Clallam County Auditor Patty Rosand testifies Wednesday before a state Department of Licensing dispute review panel in Port Angeles. Listening to her response to questioning from county Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols are panelists

Clallam County Auditor Patty Rosand testifies Wednesday before a state Department of Licensing dispute review panel in Port Angeles. Listening to her response to questioning from county Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols are panelists

Two-day hearing ends with tearful apology by Sequim subagent

PORT ANGELES — Fired Sequim Vehicle/Vessel Licensing subagent Karen Shewbert broke down in tears Wednesday during a state dispute review panelist’s questioning, saying if she had it to do all over, she would have communicated better with her contract agent since 2007, Clallam County Auditor Patty Rosand, who terminated her contract in May.

“I would have made more of an attempt for her to talk to me and not settling things by mail,” Shewbert told a member of the state Department of Licensing Dispute Review Board, which is considering her appeal.

“The ball just kept getting dropped, and Ms. Rosand and I were not communicating, and things were not getting resolved . . . and that was not my intention,” Shewbert said.

Shewbert responded to questions from the dispute review board’s chairman, Bill Cox, a state appointee with the Cascade Licensing Agency, a state licensing subagent center.

Cox was joined on the panel by Kittitas County Auditor Jerry Pettit and Jan Smallwood, state Department of Licensing operations director.

Shewbert ran the Clallam County-contracted licensing office in Sequim for 13 years before Rosand terminated her contract May 17.

Rosand said she plans to reopen the Sequim licensing office at a later date.

Breach of contract?

At issue in Shewbert’s appeal is whether Rosand terminated her for cause.

The county auditor said Shewbert breached her contract by not providing appropriate financial documents.

Rosand, the contract agent who answers to the Department of Licensing, said she tried every avenue she knew to build a working relationship with Shewbert.

“From the beginning, I felt that she didn’t want a good working relationship,” Rosand told the panel that is considering Shewbert’s appeal for reinstatement to the Sequim job.

“It was business by contract alone,” Rosand said, adding that she made every attempt to work with Shewbert.

Rosand said the final straw came when Shewbert did not provide the Auditor’s Office with financial records this year from May through September.

Partly at issue was the form of Shewbert’s reporting to Rosand, who asked for monthly check register reports, bank re­conciliation statements and on computer programs compatible with the Auditor’s Office spreadsheet computer programs.

Shewbert said she stopped sending reports to Rosand through the mail because she believed it was going nowhere, and no county audits were taking place at her office.

Ten days to review

The dispute review board has up to 10 days from Wednesday to make a decision as to whether Shewbert’s firing was for cause.

Given the volumes of documents and in-depth testimony attorneys for Shewbert and Rosand brought forward Tuesday and Wednesday during the hearing, the panel could take that long, Cox said.

Both were called back to testify near the end of an almost two-day hearing on Shewbert’s appeal that included other testimony from the county auditor’s chief accountant, Stan Creasey, who criticized Shewbert’s accounting accuracy and practices; and Sheila Hadden, Department of Licensing Vehicle/Vessel Licensing manager, who said she agreed with Rosand and believed the facts showed Shewbert was in breach of her contract for failure to provide the auditor the financial documents the state requires.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2390 or at [email protected]

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