KITTITAS COUNTY – Kittitas County Prosecutor Greg Zempel says a recall election petition leveled by Desmond Knudson against county commissioners should be dismissed because the allegations are “factually and legally insufficient” and not supported by evidence to meet the standard of serious violation for recall.
Knudson, in response, filed on Tuesday in county Superior Court documentation he claims supports his contention that the three commissioners violated state law and their oaths of office in actions taken earlier this year.
Knudson, an Ellensburg businessman, is expected to represent himself today in court during a 3 p.m. hearing on the petition before Judge Michael Cooper.
In documents filed in court last week, Zempel, representing Commissioners Alan Crankovich, David Bowen and Mark McClain, argued that Knudson’s allegations “… fail to state any real substantial facts showing misconduct.” He said the charges “do not present with legal and factual sufficiency a specific and substantial action of misconduct” by commissioners that demonstrate they acted outside his scope of authority.
Zempel said Knudson’s allegations are “clear examples” of the type of actions that Washington courts have found insufficient in past rulings.
Knudson filed his recall election petition with the county Oct. 10, alleging the three commissioners violated their oath of office and state law by official actions. He claims they knowingly violated the state Growth Management Act by approving a land-use plan, portions of which later were found out of compliance with the act.
He also contends the three elected officials knowingly violated state law by approving a development code that included a wind farm overlay zone in east county that takes in part of the U.S. Army’s Yakima Training Center. Knudson argues he warned commissioners that state law doesn’t allow them to take that action unilaterally.
He also alleges they allowed the destruction of public records and have not upheld the wishes of the majority of the people they were elected to represent.
Knudson, a wind power advocate, also claims the commissioners, in violation of the wishes of a majority of people of Kittitas County, filed an appeal against Gov. Chris Gregoire’s approval of the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project.
Zempel, in his filed documents, contends Knudson fails to establish that the commissioners knowingly intended to violate the law in their official actions.
According to state law, the court doesn’t consider the truth of the allegations but only their sufficiency to trigger a recall election.
If the recall election petition is approved by the court, Knudson has six months to obtain enough petition signatures for a recall election to be conducted. He must gain the number of signatures of local citizens equal to 35 percent of all votes cast for the elected positions when the three commissioners were elected.
By Mike Johnston
8 November 2007
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