Claremore Daily Progress

October 23, 2012

Helms’s spending shut down

Thacker: ‘You spend money like a drunken sailor.’

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — Rogers County Commissioners voted 2 to 1 to halt all spending in District 2.

Commissioner Kirt Thacker had harsh words for Commissioner Mike Helm, Monday as he pushed to shut down spending to help restore public trust.

“I have put this item on the agenda in light of the issues that have been shared in the newspaper and other avenues. We have not been able to get a straight answer on these issues,” Thacker said. “To restore public trust I have placed it on the agenda.”

Thacker continued by criticizing Helm’s spending habits and his violation of county policies.

Helm explained that District Attorney Janice Steidley was contacted, she did not see the reflection of what the newspaper reflected.

“I have asked for the DA’s office to look into all these things,” Helm said. “We do not go off the newspaper as an investigative part of her department.”

Steidley has the power to call in the OSBI if she deems anything up to standard and we have asked her to do that, Helm said.

“There is a serious and grave concern about your actions,” Thacker said.

Thacker made a motion to take over Helm’s finances until the OSBI is completed and he is cleared or indicted.

“ I have lost confidence in your ability to govern District 2,” Thacker said.

Helm attempted to deflect attention to Thacker and an issue that occurred a few years ago with accounting.

“There have been other issues and we have not made them a public issue,” Helm said. “I don’t think it does us good to do that.”

Helm said he has never asked for money or borrowed from another commissioners.

“Sir, you spend money like a drunken sailor,” Thacker said. “It is time that we either get this under control or public trust will forever be diminished at least in Rogers County.”

“You are eluding to a newspaper and we have a judicial system in place that looks and investigates into these things,” Helm said. “The legal representation to the board is the District Attorney. You can go talk to them like I can and she [Steidley] has never indicated or said that we have done anything wrong. These are you acquisitions.” Helm said.

The DA does not run the county, it is run by the Board of County Commissioners, Thacker said.

“I have lost confidence in your abilities at this point,” Thacker said. “When I make a mistake I will own it. You can twist it anyway you want.”

Helm continued to voice his protest of the action and explain the DA’s office has no issue with his actions.

“This is not the place or the time. We work with our DA’s office,” Helm said.

County Clerk Peggy Armstrong then questioned the board about the direction of the action.

“I need you direction on what you would like us to do,” Armstrong asked.

The motion carried with the support of Thacker and Commissioner Dan DeLozier.

After the approval Helm continued to question the action with the Assistant District Attorney David Iski.

“Mr. Iski, this has never, as far as I can look back, been a protocol or a binding carrying weight at all,” Helm said. “What district is perceived from here, each district is responsible for it’s own district.”

“Not any longer,” Thacker said.

“What is correct is that the board acting as a whole is accountable for the spending of the county,” Iski said.

The spending will now go through the board, Iski explained.

Further discussion will be held as the procedure that will be followed for implementing the plan.

“Mr. Iski my intent is that no money will be spent without prior board approval,” Thacker said.

Armstrong continued to ask for clarification giving the example, if something is purchased today and payment is asked for tomorrow, what would be the protocol.

Thacker responded explaining he cannot spend or dedicate money, so if he goes to the store today then “I suggest he takes it back.”