By Darcie Moran
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer
The Ingham County Board of Commissioners bi-weekly meeting took a surprising turn March 13 when a member of the Road Commission accused Commissioner Debbie De Leon of behavior unfitting a public official.
During the meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the Ingham County Courthouse, 341 S. Jefferson St. in Mason, Chuck Barrett confronted the board with concerns about De Leon, District 2.
“What have I ever done to you,” Barrett asked of De Leon.
Barrett said he was at a local Big Boy Restaurant with coworkers on the Ingham County Road Commission when De Leon, with several other commissioners, were also having dinner on Dec. 13, 2011.
Barrett alleged that De Leon exchanged texts and comments with Road Commission Public Relations Coordinator Rahman Shareef, discussing personal issues she had with Barrett as well as his private life. Coworkers repeated comments to Barrett through text messages.
De Leon said she was unable to comment due her involvement in separate litigation.
Commissioner Randy Schafer, District 13, said he was shocked when Barrett showed him documentation of the texts before the meeting.
“No elected official should have such arrogance to treat an employee that way … or any human being,” Schafer said.
Chairman Dale Copedge and Vice-Chairman Victor Celentino, alleged to have been with De Leon at the time of the incident, said they have no idea what Barrett is referring to and asked why he waited three months to discuss the issue.
Copedge is the commissioner for District 6 and Celentino is the commissioner for District 1.
Copedge said Barrett is welcome to file a complaint and the commission will take a look at it.
Commissioner Don Vickers said he also saw documentation, a print out of photographs of the texts, prior to the meeting and compared De Leon’s behavior to a 6-year-old on a playground.
Schafer said “I think the most disgusting thing is the person doing the texting was the (public relations coordinator) … You can’t get much lower than that.”
The Ingham County Road Commission has dealt with a series of complaints and concerns recently and will be absorbed by the Ingham County Board of Commissioners following two public hearings.