After a contentious and sometimes heated meeting, Court Boice was elected chair of the Curry County Board of Commissioners and by a 2-1 vote, commissioners removed a censure placed on Boice last year.
With John Herzog taking his seat on the board Monday, Boice nominated himself for chair and Herzog joined Boice in a 2-1 vote. Former chair Chris Paasch voted no. The three board members then chose Herzog as vice chair, even against Herzog’s protests.
“I would rather just sit here a year, but I’m at your wishes,” he said.
Later in the meeting, Boice asked the commission to erase the censure he was given in November. At the time, the board voted 2-1 to censure Boice after he responded to some issues at a county park himself rather than involving the park liaison, who was Commissioner Sue Gold.
“If someone really wants to know if that censure was valid, the records are clear,” Boice said. “I went through proper channels. I was to start off the year with at least the clear, it wasn’t reasonable. The censure is really a black eye for this county. Other counties don’t work this way. It was a horrible mistake to begin with.”
Paasch tried to explain the reasons for the censure to Herzog, explaining while Boice was parks liaison the parks coordinator had issues with Boice and asked for him to be removed. When a new parks director had similar issues, the board made Gold the liaison.
“On several occasions it seemed like Commissioner Boice was acting out of his lane,” Paasch said. “He was still communicating with and interacting with people at the parks. We asked Commissioner Boice on several occasions not to interfere. It seemed as though Commissioner Boice had them answer directly to him on issues. The board asked him on two occasions, once in executive session and once in public, to not do that.”
Paasch said his concern was the county could be liable in a lawsuit. When he talked to CIS, the county’s insurance company, he was told the first step in such occasions is to censure the offending commissioner.
“The censure was to protect the citizens of Curry County from a potential lawsuit for employees,” Paasch explained.
But, of course, Boice disagreed.
“This is tearing our county up,” he said. “I begged you to do a thorough review. I’m asking the board to reverse the censure and start over. This is not due process. This is prove yourself innocent.
“If you want to keep me under that cloud, it’s not going to work long-term. People will know the truth. Maybe the censure should stick if nobody sees the injustice and I’ve proven my innocence. It could have been avoided in the beginning.”
After listening during the debate, Herzog finally spoke up.
“I will make a motion to do away with the censure on the basic fact we have a new board, a new board member,” Herzog said. “I want to start off with a clean slate. It didn’t have to be brought up in an open meeting, but it is. That’s my motion, that we start off with a brand new slate, there is no censure.”
But Paasch objected and refused to second the motion.
“This isn’t about starting off a new year,” he said. “This is about something that happened last year. This is about protecting the county.”
Boice then second the motion, before Herzog added some more thoughts.
“Concerning liaisons, you know the rules,” he said. “I’m not a liaison yet, and I understand it. As long as we understand that, I’m OK with getting rid of it. We’ve got to work together, the three of us.”
You may just be the person to do the impossible and pull this board together,” Boice said before calling for a vote. The vote passed 2-1 with Paasch voting no.
“I told Commissioner Boice I did not want to do this, but it was absolutely necessary,” Paasch said.