Opinion

Port opens itself to criticism, lawsuit | In Our Opinion

Port of Poulsbo commissioners are split regarding the appointment of Arnold Bockus, and the port could face litigation.

The issue arose after Bockus — formerly position 3 — lost the November election to Jim Rutledge. Following the election, Bockus was immediately appointed to position 2 after Glenn Gilbert resigned effective Nov. 30. Before being voted into position 2 on Dec. 1, Bockus left his position as chair and handed it to Tony DeCarlo, who then appointed Bockus to the vacant position with the port.

The whole mess could have been avoided if the commissioners had waited until the next port meeting in January, when Bockus would have no longer been a commissioner.

Because there were no other fitting candidates, DeCarlo would be able to appoint Bockus during the Jan. 5 meeting. Instead, Bockus was appointed to position 2 while still holding his current position 3.

According to Scott Woelfle of the State Auditor Office, a current commissioner cannot be appointed to fill a vacancy until after a person’s current term of office has expired.

While the outcome may have been the same, with Bockus being appointed, the legality of the port commission’s decision is still worth a second look. The issue has already begun to create tension within the port commission.

Port commissioners manage a budget of more than $1 million. With that kind of responsibility for tax money, it’s unsettling to know such disagreements exist.

What could create more problems for the port follows DeCarlo’s statement that the only way anything involving Bockus’ appointment would change is through a court case. The port may now be open to a lawsuit by anyone in the public who believed there was wrongdoing.

Because there were no other qualifying candidates, Bockus was the right choice. How the choice was made is a different story.

 

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