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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Outside attorney advising Clark County council

Seattle lawyer to guide councilors as they advance growth plan update

By Katie Gillespie, Columbian Education Reporter
Published: April 27, 2016, 8:18pm

After several years of work, the Clark County council is, at last, in the home stretch of its Comprehensive Growth Management Plan update.

But a workshop Wednesday hinted at continued complications as the county moves forward through the growth plan before the June 30 deadline.

Despite last week’s 3-to-2 decision by the Clark County council to waive Deputy Prosecutors Chris Horne and Chris Cook of any conflict of interest — allowing them to return to representing the council and community planning staff — the board was represented Wednesday by a new, outside attorney.

Stephen DiJulio, an attorney with Seattle firm Foster Pepper, will represent the council as it moves forward with the last chapters of its 20-year growth plan.

To Learn More

Get more information on Clark County’s 2016 Comprehensive Growth Management Plan Update at

https://www.clark.wa.gov/community-planning/2016-plan-update

“This has been a fluid analysis and on further analysis, I just decided to go with the most cautious approach,” said Prosecutor Tony Golik, who last week recommended that the council grant Horne and Cook a conflict of interest waiver. Golik said he still believes that was a “valid approach.”

Council Chair Marc Boldt, no party preference, said DiJulio was deputized to serve the county immediately before Wednesday’s morning work session.

“You were kind of thrown into it at the last minute,” Boldt said to the attorney.

Councilor David Madore in recent weeks has accused Horne and Cook of lying about the impact of Alternative 4, the Republican’s controversial zoning proposal that would have allowed for smaller lots in rural Clark County had it been enacted. He’s leveled similar accusations against Planning Director Oliver Orjiako, who has since filed whistleblower and harassment complaints against Madore.

The county has hired an investigator to look into Madore and Orjiako’s conflicting allegations. Madore has also hired his own attorney, Friday Harbor based Nick Power to represent him.

Golik, a Democrat, said he’s using “an abundance of caution” in the wake of Madore’s allegations.

“Councilor Madore is continuing his allegations, and he is represented by counsel who also expressed that he shares concerns about the waiver approach,” Golik said.

Golik said DiJulio’s rate is $450 an hour.

“This will be very costly to the county to go through and use outside counsel for this process,” Golik said. “It’s important that citizens understand that the council is getting competent and unbiased legal advice.”

He noted, however, that he still believes there’s no reason to believe Horne or Cook have ever intentionally given the council false advise, as Madore has alleged.

An email Councilor Julie Olson sent to McCauley, Golik and Boldt provides further explanation for the county’s hiring of DiJulio. In that email, Olson asked that the county hire a third-party attorney, expressing concern that Madore’s treatment of Horne will prevent him from being able to do his job.

“I believe Councilor Madore will purposefully and consistently engage in topics where Mr. Horne will have an inherent conflict and will be unable to answer questions or provide counsel,” Olson said in that email. “The Clark County Councilors need to have legal advice and opinions available during the course of our duties.”

Olson told The Columbian following Wednesday’s work session that she was concerned about Horne and Cook continuing to represent the county in the midst of ongoing allegations. She said as long as the pair were operating through a “quagmire of controversy,” it would be difficult for them to successfully do their job.

Clark County still has a slew of work sessions, public hearings and deliberations to get through before adopting its Comprehensive Growth Management Plan update. In the coming weeks, it will consider its capital facilities plan outlining how the county plans to pay for its projected growth, as well as chapters on subjects dealing with transportation, the environment and development codes.

The county is taking public comments on all remaining chapters of the growth plan. To comment, visit Engage Clark County at clark.wa.gov/engage-clark-county.

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Columbian Education Reporter