John Ross Ferrara / Wednesday, March 2 @ 3:40 p.m. / Local Government, Oregon
Curry Commissioner Chris Paasch Threatens Lawsuit Against Fellow Commissioner and the County Over Alleged Email Claiming Corruption; Offers to Drop Suit if Boice Resigns
Today's Board of Commissioners meeting.
Curry County Commissioner Chris Paasch took aim at fellow board member Court Boice during today’s business meeting, threatening to bring lawsuits against him — and possibly the County — for an accusatory email allegedly sent out by Boice in early February.
According to Paasch, Boice sent an email to members of the public using Curry County letterhead stating that Paasch was guilty of corruption and other crimes.
“In the last several weeks, I have endured personal attacks from Commissioner Boice,” Paasch said. “Some were just words … But now, he has put in writing that I am a corrupt official. To me, my reputation is imperative and those words can not be taken lightly.”
The letter in question, which Paasch declined to provide, was the subject of an intense 10-minute talk that headed the discussion portion of today’s meeting. Pasch put the discussion on the agenda prior to the meeting. However, the agenda item was vaguely listed as “Curry [County’s] Liability to Loss Due to Current Events,” and only offered the following description: “Board to discuss the current events internally and the liability it faces and how we will deal with it as a board and a County.”
The agenda item allegedly surprised Boice, who took personal offense to not receiving a warning about the discussion leading up to today’s meeting.
“This should have been a public open agenda item,” Boice said. “I had no warning that this was coming.”
During the discussion, Paasch also proceeded to list reasons why he believes Boice should step down from his position as Curry County Commissioner.
“This is constantly going on in this County with Commissioner Boice,” Paasch said. "He continually [accuses] people of not doing their jobs, berating their performances, and threatening to fire them. He tells others to do the work he should be doing, all while taking the credit for [himself]. He accuses others of wasting money, but approves financial decisions liberally if they fit him and tells the people he is watching every dollar he is spending, while spending money on things not advised.”
Boice’s reputation for creating a toxic work environment within the County has been well documented. In past meetings, conversations between Boice and Paasch have fluctuated between pleasant discourse and vicious argument. However, Paasch said that today’s issue has permanently tarnished any friendship they shared.
“Commissioner Boice, I believe you are a good man,” Paasch said. “To all of us who know your public hellos and your smiles, you are a person that most of us, including me, want as a friend. But to know you as the man I see here behind closed doors, and the lengths [that] you are willing to go to make yourself look good while running right over the top of other people — in my opinion — is immeasurable. I really want you to be a friend. I want to know the friend that I met several years ago, but I think being in this office has changed you into a man that I can forgive, but will never be a friend to again.”
When asked to provide proof of the alleged corruption mentioned in the letter, Boice briefly discussed a time when Paasch allegedly violated Oregon state law by calling a meeting without proper notice.
“I could offer you one thing, of several,” Boice said. “You and Treasurer [David] Barnes called an illegal meeting on March 3, when I had 11 minutes warning. So no 24-hour notice [was given] to the public. Why don't we just get all this out in the open?”
Boice said that he plans to hold a presentation in the coming weeks in response to today’s discussion.
“I’m going to have a presentation now that you’ve brought this up,” Boice said. “As soon as my attorneys say it's okay. If that’s the way you want to take it. Unfortunately it's a line you’ve drawn into the sand.”
When asked if he actually planned to file a lawsuit against Boice or the County, Paasch told the Outpost that he would consider dropping the case if Boice resigns.
“In my opinion, he is an expert at deflecting this kind of thing by blaming others for things to get the light off himself,” he said. “A Commissioner should answer for his actions and his resignation is warranted. If that were to happen, I would not [sue]. However, I have asked my Attorney to give this more time to see Commissioner Boice’s next steps. The problem with suing the County is the citizens are the ones that will have to pay and that isn’t fair to them.”