PORT ANGELES — Clallam County Commissioner Mike Chapman volunteered this week to resign as chairman of the board, but no one accepted his offer.
“’I’ll just throw this out,” he told Commissioners Mike Doherty and Jim McEntire on Monday.
“It may be time to have a new chair and just let somebody else have a shot of running the meetings . . . because apparently it isn’t working for the two of you.”
Doherty and McEntire declined to accept the offer, keeping the gavel with Chapman.
The discussion was framed by a proposal from McEntire to amend the board’s operating guidelines and agenda format.
McEntire suggested moving more lengthy discussions to the end of the Monday work sessions and Tuesday business meetings to give the public and county staff more predictability in the schedule.
He also proposed a new policy chapter that defines procedures for the meetings, which are loosely based on Robert’s Rules of Order.
Doherty said the proposal had the potential to “stifle debate” and silence a minority option.
McEntire said that was not his intention. He said he brainstormed the proposal out of “deference to the audience.”
“It’s more of a scheduling matter,” McEntire said.
Commissioner meetings, particularly work sessions, have been increasingly contentious and lengthy in recent months.
Doherty has voiced displeasure in several meetings about his colleagues’ perceived lack of action on topics including climate change, marijuana zoning and the recent investigative report into employee complaints against Community Development Director Sheila Roark Miller.
As a remedy, Doherty suggested that the chairman postpone longer discussion for previously scheduled matters.
“Tweak away,” McEntire said.
“The intent, as I said before, was to take the more free-form things that might generate a lengthy discussion and put those to where the public is not being inconvenienced by them.”
Chapman conceded that there has been a problem with the way meetings are run.
“Either one of you could do a great job as chair,” Chapman said.
“I’ve been doing this for a year and a half, and it’s just getting worse and worse.
“And quite frankly, I’m not having any fun trying to run these meetings. I’m getting accused of stuff that I’m not doing, and I don’t really need it anymore.”
“And you specifically are not happy with how the meetings are structured or run,” Chapman told Doherty, whose term ends at the end of this year.
“So I’d be more than happy to let you be the chair for the rest of the year.”
Said Doherty: “I’m satisfied with you as chair. To me, that’s not an issue.”
Doherty said he would be satisfied as long as commissioners have the ability to schedule agenda items that stem from citizen concerns.
“Overall, I tend to favor open discussions, transparency, full accountability for things in county government,” Doherty said.
Jim Jones said a commissioner-suggested item has never been kept off an agenda in his time as county administrator.
In the end, the board asked Jones to sample the structure of other county board meetings and to develop a draft proposal.
“This was just simply to get the ball rolling here,” McEntire said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.