A hearing on whether two Thurston Conservation District supervisors should be removed from office was postponed Thursday afternoon because of medical emergencies, according to the Washington State Conservation Commission.

The hearing had been scheduled for Friday morning at the Washington Department of Ecology's headquarters in Lacey. Illness would have prevented the commission's policy director Ron Shultz from attending,  and a family illness also would have prevented Executive Director Mark Clark from being there, Shultz said.

Supervisors Eric Johnson and Richard Mankamyer, both farmers, are accused of neglecting their duties. The state conservation commission has the authority to remove conservation district supervisors.

Johnson and Mankamyer deny any wrongdoing. They have filed a federal lawsuit alleging the commission is violating their constitutional rights. They say they want a hearing that will allow witnesses to testify and to be cross-examined.

The state commission had planned to hear from Johnson and Mankamyer  and ask questions, but not take any other testimony.

An investigation by state commission staff was critical of Johnson and Mankamyer and alleged they had harmed the district's reputation. Johnson and Mankamyer say they've raised the ire of district staff members by questioning how the district spends money.

The hearing was not immediately rescheduled.


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