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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

In Our View: Conjuring Up Controversy

Councilor Madore's penchant for creating division highlights a failure of leadership

The Columbian
Published: May 28, 2015, 5:00pm

While Clark County councilors eventually arrived at the logical decision, the thought process remains perplexing.

At issue was designation of the Columbia River Economic Development Council as the county’s Associate Development Organization. On Wednesday, following a week of unnecessary political drama, councilors renewed the CREDC’s status, which qualifies it for about $160,000 in annual support from the state Commerce Department to promote business services. As the organization’s website explains, “CREDC is your dedicated business concierge connecting you with resources to accelerate your business relocation, growth, and innovation.”

The absurdity of questioning whether to renew the status is highlighted by two simple facts: As far as anybody knows, no county in the state has ever declined to designate an Associate Development Organization; and without such a designation, the money from the state would not come to Clark County. But absurdity is a frequent hallmark of county Councilor David Madore.

It was Madore who the previous week targeted the development council because of its support for revamping the interchange between Mill Plain Boulevard and Interstate 5. Calling the project “CRC through the back door” in reference to the long-dead Columbia River Crossing project, Madore accused the CREDC of pursuing “high-profile, highly controversial” projects as he ignored the fact that the issues are separate.

Madore’s inability to recognize that others are attempting to leave the Columbia River Crossing in the past is maddening, and his penchant for needlessly picking political battles is damaging. Madore’s myopic, self-indulgent view of governance repeatedly has led him to use wedge issues to divide residents while at the same time obliterating his credibility. As one of the first lessons of living in a civilized society suggests, it is important to choose your battles — a lesson that Madore routinely ignores in his work as a county councilor.

For the development council’s part, its mission is to advocate for all projects identified by the Clark County Transportation Alliance as being beneficial to the region. While the Mill Plain interchange was part of the Columbia River Crossing plan, the CREDC’s official position is that the CRC is dead. In fact, that is the position of a number of local business and government leaders, the kind of people who are invested in moving the county forward. Following Madore’s accusations of some nefarious motivation behind the Mill Plain project, 11 Southwest Washington lawmakers urged county councilors to recognize the development council and make it eligible for funds.

Madore eventually joined councilors Jeanne Stewart and a more tepid Tom Mielke in granting such status, but not before urging the development council to “take a neutral position on controversial projects that may not have the support of our community.” Therein lies the perplexing nature of Madore’s thinking. First of all, the “controversy” of the Mill Plain project is a fabrication of his imagination. Second of all, expecting a development advocacy group to take a neutral stance represents a failure to understand the nature of advocacy groups; you might as well ask a shark to stop swimming. As CREDC president Mike Bomar told The Columbian, he and Madore, “disagree on what reality is.”

Such disagreements have grown tiresome. Even when Madore eventually arrives at the logical decision, his penchant for conjuring up controversy reflects a failure of leadership.