On the eve of our celebration of America’s independence and the principles for which it was founded, in an effort to confuse and distract voters, Pork of Shelton Commissioners Jay Hupp and Tom Wallitner are attempting to bayonet the public’s most stalwart defender, Commissioner Jack Miles, with an ill conceived/written letter of censure based on misconstruction(s) of RCW 42.23.050 and 42.23.070(4).
The problem for the Pork Commissioners, as this draft makes abundantly clear, is they’re holding the rifle from the wrong end! A careful reading of ALL of RCW 42.23 makes clear the statute is intended to weigh against corruption by municipal officers/elected officials.
The distinction is important because under the stated definitions in the chapter, Pork Executive Director John Dobson is a ‘municipal officer’.
The very law to which Mr. Hupp and Mr. Wallitner draw attention serves as an indictment against the Pork and John Dobson–as well as a shield for Mr. Miles and a courageous victim of recent retaliatory firing, whistle blower Teresa Rebo, who complained of the very types of conflicts of interest at the Pork RCW 42.23 prohibits.
‘Clear Cut’ does an excellent job of offering an analysis of RCW 42.23 and the Public Records Act posted at: RCW 42.23 and 42.56.30 interpretation except he/she misunderstands the latter in presuming it creates new rights of privacy in law, which it does not.
The PRA creates exemptions to the right of the public to demand copies of certain documents, i.e. Those exemptions limit its scope. The exemptions do not create new privacy rights or designate punishment/penalties for failing to abide by said exemptions. Presumably that would require the filing of a tort based lawsuit by one with ‘standing’ claiming an invasion of privacy.
But ‘Cut’ is spot on in acknowledging to just WHOM the privacy right belongs. In this instance, it certainly doesn’t belong to the Pork Commissioners or Director Dobson.
This charge of the Pork Brigade embarrassingly reveals the senility, incompetence, and indolence of Mr. Hupp and Mr. Wallitner by authorizing the drafting of this ill fated attack. They are either getting their legal advice from the backs of cereal boxes, or relying on their own understanding of the law. In either event, residents are egregiously ill served. It’s plain they no longer have the capacity or the inclination to grasp our laws with the perspicacity and vigor required of an elected official. But the mechanism for removing an elected official from office for mental incompetence is muddled and difficult.
Finally, the delusional thinking of the Pork Commissioners is demonstrated in their Napoleon complex: Who do they think they are?–Congress! Hupp and Wallitner have NO legal authority to ‘censure’ Mr. Miles or impose any sanction/penalty on him whatsoever. They might choose to enlist the authority of a sitting Superior Court Judge if they could arrive at a non-specious legal theory to do so…a theory they’ve failed to enunciate.
Other than a PR move to distract and confuse, this bare ‘censure’ has no more legal effect/meaning than any other citizen’s. No law provides the Pork Commissioners with any more authority over Commissioner Miles than exercise of their 1st Amendment Rights…and that’s it!…period. That they appear to believe otherwise is representative of how delusional they’ve become.
Commissioner Miles is free to reveal whatever Pork business of legitimate public interest he cares to. Any valid objection would have to be brought by an injured party with a basis in law for doing so. Nothing offered in the bayonet letter cites such a basis except the possibility of their inadvertently having fallen on their own swords.
(Note to Pork Commissioners: When launching a bayonet charge, don’t hold it from the pointy end!)
Examples: RCW 42.23.030 prohibits conflicts of interest in contracts entered by municipalities such as the Pork. (i.e. What Teresa Rebo complained of.) A number of exceptions are listed under sub-section 6. However, in that instance, sub-sub-section ‘e’ states:
(e) The municipality shall maintain a list of all contracts that are awarded under this subsection (6). The list must be made available for public inspection and copying;
Drawing the noose they’ve fashioned tighter around their own necks, sub-section 7 states: (7) The leasing by a port district as lessor of port district property to a municipal officer or to a contracting party in which a municipal officer may be beneficially interested, if in addition to all other legal requirements, a board of three disinterested appraisers and the superior court in the county where the property is situated finds that all terms and conditions of such lease are fair to the port district and are in the public interest. The appraisers must be appointed from members of the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers by the presiding judge of the superior court; Pork Executive Director John Dobson meets the statutory definition of a MUNICIPAL OFFICER!
(RCW 42.23.020 (2): “Municipal officer” and “officer” shall each include all elected and appointed officers of a municipality, together with all deputies and assistants of such an officer, and all persons exercising or undertaking to exercise any of the powers or functions of a municipal officer;)
Pork Executive Director John Dobson is on record at a recent Pork Meeting as stating: “I want to assist/help the Hansens develop a successful business.” [The Hansens have created a for profit corporation for which they seek to lease Pork property.]
Upshot?: Dobson & the Pork Commissioners never satisfied the requirements of sub-section 7 cited above.
Yeah, but that ain’t all. It gets WORSE!:
RCW 42.23.040 (The Pork Commissioners should learn to read ALL of a chapter in law while keeping in mind the legislative intent and Court predilection to HARMONIZE all of it!) attempts to exclude ‘remote interests’ from the statute, logically enough, given that it seeks to avoid wrangling over implied petty interests not meeting a threshold of legitimate concern for public policy.
Fair enough! But all of those ‘remote interest’ exceptions evaporate in this instance with the final sentence in RCW 42.23.040:
None of the provisions of this section are applicable to any officer interested in a contract, even if the officer’s interest is only remote, if the officer influences or attempts to influence any other officer of the municipality of which he or she is an officer to enter into the contract.
Yet that’s EXACTLY what Pork Exectuive Director John Dobson did in favoring the Hansens, influencing the Pork Commissioners, and summarily firing whistle blower Teresa Rebo.
Finally (and unfortunately for the Hansens) the violations by the Pork and Dobson of the provisions of this Washington State statute clumsily invoked by its most egregious scoff-laws, makes any such ‘contract’ entered into by the Hansens at the behest of Dobson NULL & VOID according to RCW 42.23.050…a sword of the Pork Commissioners own choosing!
RCW 42.23.050: Any contract made in violation of the provisions of this chapter is void and the performance thereof, in full or in part, by a contracting party shall not be the basis of any claim against the municipality. Any officer violating the provisions of this chapter is liable to the municipality of which he or she is an officer for a penalty in the amount of five hundred dollars, in addition to such other civil or criminal liability or penalty as may otherwise be imposed upon the officer by law. In addition to all other penalties, civil or criminal, the violation by any officer of the provisions of this chapter may be grounds for forfeiture of his or her office.
This Reporter justly believes that last statutory sentence (ibid) is sufficient as a basis in law for the recall of Pork Commissioners Jay Hupp and Tom Wallitner given the violations of RCW 42.23 by Dobson described above and the deliberate complicity of Hupp and Wallitner.
The Pork Commissioners desperately grasp for RCW 42.23.070. But that Statute more readily describes the actions of John Dobson than Commissioner Miles.
RCW 42.23.070: (1) No municipal officer may use his or her position to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself, herself, or others.
(2) No municipal officer may, directly or indirectly, give or receive or agree to receive any compensation, gift, reward, or gratuity from a source except the employing municipality, for a matter connected with or related to the officer’s services as such an officer unless otherwise provided for by law.
(3) No municipal officer may accept employment or engage in business or professional activity that the officer might reasonably expect would require or induce him or her by reason of his or her official position to disclose confidential information acquired by reason of his or her official position.
(4) No municipal officer may disclose confidential information gained by reason of the officer’s position, nor may the officer otherwise use such information for his or her personal gain or benefit.
Mr. Dobson’s personal relationship with the Hansen’s and his admitted personal interest in seeing their company prosper is a prima facia admission of violating that provision.
The ironic downside to all this is how it benefits the already obscenely compensated Pork Attorney.
Editorial Note: Contrary to the allegations in the ill conceived ‘Letter of Censure’ attacking Jack, Commissioner Miles doesn’t ‘publish’ ANYTHING on this Mason County Blog…the administrator (myself) does! Here’s a $0.25–go call a cop!
In addition, the allegation Commissioner Miles has ever represented himself as the Pork ‘Commission’, per se, totally lacks credibility as there’s no factual foundation or evidence for it.