Clackamas River Water Commissioner Grafton Sterling filed another criminal complaint against General Manager Lee Moore this week in response to a $27,665 board payment to Moore’s attorney, Michael V. Nixon.

CRW’s check listing for last month, a public document, shows that the payment was sent on Dec. 21, less than a month after board members voted 3 to 2 to block the payment.

On Nov. 27, Sterling found two allies in his opposition to a bill of $29,565 for fees that Moore incurred in the legal fight that followed two commissioners resigning from the board on Oct. 31 (“Water board decides not to pay legal bills,” Dec. 5). Commissioners Patricia Holloway and Larry Sowa also voted against the payment.

Nixon charged more than 100 hours between Oct. 30 and Nov. 24 at $300 an hour, mostly to attend hearings, read legal briefs and strategize responses to Holloway and Sterling’s action to appoint Jeff Monroy and act with him as the legitimate board. After intervention from Clackamas County officials, Circuit Judge Jeffrey S. Jones eventually ruled Nov. 15 that Holloway, Monroy and Sterling’s actions were illegal.

For Sterling, the reasoning was simple for complaining to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

“The board voted not to pay Moore’s personal attorney Nixon over $29,000 in fees,” Sterling said.

Nixon said it was within the legal power of Moore to authorize the payment at a discounted rate at the request of Sowa.

“Their decision to not reimburse Lee Moore created a whole new liability,” Nixon said.

Nixon argued that the payment was an informational item, not an action item, so it shouldn’t have been voted on. He noted that Jones’ ruling made it clear that the organization was in real danger from illegal actions.

“But for my work, the organization was inoperative,” Nixon said.

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