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Commissioners bar Hare from driving while on county business

Five days after Josephine County Commissioner Simon Hare was arrested on drunken-driving charges in Eugene, his colleagues are mulling what comes next.

Commissioners Keith Heck and Cherryl Walker on Tuesday approved a policy barring Hare from driving while conducting official county business. Hare was not present.

County officials said the action was standard for any county employee charged with driving while under the influence of intoxicants and would remain in place while Hare's case is pending.

Eugene police said Hare was pulling out of the driveway of the Silver Dollar strip club in a Toyota Tundra shortly after 11 p.m. Thursday when he nearly crashed into a patrol car.

The officer pulled Hare over for making an illegal left turn, but the traffic stop quickly turned into a drunken-driving investigation, police said. Hare, 37, was booked into the Lane County Jail early Friday morning on charges of DUII and reckless driving. The jail booking log shows he was released from custody shortly before 3 p.m. Friday.

The case is being handled in Eugene Municipal Court. A court employee said Hare is facing misdemeanor DUII and reckless driving charges, and was also cited for making an improper left turn, failing to signal and refusing to take a breath test. Hare has been given a court date of Thursday, Dec. 31, at 1 p.m.

He was in Eugene for a meeting of the Association of O&C Counties, a collective of Oregon county commissioners who discuss state and federal timber policy. According to Executive Director Rocky McVay, Hare didn't make it to the second day of meetings, apparently because of the arrest.

Hare released a statement Monday morning that reads, "On the evening of December 10th I was stopped in my personal vehicle by Eugene City Police and charged with driving while under the influence of intoxicants. Fortunately, no one was injured.

"I recognize the use of alcohol causes me to make poor decisions. I am therefore entering an outpatient treatment/diversion program for the better part of a year. I want to thank my family, friends and community in advance for their support while I deal with this very personal issue."

The statement ends: "This incident does not impact my ability to perform my duties as Josephine County Commissioner, nor does it affect my commitment to our community."

Hare added that he will not be granting further interviews on the topic.

Commissioner Cherryl Walker told the Daily Courier she didn't expect the arrest to affect county business, at least in the near future. The board will have its regular meetings this week, but because two of the three commissioners are out of town starting Dec. 21, there won't be any regular business sessions until the start of the new year.

"From here forward, we just need to wait and see what the court will allow. But in the short term, it shouldn't affect anything at all," Walker said, adding that there's not yet a way to know whether Hare's license will be suspended or whether he'll be granted a waiver to get to work.

Alcohol has gotten Hare in trouble in the past, and his arrest reignited talk of a recall that first surfaced a year ago over a seemingly harmless cellphone prank gone embarrassingly wrong.

On the night of Dec. 5, 2014, Hare borrowed a woman's phone while drinking with friends at the Cedarwood Saloon on Redwood Avenue and sent sexually suggestive text messages to the woman's 18-year-old daughter and 21-year-old niece. Hare said he mistakenly thought the phone belonged to a friend of his and that the text messages were meant as a prank.

A much more serious incident occurred in May 2013, after a night of drinking the previous evening, when Hare reported his 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee stolen from downtown Grants Pass.

The Jeep was found on Hamilton Lane hours after Hare made the report, and a Medford police detective who investigated the case said he believed Hare falsely reported the car stolen. The Oregon Department of Justice, however, concluded there wasn't enough evidence to charge Hare with a crime.

Hare was ticketed for using a cellphone while driving in September 2014, a violation for which he paid a $160 fine.

He was elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 2010 and re-elected to a second four-year term in November 2014.

Commissioners bar Hare from driving while on county business