The effort by Clark County Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke to spank the Columbia River Economic Development Council seems to have caught nothing but air. They'd best put down the paddle and return to serious governing.
The M&M boys were told on Wednesday that, if the county doesn't fork over $100,000 to the CREDC in the next three weeks, the county will be in breach of contract. Back in January, Madore and Mielke sent a letter to the local jobs generator stating that county funding to the group would cease because of the CREDC's support of the Columbia River Crossing. But this week, Bronson Potter, the county's chief civil deputy prosecutor, told the commissioners (including Steve Stuart, who wisely refused to have his name even appear on the January letter) that the county was legally bound by an earlier contract to send money to the CREDC.
"The only provision for nonpayment is if they are under default of the contract," Potter said. "There is no claim that they are. So at this point, under the contract, the money is owed. If we don't pay it, we are under default of the contract."
Strangely, though, that compelling legal advice wasn't enough to coax Madore and Mielke to put down the paddle. There was no discussion at Wednesday's meeting about rescinding the January letter and fulfilling the contractual requirement.
There was some talk, though, about patching up the county's "broken" relationship with the CREDC. Madore, less than three months into his first term as an elected official, essentially confessed that "I was the instigator … in really breaking this relationship," and he wants to "find a common ground" with the CREDC.
That might be a good idea except for one thing. Madore also mentioned paying the CREDC $10,000 per year, which would be a 90 percent reduction in county funding to the organization, which would make a mighty poor conversation starter when you're wanting to patch up a relationship.
To their credit, the CREDC officials are keeping to the high ground in this one-sided dispute. Board Chairman Bill Dudley said: "The fact it came up again is good news and we will continue to work it out. I think the simplest thing for me to tell you right now is we continue to have conversations with them. I think continued conversation is a huge step in the right direction."
Absolutely, because both the economic development experts and the county leaders are instrumental in the crucial campaign to create jobs in our community. And as far as the CRC, keep in mind this December quote from CREDC President Lisa Nisenfeld: "Several years ago, we passed a resolution saying we supported a new bridge. We have said nothing about light rail or tolling."
Madore and Mielke need to answer three questions for their constituents: Why didn't you check with Potter before firing off your letter? Are you really serious about economic development, or more serious about fighting the CRC? What does all this paddle flailing have to do with creating jobs?
As we opined in a Jan. 24 editorial, this is not how good governments operate.