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Employees back water district recall

Employees of the Clackamas River Water District are supporting the recall of district board members Patricia Holloway and Grafton Sterling.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, representing non-managerial staff at the district, voted Nov. 17 to support the recall effort. Earlier this month, ratepayer Naomi Angier filed petitions to recall Holloway and Sterling.

“These two board members have demonstrated they do not have the best interests of the CRW at heart,” said union representative Stacy Chamberlain. “The water district employees have called for their resignations, and it appears at this time that they have no intentions of resigning. We see no other option than to actively support the recall effort.”

Holloway responded that the recall petitioners have been making several misstatements in their efforts. The Special District Association of Oregon has never produced documentation that it would provide insurance if board members resigned. Holloway also said that, before the other board members resigned last month, they conspired to get her in legal trouble without access to CRW-paid attorneys.

“Grafton nor I never made any request for a specific amount of legal defense fees, which technically speaking we are entitled to under to law as commissioners,” she said.

Chamberlain said workers believe the new CRW board members need an opportunity to get the district back on track. “That simply won’t happen as long as Holloway and Sterling remain on the board,” she said.

AFSCME members from the water district and other local unions came to the board meeting last week to show support for new board members Kenneth Humberston, Hugh Kalani and Larry Sowa.

“Our members want the new commissioners to understand we are very much behind the effort to turn things around and get Clackamas River Water back on track,” said Chamberlain. “We are the people who do the district’s work, and no one wants things straightened out more than we do.”

Holloway said she would hold petitioners accountable if they made false statements about the recall, citing a fine of up to $125,000 and/or up to five years of prison for recall petition misstatements.

Clackamas County Circuit Judge Jeffrey S. Jones ruled Nov. 15 against a request by an attorney representing Holloway that would have blocked the county commission from appointing new members to the board.

After the ruling, a notary public swore in the new board members. County commissioners appointed the three to the board on Nov. 8.

Clackamas River Water officials had to postpone the swearing-in of the three new commissioners that had been scheduled for Nov. 13 after a circuit judge put the issue on hold until a hearing on Holloway’s challenge.

Sterling and Holloway claimed the county had no authority to replace three members of the water district board. On Oct. 30, they named Jeff Monroy to the board and then took several actions to dismiss the water district’s attorney and put General Manager Lee Moore on leave.

Holloway and Sterling plan to appeal Jones’ decision to the Oregon Appellate Court.