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12-30-16

Status of HR director up in the air
Mary Robinson not at work

by Ivan Foley
Landmark publisher

There’s something about Mary.

It appears Mary Robinson, the human resources director for Platte County whose time in the position has been marked with controversy, has not been at work lately.

Robinson, 45, has held the position since late 2009. Her salary for 2016 is $63,239.

Efforts to reach Robinson for comment about her employment status were unsuccessful.

Sources inside the administration building told The Landmark that Robinson’s last day at work was Friday, Dec. 16. A co-worker of Robinson’s told the newspaper that Robinson had informed co-workers she was leaving to spend time with a relative who is having health problems.

But a Landmark conversation with Ron Schieber, presiding county commissioner, appears to cloud the matter. Asked about Robinson’s employment status, Schieber would only say: “That is an ongoing personnel matter that I won’t discuss.”

The uncertainty of Robinson’s employment status came a couple of weeks in advance of two new county commissioners taking office. Both Dagmar Wood and John Elliott, incoming commissioners for district one and district two, had mentioned during their campaigns their concerns about Robinson’s continued employment with the county in light of her record of having multiple DWI arrests.

Robinson was arrested in June of 2014 for DWI, caught at a checkpoint conducted by the Platte County Sheriff’s Department at Hwy. 92 and Prairie View Road in Platte City. According to the arresting deputy’s report, Robinson’s blood alcohol content was .174, more than twice the legal limit of .08.

She was charged with felony DWI when her driving records indicated it was not her first arrest for DWI. She was charged as a persistent DWI offender after court documents indicated this was her fourth DWI arrest. Court documents indicated Robinson had three alcohol-related convictions in the state of New York under her previous last name of Dolan.

If she had been convicted of the felony, punishment could have been up to four years in prison.

But at trial in December of that year, a special prosecutor from Cass County lowered the charge to a misdemeanor, saying prosecutors could not acquire the necessary certified documentation from the state of New York on Robinson’s previous alcohol-related offenses. She was placed on probation for two years and was ordered to wear an electronic alcohol monitoring device for the first 120 days of that probation period.

Jason Brown, presiding county commissioner at the time, indicated he favored taking action against Robinson’s employment status at the time, but associate commissioners Beverlee Roper and Duane Soper did not agree.

Both Elliott and Wood in their campaigns last summer mentioned Robinson’s continued employment as a problem.

“I don’t believe a person with multiple DWI’s should still be employed with the county,” Elliott said in a July debate, an obvious reference to Mary Robinson.

Wood, in a June debate against Roper, detailed her opposition to Robinson continuing to be employed as the county’s HR director.

“When you have an HR director with multiple DWI arrests, most recently with a blood alcohol content of twice the legal limit and who was described by the arresting officer as ‘a danger to the community,’ that’s a problem. That’s a problem when she continues to be employed by the county. And it’s the HR director who is in charge of vetting employees for the county. In real life you would call that a former employee,” Wood said during the debate.

At the same debate, Roper defended Robinson.

“Our HR person is very effective. She was arrested and currently serving probation and that is something she is living through. She is still a very effective HR director. I invite you all to meet her and talk to her,” Roper said.

Robinson had been stopped at the DWI checkpoint in Platte City about 9:30 p.m. on June 30, 2014. The arresting officer reported smelling “a strong odor of intoxicants coming from inside the vehicle.”

While being escorted to the designated area to perform field sobriety tests, the officer said Robinson “had a staggered gait.”

After struggling through field sobriety tests, according to the incident report, Robinson provided a breath sample with a result of .174. She told authorities she had picked up her car at the parking lot of Maria’s Mexican Restaurant in Platte City after having been at the Avalon Café in Weston. According to the incident report, Robinson told the deputy that she had four drinks, which were rum and cola, between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m.

The DWI arrest in Platte County in 2014 was not Robinson’s first piece of controversy while holding the position of HR director. In 2012, county commissioners Jason Brown and Kathy Dusenbery voted to issue Robinson a written reprimand. The commission declined to publicly disclose the reason for the reprimand, citing it as a personnel matter. At the time, Robinson told The Landmark: “I have not done anything to warrant disciplinary action.”

Then this past summer, after an employee reported concerns about Greg Sager, the county’s public works director, Robinson allegedly urged the employee not to mention his concerns to the county commissioners, allegedly telling the employee that “nothing can really be done” (see related story in this issue).

The employee, Bill Manley, told The Landmark he believes after his conversation with the HR director, Robinson allegedly tipped Sager off about an upcoming audit of the department to determine the location of some department-owned tools. The employee alleged Sager was using the county-owned tools and equipment for personal use. Manley said he had the conversation with Robinson on a Friday, and the following Monday employees arrived to find all of the equipment Manley noted in the meeting with Robinson lined up in the middle of the shop floor at the public works department, with no explanation as to how it suddenly returned or where it had been.

The position of HR director reports directly to the county commission.

Mary Robinson