I am writing in response to the headline story in which the Clastop County Commission chairman, Scott Lee, calls for the resignation of Commissioner Lianne Thompson (“Lee calls for Thompson’s resignation,” The Daily Astorian, Oct. 26).
In all my 30-plus years of public service, never have I seen such unprofessional and inappropriate use of power in a locally elected board as that of the Clatsop County Commission for the past few years. I say this from a position of personal knowledge, having served as a Clatsop County commissioner in the late 1980s. I served with two other commissioners under the general law form of governance.
When I was on the board of commissioners, if we didn’t agree on something we were at least respectful of each other’s right to an opinion or stand on an issue. We did not play out our disagreements in the local newspaper by calling out each other’s transgressions. If a policy was breached, we discussed it like adults, and I do not remember any such public displays of disagreements or chastising one another.
I am baffled as to why, if the county does not intend any disciplinary action, there was a public chiding of Commissioner Thompson at a board meeting. Upon reading the article, it appeared to this reader that she was being criticized for just doing her job. It is incumbent upon commissioners to keep up with the demands of the job of making policy, something I have known Commissioner Thompson to have done since she came on to the county board.
She has been religious in attending conferences and summits that are of great importance to Clatsop County. Her attendance this past summer at Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) did not go unnoticed. And, this group is not a “mutual admiration society not relevant to county business.” I have represented Oregon on PNWER for many years, and many county commissioners attend our summits both in Oregon and in the 10 states and Canadian provinces which make up the membership.
Her longtime work in resilience and emergency preparedness has been an exemplary example of taking the lead on an issue and providing those of us at different levels of government the assurance that this urgent information is being delivered at the local level. Personally, I believe that Commissioner Thompson has done her job in a professional manner, and I am thankful that she has stepped up to serve Clatsop County in this important position.
I would think that if a commissioner travels on the county dime that there are policies and parameters in place that outline what is allowable, and what is not. I have also known Commissioner Thompson to pay her own way to meetings, conferences, etc.
But to use the forum of a public meeting to basically beat up on a commissioner for travel expenses that exceed other commissioners’ use of these funds is unprofessional, especially when there are no sanctions being considered.
The travel budget exists to reimburse expenses and the amount does not seem excessive for the time span described. It seems more like common bullying to me, something we are seeing more and more of these days in public forums.
As to the confrontation issue, I would think that it, too, would be handled in an executive session rather than a public board meeting. One just has to wonder what really is going on here.
Finally, one has to wonder just who is going to step up and serve in these elected positions when this type of treatment is so prevalent. The relationships that Commissioner Thompson has built at all levels over the many years that she has worked in the public sector are priceless, and appreciated by those of us lucky enough to have worked with her.
Oregon State Representative, House District 32