The Thurston Conservation District (TCD, District) has been the locus of an ideological fight in Thurston County that lumbers on. Last year, the District lost a third of its funding when three board members (including the Chair) failed to vote at a critical meeting. Chairman Johnson was quoted in the Olympian saying the revenue loss could be viewed as “taxpayers saving nearly $600,000 that would have gone to overcompensated bureaucrats sucking the public teat.”
A pattern of conduct by the Chair and another Board member eventually provoked complaints of disruptive behavior serious enough to merit investigation by the state. The loss of funding has led to the departure of staff, as well as the sacrifice of important functions of the District. At this time, only 7 of 15 employees remain, and many programs have been eliminated. “Staff is drowning in workload,” says Executive Director Sarah Moorehead.
The Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC) that oversees the TCD recently completed its investigation of the District and recommended possible removal of two board members—Eric Johnson and Richard Mankamyer.
The investigation found that the two board members engaged in acts that constitute neglect of duty and malfeasance. A hearing to consider the report and the two board members’ response will be scheduled at a special meeting of the SCC on August 29. That meeting is open to the public....