Judge’s decision validates prior resignation
Judge James Manley’s Jan. 18 decision to dissolve the Flathead Joint Board of Control (FJBC) validated my view when I resigned one year ago that I could not remain on an illegal board that was operating illegally. Shortly before I resigned, Judge Manley ruled that the FJBC’s attempt to cancel the May 2016 commissioner’s election and its refusal to seat the winners were illegal.
I also was concerned about fiscal mismanagement. In mid-2016, another FJBC commissioner and I called for an independent audit because we found large-scale budget misreporting. Shortly after I resigned, new information surfaced that forced the FJBC to finally conduct an audit. The discovery that $210,000 dollars was missing led to a FBI investigation which is ongoing.
When we exposed the budget misreporting at the August 2016 FJBC meeting, we were verbally attacked by other commissioners. Former commissioner Jerry Laskody invoked Hillary Clinton’s much criticized Benghazi defense: “what does it matter now.” A Lake County commissioner then stood up and pointed out that commissioners had fiduciary responsibilities.
Resigning was not easy, but I felt my legal risks were too high given that lawyers widely cast their nets in a lawsuit. For example, I was listed as a defendant in the lawsuit against the FJBC even though I had opposed cancelation and sought to have the winners seated.
I am hopeful that all commissioners in the three districts that made up the FJBC will recognize the need to adopt sound fiscal policies and make all decisions in conformance with Montana law.