At the Tuesday, March 30 meeting of the Wallowa County Planning Commission, county commissioner Dan DeBoie officially informed the planners why one of their members, Jennifer Ballard, had been stripped of her position as a volunteer planning commission member March 9 .
After reviewing tape recordings of public comments made by Ballard at the Feb. 24 planning commission meeting DeBoie successfully encouraged fellow county commissioners Mike Hayward and Ben Boswell to remove Ballard from the planning body. In defending his action to the planning commission DeBoie said, "Her language was inappropriate for a public official in a public meeting." He characterized it as biased and of a racial nature.
The decision to remove Ballard from her voluntary post was made in accordance with Oregon statutes and the county's employee personnel policy, said DeBoie.
Planning Commission member Judy Willis asked DeBoie about fellow commissioner Tim Nitz's role in phoning a tribe attorney to review the tape and speaking out in opposition of Ballard at a Feb. 27 special Joseph City Council meeting held to consider Ballard's conduct at an earlier city council meeting. DeBoie backed Nitz, saying that the planning commission member had disqualified himself from voting on the Marr decision and was only sharing public information. He also said that Nitz's comments made at the Joseph city council were made as a citizen and not as a planning commission member.
"We appreciate the efforts Jennifer Ballard has made for the planning commission in the past," said DeBoie.
Ballard had been on the planning commission since Aug. 31, 1999. On Monday the board of commissioners appointed former planner Rob Lamb, whose term expired at the end of 2003, to return to the commission until the end of 2004 to fill the remainder of Ballard's term.