Harvey’s ethics case slated for Friday | Local News
The Oregon government ethics commission is due to determine on Friday, June 11 whether Bill Harvey, chairman of the Baker County Council of Commissioners, broke state ethics laws last year.
The ethics committee was originally scheduled to review Harvey’s case on April 30, but he had scheduling conflicts that day and the case was postponed to the June 11 meeting.
Susan Myers, an Ethics Commission investigator, recommends that the Commission draw a preliminary finding that Harvey committed eight violations of ethics laws. Myers wrote in her report that she found a “preponderance of evidence” that Harvey, who was elected in 2014 and re-elected for a second four-year term in 2018, used his position to benefit himself, of his son and his son’s affairs, and that Elder Harvey did not disclose conflicts of interest as required by state law.
In a written response to the Commission, dated May 27, Harvey wrote that “the idea that I have used my County Commission position to my advantage is absurd. Who would ever want to work seven days a week, two months away from my family, and ignore what was required of me at home as a father, grandfather and husband? As an elected employee, all overtime and workload was done without additional pay for myself. “
Harvey asks the Ethics Commission to give him a warning over a conflict of interest allegation that he hired his son, William Shawn Harvey, to haul boat docks to Hewitt County Park, near Richland, in August 2020.
Bill Harvey also proposes that the Commission warn him for discussing the possibility of hiring his son to do demolition work in the building the county bought in August 2020 and which now houses the Baker County Health Department. .
The county did not hire William Harvey for this job, and Bill Harvey, who made the proposal, did not participate in the discussion.
Bill Harvey is asking the Ethics Commission to dismiss all allegations that he received more money for mileage and meals in the spring and summer of 2020 than is permitted by county travel policy.
The case began when Baker County District Attorney Greg Baxter filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission on September 16, 2020. The Ethics Commission voted 6-0 on November 6, 2020 to appoint an investigator in charge. examine the allegations in The Baxter Letter.
Harvey concedes that he hired his son to help move the docks and that the county paid William Harvey $ 1,710 for the work.
In his May written response to the Ethics Commission, Bill Harvey wrote that there was a three day window to move the docks and that he mentioned his intention to hire his son to fellow commissioner Mark Bennett .
Harvey said Bennett told him the idea “looks good to me.”
Bennett said in January 2021 that Harvey mentioned, in a brief conversation at the county courthouse, that he had found docks for sale and that he planned to ask his son to help him move. Bennett told Myers, the Ethics Commission investigator, that he did not view his statement as an official endorsement of Harvey’s plan, but rather as a “conceptual” idea, which would be decided upon by the three commissioners during the process. of a public meeting.
But Harvey maintains that, given the limited time frame, he took Bennett’s statement as tacit approval.
“It makes no sense to think that (Bennett) thought my request was conceptual and that the plan would go to the county commission given that there was only a three day window,” Harvey wrote in his response. to the ethics committee. “If Commissioner Bennett had said ‘no, we have to review this’, of course I would not have gone ahead.”
In his written response to the Ethics Commission, Harvey concedes that he offered to hire his son to help with the demolition of the building at 2200 Fourth Street. But elder Harvey said after the other two commissioners – Bennett and Bruce Nichols – filed the case, he withdrew his proposal. Her son was not hired to do any work on the building.
Myers, after reviewing reimbursement forms for Harvey’s trip, primarily at Hewitt and Holcomb County Parks near Richland, concluded that Harvey had submitted 32 mileage claims at a rate of 54.5 cents per mile. This is the higher of the two county rates, and one is only paid when a county vehicle is not available. When an employee chooses to use a personal vehicle, even if a county vehicle is available, the mileage reimbursement rate is 35 cents per mile.
The 32 claims Harvey submitted totaled $ 535.42 more than he would have received with the 35-cent rate, Myers wrote.
In his written response to the Ethics Commission, Harvey notes that none of the three available vehicles mentioned by Myers in his report is a pickup truck.
Harvey wrote that he used his personal work van, rather than one of the county vehicles, as he needed a van to transport various items.
an air compressor, wheelbarrow, and other equipment he used both in county parks and at the Bishop Springs rest area along Highway 86 between Baker City and Richland.
Harvey disputes Myers’ finding that he violated the county’s mileage reimbursement policy. He also questions Myers’ claim that other departments in the county have vans to loan to other departments.
“The report does not specifically mention what these departments are, if a truck was available on the dates in question and appears to be an unfounded general comment,” Harvey wrote.
Myers also argues that Harvey violated state law by receiving 36 meal reimbursements while working in county parks, as he ate those meals as part of the regular duties of the park superintendent, a position he he “chose to assume”.
Harvey, in his written response, disputes this qualification.
“It was stated that I CHOSEN to be the Director of Parks. It’s 100% wrong, ”Harvey wrote. “I happen to have the Parks Department under my supervision and have had it for over 6 years. “Choose” is not the correct term, but it was my RESPONSIBILITY in a very difficult time of COVID-19, Governor Brown’s tenures and personnel difficulties. While it may seem like I was acting as the park superintendent, I was actually fulfilling my role as full-time county commission chairman first and foremast. This is what we do as County Commissioners! Everything you need to do the work of the citizens who elected us to represent them.