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Kanawha County Commission Holds Special Meeting To Discuss Plants' Controversy

Reported: Jun. 3, 2014 12:36 PM EDT
Updated: Jun. 3, 2014 1:32 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Katelyn Sykes) – Kanawha County Commissioners met in a special meeting on Tuesday to talk about the on-going controversy surrounding the prosecuting attorney’s office.

Commissioners are fired up that no one from Mark Plants’ office was at the meeting to answer any of their questions or address their concerns. They’re also upset that the ongoing saga is costing taxpayers money. Now they’re left trying to figure out how they’re going to pay for a mess they believe lies on the shoulders of Plants.

"The bills have to be paid,” Kent Carper, Kanawha County's commission president, said. “We had another bill come in today, and that's to pay the special prosecutor who's prosecuting Mr. Plants. It's so ridiculous, it's hard to explain."

Plants’ legal mess is costing the county and you upwards of $35,000 a month. Part of that pays for a special prosecutor, Don Morris, who’s getting $200 an hour.

"I was asked by the court to do this job,” Morris said. “The county commission said my compensation is what they believe is a reasonable rate and that's what I'm operating under."

But Plants’ office called that pay “grossly excessive.” His office though, didn’t appear at Tuesday’s special meeting to address those concerns with commissioners.

"What it says to me is a total lack of respect for the public's dollar,” Dave Hardy, of the Kanawha County Commission, said. “I'm very disappointed, and I think that's basically thumbing your nose at the public."

Options to pay these bills include taking cash from the general and non-traditional funds. Both have money but some of that is used by police departments for equipment and new cruisers, or community groups for various projects.

"People who are doing good work and working hard to pay their taxes is where we need to spend those dollars,” Hardy said. “Not on somebody's subsidize somebody's misconduct."

Instead, commissioners want to use the prosecutor’s drug forfeiture account, which has about $75,000.

"I can't see why since they created this mess, they should help pay for it,” Carper said. “They were saying last week that they're concerned about the taxpayers money this will be a good way for them to prove it."

Carper said if Plants’ office refuses to use the drug forfeiture money to pay some of these legal fees, they could freeze that account. Carper also said any requests by the office to spend any money now has to go through commissioners first.

Eyewitness News reached out to Plants’ office again for comment but it was declined.

Carper said he will ask Plants or someone from his office to come to their next meeting, June 12.



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