Local citizen honors promise, and begins recall process

Commentary by Anne Wagner, Citizen Review Online

Clallam County, WA - Sept. 20, 2001 - On July 24, 2001, Initiative 6 - Repeal of the Critical Areas Code - was presented by the county auditor to the county commissioners, in accordance with the Clallam County Home Rule Charter. 

The Charter very clearly set out the steps to follow in the initiative process, and the next step was for the county commissioners to hold a public hearing within 30 days, after which time the issue would go on the ballot for the vote of the people.

Commissioner Steve Tharinger (D), however, decided that he didn't want the matter to go to the people, so instead, he called for a Declaratory Judgment.

During the hearing process of that meeting, many citizens let their feelings be known about the commissioner who has such disregard for his constituents.  This is not the first time Tharinger has tried to set himself up as more powerful than the people he serves.  Several months ago, he refused to listen to the people's voice on Initiative 722, and agreed to join several other counties in a lawsuit to overturn it.  The voters of Clallam County had overwhelmingly voted for I-722. (See Citizen confronts county commissioner story)

Dr. John Bennett was one of the citizens who spoke at the July 24th commissioner's meeting.In his testimony, he stated, "...I will file charges with the Attorney General’s office in Olympia against the board because of your violation of the Clallam County Charter and I will actively pursue a recall procedure for Mr. Tharinger and Mr. Doherty...".(See "Testimony")

On Sept. 14, Dr. Bennett did in fact file for recall, after researching and learning the proper procedure to do so.  The process has begun.

Following is the letter which Dr. Bennett submitted to the Clallam County Auditor to begin the recall procedure:

                                                                                  "Sequim, WA 98382

                                                                                    September 14, 2001

Cathleen McKeown

Clallam County Auditor
PO Box 3030
223 East 4th Street

Port Angeles, WA 98362

  Re:  Charges of Violation of Oath of Office Against Steve Tharinger, Clallam County Commissioner, District 1.

  Dear Ms. McKeown:

  Per RCW 29.82.010, I hereby advise you of my desire to initiate Recall proceedings against Steve Tharinger, Clallam County Commissioner, District 1.  I am a voting resident of District 1 and hereby make the following charge against Commissioner Tharinger, which documents the Breach of his Oath of Office.

  On July 24, 2001, you presented Initiative 6 to the Board of Commissioners.  You certified that the petitions were adequate in form and number and so notified the Board of Commissioners. 

  The Clallam County Home Rule Charter, Section 8.50 mandates that the Commissioners “shall hold a public hearing and shall adopt or reject the petition on a roll call vote.”

  Commissioner Chapman moved for such a public hearing, but that motion died for a lack of a second.  Commissioner Tharinger argued against allowing the initiative to proceed despite Commissioner Chapman’s reference to the Charter’s mandate.

  Commissioner Tharinger knew that the Charter required a public hearing, yet arrogantly decided to defy the mandate of the Charter.

  I have publicly expressed my intention to proceed with recall proceedings and several members of the community have written letters to both of our local newspapers regarding their distress over Commissioner Tharinger’s reticence.  Over a month has passed and there is no indication that Commissioner Tharinger has any intent to adhere to the Charter which he has sworn to uphold.  My intent has always been to have the system proceed according to the Charter, but clearly Commissioner Tharinger is an impediment to the proper function of our County government.  I see no alternative to charging Commissioner Tharinger with a violation of his Oath of Office and demanding his Recall. 

  I therefore demand, per sections 33 and 34 of Article 1 of the Constitution of Washington State, Section 8.90 of the Clallam County Home Rule Charter, RCW 29.82.010 & RCW 29.82.015, that you “promptly (1) Serve a copy of this charge upon Commissioner Tharinger and (2) certify and transmit this charge to the Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney to prepare the ballot synopsis as provided in RCW 29.82.021. 

  Per RCW 29.82.021(2) the Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney (the preparer) “shall certify and transmit the exact language of the ballot synopsis to” John A. Bennett (the person making the charge) and to Commissioner Tharinger.  “The preparer shall additionally certify and transmit the charges and the ballot synopsis to the superior court of the county in which the officer subject to recall resides and shall petition the superior court to approve the synopsis and to determine the sufficiency of the charges.”

  Per RCW 29.82.023 “The court shall not consider the truth of the charges, but only their sufficiency.”

  I verify under oath that I believe the charges to be true and have personal knowledge of the alleged facts upon which the stated grounds for recall are based.



                                                                                    John A. Bennett"

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