Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Thursday, Sept. 22 @ 12:45 p.m. / Local Government
Commissioner Boice Demands County Treasurer's Resignation; Colleagues Quote From Bible, Remind Boice of Past Conflicts With Other Officials, Refuse
Today's Board of Commisioners Meeting. | Curry County
Curry County Commissioner Court Boice demanded his colleagues call for County Treasurer David Barnes’s resignation in a heated exchange Wednesday that included the sheriff, John Ward, and dredged up grievances against both elected officials dating back to the Chetco Bar Fire five years ago.
In a presentation on ethics and the conduct of public servants, Boice accused Barnes of asking “no less than six” public officials to resign, yelling profanity at employees in his office and committing perjury in a June 21, 2021 lawsuit against him. In addition to demanding Barnes’s resignation, Boice called on his colleagues to issue a vote of no confidence against the county treasurer.
“I’ve had some tough opponents in my 68 years — lazy bureaucrats, demanding river guides and dishonest politicians — but I’ve never experienced anything like the anger and hate of David Barnes,” Boice told his colleagues, calling Barnes tyrannical and accusing him of creating a toxic work environment. “I have two years and three months to keep solving problems, keep looking for the best possible Curry successes — the best management. Many phony, bad and dishonest people have left here in the last 26 months. Now, Mr. Barnes has to go. There’s an old saying, if you want to clean water, you got to get the pigs out of the crick.”
Boice’s colleague, Chairman John Herzog, didn’t allow Barnes to respond to Boice’s comments. However, Herzog refused Boice’s demands, citing the Bible verses he used to open Wednesday’s meeting.
“You know the story I’m going to quote right here when the lady was found guilty of adultery and our lord and savior, Jesus Christ, started scribbling in the dirt and he said, ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ I can’t cast that stone,” Herzog told Boice. “Like I read this morning, I’m guilty. I’m just a sinner saved by grace and so I cannot cast the first stone to David or anybody.”
Their colleague Chris Paasch also refused Boice’s demands regarding Barnes.
Earlier this year, Paasch threatened to sue Boice over an email Boice allegedly sent on county letterhead accusing Paasch of corruption.
On Wednesday, Paasch brought up his past conflict with Boice, reminding him that the Feb. 6, 2022 email also called Herzog weak. Paasch also accused Boice of calling Ward a liar in another letter — an accusation Boice denied.
“If you want to have ethics and you want to have civility in this county — we need to worry about the logs in our own eye before we worry about the twig in someone else’s,” Paasch told Boice, also paraphrasing the Bible.
Wednesday’s conflict between Boice and Barnes started when Boice asked Herzog to pull an item off the agenda that requested using $5,000 in American Rescue Plan Act dollars for a salmon values study conducted by the EcoNorthwest with Coos and Curry counties and the Coquille Tribe as stakeholders.
Boice, who operates Bandon Bay Jets, said the study had the potential to be important regarding Curry County’s “economic foundation.” However, Boice said, Barnes stated that the county’s contribution to its funding wasn’t allowed under ARPA guidelines.
“No other treasurer in the State of Oregon gives himself that kind of authority,” Boice said of Barnes. "Now, however, through our work and relationship to the Coquille Tribe… they have kindly offered to pay $5,000 on behalf of Curry County.”
During public comment — before Boice’s presentation — Barnes also referred to the Feb. 6, 2022 email where Boice also said Barnes was “very dishonest.”
“Not one of us has ever had a formal charge leveled against us based on his wild accusations,” Barnes told the Board of Commissioners. “Mr. Boice has had 10 or 11 people file charges against him. One of the indisputable traits of a narcissist is when they accuse others, it’s actually an admission of their own behaviors.”
Barnes said he opposed Boice’s proposal to use American Rescue Plan dollars to help fund the salmon study because he didn’t think it was an eligible expense. Barnes said Curry County Counsel Anthony Pope backed that opinion up.
On Thursday, Barnes told the Wild Rivers Outpost that if he was given a chance to speak following Boice's presentation, he would have refuted every accusation the commissioner levied against him. Boice's allegation that treasurer swore at an employee was taken out of context, Barnes said.
"I did not yell at her. She did not leave my office in tears," Barnes told the Outpost. "We had a conversation about something. She went and said something to Court, I guess. I went and saw her a half hour later and I apologized to her. Everything was fine. WE still talk when we see each other."
Barnes said he was appointed to the county treasurer position after his two predecessors quit after about two days in the office. He said he was asked to put in for the job by people he "respects and admires."
Barnes is running unopposed for the Curry County Treasurer position on the November ballot. If re-elected, he will serve a four-year term.
"It's very sad, everything that's going on here," Barnes told the Outpost. "There's the deflection, the transference, the projection — whatever you want to call it. It's a shame."
On Wednesday, when Boice stepped down from the podium, Ward reiterated Paasch’s comments about Boice calling him a liar, referring to an email Boice sent to him on April 29, 2021. According to Ward, in that email Boice sent to him, the Curry County commissioner states the breakdowns, “now numerous,” stem from the Chetco Bar Fire in 2017 “when you told my son, a 20-year Oregon State Police detective, that I was a problem.”
Ward continued to read from yet another email he said Boice sent to him complaining that Ward said he was under an internal investigation and has two felonies against him.
“‘You remain silent while at the same time pushing your social media garbage, knowing I have been falsely accused over and over again,’” Ward read from Boice’s email.
Ward accused Boice of attacking people and said he wasn’t going to put up with it.
“You’re one of three commissioners,” he said. “You have to make a decision that’s (part of) three. You keep going out on your own and trying to do things that you have no authority to do.”
Boice said he stood behind the emails Ward quoted from.