Press Talk: What a mess we’re all in

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor

Published:

 

In the latest fumbling adventure by the M&M boys, is it possible they broke the law?

When County Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke went into closed-door executive session earlier this week to discuss the merits of candidates to fill a vacant seat, they weren’t supposed to try to come to a consensus on a candidate.

You see, that would be making a decision outside of the public view. And although talking secretly about a candidate’s merits is OK, trying to reach a consensus is not.

It’s against the law.

They’ll deny it, of course, because that’s what politicians do.

We have a story on Page A1 in today’s Columbian that goes through this and I’d urge you to read it.

For me, I’ll just concentrate on the art of fumbling, something these two characters have become very good at.

Even if they had played nice — and legal — why couldn’t these guys get this job of picking a commissioner done?

I guess the wheels of government turn slowly, especially when you’re fumbling around.

A little background:

The third county commissioner, Steve Stuart, bolted — he couldn’t take the M&M boys any longer — so that left our entire county government in the hands of these two wild and crazy guys.

OK, OK, we still have a sheriff and some guy who collects our taxes, but you get the idea.

Our already-too-small board of commissioners has been reduced to two.

Two! You got that kemosabe? Two!

Why, the last time two people had this much power over our society, Cheech and Chong were making full-length movies that people actually paid to see.

But fortunately there are laws that say these two kissin’ cousins cannot go it alone forever. When someone up and quits they have a responsibility to put somebody — anybody please — into the vacant seat.

I’m not going to go into all the gunky process details but because Stuart is a Democrat, the Democratic hierarchy got to throw three names at the Republican M&M boys and they have to pick one.

Pretty simple, right? Apparently not if you’re the M&M fumblers.

So after weeks and weeks these two characters finally — finally — interviewed the three candidates.

Here are the three:

Craig Pridemore is the guy the Democrats really, really want in the seat. He’s done the commissioner job before, has been a state senator and has essentially been in government his entire career.

He’s cool, collected and calculating. He knows how to answer a question without actually answering a question. Plus he’s smart.

Kelly Love Parker is a former TV reporter (don’t hold that against her) and has been involved in the community, has a big job over at the chamber of commerce and worked for former U.S. Rep. Brian Baird.

She is not your typical politician. She’s very sharp and essentially beat Madore senseless when he asked her leading questions during the interview. Open and honest — and combative — she is the kind of person we should have in politics … but never will.

Ed Barnes was also interviewed. Barnes is a good guy. A very good guy. He’s been a union man most of his life, and now that he’s retired it seems his full-time job is to go to commission meetings and give the M&M boys well-deserved grief.

After the interview process was over the M&M boys went into a private room to discuss things. Now you would have thought — after almost two months, after the interviews and after their little private chat — these guys would have come out and voted to appoint one of these candidates.

Well, think again.

It appears they need more time.

So what happened? The M&M boys aren’t talking but here’s my take:

Madore initially wanted Love Parker but because she publicly undressed him, he moved to Pridemore. He’s no fan of Pridemore and he certainly didn’t want to give him this bully pulpit, but Love Parker left him no choice. Mielke really dislikes Pridemore. And he could not be moved to vote for him. It ended up one vote Pridemore, one vote Love Parker.

So they’re — well — nowhere.

Barnes could end up being the compromise choice here. Or the M&M boys literally could give up. Tell us all they can’t find a consensus and let our governor make the choice. If so, that choice would be Pridemore.

Regardless we’ll know soon. Maybe.