SEQUIM — The state Department of Licensing has set a hearing in Port Angeles to consider if Karen Shewbert, who had served as auto license registration and plate subagent in Sequim for 12 years, was wrongfully terminated.
Clallam County Auditor Patty Rosand fired Shewbert last month, saying Shewbert failed to report all of her records to the auditor as required under her 10-year contract, a charge Shewbert vehemently denied.
The hearing is scheduled at 9 a.m. June 19 at the Department of Transportation Maintenance Building conference room, 1707 S. C St.
Rosand, meanwhile, is working through Licensing to contract with a new subagent who would open an office in Sequim.
Department of Licensing’s Dispute Review Board will consider Shewbert’s appeal.
“We’re going through with the hearing to get her reinstated,” said Shewbert’s Sequim attorney, Craig Miller.
“We don’t think there was cause for her to be terminated.”
Rosand will be represented by Chief County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols.
Rosand said her intent is to find and contract with another subagent in Sequim, where there is need for such a service.
“On May 23, I sent in a request to Department of Licensing requesting a replacement subagency,” Rosand said.
“Once I hear back from [state Licensing], my intention is to put in a newspaper ad requesting business proposals.
“I have calls from several people interested in the business,” she said.
Need still exists
Rosand said the need for an office still exists, and it was up to state Licensing to decide whether a Sequim office was justified.
Rosand said besides coming to Port Angeles for license tabs at her office on the first floor of the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., licensing customers have the option of mailing their renewal notices to the courthouse, going to the Jefferson County auditor at 1820 Jefferson St. in Port Townsend or visiting www.dol.wa.gov to purchase tabs using their debit or credit cards.
The convenience fees charged to customers using the subagency are not charged at county auditor offices, Rosand said.
Like Shewbert, the subagent would act as an independent business contracted by the county auditor and state Licensing.
“Whoever applies has to come up with a business plan,” she said, including an office location with proper parking and disabled access, and computer technology and wiring.
The subagent sets his or her own hours and can be located inside an existing business, which is the case in Forks, where the licensing contractor is inside an auto-parts business.
Rosand terminated Shewbert a day after a Superior Court hearing before acting Court Commissioner William Knebes in which lawyers for Shewbert, Rosand and the state Department of Licensing agreed on an audit to allow Rosand to determine if Shewbert’s contract was in breach and should be terminated.
Shewbert through her Sequim attorney, Craig Miller, originally had sought a court injunction against Rosand’s office that would allow the office to remain open until the case could be appealed before an independent Department of Licensing review panel within the next 30 days.
The office was closed May 18.
Shewbert owned and operated the office for the county and state Department of Licensing for 12 years at 1001 E. Washington St., serving customers in East Clallam and Jefferson counties.
Along with Shewbert, her full-time office clerk, Christine Henderson, and two part-timers, Sylvia Giddens and Cindy Clardy, lost jobs.
“We’re all out of work,” a tearful Shewbert said at the time.
________Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2390 or at [email protected]