014 Directory of County Officials is a valuable resource that not only gives you names, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers and e-mail addresses of every county official in the state, but includes a listing of county board meeting days, NACO districts, county seats, NACO officers and directors, affiliate officers and NACO staff.  County clerks for each county will receive one complimentary copy of the directory intended for use by all offices in their courthouse.  For additional copies, click here for the order form.
County_Government_MonthApril is National County Government Month
National County Government Month (NCGM) is celebrated each April by the nation's counties to raise public awareness and understanding about the roles and responsibilities of county government.  This year's theme is "Ready and Resilient Counties:  Prepare. Respond. Thrive.

For additional information and to get useful tools to utilize in promoting this year's NCGW, click here.
CountygovernementdaycdCounty Government Day PowerPoint
The PowerPoint presentation is available electronically at no charge (sent via e-mail) for use by counties during their annual County Government Day. The PowerPoint provides a comprehensive look at county government functions in the State of Nebraska and can be customized by each county. CD's are also available for $10.00 each to cover processing, shipping and handling. To request the County Government Day PowerPoint electronically, please e-mail your request to The CD order form is available here.
County_Board_Handbook_20122013 County Board  Handbook and Revisions
The 2013 County Board Handbook and related revisions are available. The cost for a current handbook, including legislative information from the 2013 session, is $80.00/book plus $17.00 shipping and handling per book. The 2013 Supplement to the County Board Handbook is available for $20.00 plus $5.00 shipping and handling. The order form is available on the NACO website here. For questions, contact Ashley Vandeloo by clicking here or call her at (402) 434-5660 ext. 223.
News_Across_The_StateNews Across the State                             
County Considering New GIS Provider
Fremont Tribune, 2/20/2014
News_From_NACoNews From NACo

Counties Win Major Victories in Farm Bill

The five-year farm bill, signed into law Feb. 7, contains several critical county priorities including FY14 funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, re-authorization of vital programs within the rural development title. To read more, click here.

NACo_Web_Based_EducationNACo Web-Based Education
Green Technology:  How Tech Enables Counties to Invest in Renewables
Thursday, February 27, 2014
2:00 PM - 3;15 PM Eastern Time
Recent advancements in technology have spurred interest and growth across the nation in renewable energy. Technology is allowing counties to more efficiently develop renewable energy programs - from siting new wind energy facilities, to creating energy from once unused sources including converting post-recycled solid waste into electricity, to ensuring reliable and secure transmission of energy via smart grids. By providing an easier path to renewable energy, technology is helping counties reduce energy costs and generate new economic activity, while meeting sustainability goals.

To register for this webinar, click here.

To view NACo's entire web-based education listing, click here.
Nebraska Association of County Officials
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