Sunday, July 22, 2007

Good-Bye to Three Good Employees

The Clatsop District Attorney's Office will soon lose a total of 25 years of experience when three valued employees leave the District Attorney's Office over the next month. District Attorney Josh Marquis explained that Peggy Tomlin, a senior trial assistant who had worked for the Office for almost 11 years, is taking a much-deserved retirement on July 20. "We're going to miss Peggy very much," Marquis said. "She came to us with lots of experience in the Portland D.A.'s office and is the first person to ever retire from the Clatsop County D.A.'s office."

Also departing in August are Senior Deputy District Attorney Mark Lang and Deputy District Attorney Sharon Waldman.

Lang has been with the D.A.'s office for more than nine years and leaves as the senior deputy district attorney having specialized in cases of elder abuse, vehicular assault and embezzlement cases. "Mark's leaving is a real loss to the community," Marquis said. Lang will become Executive Director of the Western Sierra Medical Clinic in Downieville, in California's Gold Rush Country in the Sierras, where Lang's family lives.

Sharon Waldman has been a prosecutor for five years, having first worked as a judicial clerk for Judge Paula Brownhill. Waldman specialized in fish-and-game cases as well as a wide variety of crimes. Waldman will be entering private practice in Astoria with attorney Glenn Faber (who served as Clatsop County's chief deputy D.A. during the late 1980s). Waldman will be handling child custody, wills, divorce and real estate law in her new practice. Marquis said that "Waldman had done tremendous work as a Deputy D.A. and will do very well for her future clients."

Marquis said that while it is unusual for so many dedicated employees to leave during a short time period, for each of them opportunities arose which made their choices right for them at this time. "We are very lucky to have an incredibly dedicated staff of prosecutors, trial assistants, and victims' assistants," Marquis said. "On top of doing twice as much work as similar offices according to a county study last year, the men and women of the District Attorney's Office maintain a great team spirit even as they moved into greatly reduced office space to save costs on the remodeling of the courthouse."

The District Attorney's Office worked through its two-day move but is now open to the public on the main floor of the courthouse, in what was formerly the Clerk and Elections' Office.

Marquis said they were already screening applicants to fill the vacancy left by Peggy Tomlin and will be seeking applications for the two deputy prosecutor positions, which constitute a third of the lawyer staff in the office.

Marquis said that the County Commission's decision to cut the D.A.'s staff first of all county functions if there's a future budget crunch would present some challenges in hiring new staff. "We never run out of customers and never advertise for more work. Our goal is to make Clatsop County a safe and decent place for all its citizens."

For more information call Josh Marquis at 503-338-3614.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Citizens Act

A genuine grass roots coalition including the Chairs of the County Democratic and Republican Committees, along with former County Commission Vice Chair Don Haskell, gunsmith Sky Olsen, Steve Phillips and Myrna Patrick have formed the Committee to Retain the Independence of the Office of the District Attorney. Their intent is to amend the County's Home Rule Charter and provide a long-term fix to provide responsible and stable funding for the office of the District Attorney.

I obviously support the Committee, and not just because it addresses my personal situation. Much more importantly, their proposal gets at the core issue: Is the constitutional office of the District Attorney independent or can the DA be punished by the County Commissioners for his or her independence.

Since the Commissioners abruptly eliminated the supplemental salary they had provided over the previous 13 years of my service, thereby cutting my salary by 16 percent, many people have come up to me in stores, on the street, and called me and asked, What can I do?If you are so inclined, contact the Committee at independentda@gmail.com.

Their website is www.independentda.com.