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Spurned Spina files lawsuit

Former Historical Review Committee member Paula Spina filed a lawsuit against Island County Thursday afternoon in the wake of the Board of Commissioners’ decision not to reappoint her to the committee.

Spina said the HRC members wanted the commissioners to submit the issue to a judge to determine if, in fact, her term had expired according to county ordinance.

“They wouldn’t do it because I suspect they were afraid of being second-guessed,” she said.

The commissioners did seek the opinion of county Prosecutor Greg Banks, said Phil Bakke.

“Greg advised the board that the term expired,” he said. A copy of the decision was not forwarded to Spina because it would have violated the attorney/client privilege, Bakke said.

Spina said she was contacted by the commissioners regarding Banks’ ruling but received no proof of the decision.

“They claim that they have a legal opinion from the county prosecutor that supports their position that my term expired and that they can replace me, but they won’t share that legal opinion,” she said.

Spina filed a declaratory judgement action so the issue will go before Island County Superior Court.

“This simply asks the court to look at the law and make a judgement,” she said.

Spina paid a filing fee of $200 and will represent herself in the case.

The case involves Island County, newly appointed HRC member Thomas Tack and Spina.

Although Bakke did not understand why Spina included Tack in the suit, Spina said he is only involved because the court must decide if Tack’s appointment is valid.

Although Spina was appointed to the HRC to complete a former member’s term, she said the commissioners only have the power to appoint HRC members to a four-year term, which means that she would serve through August 2011.

But the commissioners disagreed and moved forward in a vote last Monday to appoint Tack to fill Spina’s position on the HRC.

Spina said the board’s decision was politically motivated and came as a result of a rally she held at her Crockett Barn in opposition to a “McMansion” project in Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve.

The rally, she maintains, was never politically oriented.

“It was supposed to be educational,” she said.

“I’m not the only one in disagreement,” she added. “The actions that the board is taking are jeopardizing Ebey’s Reserve.”

Commissioner John Dean refused to comment on the legal matter, but said that he was saddened by the situation.

“I respect her and I love her passion. We’re all on the same page to preserve the reserve,” he said. “It’s always sad to see someone that worked with the county sue the county. It stops progress.”

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