Jackson County legislators and County Executive Frank White Jr. remain at an impasse over the program that runs the county’s anti-drug and anti-violence tax.
On Monday, legislators voted a second time to reject White’s selection to run the Combat – Community-Backed Anti-Drug Tax – program. The tax, reauthorized by voters last fall, brings in $22 million a year for a wide variety of programs, including law enforcement, prosecutors, and drug-abuse prevention.
Two weeks ago, legislators voted unanimously to reject White’s appointment of Teesha Miller to run program. Legislators said they didn’t oppose Miller but said White shouldn’t have changed the public process to select her. They said as elected officials they should have been involved, as had been outlined earlier. In particular, Legislator Dennis Waits, D-Independence, said it was out of line to omit County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who took on a high-profile role in campaigning for the tax last fall.
Days later, White named Jaime Masters, the county’s chief of health services, as the acting director of Combat.
Legislators say they’re still frustrated. On Monday, Waits said Legislature Chair Scott Burnett, D-Kansas City, had asked that the sheriff, the county prosecutor and several legislators – all elected officials – be included in the new selection process. He again took issue with the idea of leaving those officials out of it.
“I don’t think that’s a good move,” Waits said, and he made the motion for the Legislature to disapprove the Masters appointment.
Legislator Dan Tarwarter, D-Kansas City, agreed and seconded the motion.
“As I stated earlier, it’s about the process,” Tarwater said.
Legislator Crystal Williams expressed some misgivings about another vote of disapproval – “I don’t really understand why we have to go to that extreme,” she said – but said she found the interim appointment, circumventing the Legislature, more troubling than the process itself.
In the end, the vote Monday was unanimous, 8-0. White did not address legislators on the issue and said after the meeting it wasn’t an issue to be worked out in the media. He said he didn’t know what the next step is but said Masters, as chief of health services, still has overall supervision of Combat.