Belle aldermen to forward complaint about marshal’s conduct to AG

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 10/16/19

BELLE — Mayor Josh Seaver said Oct. 9 that after making phone calls to determine where to report Marshal Joe Turnbough’s alleged violation of Missouri Sunshine Law, a request for …

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Belle aldermen to forward complaint about marshal’s conduct to AG

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BELLE — Mayor Josh Seaver said Oct. 9 that after making phone calls to determine where to report Marshal Joe Turnbough’s alleged violation of Missouri Sunshine Law, a request for investigation was submitted to Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

Seaver explained that the Missouri Attorney General’s Office is the official enforcer of Missouri Sunshine Law and would be in charge of investigating if a violation had been committed. If the the office determines a violation was committed, they would also be in charge of determining an appropriate reprimand.

The decision to report Turnbough came after his wife, Deborah Turnbough stated in open session that her husband told her the board had fired policeman Capt. Kim Elrod in a 6 p.m. closed session held prior to the meeting on Tuesday.

“You fired Elrod tonight and didn’t even tell Joe about it,” Deborah Turnbough accused the board, after Joe Turnbough had angrily left the building. “Didn’t even tell Joe about it. You don’t tell him diddly squat.”

Alderman Tony Gieck tried to stop Turnbough’s wife from saying more, and asked if he could ask her a question. Seaver stood to escort Deborah Turnbough out of city hall.

“You need to leave this meeting now,” Seaver said.

“I have a question,” Gieck said. “How did you find out about Elrod being fired tonight?”

Deborah Turnbough said word had traveled. Gieck said yes, but how did you find out.

“My husband,” Deborah Turnbough said.

“Closed session! Closed session! Joe just broke the Sunshine Law!” Gieck shouted.

Turnbough’s wife tried to argue that he hadn’t.

“Yes he did, yes he did. It can’t be released for 72 hours,” Gieck said, as a room full of Belle residents exclaimed their surprise.

“You didn’t give Joe any notification, no notification that you were firing him (Elrod),” she said as she stormed out of city hall.

Belle’s elected officials had met in a closed session prior to their open session which began at 6:30 p.m.

The mayor asked for a motion to take a 10 minute recess and then invited everyone to return to the meeting after the break. The board approved the recess.

When they came back from the recess, a Maries County deputy sat in on the meeting, as Turnbough did not return. The board finished their meeting business, and the mayor called for a motion to close.

“Before you do that, at the turn of events tonight, what Debbie had to say, and Josh, you’re the mayor, so if you want to do it, the board of ethics needs to be contacted,” Gieck said. “Closed session information was leaked within 72 hours of the decision being made. If you want to do that, if not, I will.”

Seaver said he would contact the Board of Ethics the following morning. On Tuesday, Oct. 9, Seaver turned the incident over to Schmitt.

The discussion Oct. 8 began when nearly 30 citizens packed into city hall at the beginning of the open meeting to discuss their concerns with the lack of police patrol in the city and the rise in crime. Seaver told the marshal he needed to figure out where his loyalties lie: to the Phelps County Hospital, where he picked up another position, or to the people of the town who elected him.

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