Nevada County supervisor absent for meeting
A day after news broke about him being the subject of a criminal investigation, Nevada County Supervisor Terry Lamphier was missing without explanation at Tuesday’s regular board meeting at the Rood Center in Nevada City.
“It’s an unexcused absence,” said Nevada County Chief Executive Rick Haffey, who said that Lamphier did not contact anyone to say he would not be attending. Haffey said he has had no word from Lamphier since before Friday, when detectives from the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit served a search warrant at Lamphier’s home in Grass Valley.
Lamphier has not responded to repeated messages left at his home, office and cellphone numbers. Lamphier, who lost his bid for re-election to represent District 3 on the Board of Supervisors in June, is one of four candidates seeking one of two open seats on the Grass Valley City Council in next Tuesday’s general election.
Despite a barrage of online criticism on the timing of the search warrant only a week before the Nov. 4 elections, law enforcement officials indicated early Tuesday that the investigation was proceeding and that more information could be forthcoming.
Later Tuesday, in an after-hours press conference, officials disclosed that the investigation concerns allegations of possession of child pornography on county-owned computers.
County staff, acting on a joint public records request filed by The Union and YubaNet.com, distributed copies of a five-week search on Lamphier’s computer showing a history of links to child porn sites. (NOTE: See main story for more details).
Earlier on Tuesday and prior to the after-hours press conference, Jim Firth, chairman of the Nevada County Democratic Party, said there was not enough information made public from the sealed search warrant to make any judgment about the situation.
“As chairman of the Nevada County Democratic Party, we have endorsed Terry Lamphier for Grass Valley City Council, and we stand by that endorsement,” Firth said. “Without having the information available to decide, we don’t even know what we’re deciding.”
He said the party was planning to post a statement upholding its endorsement of Lamphier later on its Facebook page.
Firth, also a fellow candidate for Grass Valley City Council but speaking as a personal friend of Lamphier’s, said he would uphold that relationship.
“I consider Terry Lamphier a friend and I will stand by him,” Firth said. “I am highly suspect that there could be an issue that would cause a problem in Terry Lamphier’s political life — that’s not who Terry Lamphier is.”
Tuesday’s public supervisors meeting, meanwhile, proceeded without comment or reference to the empty seat at the end of the dais.
“We normally don’t announce if someone is absent, unless they’ve called and let us know they won’t be there,” said Chairman Nate Beason. “You never know if someone’s been delayed in traffic or if they’re sick.”
Although it’s not a regular occurrence, Beason said it was “not unprecedented” for a supervisor to just not show up.
“We had one supervisor, who shall remain nameless, in ‘05 and ‘06, who was sometimes late or sometimes didn’t make it,” Beason said. “We would usually find out why later on.”
Beason said the board generally leaves attendance up to each supervisor’s personal judgment — unless there could be a concern over a health issue, for example.
“We don’t make any assumptions,” Beason said.
To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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