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Personal and professional jabs traded at Spokane County Commissioners meeting Tuesday night

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Personal and professional jabs were traded Tuesday night at the Spokane County Commissioners meeting Personal and professional jabs were traded Tuesday night at the Spokane County Commissioners meeting
SPOKANE, Wash. -

It was an explosive Spokane County Commissioners meeting Tuesday night. 

The meeting was supposed to focus on a plan to expand the number of members on the commission from three to five, but things heated up when Commissioner Al French used his time to speak against the measure by suggesting Commissioners Shelly O'Quinn and Todd Mielke supported the measure based on the desire to continue "a relationship that's outside of the Board of County Commissioners." 

“When they’re seen, either on the evenings or on weekends, there’s a question about, ‘Are they talking about county business or not?’ That’s a concern,” French said. “Even I’ve got that concern.”

O'Quinn argued French's comments were "completely inappropriate" and according to The Spokesman Review, urged him (French) to tread lightly. 

“I’m sure that when accusations were made about him and his assistant, that he did not find that amusing or entertaining,” O'Quinn said. “While Commissioner Mielke and I get along very, very well, I would never cross the line and say that’s an inappropriate relationship,” 

Mielke also reiterated that there is nothing inappropriate about his relationship with O'Quinn. 

O'Quinn initiated the request for two additional commissioners, but French claims it is a politically motivated moved by her and Mielke's re-election campaigns. French said O'Quinn and Mielke would have an advantage over new filers for office because opponents wouldn't have as much time to prepare for a race because new districts would not be finalized until months before the election. O'Quinn told The Spokesman Review after the meeting those allegations are not true. 

French also argues that adding two members to the board would cost an additional $450,000 annually, while O'Quinn referenced a 2011 article when French was quoted as supporting the idea of expanding the commission. French said the county was in a different place four years ago. 

Following the personal attacks, the commissioners then turned their focus to professional attacks, with French saying he'd chaired more meetings at the Spokane Regional Transportation Council last year than Mielke, who is actually the elected chair of the council. Mielke countered by saying French has missed 116 votes of the Spokane County Commission in 2015. 

In the end, the commissioners voted unanimously not to take an official position on the ballot measure, which would have enabled them to put together and distribute a fact sheet to voters ahead of the election. 

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