Commissioner rejects prosecutor’s request

Last week, Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson said she would vote against an amendment to a contract between the county prosecutor’s office and the Town of Coupeville.

The prosecutor’s office handles the town’s misdemeanor cases and the amendment would increase the price per case.

Chief Criminal Prosecutor Eric Ohme said he had not seen an increase in prosecutorial services to the town since 2005.

Johnson said she would vote no “out of principle.”

“I can’t get one more email saying that there’s not capacity to do work and then take on work for other municipalities, so that’s where I’m going to come down,” she said at the meeting, referring to emails from the prosecutor’s office.

Ohme said Coupeville’s misdemeanor cases account for around 12 cases out of the 1,000 the office handles per year. He said he felt district court was not overworked.

Prosecutor Greg Banks said in an email that the office has prosecuted these cases for 14 years.

“The last time I talked to the board about our criminal work was during last summer’s budget hearings,” Banks’ email said. “I informed them that even though our caseloads were increasing, I was not asking for additional personnel because we were adequately staffed.”

The amendment raises the price per case from $218 to $367. Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said she believes the proposed increase is “realistic” and supported it moving forward.

Hannold said he was also in favor of the amendment.

During a break in the meeting, Jill Johnson said to Hannold, “I’m not giving him anything until he stops giving excuses.”

Johnson and Banks have had their run-ins before. During a previous work session meeting, Banks called Johnson “exhausting” and Johnson told Banks he was “a snake.”

“Her comment, and her vote,” Banks wrote, “is typical of the constant criticism she directs at me.”

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