Brookings City Councilor and Port of Brookings-Harbor Commissioner Roger Thompson was arrested for driving under the influence Friday night in California.
According to the California Highway Patrol, Thompson abruptly pulled up behind a patrol car near Gasquet enroute to Grants Pass. Two breath tests indicated he had a blood alcohol level of .061 and .09. The legal limit for intoxication in California is 0.08. Thompson was taken to jail and released at 4 p.m.; his next court date is May 15.
Thompson has one prior conviction for DUII, from June 2010, and to which he was sentenced to 24 months’ probation, 48 hours in jail, a one-year license suspension, ordered to enroll in an alcohol treatment program and fined $2,635; he successfully completed the terms of his probation.
Port President Angi Christian’s said any decision about Thompson stepping down was not for the board to make. She declined to elaborate further. The board has a regular meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Harbor Fire Hall.
Brookings Mayor Jake Pieper also said there are numerous citations in the city’s municipal code addressing when an elected official should step down, but driving under the influence is not among them. He planned to talk to Thompson later today.
The news hit social media over the weekend, with some people calling for his resignation from the two boards on which he sits.
It’s not the first time Thompson has run into ethical or legal problems while seated on a public board.
Last June, former Port Director Ted Fitzgerald filed an ethics complaint against Thompson; in January, the state Government Ethics Commission found Thompson guilty of violating rules by demanding in July 2015 to be sworn in early as a commissioner — and in a secret board meeting — so he could get leases for two vacant port buildings at a price below their actual value.
The board also found him guilty of trying to get a better deal for his then-girlfriend — and current port president — Angi Christian — for rental space for her business on the port boardwalk. The deal cut was for less than half that of what others were paying.
The ethics violation and his vote to fire Gary Dehlinger as port manager in January have resulted in demands from the public that he relinquish his seat at the port. Thompson was one of four — the others were Christian and commissioners Andy Martin and Jan Barbas — who voted to oust Dehlinger; Commissioner Roy Davis was the sole dissenting vote against Dehlinger’s termination.
His attorney has filed suit claiming the meeting was illegal because Dehlinger was not offered to have the matter conducted in a public hearing, which with he said he would have opted.
That decision resulted in a flurry of activity among port staff, one of whom quit and started a recall petition against the four commissioners.
Dehlinger was shortly thereafter offered his job back, but is only speaking through his attorney. Kathy Lindley Hall, a former port commissioner, has taken over as interim port manager until the board appoints someone permanently.
Story will be updated as matters unfold.