COMMISSIONER MARLENE WEBSTER (R-District 1) voiced concern over the change of leadership on the Public and Courts Committee as decided by 2020 Chairman Jeremy Root during the January organizational meeting.

   Commissioner Dan McMaster (R-District 2) is the new chair for the committee, since it was suggested in the Tuesday evening Public Safety and Courts meeting that Sheriff BeGole did not support Webster in the position. McMaster acted as BeGole’s campaign manager in 2016, and according to Webster is involved in his reelection bid – alluding to a possible conflict of interest.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)

by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor

   Commissioner Marlene Webster suggested she was removed from the Economic and Physical Development Committee and Community Corrections Advisory Board, and lost her chair position on the Public Safety and Courts Committee, because she did not vote for Commissioner Jeremy Root (R-District 5) as chair of the Board of Commissioners at the January organizational meeting. During that January meeting, Webster’s chair was given to Commissioner Dan McMaster (R-District 2) by Root, although Webster is still serving on the committee.

   During the regular Public Safety and Courts meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 14 in the Surbeck Building in Corunna, Commissioner Dan McMaster said he was appointed as chair and Webster had forwarded him necessary information. He added, though, that he needs to do further research regarding the timeline related to important grant funding due by May that is in process, and to further prepare for the commissioners’ ongoing discussion dealing with motions and committee appointments (positions). He also said he needs to plan an organizational meeting, hopefully in January, though nothing was put in place.

      Webster asked McMaster if she could comment after Root had agreed with McMaster on posting open committee positions, as defined by statute. McMaster allowed her. Webster explained that Root asked her to take on more leadership in 2019, and she went on to say that she’s had a number of meetings with the Michigan Dept. of Corrections, judges and people serving on the Community Corrections Advisory Board and was “very surprised and quite dismayed to be removed from the board at the organizational meeting.”

   Webster met with Root privately to question the change in leadership.

   During the Tuesday meeting, she publically said Root told her his decision was based on the sheriff not supporting her in the position of chair of Public Safety and Courts “because I had allegedly made disparaging comments about the sheriff, though I don’t believe there is any evidence that is true.” Webster apologized to Sheriff BeGole, in attendance, for not having had the opportunity to communicate with him prior to the meeting since it is her goal to be transparent.

   During the private meeting with Root, with county coordinator Mike Harendeen in attendance, Webster alleges she directly asked Root if her removals were related to her voting against his chair position nomination. He reportedly confirmed that to be accurate. This prior conversation was not openly discussed during the Tuesday evening meeting.

   McMaster responded on Tuesday to Webster’s concern over the leadership change by saying he hopes they can work forward through this transition. Webster assured him she would do so.

   Root addressed Webster by saying, “There is stuff that we know that went around about the negative stuff about the jail, the negative things about things being worked on with the jail, the positions that McMasters has held and a number of things brought here to make the sheriff look foolish, put the sheriff on the spot – and once again the same commissioner is trying to put the sheriff on the spot…” Root explained he has the authority to place people on the committees. He did not explain where the “negative things” were sourced or why it was suggested they might have come from Webster.

   Webster countered Root with “… I believe the allegations you just made about me are not true and that you don’t have any evidence of it outside of people that work with the sheriff or who are on this board…” She once again shared that she will continue in her service by supporting McMaster as the chair of the Public and Safety Courts Committee.

   Commissioner Cindy Garber (R-District 6) stated she fully supports McMaster in the position and fully supports Root’s decision.

   Root supplied the following statement about the Tuesday meeting to The Independent on Thursday, Jan. 16: “Committee appointments and assignments are at the sole discretion of the chair. I made the decision based on my belief that Commissioner McMaster would be a better option to lead the Public Safety and Courts Committee. Commissioner McMaster has extensive knowledge in both the courts and Sheriff’s Office. It’s a shame when one commissioner’s agenda is simply to discredit and attack fellow commissioners and elected officials. The board of commissioners will continue to work on positive reforms that further our county regardless of these types of distractions and personal attacks.” Root did not specify what personal attacks he is referencing.

Note: During the organizational meeting on Thursday, Jan. 2, Commissioner Jeremy Root was again elected chairman. Root nominated Commissioner Brandon Marks (R-District 4) for vice-chairman and Marks was again elected vice-chairman. Root then stated that the committee appointments would remain the same as 2019 with both the road commission and Pleasant View added to the list of county standard committees. Commissioner John Plowman (R-District 7) will be the board representative on the Road Commission Board and Commissioner Cindy Garber (R-District 6) will be the board representative on the Pleasant View Board.

   Root then named the 2020 sub-committee board chairpersons. Commissioner John Plowman is the Economic and Physical Development chair and also the Finance and Administration chair. Commissioner Dan McMaster is the Public Safety and Courts chair. Commissioner Garber is the Health and Human Services chair.

   Please see for more information, under “Board of Commissioners Agendas & Minutes.”

Commissioner’s Removal from Committees Raises Questions was last modified: January 20th, 2020 by Karen Elford