Adding to controversy at the port, two groups have joined forces to recall port commissioners.
The Port of Brookings Business/Citizens Association (PBBCA) and a group formed by port staff member Skylar Windham are circulating petitions to recall commissioners Angi Christian, Jan Barbas, Roger Thompson and Andy Martin.
Roy Davis, the only commissioner not on the recall list, said he supports the recalls.
“After sitting in a meeting and seeing the way (Port Manager) Gary (Dehlinger) was let go, I support the recall,” he said.
He said his strongest wish for the port was to have Dehlinger back. According to Davis, Dehlinger had the port moving in the right direction, had the finances in order and everything was transparent.
Windham’s committee filed four petitions, one for each of the targeted commissioners. PBBCA, recently founded by Gary Klein and Joe Spiers, offered to help collect signatures.
Another port employee, Danielle Shepard said, “I am strongly on board. I do support the petitions. There are multiple reasons, but the main reason is the way they went about terminating the port manager.”
Within the last month, commissioners have fired, reinstated and placed Port Manager Gary Dehlinger on paid administrative leave.
Commissioner Andy Martin said, “right now my main focus is making sure the port boat launch dock replacement moves forward. There are several deadlines quickly approaching.”
He said people have a right to try to remove someone from office if they don’t like the decisions a government body makes.
But, he added, it is easy for groups to get mad and complain. The challenge is to find realistic solutions.
The board has submitted a natural hazard mitigation plan to FEMA that may lead to significant funding for infrastructure improvements, according to Martin. He said funding has been secured to replace the boat launch docks this year.
“Improvements may not be moving as fast as some people would like, but this commission is working to repair the port infrastructure,” he said.
Board President Angi Christian said her focus was on the port, not the recall.
Commissioner Jan Barbas said, “We are working very hard on your port, and will continue to do so.”
He said the recall petition suggests a violation of Oregon’s executive session law occurred as well as a breach of contract with Dehlinger. No court has found such a violation or breach, according to Barbas.
He asked voters understand that commissioners cannot comment on the substance of these suggestions and allow these matters to work their way through the system before subjecting the port to the expense of a recall election.
Commissioner Roger Thompson declined to comment.
Shepard said port staff wants to see the port do well, wants to take care of port customers, and doesn’t see recent board actions as positively impacting the port.
Windham said, “I filed the petitions because concerned tenants and a lot of people wanted to know why Gary was fired.”
Windham added he is not blindly loyal to Dehlinger, but from the standpoint of a concerned citizen, democracy can’t happen without transparency.
Chief County Deputy Clerk Shelley Denney said each petition requires 856 signatures from registered voters to place a recall on the ballot.
The signatures must be acquired by April 16, according to Denney.
Windham said word of the recalls was, “spreading like wildfire.”
Klein took 10 copies of each petition Tuesday and needed more Wednesday, according to Windham.
He said others are circulating them as well, including some port tenants.
Klein, speaking during the commissioners meeting, said the four commissioners should resign before they are recalled and “save the port a ton of money.”
Reach Boyd C. Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org .