Thursday, June 9, 2016

Paul Murphy as State's Attorney? Not Again, Please!

Mike Larson was concerned about the encroachment of farm crops into the road ditches in the county. Encroachment is damaging to the drainage capabilities for which the ditches were designed by engineers to protect the roads. He wants the Commission to give landowners notice of their encroachment and collect money for any damage that they may have caused. He wants the commission to enforce the Century Code laws regarding this issue.
Mike Sherman had questions about the gas piping and heating units that may or may not be needed in the new shop. He wants the commission to determine exactly what is needed for the project so he knows what to do. He had good ideas for saving money on the project. He wondered when everyone would get paid for the work they had already done.
Sheriff Mattice gave his stats for the month of May. They had 182 calls. One deputy resigned and they will be looking for a replacement.
Jess Earle, Emergency Manager, gave her monthly report and discussed the safety aspects of the Courthouse. They're synchronizing emergency radios throughout the county. There will be a full-scale planning activity in the Armory on June 10th.
Russ Heidt discussed his meeting with the architect and contractors about fixing the Courthouse dome for around $250,000. Chairman Dreher said they don't have money at this point to address such a huge project. They agreed that Russ will patch the dome and slow down the deterioration until the county can pay for a complete renovation.
Bids were opened regarding a County road project and the bid was awarded to Knife River for $1,496,458 which was over $100,000 less than the nearest bid.
Auditor Casey Cables discussed the subject of raising salaries for county employees. She gave comparisons of Foster County salaries to other similar counties. Employees say that their salaries/benefits are low compared to other counties. Cables said that the opening for County Auditor is due by June 10th and interviews will be on June 16th.
Ted Keller appeared to discuss the qualifications of the State's Attorney position. He enumerated many facts/reasons that Ex-State's Attorney Paul Murphy is not a good choice for the position. For instance: 1) Murphy advised the commission to break the law regarding the shop building, that their insurance would pay for any problem. 2) He cost the county $15,000 that should be paid back to the county. 3) He was asked questions many times for legal advice but seldom ever got back to the commissioners with answers. 4) He did not show due diligence regarding his job and the legal research needed to give good legal advice to the commission. 5) When he resigned, he notified multiple media sources, ridiculed the county, and verbally attacked personal lives of certain commissioners. 6) Murphy used his position to threaten Keller who published a story that the state's attorney didn't like. He warned that the law could be his enemy or his friend.
Keller feels that someone so irresponsible should be kept from serving as State's Attorney.
Chairman Dreher said that the Attorney General is sending someone to cover any court cases if the commission can't come with a decision on appointing a State's Attorney. Commissioner Copenhaver said why delay appointing Murphy if he will most likely be elected to the position if he is the only one running. Chairman Dreher said that he disliked the way Murphy ran away from the last meeting while they were trying to discuss concerns of the commission. Commissioner Gussiaas said that he wants what's best for the county, but that he will not nominate him, second a motion or work with him because Murphy can't seem to sit down and rationally discuss issues necessary for the welfare of the community. The meeting ended with the commission not appointing Murphy as State's Attorney.
The commission discussed that for procedural questions, they can contact the North Dakota Association of Counties, and for election questions, they can contact the Secretary of State's office. Court cases will be handled by someone sent by the ND Attorney General until someone is appointed or elected as Foster County State's Attorney.
Note: At the coming June 14th Primary Election, the Foster County community has a chance to vote on a measure which will give the commission permission to "appoint" a State's Attorney for the county - instead of having it be an "elected" office as it is now. Other counties are doing the same thing because of the lack of qualified attorneys who are willing to run for the office of State's Attorney. 

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