Madore: Hello! Commissioner Mielke! Why are you calling me?
Mielke: Hi, David, good buddy, old pal! I’ve got Commissioner Steve Stuart on the line – he wants to have a conference call.
Madore: A conference call? Is that legal?
Stuart: Hi Commissioner Madore. Of course it’s not legal – that’s what I want to talk to you about.
Madore: Go on.
Stuart: I want to apologize for publicly cussing you and Tom out at the last meeting. Since I cussed you out publicly I feel I should apologize publicly. But I need you to put it on the agenda. I want this to all be legal and proper.
Mielke: There’s no need to apologize, Steve. Hell, people cuss me out all the time. Just the other day…
Madore: Go on Steve. I’m listening.
Stuart: Well, it’s like this, David. I’m going to level with you, alright? I don’t really think I should apologize at all. But when you and Tom appointed Don Benton, of all people, Don Benton, to be Environment Director, I lost it. Man I lost it. My head exploded! That’s unprofessional, I know. I expect more of the public and I expect more of myself. So, I’m going to apologize. But, come on, Don Benton???!!! #@!%$*
Mielke: What’s wrong with Don Benton? He and I go way back. I can remember when…
Madore: Don’t you think you’re over-reacting a little, Steve?
Stuart: Hell, no! You surely can’t blame me for kicking and screaming and biting and gagging when you try to ram an appointment like Benton down my throat without a vote.
Madore: I understand, Steve, your feelings were hurt and you need a way to save face.
Stuart: Don’t patronize me, Madore. What you did was despicable and downright illegal.
Stuart: Yes, illegal! You voted without me. That’s a violation of the democratic due process.
Stuart: Furthermore, it was hypocritical of you.
Stuart: Yes hypocritical. Greg Owens says so. So does Pam Juliano.
Madore: I’m sorry they think that, Steve
Mielke: Wasn’t Pam Juliano the historian we were counting on to protect the historic Interstate Bridge from being ground up and shipped to China for scrap?
Stuart: Yes, she still will if you’ll match the $17 million they’re offering to build a new museum complex.
Stuart: And then there’s you griping and complaining because we didn’t have a vote on light rail or the $10 billion CRC project or tolls! Huh! You of all people should know how important the democratic due process is – Hypocrite!!!
Stuart: And I don’t want to hear anything more about how we approved the FEIS before it was published. You’ve obviously got zero regard for the democratic due process yourself.
Madore: Oh, but you’re going to hear more about that. If Thompson Metal Fab had had a chance to look over the FEIS before the City of Vancouver, C-Tran and RTC approved the unpublished version they could have fixed the height issue back then. Now, the project is delayed another year at a cost of $100 million and funding is in jeopardy. Brother, it’s all hitting the fan now.
Stuart: You can talk. That all pales in comparison to what you and Mielke did last Wednesday. This is big!!!
Madore: Oh, I get it! You don’t really want to apologize; you just want to keep fanning the flames to keep the issue alive. A tempest in a teacup – sort of a diversion.
Stuart: Nothing of the sort. You just make sure this apology thing gets on the agenda. I’ve got a lot of people taking time out of their day to come help me make a fuss. These aren’t your usual paid lobbyists shilling for the CRC, either. These are regular ill-informed Columbian readers just trying to get involved and do their civic duty. I’ve already sent an email to John Laird so he doesn’t mistake them for goofballs or Hounds of Whinerville.
Madore: OK, fine. It’s your duty to apologize and it’s my Christian duty to accept your apology. I don’t know if it’ll get on the agenda, though – Bill Barron left.
Mielke: He he he!
Stuart: That’s another thing…
Steve apologizes – sort of.
I appreciate all the messages, texts, emails, and phone calls supporting my position regarding Don Benton’s recent hiring by the Board as the new Director for the Dept of Environmental Services. I also appreciate the few who have questioned my opposition and my methods. Let me address those concerns directly, as I wish the Board members who created this furor would do.
1) I will say it at the public hearing on Tuesday, but I am sorry that I shouted an expletive that ultimately got printed in the paper. I am passionate about our quality of life, our public’s right to be involved in its government, our organizational integrity, and maintaining some semblance of professionalism over politics. I was angry that all of these were being shuffled aside. Many of you have told me it was okay that I cursed, given the circumstances. Nevertheless, I expect better of myself than to swear in a public meeting and ask for better from the public who speaks to us at those meetings.
2) Robert Dean asked in one of the posts below what my problem was with this situation. There has been a lot of hyperbole, rhetoric, justification, and rationalization for what happened on Wednesday. There’s also some travel down the rabbit hole of other issues. This is what actually happened:
the practice of appointing friends to high-level, esp political, posts regardless of their suitability”
If you don’t believe it, keep the definition on your screen and listen to the audio posted by the Columbian. Don Benton is a friend of Commissioners Madore and Mielke, who communicated with him (individually I assume) behind closed doors to orchestrate Don’s surprise (at least to me) appointment to a high-level post, at a staff meeting, without submitting his qualifications to any rigor. He was deemed “best” without that rigor, and even included an expectation by the majority that he won’t even be doing this important job (their term) during legislative sessions.
And no, Robert, it’s not okay when Democrats do it. It’s not okay when Republicans do it. It’s not okay when any public agency entrusted with public funds uses the taxpayers money to hire people without vetting qualifications and submitting them to a competitive process. The people deserve the best employees we can get, and need to feel confident that we’re doing the work to find them.
Oh, and politics? First, elections have consequences, and we are finding out the consequences of 2012 in Clark County. I also won’t roll over and allow abuses of power to occur unchecked by the majority of 2 just because they won an election. Guess what? I’ve won a few of them, and I take my service to our citizens seriously.
Of course, newspapers and bloggers may love all this craziness, but I actually hate that partisan political rancor has infected local government. When people remark that I’m a politician, I respond that the politicians are in Olympia and D.C., not in local government, where we work for a living. I’ve seen that apolitical service in our employees, our managers, and for the most part even from our elected county officials making policy. Unfortunately, that is changing (for a wide variety of reasons that could be argued forever without anybody being definitively right). The environmental services director is an administrative management position over professionals implementing a variety of programs. It wasn’t political. It obviously is now.
Finally, if you’ve read this far, and you’re fired up about all of this, good. Democracy only works if you get involved. Don’t be baffled by the bull or lulled to sleep by the song that ‘all is well’. It’s not.