UPDATED: Saturday, July 22, at 3:19 p.m.
Former City of Fremont Attorney and City Administrator Dale M. Shotkoski denied on Thursday having accepted a job with the Dodge County Attorney Office.
Shotkoski was added to a list of employees of the Dodge County Attorney Office on the Nebraska State Bar Association website on Monday, July 17.
His name on the website replaced that of Rachel Greifenkamp, whose last day of work at the county was July 14. County Attorney Pamela Hopkins is also listed on the website along with Deputy Attorneys Duke Douillard, Brianna McLarty and Shotkoski.
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Requests by the Tribune seeking verification of Shotkoski’s alleged possible employment at the Dodge County Attorney Office made to Dodge County Human Resources Manager Micki Gilfry and Hopkins were not responded to.
On Friday, July 21, Gilfry said in an email to the Tribune that the four lawyers employed at the Dodge County Attorney Office as of 2:40 p.m. that date were Hopkins, Drouillard, McLarty and Justin Bignell.
On Saturday, July 22, Shotkoski's name was removed from the state bar website under the employees of the Dodge County Attorney Office.
In a telephone interview with the Tribune on July 20, Shotkoski said he has not accepted a job nor interviewed with Dodge County in any manner.
Shotkoski acknowledged that rumors he had accepted a job with Dodge County were circulating, noting that he had received a telephone call earlier this week from an acquaintance who congratulated him on his new job at the county. The claim, he said, was confusing to him.
“Somebody called me and told me that … I don’t know anything about that. I’ve been hiking. I got a phone call from someone, they said, ‘hey, I heard you got a new job,” Shotkoski explained. “(The person) called me the other day and (told me) I have a job at the Dodge County Attorney Office. ’ I said, ‘no, I’m unemployed.’”
Shotkoski denied knowing Hopkins and said he has never met her. He explained that he is aware the Dodge County Attorney Office is short-staffed, which prompted him to think about offering his services to Hopkins.
“I might go interview with her. I thought, well, I am a former county attorney and I left the Merrick County Attorney job in April to go on my long hike,” he added. “I just got home, and then heard about this, and I thought, if she needs some temporary help, I might reach out to her. I am kind of familiar with the job and done it many years in my career.”
A longtime Fremont resident, Shotkoski said he has been on an extended backpacking and hiking adventure after his retirement in April from the Merrick County Attorney Office, his second stint with that county in his lengthy career.
The Dodge County Attorney Office is currently only staffed by four lawyers following the resignations and departures from employment of two deputy county attorneys — Rachel Greifenkamp and Anthony Hernandez — in the past five weeks.
The Dodge County Attorney office normally has six lawyers when fully staffed, a number which includes the elected county attorney, Hopkins, who took office on Jan. 5, 2023, after being elected in November 2022 on a platform of reform and heightened ethical standards at the office.
Since Jan. 4, 2023, three deputy county attorneys have resigned from the Dodge County Attorney office: Sara Sopinksi, Greifenkamp and Hernandez.
Sopinski and Greifenkamp now work for the Sarpy County Attorney office. Sopinski was the interim Dodge County Attorney after former County Attorney Oliver Glass resigned in March 2021 while under federal investigation.
Glass plead guilty to one federal charge in December 2022 related to a harassment and stalking campaign he coordinated with local law enforcement, targeting the lover of his estranged wife. Glass is serving a nine-month prison sentence at U.S. Penitentiary Leavenworth in Kansas.
A fourth attorney is planning to leave the office in the coming weeks, Hopkins confirmed in an earlier interview with the Tribune. However, she refused to name that person or state when the person’s last day of work would be.
Hopkins rejected a public records request made by the Tribune seeking the names of deputy county attorneys who had submitted letters of resignation to her in the past five weeks. The Tribune has filed an appeal of that rejection with the Nebraska Attorney General Office.
“I have six total attorneys in this office. When the office is fully staffed, it is five deputy (attorneys) and me. I have five attorneys (right now) with two leaving within the next month. I am replacing the people who are leaving. I am expecting to have replacements in for the people who are leaving,” Hopkins said in an earlier interview with the Tribune. “It is not unusual for there to be a change in administration in office, and as a result in change of leadership, there be a change in staff.”
Shotkoski willing to discuss helping county
That shortage of staff is concerning, Shotkoski added, and he said he’d be willing to sit down with Hopkins to discuss her legal philosophies and possibly help her in the short term until permanent attorneys are hired.
“I thought, if she needs some help, I might get in touch with her. To work until she hires full-time. I don’t know if I would want to do something long-term. I might be interested … to get her through the gap until she gets fully staffed up again,” he added. “I know how hard it can be to run an office when you don’t have enough people there to help you out. I’ve been through that, it can be incredibly difficult. I have a good relationship with local law enforcement.”
Shotkoski also said he did not know why or how the state bar association added him to its online listing as an employee of the Dodge County Attorney Office this week.
“That is probably where (rumors) are coming from,” he said. “As of now, the official answer is: no, I am not employed there. I’ve only been home a few weeks. I saw (the Tribune) article, and I’ve only discussed it with my wife.”
Two days after the Tribune's initial article about the issue, Shotkoski's name was removed from the state bar associaiton website, which then only listed three staff: Hopkins, Drouillard and McLarty.
“I would like to visit with (Hopkins). I don’t want to jump on her toes, I’d rather talk to her,” he added. “The two of us may be fundamentally different and I may not want to work with her; I don’t know. I’ve never met her.”
Fremont is a familiar place for Shotkoski. In January 2011, he was hired as the city attorney for Fremont. A short two months later, Shotkoski was promoted to the role of interim city administrator, handling those jobs duties after Bob Hartwig resigned to take a job in Colorado.
In July 2011, former Mayor Scott Getzschman appointed Shotkoski as the official city administrator of Fremont, a position he held until June 2016 when he resigned to seek other employment opportunities.
Shotkoski was one of three former city employees who received severance payments from the city — $170,000 according to past Tribune reporting, as well as continued health insurance and other employee benefits for six months. Those payments drew a rebuke to the city by the Nebraska State Auditor Office for not being properly approved by the city council.
Shotkoski was most recently a deputy county attorney in Merrick County. From 1987 until 1996, Shotkoski worked as the head Merrick County Attorney, an elected position. He also has experience as the Grand Island city attorney, and briefly was the interim city administrator for Grand Island while the city recruited a full-time city administrator.