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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Commishes, Prosecutor, and Cororner Contract SNAFU

Coroner Vicki DeGues-Morris came out swinging in the Saturday IPT over the contract negotiated by the Prosecutors Office and her more or less forced signature on a contract she had very little in negotiating. THE GUARDIAN has done a little research and has come with some additional thoughts for public consumption.

The Board of County Commissioners is the only county body that can negotiate,sign, enforce and terminate contracts. The Prosecuting Attorney can only ADVISE on legal issues of the contract. BOCC authority should not be transferred to another elected official. Under Idaho Law, it is a misstatement of fact and wrong terminology for the BOCC to contract or have the PA "negotiate a contract", the Commissioners have to be part of the negotiation. Additionally, Ms. DeGues-Morris is the elected official that holds the Coroners job and should have been part of the contract talks. The new Ada County pathology contract costs $28,000/month comes directly out of her budget.

The real question here is if the BOCC didn't like the contract with Ada County, then why in the world would they have signed the contract? Why did they do it when the elected coroner was out of town on vacation? Once again, they presented this as the ONLY solution to a problem. We all know there are generally more than one solution to any given problem. Why wasn't the Elected Coroner involved in this process.

In summary, THE GUARDIAN would like to offer section 31-601 of the Idaho Code for your review. The county is described by state law "a body politic and corporate". In this capacity the county has to power to make contracts (31-602). The law makes clear the corporate powers of the county can be exercised only by the BOCC or by agents and officers acting for the board or under the authority of the law. Thus, the BOCC have powers similar in many respects to those held by a board of trustees for a private corporation. The BOCC has and may exercise, only these powers as are expressly or through implication conferred upon it by statute (see Prothero v. Board 22 Idaho 598, 127P.175 (1912).

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