John Laird: Community's embarrassment rooted in voters' inaction

By John Laird, Columbian Editorial Page Editor

Published:

 

Don't blame Republicans for the statewide and even national embarrassment that David Madore has brought upon our beloved Clark County.

Blame Democrats.

Last year Madore defeated incumbent County Commissioner Marc Boldt — a fellow Republican — by 13,861 votes. But among those who voted in the Nov. 6 election, 35,270 chose not to vote in this race. Presumably, many of them were improperly motivated Democrats who simply refused to vote for a Republican; 18 percent of participating voters declined in this race. Substantiating this presumption is the fact that, in the other county commissioner's race between a Republican (incumbent Tom Mielke) and a Democrat (Joe Tanner), half as many voters (9 percent) chose not to participate.

So Madore won with 6,757 fewer votes than Mielke but now is virtually running the county while marionette Mielke waits for the strings to be yanked.

The lesson for Democrats is painful but profound: Don't be afraid to vote for a Republican. Do your homework. Participate.

Meanwhile, Madore keeps trying in vain to charm county employees with comments like this one on Facebook: "Our outstanding staff, dedicated to making our customers successful, will be amply supported so they can effectively review and approve plans … ." Such vapid platitudes flow lavishly when the cameras are rolling. But I'm guessing rank-and-file county workers aren't buying the phony pep talks, which are about as persuasive as the post-game oratory after my Little Leaguers got their hats handed to them in a game called by the 10-run rule. Chins up, men. They're not laughing AT us.

Of the numerous recent instances when Madore and Mielke have thumbed their noses at county staff, I believe two are prominent:

When the two commissioners hurriedly put staunch anti-environmentalist Don Benton in charge of the local environment, County Administrator Bill Barron said: "You are obliterating every (hiring) process we've had for 14 years." Such cronyism would "devastate the organization," Barron warned the two men.

They did it anyway. Buzz off, Barron. The esteemed administrator's advice was worthless to the upstart Madore. And just to rub it in, he later lectured Barron, not man-to-man or in a performance review, mind you, but publicly on Facebook.

Last Tuesday night, County Auditor Greg Kimsey (full disclosure: he's a neighbor of mine) advised the commissioners: "Waiving (development and engineering) fees on private schools, churches, restaurants, strip malls and other retail projects does not address Clark County's unemployment problem. We need another Christensen Shipyard, not another McDonald's."

Was Madore listening?

Kimsey continued: "I'm not aware of any analysis, any studies, that would support the idea that waiving these fees would create jobs. … eliminating traffic impact fees could result in building moratoriums. … The county's finance team has analyzed this proposal and determined that it is extremely unlikely the subsidies that would be provided to builders and developers will ever generate a positive return to the county."

You could almost hear the large crowd whisper, "Please proceed."

Kimsey concluded: "For the 2013-2014 biennium, expenses in the general fund are expected to be more than $10 million greater than revenue. (Waiving permitting fees) is expected to increase that deficit to almost $14 million."

Riveting testimony. Yet none of it mattered to the immodest Madore, who responded, naturally, on Facebook: "Last night, we voted to continue the public hearing on our resolution that will waive all permit fees for job creators to get Clark County back to work."

For those who voted for Madore last November, you also actually voted against Barron and Kimsey, it now appears. And for voters who refused to participate in this race, well, as Madore's acolytes keep reminding us, elections have consequences.