The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Candidate says taxpayers paid for Songer's mistake


A story in The Sentinel last week about the Bob Songer-Marc Boardman race for sheriff ran without sufficient time for Undersheriff Boardman to respond before press time. Boardman was offered the opportunity to offer comment subsequently, and in an email Tuesday to The Sentinel, he did.

“An editorial a few weeks ago somewhat whimsically minimized the value of official records and misconduct dating back to the Eisenhower administration,” Boardman wrote. “Last week’s article referred to ‘a charge of excessive force against [Songer] in Clark County; and an alleged suit against him by a woman some 35 years ago.’ The editor emphasized how long ago the excessive force matter occurred as if it were irrelevant, and yet the same candidate touts management credentials as qualifications for office that are equally dated.”

Boardman added that The Sentinel’s reference to a letter from Tom Reynolds attempted to diminish its perspective. “Both the editor’s negative characterization of Reynold’s quote and his questioning of the identity of the committee demonstrate his bias and unwillingness to accept the official court record [of a Songer court case in Nevada] on its face value,” Boardman said. “He gives several columns to Songer’s alibies to diminish the seriousness and relevelance of Songer’s past blunders in management. Are we to believe the courts got it wrong in both cases—Songer was innocent of wrongdoing, and juries are simply unpredictable?  Songer asserts today, 20 years later, that he did nothing wrong, so he learned nothing about how to lead or manage from the entire process. There is no timeline on character.”

Boardman addressed detail of the Songer court case in Nevada, challenging Songer’s assertion that the critical detail in his firing of four dispatchers while he was Chief of Police in Elko, Nev., was their insubordination. “So in 1994 Chief Songer fired four dispathcers,” Boardman said, “not for harassing and intimidating a fifth employee, and not for discussing the circumstances of the case in question, but for—in his own words—discussing their options in response to a threat of termination and possible prosecution.  He assumes they were trying to ‘get their stories straight,’ but no evidence is given. So fast forward to 2014, he still believes that an assumed disobedience to his order was more serious than the original complaint—an alleged hostile work environment created by four employees harrassing a fifth on a continuous basis. The way he handled this investigation and his perception today of what was the more grievous offense is quite telling of his management style.”

As to Songer’s comments about the final resolution of the court case, Boardman said there is more there than meets the eye. Songer stated a jury found for the defendant in that case and a judgment was entered against him for $88,000; the judgment was covered by city insurance, and Songer said the court found he acted within the scope of his duties. “The fact that he acted ‘within the scope of his duties’ simply means the court agreed that his wrongful action was committed while acting in the capacity of the chief,” Boardman said. “It did not condone the action. The fact that insurance covered his share of the lawsuit simply means the taxpayers paid the bill for his misconduct. Character counts.”


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