Lorna Smith Resigns From Jefferson Co. Planning Commission

Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission member Lorna Smith has resigned from a county planning commission as a result of a lawsuit over her dual roles on two appointive bodies.

Joe Panesko, the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s attorney with the state Attorney General’s Office, reported the outcome to the citizen panel near the start of this morning’s meeting.

He said that while Governor Jay Inslee and, apparently, the state Senate, which confirmed the Port Townsend-area resident earlier this year, felt that state statutes allowed Smith to serve on the commission and Jefferson County Planning Commission at once, a Thurston County Superior Court judge disagreed and that the remedy was for her to resign from one of the positions.

Panesko said that Smith had resigned from the county board, “removing the conflict and resolving the issue,” the expected outcome all along.

The lawsuit was brought forward earlier this year by the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation.

At issue was Revised Codes of Washington 77.04.040, which specifically states that members of the Fish and Wildlife Commission “… shall not hold another state, county, or municipal elective or appointive office.”

When the case was filed, an Inslee spokesman stated, “It’s our understanding that her other position is not one of the disqualifying ‘offices’ under the statute.”

That has now been cleared up: It is.

“This decision is a critical first step to restoring some semblance of decency for the commission and how it conducts business,” said Todd Adkins, Sportsmen’s Alliance vice president of government affairs. “This isn’t the end of our hard work, but the beginning.  At every turn it seems, the commission thumbs its nose at sportsmen and the North American Model, providing our community with numerous opportunities to straighten things out. These things take time, but this important work must be done.”

Smith was represented in court by the state of Washington.

The next rodeo may be over Vice Chair Molly Linville’s role on the school board of a tiny district in lower Moses Coulee south of Wenatchee.