County’s Attorney Threatens Reporter - The Missourian: News

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County’s Attorney Threatens Reporter

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Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 12:48 pm, Mon Mar 25, 2013.

Franklin County Counselor Mark Vincent threatened a Missourian reporter Monday.

During a press conference, Vincent told the journalist that if certain things were reported, “I’m gonna come after you.”

The next day at the county commission meeting Vincent made amends with the reporter, Josh Mitchell. Vincent said he never intended physical harm and indicated he wanted to continue developing a working relationship with the newspaper.

Vincent made the original statement after the reporter asked a question about a lawsuit that has been filed against the Brush Creek Sewer District.

Specifically, Vincent said he did not want it reported that the county was admitting to allegations made in the lawsuit, which was filed by Pacific.

“That ain’t gonna happen,” Vincent said. “If you say that, I’m gonna come after you.”

Commissioners Respond

First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker said he plans to discuss the matter with Vincent to see what was meant by the statement.

“I think it was more flippant than anything,” Brinker said of Vincent’s threat. “It needs to be controlled better, and it will.”

Brinker added, “Mark’s very passionate about what he does. I don’t want it to be misconstrued or misinterpreted.”

Brinker said that he does not think Vincent’s comment was a threat, adding, “I don’t think it was beyond a heat of the moment thing.”

Such statements coming from the county counselor do not reflect poorly on the county commission but the individual making the statements, Brinker said.

Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer also said he does not think Vincent’s statement was a threat.

“I don’t want to comment (further) on it,” Griesheimer said.

The news conference in which the threat occurred was held to discuss ongoing problems between the Brush Creek Sewer District and the city of Pacific.

Vincent made the statement in a meeting room at the Franklin County government building in Union. Other public officials in the room included Griesheimer, Brinker, Second District Commissioner Mike Schatz and County Clerk Debbie Door.

The three county commissioners oversee the Brush Creek Sewer District, and Vincent is the attorney for the district.

After Vincent made the statement, Griesheimer then jokingly told Vincent, “Down, boy!”

Newspaper Blamed

Vincent suggested that the newspaper was just trying to make a profit off of the problems between Pacific and the sewer district.

“Is that what you want to do, try to solve this problem or sell more papers?” Vincent asked the reporter. “If you’re trying to stir up more stuff by writing another story...”

Vincent added, “We’re talking here today about solving our problem not stirring up more.”

Vincent then said that he could see the reporter writing a headline that said the district had violated the contract.

Brinker said that such stories make “great reading.”

Lawsuit

The city of Pacific’s lawsuit alleges that the Brush Creek Sewer District, which is overseen by the three county commissioners, has breached the contract over treating the district’s sewage.

The lawsuit states that there is a 200,000-gallon limit per day that Brush Creek is allowed to send to the city of Pacific’s wastewater treatment plant. Pacific claims that the sewer district has violated this limit.

But the Brush Creek Sewer District trustees in the press conference stated that the 200,000-gallon limit is actually a monthly average that is allowed.

The sewer district says that it could send more than 200,000 gallons to the treatment facility some days as long as the average at the end of the month did not exceed 200,000 gallons.

The reporter asked if the sewer district had ever gone over the 200,000 monthly average, and Vincent said that the district had indeed exceeded that amount. The reporter was threatened after he started asking Vincent questions about what that admission meant in terms of the allegations made in the lawsuit.

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