Kansas City Star, Saturday, 06/25/05

County complaint director dismissed

Jackson County complaint department director Deborah Tircuit was fired Thursday amid lingering controversy over the performance of her office.

The county’s Human Relations and Citizens Complaint Commission voted 5-1 during a closed meeting Thursday night to dismiss Tircuit, who has led the office for more than a decade.

Complaint investigator Dawna Shumate will handle Tircuit’s duties while the commission searches for a new director.

Recently the office came under fire for losing files and for the way it handled some cases.

Complaint Commission Chairman Jim Davis said that the controversies played some role in the commission’s decision but that no one incident caused Tircuit’s dismissal.

“The commission basically felt we needed to take things in a new direction,” Davis said.

Earlier this year, county Legislator Robert Stringfield blamed Davis for problems with the office and asked him to resign. Stringfield later withdrew his call for the resignation in favor of the office’s filing monthly reports with the county legislature and the county executive. Complainants also are now invited to complete satisfaction forms reviewing the office.

Tircuit said her termination was not unexpected and that commissioners told her there had been too much negative publicity about the office. But Tircuit discounted those controversies, saying much of the turmoil stemmed from complaints by one citizen. She also blamed the commission for not letting her publicly address the criticisms.

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