Wednesday, April 30, 2008

DA's stipend reinstated

Clatsop County commissioners restore Marquis' $13,500 pay addition; issue was a key controversy last year

By JOE GAMM
The Daily Astorian
Thursday, April 24, 2008

Nearly a year after the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners stripped the district attorney of a county-paid stipend to his salary, it has reversed its decision.

Saying county District Attorney Josh Marquis has complied with its requirements of providing performance-based budget measures, Commissioner Ann Samuelson suggested the stipend should be reinstated.

The board voted 3-1 to reinstate the $13,500 stipend - retroactive to April 1 - with Commissioners Samuelson, Sam Patrick and Chairwoman Patricia Roberts in favor and Commissioner Jeff Hazen opposed during Wednesday night's meeting in the Judge Guy Boyington Building.

"I'm very pleased with this," Marquis said. "It was a very unwelcome distraction for everyone."

Hazen - who made the motion to strip the DA of his stipend last May during a budget hearing - said he still has concerns about the county paying part of a state employee's salary.

"I still feel strongly that the state should be paying in full on this," he said. "I'm going to remain firm in my decision."

The conflict over the DA's stipend began at the May 14, 2007, county budget hearing, when Hazen made his motion to strip the DA of the stipend. Budget committee members favored this in a 7-2 vote. During the Board of Commissioners' regular meeting June 27, members voted 4-1, with Patrick opposed and Hazen, Samuelson, Roberts and former commissioner Richard Lee in favor, to eliminating the stipend.

The decision started a protracted public battle that eventually led to supporters of reinstatement of the stipend putting a measure on last November's ballot. The measure would have changed the county charter to tie the DA's salary to a percentage of that of circuit court judges, thus reinstating the stipend.

It failed by 66 votes.

The bad feelings remained and many critics said Lee's leadership in opposition of the stipend played a role in his March 25 recall.

Wednesday's decision didn't completely satisfy stipend supporters.

Patrick asked that the stipend include an annual 3 percent cost of living increase. He made a motion to do so, but it failed for lack of a second.

The board also asked County Manager Scott Derickson to amend the 2008-2009 budget proposal to include the stipend.

"I'm asking that you put it in the budget for next year, but that it be a fixed amount at $13,500," Roberts said.

Derickson told the Board that it doesn't have authority to set the budget for next year. But the commissioners said they wanted it amended for the Budget Committee.

Hazen said he'd be willing to support the motion because it would be going to the Budget Committee for discussion.

Following the meeting, Marquis reiterated that he was pleased with the decision.

"They recognized the DA's role as a department head," Marquis said. "I'm very appreciative for Commissioner Samuelson for raising (the stipend decision) on her own."

(c)2008 The Daily Astorian

see also:

Pay restored to Oregon prosecutor with national reputation
4/24/2008, 12:31 p.m. PT
The Associated Press

ASTORIA, Ore. (AP) — District Attorney Josh Marquis has a paycheck made whole.

After a long political quarrel, the Clatsop County commission has voted to restore the local supplement to his state salary.

Marquis is a prosecutor with a national reputation as a death penalty advocate. His speeches and articles have brought him to the attention of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who cited him in a 2006 death penalty case.

Last year, the county commissioners voted to cut the local money augmenting the $84,360 in state pay for district attorneys in the 27 Oregon counties with populations of less than 100,000.

A ballot measure followed, sponsored by his allies to restore a supplement. It narrowly failed.

After that, commission Chairman Richard Lee, a foe of Marquis, was ousted in a recall election.

The spat had a history.

In the mid-1990s, Marquis unsuccessfully prosecuted Lee on a charge of violating dog licensing requirements at a breeding operation. In 2006, Marquis' wife ran unsucsessfully against Lee.

In the pay debate, Lee cited Marquis' activity outside the county and pressed him to set performance measures.

On Wednesday, the commission voted to restore $13,500 in county funds to the base salary.

Commissioner Ann Samuelson said Marquis has provided performance-based budget measures, so she could support the local stipend.

The vote was 3-1, with commissioner Jeff Hazen saying he continued to believe that the state government should provide all the pay for prosecutors.

Many counties add a local stipend to their prosecutors' salaries, although some have been cutting them as a response to budget pressures.

"I'm very pleased with this," Marquis said. "It was a very unwelcome distraction for everyone."
from The Oregonian

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