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Air agency formally hires director

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Dameworth (The Spokesman-Review)

Four days after Bill Dameworth started work as leader of Spokane County’s air agency, the group’s board formally voted to approve his hiring.

Dameworth, former environmental manager for timber company Pope & Talbot, was introduced at a public meeting on Monday as the new director of the Spokane County Air Pollution Control Authority.

However, the air agency’s board never voted on Dameworth’s hiring and offered him the position after a “consensus” was reached in a private meeting earlier this month.

Board President Matthew Pederson scheduled Friday’s vote after concerns arose that the hire may have violated the state’s open meetings law. He said he didn’t believe the rules were violated but wanted to ensure the process was done correctly.

The board voted 4 to 1 in favor of the hire, retroactive to Tuesday, when Dameworth started work.

Board member Jeff Corkill was the lone vote against the hire.

“Spokane has this history of people thinking that the rules don’t quite apply to them and shaving the law a little bit,” Corkill said. “I’ll be keeping an eye on (Dameworth) to make sure that there’s no shaving of the rules and regulations.”

After the meeting, board member Michele Pope said she supported Dameworth in part because he has excellent managerial qualifications, experience as an air regulator as well as an understanding of being regulated in industry.

“Rather than trying to determine which legal interpretation is the correct one, it’s more important that we uphold a level of public trust with regard to how we conduct business,” said SCAPCA member and County Commissioner Todd Mielke. “I’m glad to see that we have noted that this is a better way to go about the selection of our executive director.”

Also Friday, the board voted to pay Dameworth $75,000 annually as the agency’s director.