County counselor offers to resign; offer rejected on 2-1 vote
Updated: Nov 3
Linn County Commissioner Jim Johnson, far left, challenged County Counselor Gary Thompson, far right following an executive session during Tuesday's commission meeting. (Screen capture/Linn County Kansas Live Stream)
By Charlene Sims, firstname.lastname@example.org
MOUND CITY – In what was likely a calculated move of brinkmanship, County Counselor Gary Thompson gave the Linn County Commission the option of accepting his resignation during the commission’s meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10.
After attending a 20-minute legal executive session, of which 15 minutes was requested by Commissioner Jim Johnson, Commissioner Jason Hightower made a motion to not accept Thompson’s resignation, Commission Chair Danny McCullough seconded the motion and the final vote was 2 to 1 with Johnson voting against the motion.
Before going into executive session, Thompson made the following statement:
“Last week and at other times, Mr. Johnson has alleged that many of the problems that the county has are my fault. I’ve been thinking about that. I just want to address the commission about that.
“I disagree with him and, in fact, I would go so far as to say that a number of the current problems we have is because Mr. Johnson repeatedly doesn’t have a willingness or ability to treat employees or other commissioners with respect, and I think that is a big problem.
“That being said, since it has been expressed as I am the problem, I want to get a sense of whether that is the feeling of the commission because if it is, I shouldn’t be representing you.
“Not just that it is awkward but I really shouldn’t represent you if I don’t have your confidence.
“So what I am going to do today is offer my resignation to you. You can accept it or reject it as you see fit. If you accept, I will give you whatever reasonable notice you think is needed to work through a transition to new counsel. If you reject it, I’ll continue to try to do my best for the county for as long as I can.
“But I want to make it known that I don’t accept the aspersions and accusations I have seen in recent weeks without responding. So it’s up to the board, do what you want to do. Either way, we’ll go away with no further hard feelings than are in place at this point, and I will continue to try to serve the community however I can.”
After the executive session, Johnson again inferred that Thompson was not doing his job correctly.
“Gary, I’ve got a question,” Johnson said. “I reached out to you last week on the attorney general. And then you said that you reached out to the Ethics (Commission).”
The emails and reaching out to the attorney general and ethics commission are related to Johnson’s claim that Commissioner Hightower is engaged in nepotism because his wife is a county employee. Thompson had sent inquiries to the attorney general and the ethics commission.
Thompson said that he had sent the ethics commission a letter and then sent a second letter in September.
“The one you sent in June, the email, that’s not a valid email address,” said Johnson.
Thompson said that was the one he got off of the state attorney general’s website.
“It isn’t the one on the website because the one the website has an underscore in it,” said Johnson. “I reached out to it the next morning after you sent that and I sent an email to the address that you have and I got a response back in a few minutes that that wasn’t a valid email (address).”
“And that’s what I got, and I talked to ethics and ethics had not received anything from you yet,” said Johnson.
Thompson said he had been concerned when he did not receive an answer because he got to thinking they might not have gotten it so he sent another letter.
“I’m just saying I sent an email and that’s not valid,” said Johnson.
Thompson replied that could be why they did not get it.
“It is not a valid email address. You sent it in June and here it is October,” said Johnson.
Johnson asked, “Did you mail the second one”
Thompson said yes he did.
“That’s all I got,” said Johnson.
After this exchange, Hightower and McCullough voted not to accept Thompson’s resignation. Johnson voted against the motion.