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Special prosecutor to look into process of Labrador appointment to CDH, new candidates to be named

The Ada County Commission will again consider its appointment to the Central District Board of Health at a meeting Tuesday, and a special prosecutor has been appointed.

The commission, which recently saw two new members sworn in Monday, promptly nominated and approved former US Representative Raul Labrador to the panel. He would replace former Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo, who resigned from the board last week, ahead of her leaving the Ada County Commission. New commissioner Ryan Davidson defeated her in the November election.

During the Ada Co. Commission meeting Tuesday, Davidson said Labrador approached both he and the other newly elected commissioner, Rod Beck.

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“Both myself and Commissioner Beck decided maybe were weren’t the perfect person to serve that term, though the code does – it seems like it gives an expedited process in this unique situation,” he said in the public meeting. “We were both approached by Mr. Labrador and, just based on his experience and the sort of critical situation we are in with the pandemic right now, I think it leans towards expediting this situation right now so we can have someone representing the county on this issue.”

The third commissioner, democrat Kendra Kenyon, raised concerns about process and open meetings.

“The two of you making that decision without me being involved in that conversation is worrisome to me,” she said. “We are a board, and the board needs to discuss issues like this, and this is our first day of business. I’d just like to have that conversation. I don’t think that it’s appropriate for the two of you to make decisions without it being in an open forum like this and having a discussion.”

Beck said, despite Davidson’s earlier statement, that the pair didn’t make a decision prior to the meeting.

“The two of us didn’t make any decisions,” he said. “There are other people who approached wanting to (be on the health board), who approached me independently, who approached commissioner Davidson independently. And, I determined that this was a good fit.”

The county later put out a statement saying Beck and Davidson did not discuss the action in advance.

Prosecutor involved

Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts, who like Beck and Davidson is a Republican, said her office received a complaint about the meeting and process.

“An allegation has been raised regarding whether or not there was an open meeting violation surrounding this week’s Board of County Commissioners appointment to the Central District Health Board,” Bennetts said in a statement to BoiseDev. “My office is typically responsible for reviewing cases involving allegations of open meeting violations. However, when those allegations involve my clients, the Ada County Commissioners, I have a conflict disqualifying me from reviewing the matter.”

Bennetts said she asked Canyon County Prosecutor Bryan Taylor to act as a “special prosecutor” to look at the issue, which she said he agreed to.

Back on the agenda

The situation surrounding Labrador’s appointment will be back in front of the commission on Tuesday, according to an agenda posted publicly today. The item notes a “recondisedation” of the appointment will go before the panel.

“An opportunity for Commissioner Kenyon to submit an additional candidate(s) to be considered, in addition to Raul Labrador, for a new vote on the Central District Health appointment,” the agenda notes.

The county says it’s an attempt for the commissioners to work together.

“This revisiting of the process to appoint a member to the CDH board of health is an effort by the new board members to work collaboratively,” Ada County spokesperson Elizabeth Duncan told BoiseDev. “While Chairman Beck and Commissioner Davidson are clear that no open meetings violation occurred, they are willing to make adjustments and accommodate the concerns of Commissioner Kenyon.”

The meeting is set for 10am Tuesday at the Ada Co. Courthouse.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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