HEALTH OFFICER RECEIVES RAISE DESPITE OWN OBJECTION

June 28, 2000 12:00 am

By Todd Wels

Triplicate staff writer

Public Health Officer Richard Mize got a $6,000-a-year pay raise Tuesday despite asking not to get it.

The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors voted to grant Mizes raise, which increases his salary to $36,000 a year. They did so in spite of a bitter statement Mize made, in which he accused Supervisor David Finigan of lying about why Mize did not receive an earlier pay raise.

In May, the board voted to refuse a request to increase Mizes salary, based on Mizes statements that the level of Lake Earl posed no imminent health threat.

Supervisors Finigan and Jack Reese voted to deny the raise, with Supervisors Martha McClure and Chuck Blackburn voting to grant it.

I did not vote no because of your ability to do the job, said Reese to Mize Tuesday. My no vote was to send a message that I did not agree with the way the lake level was handled.

Finigan called the previous no vote a little fiasco, though he continued to oppose a new contract, which would extend Mizes employment for three years upon renewal and require he be given six months notice prior to termination.

Supervisor Clyde Eller, who did not participate in the previous vote, brought the raise back to the boards agenda after asking Health and Social Services Director Steve Brohmer if there was any reason whatsoever the board should not grant Mize the salary increase.

I stand ready to make a motion to approve that contract, Eller said, before allowing Mize to speak.

In his speech, Mize blasted Finigan for waffling on the issue of the raise, saying that Finigan backed off from his previous statements about denying the raise based on Mizes opinion on Lake Earl in a telephone conversation Finigan allegedly had with constituent Gregory Duncan.

Mize said Duncan had kept notes of the conversation, in which Finigan said he voted to deny the raise to save the county money.

It does not behoove the supervisor to lie in a public position, Mize said. I believe that ... this kind of crap goes against the well-being of Del Norte County.

He then asked that his contract be renewed without the pay raise.

Finigan denied that he had lied, saying he had voted against his own pay raise to save money as well. He also criticized Mize for responding to the boards initial decision to deny the raise by writing a letter to The Daily Triplicate.

I think the brass you show in calling a supervisor a liar ... is reason to start looking at another public health officer, he said. I hope I do not appear to be as arrogant to my constituents as you do to your employers.

When the issue was called to a vote, Reese reversed his earlier decision, voting to increase Mizes salary.

McClure, Eller and Blackburn also voted for the raise.

Finigan cast the lone dissenting vote.

After the meeting, Finigan said he had no further comment. He then shook hands with Brohmer, who said he was embarrassed at Mizes conduct.