The Jefferson County Commission is scheduled to meet Thursday morning at 9:30. However, unless something changes between now and then, there won’t be enough commissioners for a quorum.
There is a vacancy on the five-member commission and a deep division among the remaining four over who should be appointed to fill the seat. Commission President Steve Stolipher has put the replacement item on the agenda for the last five meetings dating back to early September, but Commissioners Tricia Jackson and Jennifer Krouse have refused to show up in protest.
Deak Kersey, general counsel for the Secretary of State’s Office, said their absences mean the commission is violating the law by not appointing a replacement in a timely manner.
“Whatever compromises need to happen, make them—because you have a duty to appoint,” Kersey said, according to the Spirit of Jefferson newspaper. “And just saying we’re going to wait until the next election, that’s not what the code says. It says you shall appoint. It’s a duty.”
The lack of a quorum means the commission cannot meet and conduct business. For example, the county may miss out on a $114,000 grant to help pay the salaries of advocates for crime victims. The county has already lost out on a $50,000 grant for courthouse renovations and maintenance.
The county cannot keep administrators or finance directors because of the chaos. The commission should begin working on next year’s budget soon, but that will be difficult without a quorum or proper staff.
Jackson and Krouse seem to believe they have a righteous cause, but the reality is they are failing to do their jobs. Oh, and they are still getting their $45,000 annual salary and benefits. Others in county government must be wondering how they too can get paid for not showing up for work.
It has been suggested that an interested citizen should go to court seeking a judge’s order forcing Jackson and Krouse to attend meetings and penalize them if they refuse. “You could be handcuffed, put in a holding cell or a jail,” Kersey said. “It’s never good to violate a court order.”
Good grief. What an embarrassment for Jefferson County.
So, Krouse and Jackson don’t like Stolipher. Okay, then try to beat him in the next election. By the way, Stolipher, Krouse and Jackson are all Republicans, so this is an intra-party squabble.
The County Commissioners Association of West Virginia states on its website that “Commissioners are committed to a government that is open, responsive and accountable to the citizens whom they serve.” Jackson and Krouse are failing to meet that most basic standard by holding the county hostage with their obstinance.
Show up for work. It’s your duty.