Hancock County News

New Palestine fires town manager amid controversy, investigation

For 30 years, David Book had been an employee for the town of New Palestine.

All that came crashing down Wednesday night with a 5-0 decision by the town council to terminate Book, who has been the center of controversy in recent months.

Book, who has been on medical leave since January, came under fire earlier this year when it was discovered that New Palestine had missed out on hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Indiana Department of Transportation due to several of the town’s roads missing from the road inventory.
However, recently, town officials learned Book had been using town equipment and supplies to run a wastewater management business in addition to his duties as town manager. There is no record of Book being granted the opportunity to use the town’s equipment and the Indiana State Police are currently investigating.

Town officials were tipped off about the business when Book asked town employees if they wanted to buy his business for $10,000.

On Wednesday, it all came to a head when councilman Bill Niemier introduced a motion calling for the immediate termination of Book.

In making his motion, Niemier said that Book was in violation of the Town of New Palestine Policy and Procedure Employee Handbook, Section Five, in the following manner: unprofessional behavior while performing job duties; neglect of duty; failure to follow established work procedures and policies; Interfering with the productivity of other employees; conducting personal business while on duty; insubordination; blatant disrespect of town council members and fellow employees; improper use of town property, equipment and employees; providing false or misleading information to the town council; gross misconduct; gross incompetence; and endorsing or recommending a political candidate on town property.

Niemier also asked that all of Book’s personal belongings to be boxed up and delivered directly to him and that he not be allowed to be present when these items are gathered.

“Finally, I move that David Book be directed to immediately deliver to Bob Ehle, Chief of the New Palestine Police Department, any and all town property of any kind whatsoever, including but not limited to vehicles; keys to any and all buildings, vehicles or any and all types of locks or padlocks; computers and computer passwords; documents, files and records including Sewer Plant bank account ledgers, checkbooks or all other sewer plant documentation and records; access codes; telephones or other electronic devices; and any and all other town property,” Niemier said.

Book was in attendance at the meeting and was asked by council members if he had anything he wished to say.

“No. Wouldn’t do any good,” Book replied before leaving shortly after the vote.

Niemier told Giant FM the meeting was “very tough” for all involved, but was necessary.

“Nobody signed up for this. It was a very tough meeting. Council has to do what’s in the best interest for the town, and sometimes, that is a hard thing to do,” Niemier told Giant FM after the meeting.
Fellow council member Angie Fahrnow told Giant FM all the actions by Book left council little choice.
“There were a number of issues that brought his employment into question, but when he admitted to running a business for personal gain without council approval, that made our options very limited,” Fahrnow told Giant FM.

While Book has been on leave, Jim Robinson has been serving as the interim town manager.
Giant FM asked Niemier if Robinson would be made the permanent town manager in the wake of what happened to Book and Niemier replied, “Council will have to look at what it is we want.”
Council member Jan Jarson said New Palestine has endured a rough period recently.

“This has been a very rough time for all of us. It is very emotional. I don’t know what else to say. I never thought we’d be in this situation,” Jarson said.