by Ivan Foley
Platte County Commissioners have reached a “release and settlement agreement” with Mary Robinson, the county’s ex-human resources director whose time as the department head was frequently marred with controversy, including the revelation that she had multiple arrests for driving while intoxicated.
Under terms of the pact, a copy of which was obtained this week by The Landmark through a Missouri Sunshine Law request, Robinson receives $13,514.
Robinson, as previously reported in The Landmark, had worked her final day for Platte County on Dec. 16. Since that time there had been several closed meetings, with past commissioners prior to the end of 2016 and with current commissioners in 2017, dealing with a potential settlement.
She had served in the position since late 2009. Her annual salary was $63,239.
The settlement states that the contents of the agreement are not to be construed as an admission of liability, fault or improper or unlawful action on the part of any of the parties. Platte County specifically denies any and all allegations and claims made by Robinson. The settlement prohibits Robinson from taking any legal action of claims against the county. She is also prohibited from accepting any employment with Platte County at any point in the future.
The agreement states the county will not oppose any claim for unemployment benefits made by Robinson, however it is understood that eligibility for unemployment benefits will be scrutinized and determined by the state of Missouri and not the county.
Also in the agreement is a paragraph stating “Platte County and Mary Robinson further agree to refrain from communicating with the media regarding this settlement and agree not to publicize the settlement on the internet or elsewhere.”
Platte County and Mary Robinson further agree that any comment by it or her or their attorneys regarding the settlement will be limited to: “The matter was resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties, who have agreed to refrain from discussing the terms of the resolution” or simply “no comment.”
The agreement states that any violation of that paragraph may be grounds for breach of contract with the prevailing party begin awarded reasonable attorney fees.
The document indicates that Jen Snider of Witt Hicklin and Snider law firm of Platte City represented Robinson in negotiations with the county.
As reported in the Dec. 28 issue of The Landmark, Robinson’s last day on the job was Dec. 16. A co-worker of Robinson’s told The Landmark Robinson informed the county that she was leaving to spend time with a relative who was having health problems.
Robinson’s Dec. 16 exit from the county 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 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 DWIs should still be employed with the county,” Elliott said in a July debate, an obvious reference to 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.
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, telling the employee that “nothing can really be done.”
The employee, Bill Manley, told The Landmark that he believes after his conversation with the HR director, Robinson tipped off Sager about an upcoming equipment 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 or why it suddenly returned.
The position of HR director has reported directly to the county commission.
The current county commission is actively pursuing the concept of outsourcing its human resources needs.