Kimball wins a round – taxpayers lose

November 3rd, 2009 by Ken

Thurston County Sheriff Dan Kimball has won the first round in his battle with the Thurston County Commissioners, and lets hope the commissioners finally throw in the towel.

The battle, as you recall, is over just who runs the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.  Is it the elected county sheriff, or is it the county commissioners who have control of the budget.

Kimball contends that he is the one in charge and fought the commissioners when they told him what to cut and who to cut from his budget.  The sheriff said he’s the one that makes the decisions regarding staffing, not the commissioners.

And so he did what any red-blooded American would do – – he sued them.  And when he did, he asked for representation from the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which is charged with representing county officials when they have legal problems.

But, the prosecutor’s office was representing the county commissioners and said they couldn’t represent both.   So, Kimball hired his own attorney and took the county to court to pay his legal fees.

And, the court agreed.  Thurston County had to pay his legal fees.  Not only the current fees but any other future fees in relationship to the lawsuit.

But, not content with just requiring the county to pay Kimball’s legal fees, the court also ruled that the Thurston County Commissioner’s couldn’t have legal representation from the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office, but instead had to hire someone from outside to represent them.

And, that’s where it stands.  Kimball’s suit against the commissioners continues, with Thurston County taxpayers funding this internal legal battle.

No one knows what the costs will be, but they will be tremendous.   And, with the county suffering severe monetary shortfalls, it just doesn’t make sense to continue the internal fight.

Anyone with common sense will realize that while the county commissioners set the budget for the sheriff’s office, its the elected county sheriff who makes the final decision on how that money is to be spent.

The commissioners should back off and let Kimball run his department.   They should content themselves with determining the amount of money he has to spend.

The taxpayers of Thurston County shouldn’t be forced to pay for the commissioner’s errors in judgement.

Posted in Government, History, Local Politics, The Real News

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