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DHS commissioner resigns as chairman

DHS Commissioner Brad Yarbrough will continue to serve as a regular commission member.
by Randy Ellis Modified: June 12, 2012 at 10:11 pm •  Published: June 12, 2012

/articleid/3683708/1/pictures/1746413">Photo - Brad Yarbrough
Brad Yarbrough

When Yarbrough announced he had asked Dow and Roberts to continue serving on the reform planning committee, he lauded Dow's earlier work on the commission and described him as a knowledgeable person who could speed the reform process.

Chase challenged that description of Dow following the meeting.

“If there has been anybody that has caused problems since he's been on the board, it's been him. He's been an objectionist to everything,” Chase said. “Things need to be moving forward, not spending all the time fussing with each other.”

Reached by telephone following the meeting, Dow and Roberts both said that in light of what occurred at the meeting, they no longer plan to serve on the committees.

“I think not at this point,” Roberts said. “I don't want to be a distraction.”

Dow voiced similar sentiments. He declined to comment on Chase's criticisms.

Chase's call for Yarbrough's censure followed a brief closed-door session of the commission.

“Very slowly I have lost faith in your abilities,” Chase said. “Your statements this morning that putting Dow on this commission would speed things along is, I believe, the most outlandish statement that has ever been made in this room. If there is anybody who has been a stumbling block to everything, it is Dow ... I make a motion that you be censured, and we do not have confidence in you.”

Yarbrough ruled the motion out of order and announced his resignation as chairman. Chase continued to press for a vote on his censure.

Commissioner Wes Lane, a former Oklahoma County district attorney, quickly intervened.

“Could we not have some dignity here?” Lane asked.

“No,” Chase responded.

“Jay Dee, please,” Lane said. “Just the dignity of these surroundings, please. He's sought to resign for some time. It has not been accepted. It has now been accepted. It's over. This is just mean ... We need to get along.”

Chase relented and let the issue drop.

After the meeting, Chase criticized Yarbrough's performance as chairman.

“Ever since he's been chairman, things have gone downhill,” Chase said. “We have lost our direction about taking care of kids and older folks. He has done nothing but cause problems ... fights and arguments, and we don't need that.”

Yarbrough described himself following the meeting as a “change agent” and noted the three commissioners who were most vocal in their criticism of his leadership Tuesday had voted against the lawsuit settlement he helped get approved.

“I understand their wanting to believe that everything was fine, but the governor wanted Wes Lane and myself to come in and take a fresh look,” he said. “Upon doing so, it was obvious that there were needs for improvements in our child welfare system.”

“Change agents are oftentimes criticized and even attacked for moving forward. At times I have had to insist on forward moves and be assertive, and that can offend people,” he said. “What I think you saw today is a few commissioners who are offended by my assertiveness in the past, my moving forward, my challenging status quo.”

Yarbrough said he thought Lane, another Fallin appointee, would make a good chairman.

“I would hope that he would be considered,” Yarbrough said.

Voters in November will be asked to consider a constitutional amendment that would do away with the commission.

by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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