Opinion

Former Oak Harbor prosecutor sets the record straight | Sound Off

By ANHKIET NGO

I am writing this letter in response to the Whidbey News-Times article quoting several statements made by Mayor Jim Slowik.

First, Mayor Slowik is quoted as stating “I didn’t fire either one of those people.” This statement was made in reference to both myself and former Harbormaster Mack Funk. I will not speak for Mack but I can and will speak for myself. I have in my possession a termination letter written and signed by Mayor Slowik and only Mayor Slowik. I was not given a reason for my termination, but was only told that my position as the prosecuting attorney for the city after almost four years of service was an “at will” position, and therefore as Mayor Slowik stated in the termination letter, and I quote: “We wish to notify you that effective July 17, 2009 your employment with the city of Oak Harbor will be terminated.” Therefore, the statement by Mayor Slowik that he did not fire me is false. For the record: I was fired by Mayor Slowik.

Second, for Mayor Slowik to insinuate that Detective Sergeant Gardner lied about his other statements, and that Lt. Sterkel’s motivations are borne from a personal grudge because of “the Mayor’s decision to recommend Lt. John Dyer for the FBI’s Academy for Law Enforcement” is repugnant and offensive. As civil servants, the code of conduct has always been, “duty first, self second.” I have never known any of the officers of the department to be anything less than bound by their sworn oaths to uphold the law and to be honest. I am personally offended because I maintain the utmost respect for Lt. Sterkel, Sgt. Detective Garnder, and all of the members of the Oak Harbor Police Department — save one, which brings me to my next point.

Third, as the former prosecuting attorney for the city of Oak Harbor, I know for a fact that I have prosecuted others for less than the petty theft that occurred when Mayor Slowik openly stole the campaign sign out of the store window. Sadly, even if I were still the prosecuting attorney for the city, I still would not be able to prosecute the crime because of ethical obligations; but at the least, the case should have been referred to a neutral agency for their unbiased and untainted review. It is unfortunate because I personally know that if it were any other person that committed the exact same crime in Oak Harbor, they would have been zealously prosecuted. I understand how the police officers feel because I share their disgust. Mayor Slowik’s actions, and the chief of police in defending those actions, have done a disservice to the community and undermined the integrity the city. In this respect, I support Councilman Dudley for Mayor.

Finally, I would like to address the possibility of legal action against the city directly to Mayor Slowik.

Dear Mr. Mayor, the statute of limitations for bringing legal action against the city for hostile work environment, etc. is three years. It’s only been two years since you wrongfully terminated my employment. You should know that it would be highly unlikely for a jury not to believe it wasn’t a “hostile” work environment, especially when you make open statements admitting that you specifically targeted me for two years prior to my termination. With that being said, you should consult with your legal department as soon as possible.

AnhKiet Ngo is a former prosecuting attorney for Oak Harbor. He currently works in a law firm in Seattle.

 

 

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