Fight breaks out during Jackson County meeting

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A member of Jackson County's governing body who has been increasingly at odds with fellow lawmakers after alleging an open meeting violation was arrested Monday afternoon for hitting one of his colleagues.

Several Jackson County legislators wound up involved in the fight that broke out on the second floor of the courthouse immediately after the meeting adjourned. But legislator Bob Stringfield, who is accused by some witnesses of throwing the first punch, was the only one arrested.

Stringfield, who faces possible assault charges, was released later Monday. He said he didn't know who threw the first punch.

"It is unfortunate," Stringfield told The Kansas City Star. "There are some things that happened that will come out later."

Dan Tarwater, the legislator who was struck, was not injured. He said Stringfield approached him after he "kind of snapped."

"I sure wish it could have been avoided," Tarwater told Kansas City television station KMBC. "I didn't want it to happen, but I had to defend myself."

The source of the argument was an apparent conflict about video tapes of previous meetings that an aide of Stringfield tried to obtain. Tarwater alleged the aide acted inappropriately -- something the aide has denied.

Stringfield has been squabbling with fellow legislators for months.

During a meeting in November, Stringfield had eight fellow legislators, along with Jackson County Executive Katheryn Shields and the Legislature's clerk, served with a lawsuit. It alleged that they broke the law by conducting closed meetings.

Then last month, Stringfield's budget was slashed by a third -- much deeper than the cuts his colleagues experienced.

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