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Sheriff, guild try to smooth over their differences

Just days before Thanksgiving, Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer and Deputy Guild President Michael Rodrigue publicly issued a joint statement about ongoing talks between the administration and staff.

The one-page statement, crafted by Boyer and Rodrigue, represents the first public act of solidarity between the sheriff administration and the guild since union members voted no confidence in Boyer earlier this month.

The Sheriff’s Office and the guild, according to the letter, “are working together toward positive and productive problem solving...and the sheriff and guild take responsibility for improving communications and are taking steps to enhance the communications and processes throughout the agency.”

Rodrigue confirmed on Tuesday he and Boyer issued the letter to show Kitsap citizens any tensions between the guild and the administration are internal matters to be worked out.

In other words, services to the public aren’t going to be detrimentally affected by the discussions at hand, said Rodrigue.

Boyer echoed the guild president’s thoughts this last week, saying his deputies will continue to do a good job and work hard for Kitsap County citizens.

Details of the guild’s no-confidence vote, approved by 82 percent of the members, were submitted to Boyer in a letter on Nov. 6.

Up until this last week, the sheriff’s administration hadn’t issued official comments about the no-confidence vote.

In fact, both Rodrigue and Boyer had hoped to work out tensions and discuss the no-confidence vote internally, rather than negotiate any terms publicly. But, in response to public disclosure requests, the Sheriff’s Office released the no-confidence letter last week.

In it, Rodrigue outlined five basic grievances that centered on communication breakdowns over the last three years since Boyer took office. Rodrigue backed up each point with specific issues. Among other things, the letter indicated guild members worry that Boyer, “either by neglect or design (has) avoided confronting and deciding in a timely manner major issues affecting employees’ personal safety, quality of life and working conditions.”

When contacted on Tuesday, Rodrigue said he is cautiously hopeful that talks are continuing to move in the right direction.

Boyer agreed talks are on track.

“It is still really early on,” said Rodrigue. “We have just begun.”

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