No light shed on county motion

MONTESANO — Last week’s mystery motion by the Grays Harbor County commissioners will have to stay a mystery a while longer.

The results from a public records request from The Daily World seeking more information or documents leading to the decision by the county commissioners turned up three pages that shed no light whatsoever on the action the county commissioners took last week following an executive session.

On Monday, Oct. 29, the county commissioners conducted a 30-minute executive session. After, they emerged and approved the following motion: “Counsel is authorized to institute proceedings relating to certain public officers.”

The commissioners declined to give any further details, providing the following statement: “There will be no public comment on the topic due to confidentiality requirements by law.”

Documents provided by the county commissioners include the official minutes from the meeting, which started at 10:08 a.m. and lasted until 10:38 a.m. The commissioners then made the motion and the vague statement and recessed the meeting.

There is also a document noting that Special Deputy Prosecutor Tom Fitzpatrick was at the meeting to discuss litigation “and gave legal advice to the county commissioners.”

And there is a third document noting that the commissioners were closing their office during the executive session.

However, there are no documents providing context to what exactly it is the commissioners approved or what kind of proceedings they agreed to start against a mystery party. The Daily World had sought hand-outs distributed during the executive session, emails sent before or after the meeting dealing with the motion and other documents relevant to the action. But none of that was turned over because apparently they didn’t exist.

Deputy Attorney General Tim Ford, who is the state’s open government ombudsman, feels that the county’s action lacks the detail necessary to comply with the state’s Open Public Meeting Act.

However, to enforce the act, a third party would need to sue the county. And even if a judge were to find the county commissioners in violation of the act, each commissioner would only be personally liable for a civil penalty in the amount of $100, according to statute.