NEWPORT — Opponents of the proposed silicon smelter have developed a reputation for relentless determination, but one of its most ardent critics is being accused of crossing the line into harassment of public officials.
Norris Boyd Jr., chairman of the Pend Oreille County’s Planning Commission, is petitioning for an order of protection from Michael Naylor, chairman of Citizens Against the Newport Silicon Smelter. Boyd’s petition, which was filed on April 8, accuses Naylor of harassment, according to Pend Oreille County District Court records. Naylor denies engaging in harassment, court records show.
Exhibit A in Boyd’s argument is a lunch meeting he took on Kelly’s Bar & Grill on Feb. 18 with county Commissioner Mike Manus.
Naylor reported to the Washington State Patrol that Boyd and Manus stumbled out of the bar intoxicated and departed the downtown bar in their respective vehicles.
“That was the first act of harassment in a pattern of harassment,” Boyd said in his petition for an order of protection.
Boyd contends the pattern persisted by making the same reports to the Newport Police Department and the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Control Board. The latter report claimed that staff at Kelly’s over-served alcohol to Manus, an elected official, and Boyd, an appointed official.
But Boyd contends the allegations are unfounded and said surveillance footage from Kelly’s shows they only consumed water during the hour-long lunch and they didn’t stumble upon leaving the establishment, according to court records. Boyd further contends the three agencies contacted by Naylor also ruled the allegations unfounded.
Boyd alleges that Naylor is targeting him for harassment because he chairs the planning commission.
Counsel for Naylor maintains that his client’s reports to authorities were made in good faith and in the interest of public safety. Moreover, Naylor’s attorney asserts that Boyd is attempting to use the state’s anti-harassment law to muzzle a political opponent’s free speech and assembly rights on significant and divisive issue of the smelter proposal.
“This court should not condone such a blatant misuse of the anti-harassment laws, which are in place to protect people who are truly being harassed, and not to stifle political opposition without meeting statutory standards and in violation of constitutional rights,” Mitchell Rowland, Naylor’s Spokane attorney, said in a motion to dismiss Boyd’s petition.
The matter was set to be heard by Judge Eric Dooyema on May 8, but it was reset for later this month so the parties could further review documents in the case, including digital video footage which Dana Kelley, Boyd’s Newport attorney, said demonstrates that his client was not consuming alcohol at Kelly’s on the day in question.
“It shows he wasn’t drinking,” Kelley said during the brief hearing.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.