Flathead County Commissioner Phil Mitchell took an oath of office to obey the law. He chose to do otherwise. He destroyed by his own admission at least $16,000 worth or possibly more of county property, which he took an oath to protect. When he was confronted on that, he didn’t admit to it right away. He had to think about it overnight. What he did wasn’t something he did in a few minutes; it’s something he planned and carried out, because if you girdle five trees and destroy another one with Roundup, that’s going to take a considerable amount of effort and time. It wasn’t just breaking a rule or something he did on the spur of the moment. It was planned.
In the 12 years that I was in personnel for the Kalispell school district, the advice I got from the local justice department and the state justice department was that when you have an employee who violates the law, you suspend them with pay until an investigation takes place. Both the justice department and county commissioners bypassed that recommendation. He was then charged with a felony by the county, which he pleaded innocent to. So he prolonged the procedure.
He eventually was found guilty of not a felony but a misdemeanor, which would be fine if Mr. Mitchell would face up to the fact that he did something wrong. In all of his writing, he never once mentioned that he broke a law or committed a crime. It was always a rule. A rule to me is that you can’t take your dog to the park unless your dog is on a leash. That’s a rule. Not only that, he wrote a rebuttal about how he was picked on by other officials.
It’s time for Mr. Mitchell to quit making a bunch of alibis and live up to the fact that he made a mistake. And even more benefit to the community is for him to resign from the position because he no longer has the backing of the community. It seems that he can do no wrong in his eyes, and I think it’s time that he’s gone.