During tour, some members question chairman’s leadership

The members of the Commission’s jail committee had bigger worries than the inmates during a tour of the Platte County Detention Center this week.

On June 16, eight members of the nine-member committee — absent Cory Ball — took a more than two-hour tour of the current detention center, including all areas of the facility. Overall, the committee members were complimentary of the cleanliness and maintenance of the facility. Sheriff Mark Owen and Captains Joseph King and Erik Holland led the tour, explaining some of the features of construction of the 153-bed facility built in 1998. It was after the tour that tensions erupted between members of the committee. At the June 2 inaugural meeting of the committee, James Roberts was appointed chair, but since then, several members have voiced doubts about his leadership. Monday, after Roberts announced the next meeting of the committee would be held at 6:30 p.m. June 23, several committee members said they had scheduling conflicts on Mondays. What followed was a heated exchange between Roberts and committee members Dagmar Wood, Susan Huffman and Jacque Cox. The conversation involved emails exchanged between Roberts and other committee members that contained conflicting information about meeting days and times. Wood, who was becoming visibly irritated, said she asked for clarification several times but never received it and wanted to settle the issue. “You need to calm down, young lady,” Roberts told Wood, with several other committee members intervening. Roberts and committee member Galen Dean left immediately following the disagreement, with Owen, King and Holland also leaving and returning to duty. “We’ll let you guys talk it out,” Owen said. Huffman said she was not comfortable with Roberts’ leadership and that the matter had been brewing for some time in the email exchanges. The Commissioners, she said, had told committee members that the chair’s role was to organize and run meetings, not act as an unquestioned leader. Committee members Don Breckon and Paul Dobbie said they understood scheduling conflicts would exist from time to time and they could simply be worked around. Huffman and Cox agreed, and said their time conflict on Mondays with Republican Central Committee meetings was negotiable and the meeting schedule was not the primary concern.

Read the whole story in this week's issue of The Citizen.