My colleague Jim Camden has a good story today about the backstory on one of the dullest-sounding bills of the session: Senate Bill 5322, "Creating a five-member option for civil service commissions for sheriffs' offices."
The genesis of the bill is anything but dull. Writes Camden:
An encounter that involved a sheriff’s detective flashing a barista at a drive-up coffee stand has led to a new state law that Spokane County will use to expand the volunteer panel that overturned the detective’s firing.
Sheriff’s Detective Joseph Mastel was fired in June 2006 after exposing himself to a barista at the On Alert coffee stand in Airway Heights. He was off duty at the time and said he had a “flirtatious relationship” with the woman, who was about 30 years younger. The woman said she was taken by surprise and felt violated by his actions.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich fired Mastel. But after Mastel received a deferred sentence for an indecent exposure charge from a municipal judge in Airway Heights, he appealed to the three-member Civil Service Commission to get his job back. He told the board he took some responsibility, but not full responsibility, for the incident and was under “extreme stress” on the job and at home when it happened.
To make a long story short, the commission decided to change Mastel's dismissal to a one-year unpaid suspension. That allowed him to collect some unused sick time and retire.
And here's a gem from low in the story:
The flashing incident was never specifically mentioned when county officials lobbied for the change, (State Rep. Timm) Ormsby said. Instead, they stressed the need for a more diverse commission.