WICHITA, Kan. Wednesday, December 1, 2018
The Sedgwick County Commission has reached a settlement with County Manager Michael Scholes.
"Today I reluctantly voted yes to support the settlement, I did so because I believe this is the best way to protect Sedgwick County taxpayers," said Commission Jim Howell.
Scholes agreed to resign on Friday after three years as county manager.
"I think this concludes a chapter in Sedgwick County history that has significantly eroded and degraded the stature and the influence and the respect for county government in our community," said Commissioner Dave Unruh.
Commissioners voted 3 to 2 to approve the settlement. It comes amid ongoing turmoil at the county which has led to the departure of the county counselor and allegations of wrong-doing and claims of an FBI investigation.
"It's now been 9 weeks, more than two months, there are no longer further external investigations even if they don't' want to admit that," said Commissioner David Dennis. "There was a commissioner, I think that took a year from the investigation to end up with indictments so that's ongoing."
He's talking about Commissioner Michael O'Donnell. He was indicted on fraud charges related to his election. Former County Attorney Eric Yost referenced retaliation as a motive in trying to get rid of Scholes.
"I think we saw with Yost leaving that simply was not true, I can only speak for myself, I've been very clear to a number of people I haven't been satisfied with the manager since before I even took office," said O'Donnell.
Commission Richard Ranzau blames O'Donnell for many of the problems.
"That's led them down a path that brought us here to two federal investigation, and ongoing KOMA investigation by the DA's office and 26 federal charges with more likely to come," he said.
As a part of Scholes' resignation, the county will pay him $205,420 dollars and no other benefits. He also released a county waiver of all charges against the county for any reason.
Friday, November 30, 2018
After months of tension on the Sedgwick County Commission, the group held another special meeting Friday.
This comes after the county attorney left and the commission agreed to investigate itself.
Friday, commissioners had a back-and-forth meeting with executive sessions and recess for about two hours. They did not take any action. This was the latest in several special meeting in recent weeks.
Last week, Sedgwick County leaders reached an agreement with county attorney Eric Yost. This cam after Yost was placed on paid administrative leave following a press conference at which some commissioners were accused of behaving illegally in trying to fire Sedgwick County Manager Mike Scholes for cooperating with an FBI investigation concerning Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O'Donnell.
In May, the FBI filed federal fraud charges against O'Donnell. Commissioners have said they were looking at county leadership because of an unhappy county workforce. Commissioners said there was an FBI investigation into that, but Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Jim Howell said he hadn't heard anything further for about six weeks.
The FBI does not confirm active investigations. The commission also hired an outside attorney to conduct an investigation into county management, as well as the commission itself. However, commissioners did not disclose topics discussed at Friday's special meeting.
The Sedgwick County Commission will meet again next Wednesday at their regularly-scheduled meeting. Faces on the commission will soon be changing with two new commissioners joining February. Lacey Cruse will replace Richard Ranzau after defeating him in the Nov. 6 election for District 4. Pete Meitzner will replace Dave Unruh in District 1. Unruh did not seek reelection.