COUNTY JUSTICE DIRECTOR TERMINATED

January 30, 2001 11:00 pm

GOLD BEACH Ron Mathis, Curry County Community Justice director, was terminated, effective today (Jan. 31), in an executive session of the Curry County commissioners Monday.

The commissioners issued a copy of the termination order following their 1:30 p.m. meeting that said Mathis was an at will employee.

The order said the new administration feels that it is time for a change within the Community Justice Department.

It said Mathis would receive two weeks severance pay plus cash compensation for accrued vacation leave.

The commissioners would not give any reason for the termination or comment on it, beyond saying that department heads serve at the will of the commissioners.

Mathis said Tuesday that he was given no cause and that the commissioners refused to discuss issues.

He said they indicated they were interested in taking the department in a new direction, but when asked what that might be, said they didnt know yet.

The commissioners will hold a special meeting today at 1:30 p.m. in the commissioners hearing room to decide what to do with the department in the short run.

He also said the commissioners mentioned there had been complaints about him from people, but wouldnt say who they were or what they said.

Mathis said he thought the meeting was to be a problem solving session where the commissioners would indicate where they wanted the department to go, and how long he would have to get it there.

He termed what happened instead a broadside.

While Mathis said he was led to believe the executive session would be a problem solving meeting, Pilot reporter Marge Woodfin heard a rumor Monday morning that Mathis had already been fired.

I was very hurt by the unjustness of it all, said Mathis. I think its wrong. Its really unfair.

He said he is contacting labor law attorneys from outside Curry County.

Mathis said former commissioners Lloyd Olds and Bill Roberts gave him a great performance review before they left office. He said he also recently received a perfect performance report from the Oregon Department of Corrections.

Mathis said the liaison commissioner to his department, Marlyn Schafer, never talked about solving problems with him.

I was never given an opportunity to work as a team member, he said. I was able to work as a team member with the last commissioners.

The new commissioners never took time to talk with me and assess my performance.

Mathis said his termination was politically motivated. He said Judges Hugh Downer and Richard Mickelson had bragged that they would get him out of the department when the new commissioners came in.

The commissioners were working under intimidation, he said, with the judges pressuring them.

The two judges, and virtually every law enforcement official in the county, opposed Olds and Roberts when they combined the adult and juvenile corrections programs into one department and hired Mathis to run it.

Mathis said that at the time, the judges demanded the proposal go through the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council.

He said there was no mention of that kind of process now.

Its a double standard, he said. What happened to me is a reflection of that.

Mathis said the community loses with such a double standard. He is concerned about what will happen to the concept of restorative justice in the county.

Mathis said that concept, supported by Olds and Roberts, held offenders accountable to the community, but also built them up to rejoin society as productive members.

Hook em and book em doesnt work, he said. You cant build them up into law-abiding citizens by constantly threatening them.

Mathis was beginning to integrate the adult and juvenile programs so that family members with problems could be referred to either division.