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Commission chair Skelton misses meeting he was to lead

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, at 1:31 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, at 8:18 p.m.

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A broken toe kept Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Jim Skelton from attending a regular weekly meeting with staff Tuesday, he said.

But he said he had no excuse for not calling the county to say he wouldn’t be at the meeting.

Skelton, who was elected chair of the commission less than two weeks ago, didn’t show up at 9 a.m. Tuesday for a weekly meeting commissioners have with staff. It is his job as chairman to lead that meeting and the weekly Wednesday commission meeting.

He said later that he missed the meeting because he had broken the big toe on his left foot.

“I can come over and show you my broken toe if you like,” he said.

He said he also had had some “family issues” on Monday evening and “didn’t get much sleep last night.”

Asked why he didn’t call someone at the county to say he wouldn’t be able to attend the meeting, Skelton said, “I don’t have an excuse.” Asked if he didn’t call because he had overslept, he said, “I was confused. I was out of it.”

He said he didn’t go to a doctor because “I’ve broken toes before and there’s nothing they can do. I was in extreme pain, and that’s why I probably didn’t call.”

He went in to work at the county courthouse later in the morning.

This is not the first time Skelton has missed a meeting without advance notice. In September 2011, a sheriff’s deputy went to Skelton’s home to check on him when he did not show up for a Wednesday commission meeting. Skelton told The Eagle that he had eaten shrimp salad and was sick until early in the morning. He said he didn’t fall asleep until 4 or 5 a.m. and didn’t hear his alarm clock or people calling him.

At that time, Skelton expressed anger at Commissioner Karl Peterjohn for telling an Eagle reporter that a sheriff’s deputy had been sent to Skelton’s home and accused Peterjohn of “narcing” on him.

Skelton later missed another meeting and told The Eagle that a friend had died. The Eagle was not able to locate an obituary or death notice for the friend, and Skelton did not provide one, saying he shouldn’t have to. He also said the friend’s family told him they didn’t want to be involved in a news story with The Eagle.

Ray Frederick, a Wichita businessman, called The Eagle at 1 p.m. Tuesday to say he was having lunch with Skelton and that Skelton was “in a world of hurt” because of the toe injury.

Commission vice chairman Dave Unruh ran Tuesday’s meeting in Skelton’s absence.

“That’s just my responsibility, and I take that on,” Unruh said. “Most of the time, we know when someone is going to be absent.”

Skelton, a former Wichita City Council member who was elected county commissioner in 2010 , earns a base salary of $83,718 as a commissioner. Commissioners also get a car allowance and a cell phone allowance. Skelton represents District 5, which covers southeast Wichita and Derby.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com.

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