Stuart apologizes for using barnyard epithet to describe Benton hiring

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

Published:

Updated: May 4, 2013, 8:28 PM

 

Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart has apologized for using an expletive to describe the decision by Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke to bypass county hiring protocol and hire a fellow Republican, state Sen. Don Benton, as the county’s director of environmental services.

Stuart, the only Democrat on the board, posted his apology on his Facebook page Thursday, the day after the Benton announcement.

“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,” he wrote.

“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,” Stuart wrote.

The hiring of Benton was announced at the commissioners’ weekly board time with Administrator Bill Barron, which counts as a public meeting as all three commissioners attend, but the public — other than a Columbian reporter — rarely attends.

Along with the expletive, Stuart used the word “cronyism.”

“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,” Stuart wrote in Thursday’s Facebook post. “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.”

Commissioners meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Clark County Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St. More than 140 people have posted on Facebook that they plan to attend the meeting to testify about the hiring.

The meeting will be broadcast live on CVTV, Channel 23.