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During the meeting on Monday, June 17, Commissioners were notified by Linn County Public Works Administrator Shaun West that he had filed a complaint of ouster against Commissioner Jim Johnson with the County Attorney’s office.

West prefaced the notification with the statement that he “believed it would be self-explanatory as to why he could not take any questions or answer anything in regards to the matter at this point.” 

He then stated, "Based on the 11 months in the processes we've gone through with no results and some continued behavior and the behavior of targeting employees that I allege, where no judgment has been made, for that purpose and that purpose alone I'm notifying you that this morning I delivered a complaint of ouster to the county attorney's office for his review against Mr. Johnson, or Commissioner Johnson. The purpose for saying that is not that a complaint alone is a judgment of fact or as anything other than an allegation."

"I want to make it clear," he continued, "I am not a finder of fact, the purpose for telling you this is to make sure that if there is any direction, reprisal or consequence that it falls on my shoulders. Thank you."

Commissioners took no action nor made any comment on West’s statement.

According to County Attorney Burton Harding, who affirmed that a complaint of ouster had been filed on Johnson, once the complaint has been filed he is required by Kansas statute to initiate an investigation into that complaint. That investigation could take days, weeks or even months to complete. If the county attorney finds the complaint to be founded, a court hearing could be filed and if it is and the court upholds that finding, Johnson could be officially removed from office.

In the meantime, Johnson could be suspended from his office as commissioner for District 3 for the length of the investigation or up until the court makes a finding in the matter if a hearing is filed. If Johnson is suspended from office, it would fall on the Linn County Republican Central Committee to appoint an interim commissioner.

If suspended and the matter goes to court and is found to be unwarranted, Johnson would be re-instated and given full back pay for the term of his suspension.

The issue stems from the fact that 11 months prior, there were four (4) separate grievances filed against Commissioner Jim Johnson for actions taken during the course of his position as commissioner.

Because of these grievances and the fact that they had not been resolved in that length of time, County Counselor Mark Hagen and County Clerk David Lamb had previously notified former Commission Chair Jason Hightower that it was in the board's best interests to receive departmental reports digitally and read them into the record; however, Commissioner Danny McCullough and Johnson did not agree with that option and Hightower was subsequently voted out as Chair.

That said, Hagen noted in a later discussion that if Johnson is still on the ballot at the November election despite being suspended or ousted, he could conceivably be re-elected to the position.

 

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