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Saturday, February 24, 2024
Feb. 24, 2024

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Jayne: Nierenberg wants community free of Madore’s rudeness

By , Columbian Opinion Page Editor

When David Nierenberg talks, people listen.

OK, OK, that comes across as a clich?. But when you are president of the Nierenberg Investment Management Company, a member of the state investment board, a member of numerous boards for local charities and foundations, and have a law degree from Yale University — people tend to listen. So it is notable that Nierenberg is fed up with the state of affairs in Clark County and is eager to do something about it.

The problem, as Nierenberg sees it, is County Councilor David Madore. The goal, as Nierenberg articulates it, is “to become a community again.”

“We are going to bring this community to what it used to be before the rudeness,” Nierenberg said. “We are going to honor the legacy of people like George Propstra, Bill Fromhold, Ed Lynch, and Dan and Val Ogden.”

In other words, Nierenberg longs for a day when people worked for the betterment of the community instead of the advancement of their personal ideology. When there was civility instead of discourtesy.

When there was a shared sense of commitment instead of divisive arrogance in county government.

Of course, Nierenberg is not the first person to levy such criticisms at Madore. Since being elected to the county council in 2012, Madore has embraced a unique, disconcerting, inexplicable ability to turn the smallest of wedge issues into a personal crusade. As Nierenberg said: “The style of politics that he and his henchmen have used — what they’re bringing to politics in our county is the politics of the limbo dance: How low can you go?”

Others have echoed those sentiments. But Nierenberg’s standing in the community lends extra weight to them.

Setting an example

Madore supporters are likely to view this as partisan sniping at the Republican councilor. So it should be noted that Nierenberg is friends with Mitt Romney and was a staunch supporter of the Republican presidential candidate in 2012. And it should be noted that he has contributed to both Republican candidates and Democratic candidates over the years, telling the Seattle Times in 2008 that he supports “independent thinkers who make up their own minds issue-by-issue and do not rigidly adhere to partisan or ideological positions.”

It is that rigidness that has made Madore an insufferable impediment to governance and decorum in Clark County.

While professing to be a fiscal conservative, Madore led the push to hire Don Benton as the county’s Director of Environmental Services, which resulted in a lawsuit that cost the county $250,000 plus legal fees; he has engaged in multiple actions that have forced the hiring of outside legal counsel, again at a cost; he has unilaterally developed an expensive land-use alternative, which also led to the hiring of an outside analyst; and he has pushed through a fee-waiver program that reduced revenue and, according to an review from the county auditor’s office, resulted in little development that would not have otherwise taken place.

There’s no telling how long Clark County can afford this brand of fiscal conservatism. And there’s no telling how long Clark County can afford the frequent insults and accusations levied at dissenters and critics and staff members.

“There has been a brain-drain of county staff because of bullying and rudeness,” Nierenberg noted. “How do you ever quantify that human impact? I would have to say for a fiscal conservative we’re talking a seven- or eight-figure number. There’s a Yiddish word for this, and it’s ‘chutzpah.'”

As Nierenberg wrote in a recent e-mail to friends: “This is not a partisan message; it is about who we are and who we aspire to be. It is about honoring the values of our parents and grandparents and setting the right example for our children.”

When David Nierenberg says that, the guess is that plenty of people will listen.