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Jackson County Judge Tells Frank White To Stay Out Of COMBAT

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

In the fight between the Jackson County Legislature and County Executive Frank White score one, at least for now, for lawmakers.

In a two-page ruling, Circuit Judge George Wolf made it clear that White and the county executive's office is to stay out of "the day-to-day supervision of the administration of the COMBAT tax and COMBAT Commission."

Wolf also ordered White to not "impede the County Prosecutor" from supervising COMBAT.

“My job is to follow the rule of law and the judge’s order. We will continue to do so," Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a statement.  "Beyond that, we have no further comment.”

White's spokesperson, Marshanna Hester, said in a statement the ruling was not a surprise. "The court had to issue a preliminary writ in order for this case to move forward. Therefore, the administration will abide by the court's temporary ruling, but looks forward to its opportunity to respond," Hester said.

The Legislature has set aside up to $250,000 to pay for this court fight.

This is not the final word on the matter. The judge ordered White to file a response to the order by Feb. 2.

In December, the Legislature passed an ordinance moving COMBAT from the county executive to the prosecutor. White vetoed the ordinance, but the Legislature promptly overrode the veto. White, relying on the opinion of an outside law firm, said the ordinance ran afoul of the county charter. That set up the court battle after the Legislature filed something called a "writ of prohibition."

COMBAT is a $20 million anti-drug program that is funded with a .25 percent sales tax in Jackson County.

Sam Zeff  is KCUR's Metro Reporter.  Follow him on Twitter @samzeff.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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