The long-running dispute between Crawford County commissioners and the coroner has escalated further, with a county attorney telling the coroner to stop blackmailing the county with demands for a chauffeur.
Coroner David Allen O’Neal sued the county in June, hoping to get a judge to force the county to give him the equipment he says he needs, including a car. The county says it’s offered him a car. On Monday, O’Neal wrote the county saying he’ll stop using his car for calls after April 1, but will continue to serve as coroner by telling the county when he needs a ride.
That provoked the county’s attorney in the litigation, Duke Groover, to declare Thursday that “Mr. O’Neal’s letter is, put simply, a threat by Mr. O’Neal against Crawford County and, by extension, against the citizens of Crawford County.”
“Mr. O’Neal is not entitled to a County-provided vehicle, nor is he entitled to a County-provided chauffeur,” Groover wrote. “Mr. O’Neal might as well have demanded a significant pay increase, to which he is not entitled by law, and stated that, without that pay increase, he would refuse to travel to death scenes. The effect is the same -- to blackmail Crawford County and its citizens into acceding to his unlawful demands.”
O’Neal’s Monday letter to the county says in three spots, in all capital letters, that he will still faithfully execute his duties as coroner.
O’Neal has also disputed the county’s offers of support for office space, a fax machine and other services. He said because the county wants him to to use the sheriff’s office, all requests for service will have to go through the secretary when she’s working regular weekday hours.
Groover previously told The Telegraph that the county believes it’s complied with the law and given O’Neal what he needs.
O’Neal said in the letter he’s been trying to resolve problems since December 2012.
“Please take this seriously as I do not want a grieving family to have to suffer,” he wrote.
Crawford County is seeking to have the lawsuit ended. A hearing is scheduled for April 22.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.