Leavenworth County commissioner says he is part of the ‘master race’
A Leavenworth county commissioner referred this week to the “master race” as he addressed a black city planner presenting a land use analysis to county officials at a board meeting.
Triveece Penelton, a city planner with the Kansas City consulting company Vireo, was explaining development options for the County Road 1 corridor south of Tonganoxie, when commissioner Louis Klemp made the comment.
Klemp had made clear he wasn’t satisfied with the options presented by Penelton and a colleague.
“I don’t want you to think I’m picking on you, because, we’re part of the master race,” Klemp said, as he brought his fingers to his own teeth. “You know you got a gap in your teeth, you’re the masters, don’t ever forget that.”
A few months later, Klemp drew ire for making a series of racist comments at a public meeting.
In December 2017, Klemp spent several minutes opining on a disjointed group of topics during a discussion about setting the holiday schedule, including historical figures he felt should be honored.
“Not everybody does them all, because we have Robert E. Lee, who, God, Robert E. Lee, wonderful part of history,” Klemp said about the commander of the Confederate States Army. “We don’t have Washington anymore. He may be removed anyway because he had slaves.”
Klemp also spoke about how his great-great grandfather owned a slave, questioned why those who are not veterans get off for Veterans Day, asked whether global personality Oprah Winfrey would be given a federal holiday and said President Abraham Lincoln’s legacy would not be fully realized because the Confederacy had lost.
“We’ll never how great his importance was because the other side didn’t win, which is all good,” Klemp said. “I guess.”
Leavenworth County commissioner Robert Holland criticized Klemp’s 2017 comments as racist. This week he called for Klemp to resign and apologize to Penelton, a University of Kansas graduate with more than 16 years of city planning experience in the Kansas City area.
The Star was not immediately able to contact Holland. A phone number listed for Klemp was disconnected.
Penelton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.