County commission leadership changes

Stewart ousted from chairman's seat; Green voted as new chair

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COEUR d'ALENE - That was quick.

Eight months after David Stewart became a Kootenai County commissioner and chairman of the board, he was bumped from being chairman this week after fellow commissioners Dan Green and Marc Eberlein voted to have him removed from the role.

Stewart said he believes the move was in retaliation for him disclosing what, in his opinion, were unethical and inappropriate acts committed by Green and Eberlein.

Stewart read the following statement into the record, "On Sept. 4, 2015, at 10 a.m., the board of county commissioners met in executive session whereas I disclosed to legal counsel what is, in my opinion, unethical and inappropriate activity by Commissioner Eberlein and Commissioner Green.

"It is also my opinion that Commissioner Eberlein's motion to remove me as chairman of the board of county commissioners is in retaliation of this disclosure. From this day forward, as in the past, I will continue the good fight for open and transparent government."

Stewart said he could not specify what the alleged acts were, but added that the allegations are not criminal in nature.

"They weren't breaking laws, but putting the county at risk? Definitely," he said.

Stewart said his beliefs had nothing to do with the recent debate whether the commissioners should implement a "for cause" baseline employment termination policy instead of an "at will" one. Stewart supported switching to "for cause" while the Green and Eberlein wanted to maintain "at will."

Eberlein said the reason behind his motion for the chairman's switch was for change and to put the person with the most experience in the seat.

"I thought that it was time for a new direction," said Eberlein. "After eight months, I could see the best thing for Kootenai County is a chairman who understands the processes and the sequence of events so as to make them work efficiently.

"Though we don't always agree, Commissioner Green is familiar with those processes and has the historical knowledge. The two new commissioners (himself and Stewart) are learning those processes. Learn what you can when the opportunity is there."

Green was voted as the new chairman and Eberlein vice chairman. Green served as vice chairman during his first four and a half years in office.

"Mr. Stewart made great strides, but I wanted to give Dan the opportunity because he is familiar with the ropes," Eberlein said.

Green said he's looking forward to serving as chairman, but it doesn't give him more authority over the other two commissioners.

"My goal is to move forward with my two fellow commissioners, understanding that each one of us has equal say and equal responsibility in managing county government," Green said. "The chairman has no additional power or authority, except running the meetings and coordinating with staff to facilitate the wishes of the board on a daily basis."

Green said he has no comment on Stewart's statement.

"I have and will continue to promote trust and transparency while I am a commissioner," Green said. "I also prefer to look forward to facilitating the operations of the county."

Stewart said he saw his removal from the chairman's seat coming and he's not hurt by the decision.

"The duties are the same, and I still love my job," Stewart said.

Stewart was offered the vice chairman's seat when he was bumped as chairman, but turned down the proposal.

"With Commissioner Eberlein's recent change of direction (as to who he supports as chairman), I felt Commissioner Eberlein needed the experience of running meetings," Stewart said. "When Commissioner Green is away, Commissioner Eberlein will then get the full experience of being a commissioner, making motions and running meetings."

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