Port Commission appointment needs a do-over | In Our Opinion
March 8, 2012 · Updated 4:37 PM
Regarding the appointment of Arnie Bockus to Poulsbo Port Commission Position 2, state law is clear: Bockus’ appointment should have been made on the first meeting in January and voted on by Tony DeCarlo and Jim Rutledge. It should not have been voted on in December by DeCarlo, and then again by DeCarlo and Bockus, while Bockus was still in office as Position 3 commissioner.
That said, Bockus’ appointment is null. He should do the right thing and resign. The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners would then appoint a new port commissioner, because it has been more than 90 days since Position 2 became vacant.
The appointment needs to be redone in order to legitimize it and restore public trust in the appointment process.
To recap, the commission has three members. Glenn Gilbert, Position 2, resigned in October, effective Nov. 30. Bockus, Position 3, was defeated by Rutledge on Nov. 8 and was to leave office Dec. 31. While still in office, he applied for appointment to complete Gilbert’s term.
Bockus was one of two applicants. Because one applicant was from Silverdale and thus ineligible, DeCarlo on Dec. 1 appointed Bockus to Gilbert’s position, effective Jan. 1. DeCarlo was alone on the dais, Bockus having recused himself.
Because questions were raised whether a lone commissioner could make the appointment, or whether the appointment should be made by the County Commission, the matter came up for re-vote Dec. 28. This time, Bockus voted — and voted for himself, a clear conflict of interest.
Here’s what state law, RCW 42.12.070, says about the appointment: “Where one position is vacant, the remaining members of the governing body shall appoint a qualified person to fill the vacant position.” Can a sole remaining member of a governing body make the appointment? The law: “If less than two members of a governing body remain in office, the county legislative authority of the county … shall appoint a qualified person or persons to the governing body until the governing body has two members.” DeCarlo could not make the appointment alone.
Could Bockus vote for himself? The state Supreme Court in 1909 recognized the common law doctrine “as old as the law itself” that one should not judge his or her own cause. Clearly, it was wrong for Bockus to vote to appoint himself to office (which comes with pay of $100 per meeting).
Again, Bockus should do the right thing and resign.