I was deeply concerned to read that Ms. Speiker and her staff do not feel safe working at the Okanogan County Courthouse.
I am a family law lawyer who regularly practices in superior courts across the state and have seen the heightened emotions that arise when people are at odds over things that are very important to them. A trip to the courthouse is often one of the most stressful things someone will ever experience. And while we hope that people are at their best while they are there, this is often not the case.
I was at Snohomish County Superior Court last December on the day that a disgruntled litigant showed up with loaded guns because he wanted to have a word with the judge about his parenting plan. He was an all-too-familiar example of a person whose deeply felt emotions led to behavior that threatened the safety of judges, lawyers, clerks, staff, and the regular folk who are just trying to avail themselves of our judicial system. (Much gratitude to the security guards and law enforcement who disarmed and arrested the man before anyone was hurt.)
Okanogan County has a duty to take Ms. Speiker’s concerns very seriously and develop a plan to keep not just the staff at the courthouse safe, but everyone who needs access to our judicial system. Ms. Speiker and her staff have the most day-to-day interactions with the public and are the people who will notice first when a worrying trend in dangerous behavior exists. They are in the best position to spot the bellwethers of trouble and sound the alarm.
If the county does not take their concerns seriously and act quickly to ensure the safety of everyone, I fear that people who need our judicial system will be dissuaded from seeking help — or worse will be harmed in the process.
Take the money
“Ridiculous” is what the response County Commissioner Andy Hover said of the $401,000 given by the state after two separate appraisers. Commissioner Hover had hoped to sell the Department of Fish and Wildlife the 400 acres of surplus land from a 540-acre purchase the county made for a gravel pit site. He had hoped to receive somewhere in the $600,000 to $700,000 range. This is lower than the proposed $724,662.35 that was indicated at the hearing Commissioner Hover conducted. The county could reasonably receive that figure it was said.
County Engineer Josh Thomson couldn’t understand how an adjacent 400 acres could’ve sold recently for $2,000 an acre and the site of the surplus land is assessed at $1,000 an acre. They all know, the answer is the adjacent 400 acres are located with its own private valley on a bluff above the Methow river. It also has a working irrigated alfalfa field.
Now the commissioner is considering asking the County Assessor to appraise the property. The 540-acre property was originally appraised for $434,500 before the $1 million price the commissioner approved. Don’t waste the assessor’s time and get a lower amount than the state is offering. Take the money from WDFW and run. Just don’t run for commissioner without some financial adviser education.