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Tensions Resume at Courthouse Between #ClayCountyMO Commissioners

For several weeks it had seemed that things had calmed between the Clay County Commissioners, but tensions hit a new high at the Monday, June 20 County Commission meeting.

Some time back an alteration was made to the Clay County Courthouse. Commissioner Nolte has since been concerned with how that alteration was made. According to Nolte, the County Commission was not notified by the County Administrator Dean Brookshier that any construction was taking place.

Nolte is concerned that this was in violation of Missouri state statute 49.470:

The county commission of each county shall have power, from time to time, to alter, repair or build any county buildings, which have been or may hereafter be erected, as circumstances may require, and the funds of the county may admit; and they shall, moreover, take such measures as shall be necessary to preserve all buildings and property of their county from waste or damage.

At Monday’s commission meeting Nolte brought forth an ordinance that attempted to add regulations on the alteration of county property. You can read the draft ordinance by clicking HERE.

Commissioner Ridgeway disagreed with Nolte’s proposed ordinance. Her concern was that the language of the ordinance prevented action by the County in an emergency situation. The Commission meets only once a week, and she was concerned that if a problem sprung up on a Tuesday after a Commission meeting it would take at minimum a week to address it. She also seems to see the issue as a question of giving County staff latitude.

Nolte sees the issue as a question of the rule of law and the Commission occupying their proper role as defined in statute. Stating early in the discussion, “It’s not been a question of quality of work, whether it was communicated accurately, or even the need. The issues I have concerns with is two-fold, one, alterations were made to a County facility in contradiction of 49.470…and secondarily, how this authority was delegated to the County administrator.”

The discussion over the proposed ordinance lasted for about 14 minutes, when County Administrator Dean Brookshier was given an opportunity to respond. It was at that point that things took a bit of a turn. Reading what appeared to be a prepared statement, Brookshier completely ignored the issue at hand and brought up something else having to do with Commissioner Nolte. The video is anchored below at the beginning of his comments.

“In order for this organization to operate, it is inherent that a clear chain of command be established. That has clearly been established by the County rules and procedures, as well as the county administrators contract which all Commissioners voted for and signed. It works well when it’s followed. Employees have been instructed to follow these various procedures Clay County Administrators. Now staff will pass out some information of what goes wrong when this County law is violated.”

At this point, Assistant County Administrator Nicole Brown rose and passed out the below document. On it is a photo copy of Commissioner Nolte’s county business card printed in English and the same card printed in Chinese.

Jerry Nolte Chinese Business Card

“In this instance employees were instructed to use public funds to print the items shown. You’ll see this is written in a foreign language, and I have no idea what it says. Employees were also instructed to research and plan a reception for visiting foreign nationals on a business trip. The County’s code of ordinances specifically prohibit staff instructions by an individual Commissioner. So I ask the question, what does this say, what is the purpose of the reception, is this official Clay County business that should be supported with taxpayer funds. We have a team of exceptional employees ready and willing to carry out the policy directives of the Commission. So I set here confused as well as your employees as to what those policy directives are and to whose orders we are supposed to follow.”

Commissioner Nolte immediately responded to Brookshier.

“Firstly, I do think this is something worth discussing, but I think it’s out of order. We’re talking about facilities. I’d be happy to talk about this when you want to talk about it.”

Ridgeway responded to Nolte, “You were talking about chain of command this goes directly to chain of command. You violated chain of command because it appears you told one employee directly to do this. You used taxpayer money for your own purposes and you’re worried about a wall.”

Nolte responded, “What purposes have I used taxpayer money for?”

“I happen to know that you own an export business. I happen to know that you go to China on a regular basis. And that is a misappropriation of County funds.”

Ridgeway and Nolte went back and forth for several minutes. You can watch the heated exchange below on our YouTube channel.

About Andrew Palmer