June 26, 2018
Meeting was called to order by Matthew Rainwater at 7:30am. Mary Ellen Winborn led the flag salute.
June 19 minutes need to be approved.
Program: Candidates for County Prosecutor
Mr. Nichols streamlined the office and increased case filings. He reduced those referrals to law enforcement and that were declined by over 20%. he has a targeted goal of a safer Clallam County with community outreach, neighborhood watches and local councils. He promotes aggressive prosecution of violent criminals and will address suicide and accidental death suicides.
Ms. Barkhuis was the last Clallam County Treasurer for 7 years before vacating. She believes in access to justice for taxpayers and will advocate for citizen rights. Not everyone is paying their fair share right now. She questions the costs of the current prosecuting attorney and cited lawsuits against him past and current. Ten people have been added to his office. Who are the four civil investigators pursuing? “You should be concerned.”
To SB: How do we know you’ll complete this term?
SB: She had to choose between disbursing funds contrary to the rule of law or e sued, and leave. She was forced to release over $1M unlawfully and was set up for a lawsuit based on an administrative loophole. She was defending taxpayer rights as that’s her personal liability.
MN: He doesn’t set people up for lawsuits, resolves through civil means. he will follow through on assignments and finish his term.
SB: She wasn’t willing to accept a bad situation so removed herself and wants to see change.
How are you paying for growth in the office with a funding source shortfall?
MN: Increased felony prosecution. Picked up two prosector’s salaries which is offset by cities through contracts and partially grant funded. Office growth is important for public safety and has been for a good reason.
SB: 24 staff excludes grant funded positions and deputy prosecutor. Contracts don’t make financial sense.
MN: Two men are brought in by the county as normal practice for the issue of liability, this is covered by insurance to conduct reviews – is monitored by his office. Overage is not to the magnitude presented today.
SB: Civil investigation costs have been too high.
Explain the suit involving Ms. Barkhuis.
MN: It’s about the public records suit and transparency. The PDN submitted a public records request seeking all emails between Selinda B and Dale Wilson. Supreme Court says an elected official cannot shield personal emails. She refused, commissioners approved a lawsuit and then the suit was dismissed when she turned over the information.
SB: She was writing articles for the Port O’ Call with personal email, as she would have gotten in trouble by using work email. Read the affidavit on her website. She was being setup for the Lang lawsuit fall. Was declared Person of the Year for whistleblowing by Port O’ Call then sued by the county. Examine the county relationship with risk management.
MN: It was a suit about transparency. Personal accounts are not exempt. It was filed by the county, not the prosecutor’s office.
SB: Port O’ Call articles should be posted on his website. No county business was conducted by emails with Dale W.
Advocacy of crimes prosecuted against children?
MN: Press releases are online about successes. Far more crimes exists than the public is aware of in trafficking. We are 13th in the nation. He will continue to prosecute aggressively, work the Forks Abuse, Healthy Families. Crimes are more sophisticated, they study victimology and psychology.
SB: Has worked with juvenile hall. Mark has not carried any caseload. She will assume caseload and actually prosecute.
MN: The job is not what it used to be. Legislature has caused advisory issues, hope to work cases part time. he keeps workforce trained and healthy with a higher morale.
SB: He had time to pursue his office manager, had time to defend himself in the Lang case. It’s important to prosecute and spend time in the court room.
How will the office help with drug issues?
SB: She needs to take a look at where the money is going to look at these issues.
MN: Meth was the drug of choice years ago, now it’s heroin. They are prosecuting people to get them in the system to get them help like drug court. Not designed to punish, goal is recovery. Dealers go to jail, don’t get prosecuted. Clallam has 3rd highest OD in state. Heroin users also use meth.
Address impact of public records issue on citizens that serve on county boards and committees.
SB: All are subject to the act. She’s not ready to address it. Training suggests having a separate email.
MN: Expect all work related communications to be subject to the law. Separate email is advisable.
SB: Public records request should be concerning. It can happen to you. Any county employee will be treated the same.
Dick P. moved to extend the meeting up to 15 minutes. Jon Fager seconded. Motion passed.
Is there potential of conflict in coroner and prosecutor jobs?
MN: He is obligated to be coroner in this county. There is the potential of conflict but he brings another deputy to act in both capacities. Home rule charter has elected to keep it this way as a cost savings. He likes the current way.
SB: Coroner is fact finding. Next charter review should look closely at that. Prosecutor should be independent of party affiliation. There is potential for conflict.
MN: Last thing you want is a partisan prosecutor.
SB: Mark was determined to not have the role be separated.
Port Angeles struggles for funds with court cases; best not to duplicate personnel and working with the county beneficial. Will you continue with this relationship?
SB: Needs to review, will not necessarily take that process away with a need to work together in good faith. Mark values city relationships and has extended to Forks. Consolidation of services makes good fiscal sense.
SB: As County Treasurer she created controls. She will restore trust to the office, reduce property tax burdens by thorough review, review county relationships and carry a case load. Justice is equal. All rights need to be protected. Mark is a champion of loopholes.
MN: Will aggressively prosecute felony level crime, advance discussion of statutory mental health court, and address the public health crisis issues as coroner.
July 10: Jim McEntire and incumbent House Rep. Tharinger
Meeting adjourned at 8:47am.