Press Talk: It’s show time! So vote

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor



Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor.

Tim Eyman

The Columbian really doesn’t have a dog in this upcoming election fight unless you consider the community worth fighting for.

And we do.

So, in my humble opinion, the best thing we all could do for our community is to get behind the proposed county charter. It’s our chance to get back on course. But more on that later.

Democrats or Republicans?

Generally speaking, is one political party better than the other to help our community? Of course not. We need diverse views and as many checks and balances as we can muster. There are good ideas from both sides, and those good ideas should be supported with your vote.

That’s why — on our opinion pages — we support liberals and conservatives. That’s why we support Democrats and Republicans. Looking for proof?

Well, look at our endorsements. In partisan races, we endorsed seven Democrats and five Republicans.

We get beaten up by both sides because of this. But we stay the course. We report the election objectively and voice our opinions in editorials and — yes — columns such as this one. In the end, you have the information to make your own choice.

The charter

Now back to the proposed charter. For me, it’s the most important item on the ballot. And, no, it has nothing to do with charter schools.

The Columbian has written a lot about it, and I’ve commented a lot about it in this column.

And yes, County Commissioner David Madore is joined at the hip in trying to get this charter defeated.

Put simply, he hates it. Why?

It would reduce his power over us.

Of course, he would tell you otherwise. He would say it’s important for him to have control so he can fix all the things that need fixing.

Unfortunately, because he believes he’s always right, he’s broken things that didn’t need fixing. Take his fee waiver idea that is costing taxpayers a bundle. We’re now learning that an objective audit of the fee waiver program will show the program isn’t working. It was originally scheduled to be released before the election, but it somehow has mysteriously been delayed. And of course Madore has nothing to do with the delay. Honest!!

So, what specifically irritates Madore about the charter? Well, it’s the thing I like most about it. Instead of having just three county commissioners, we’ll have five.

Now, that won’t end the abuses that have befallen us, but it will mean Madore will have to convince more than just his sidekick and yes-man Commissioner Tom Mielke before stuff gets approved.

And that at least gives the rest of us a fighting chance.

A side benefit of the charter? It will reduce the commissioners’ gaudy $100,000 a year salary to just over $50,000 a year.

Eyman weighs in

It’s just not Clark County residents who are keeping an eye on our charter debate. You know the name Tim Eyman. Yes, that Tim Eyman. He’s the conservative political activist who has put slightly less than a gazillion state initiatives and referendums on our ballots. Almost all of them have to do with reducing our tax burden.

And before you think that I think this guy is a complete whack job, we’ve actually supported some of his proposals.

Too often, our friends in Olympia think the solution to all our problems is simply to dig deeper into our pockets.

Enter Eyman.

This guy scares many in our state Legislature, because they know when they misbehave, Eyman will put another one of his pesky initiatives on the ballot.

He had called me on another matter earlier this week, but I couldn’t resist asking him about our charter. He follows the goings on in our county because — yes — the M&M boys (Madore and Mielke) have made us a carnival sideshow.

So I asked Eyman what he thought about our charter.

“I’d probably be a ‘no’ vote based on what I know about it,” he tells me.

Why is that?

“More politicians is not better.”

Generally speaking, Eyman and I agree on smaller government, but I argued there is such a thing as too small. And that would be the case here where only two county commissioners can rule over us.

“Isn’t it bad if you end up with just two nut balls running the show?” I asked.

“Well, how nut ball are they if they got elected?” Eyman countered.

“And of course you’ve never seen a nut ball elected by the people,” I retorted.

(Eyman laughs): “That’s a good one. That’s probably the best shot of the conversation right there.”

Eyman also mentioned Republican state Sen. Ann Rivers’ decision to, ah, announce publicly that she had no public view on the charter question.

“I thought the Ann Rivers thing was so funny. I mean, how do you walk that tightrope? She’s firmly sitting on the fence. That was priceless.”

Well, how do you think it will end up?

“Looks like it’s going to pass by a pretty wide margin.”

Why will it pass?

“Usually the guys that favor this stuff have more money and more influence to get their side of the story out. (But) it would be cool that you would have an initiative and referendum process down there.”

Eyman is making note of another charter plus — something many conservatives like and he loves. It gives average guys like you and me the opportunity to get stuff on the county ballot to get voted on. Again, this is what Eyman does for a living on a statewide level.

o o o

Look, the hard left and hard right already are locked in on the charter vote. It’s the rest of us in the middle — those willing to have our community’s best interest in mind — that will decide this thing.

So get out there and vote. No matter the outcome of this Tuesday’s election, we’ll all manage. Our county will manage.

We always do.