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County commissioners spar over hearings examiner appointment

February 4th, 2014 - 5:17am

(Port Angeles) – Verbal sparks were flying at Monday's Clallam County Commissioner worksession.

Commissioners Mike Chapman and Mike Doherty at odds over the hiring last week of former Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols to the vacant position of county Hearings Examiner.

That appointment came closely after a contentious 2 to 1 vote to pass over Nichols as the interim prosecutor.

When interim prosecutor Will Payne was sworn in, Nichols resigned and within a few hours was nominated by commissioner Jim McEntire for the hearings examiner spot. Chapman and McEntire voted to make the appointment. Doherty was against.

The squabble continued Monday, with Doherty again objecting to the vote, saying “due process” was not followed.

Doherty felt he had a good case in bringing up the vote, hoping for a different result. And he thinks there were other people who may have been qualified for the job who didn't get to apply for the position.

In addition to hearings examiner, Nichols was appointed to be an at-large court commissioner. But the county's judges rescinded that decision, saying they want to open the process to other possible candidates.

Following the meeting, Chapman said he was comfortable in the selection of Mark Nichols and commissioners followed the county charter correctly.

Chapman also said he ran the proposal through the newly appointed-prosecutor who had two other attorneys in the office review the process. .

A final decision will be made during this morning's regular Board of Commissioners meeting.


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