- About NCO
At its December 12th Board of County Commissioner’s Board meeting the Commissioners voted, 4-1 with Commissioner Patricia Roberts casting a “nay” vote, to appoint itself the governing body of the Clatsop County Housing Authority (CCHA) in place of the agency’s existing governing board. The Board cited a concern over the CCHA’s board’s ability to follow standard operating procedures and lack of doing its business at open public meetings as the reason for taking the board over.
The “new” board, comprised of four of the county commissioners, had its first meeting two days later on December 14th. Outbound Commissioner, Patricia Roberts, whose term as a county commissioner ended December 31st, declined to be a part of the meeting.
On the agenda for that meeting were six items: Elect Officers – Chair and Vice Chair, Resolution to notify Financial Institutions, Select signers for accounts, Public Records Request – Consider Withdrawal, Property Review, Pending Projects. The previous CCHA board had retained an attorney to answer the Board of Commissioners’ concerns regarding the operation of CCHA board meetings. The attorney had sent a public records request to the county on behalf of the previous board. While the new board had not met previous to this meeting and did not have a chair it is unclear who proposed that the public records request withdrawal be placed on the agenda as it had nothing to do with a standard first meeting.
At the meeting Commissioner Scott Lee was elected as the chair. During the discussion on whether or not to withdrawal the public records request made by the previous board county manager Scott Somers, who was also in attendance at the meeting, commented that another public records request had also been made, in reference to the one made by NorthCoastOregon. Chair Lee protested that he had not been sent a copy of the request and directed county staff to forward copies to the new board. An awkward silence followed Lee’s demand until Board member Huhtala reminded Lee that the CCHA board cannot direct county staff. Lee then asked county manager Somers to send the CCHA board the public records request made by NorthCoastOregon. Somers suggested to the CCHA board that since the county had “nothing to hide,” and its commitment to open governance, that they honor both records request. The board unanimously agreed.
Towards the end of the meeting Chair Lee proposed that county manager Somers be allowed to “help” the board with CCHA and the board agreed unanimously. No discussion of what this “help” would entail, what authority Somers would have in CCHA matters, or compensation for Somers’ help, was discussed at the meeting. Chairman Lee assured everyone present that the new CCHA board would conduct all its business at open public meetings, except duly publicized executive sessions, and that it had no intention of replacing CCHA staff. The only staff CCHA board has authority to hire or fire is the executive director of CCHA. The current CCHA executive director is Kathy Lucas.
Since the meeting it has been reported to NorthCoastOregon that Somers and CCHA board chairman Scott Lee showed up at the CCHA office and demanded the personnel files of all staff and management. NorthCoastOregon has received some of the documents requested in its public records request. On one handwritten note, that county has confirmed belonged to county manager Scott Somers, is written, “ask for Kathy Lucas to resign.”
NorthCoastOregon has also obtained an email from the North West Housing Authority in which its executive director states, “CCHA is placing their Executive Director on Administrative Leave and has requested to contract with NOHA to oversee the management of their properties …”. The email goes on to state that at its board meeting today NOHA needs to look at a proposed intergovernmental agreement with CCHA. As of this writing NOHA executive director, the county manager nor the chair of CCHA have answered NorthCoastOregon’s emails regarding who proposed the intergovernmental agreement to have NOHA manage CCHA properties, who told the NOHA executive director that the CCHA executive director was being put on administrative leave and when did the CCHA board meet to decide all of this.