Whidbey News-Times


Commissioners errored in revoking chair title | Letter

July 20, 2013 · Updated 10:48 AM


The July 11, 2013 vote by Island County commissioners Helen Price-Johnson and Jill Johnson to remove Commissioner Kelly Emerson as chairwoman appears to lack statutory authority for that vote ever to have occurred.

County-elected officials have only those powers expressly conferred or delegated to them by specific statutory language.

County commissioners are mandated to elect a chair during their first session after the general election, which was way back in December 2012, and they are not statutorily authorized to do so at any other time.

From this, it derives that a freshman commissioner such as Jill Johnson may never accede as chair during the first year in office, since Jill Johnson was not even a commissioner back in December.

Luckily, the statutes also allow that any person may appeal to Superior Court for any decision or order of the board of county commissioners, and such appeal must be made within 20 days after such a decision was made.

Moreover, the premise upon which this vote was cast is also flawed.

Johnson and Price Johnson also completely lack the statutory authority to cajole or order a fellow commissioner not to issue a special meeting notice or not to attend a public meeting.

A special meeting may be called at any time by the presiding officer of the governing body — the chair — of a public agency or by a majority of the members of the governing body. This fully enables all county commissioners to attend all desired public forums, just as any other citizen.

William Burnett

Oak Harbor

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