Sunday, May 31, 2020
May 31, 2020

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Press Talk: And the best of stupid stuff is …

By , Columbian Editor
Published:

Wow! Where the heck did that year go?

One minute you’re writing about stupid stuff in January, and the next minute it’s December … and you’re still writing about stupid stuff.

What the …

And because this is not only the season to be jolly but also the season to create lists, I shall continue with my tradition of a list of “top stupid stuff.”

Now a real list of top stories from 2016 will appear Sunday in The Columbian. And I should add none of the stories on my list made that Top 10 list. Hey, don’t blame me!

My list of stupid stuff is more, ah, surreal. No kidding! So here’s the Top 5.

#5 The Moeller run. The only thing more secure than state Rep. Jim Moeller’s seat was his unflinching optimism and the glowing smile he always wore.

The ultra-liberal Democrat had found a home in an ultra-liberal district. What’s not to smile about, right? But then he went and spoiled it all by saying something stupid like … “I’m going to run against U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.” 

Huh?

Really? An ultra-liberal running against Herrera Beutler, the conservative Republican incumbent … in a conservative district?

I might have mentioned to Jim a couple of times that his smile might endure, but his life as an elected official was about to take a nosedive. He was crushed.

Still no decent explanation as to why he didn’t follow my Don’t Do Stupid Stuff advice.

Hey buddy, who loves ya? I give you this: You are still smiling. Just get the basement ready for a renter. You might need the extra cash.

#4 Mayor Tim Leavitt  and Port Commissioner Brian Wolfe.

Just because.

 #3 Press Talk. That’s me. Now some of my critics might argue every column I’ve ever written belongs on a top stupid stuff list. Point taken.

Still, I’ve chosen a column I wrote a couple of weeks before the presidential election. Oh, I thought it was sprightly written and marginally entertaining. But it was based on what Donald Trump would do the day after he lost the election. So all that sprightly, entertaining stuff was kinda lost when Trump won. Oh well.

#2 Madore was late to the party. There was a lot of stupid stuff David Madore did in 2016, but I was particularly struck by his view on county employee pay and benefits.

Now I should make clear this is not the time or place to analyze the fairness of public-sector employee pay and benefits compared with private-sector employee pay and benefits.

Madore’s particular stupid stuff on this issue has to do with when he decided to try to make his case that county employees have it pretty dang good.

If you recall, Madore was elected to county office four years ago as a change agent. He was the big, bold conservative who was going to right the ship. But instead of going after this issue on Day One, he decided to go after it on his last day.

Huh?

So there was Councilor Madore, one foot out the door, railing about 5 percent pay raises. Where the heck were you the last four years, buddy, when those contracts were being negotiated?

By the way, look for the county to try to take some steps in 2017 to rein in raises, health care costs and payouts for unused vacation and sick time.

#1 Humongous mayoral pay raise. Speaking of raises, if I ever get around to doing a Top 10 Stupid Stuff list … OF THE CENTURY!!! … this one would certainly make it.

You remember, right?

An appointed Vancouver Salary Review Commission decided it was time to give our mayor’s pay a bit of a bump. Well, a bit more than a bit. It was a proposed 117-percent pay hike, to around $60,000 a year. For a part-time, ribbon-cutting job!

And because the salary commission has no oversight — you read that right — there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Oh, one could start a petition to try to get it thrown out, but how many people would go through that trouble?

Fortunately, emboldened by The Columbian’s coverage and opinions, that’s exactly what happened. And in the end, the huge raises were thrown out and order was restored.

Oh, and look for the city in 2017 to figure out a way to put some sort of check on rogue appointed commissions like this one.

• • •

Now, before you get all down and mopey after reading this stupid stuff list, let me say this county is in good shape. Thanks in large part to many good elected officials and the professional managers — guys like the county’s Mark McCauley, Vancouver’s Eric Holmes and Ridgefield’s Steve Stuart.

So we have good people in good places. Fortunately — and this is the news guy in me speaking now — I can still pretty much count on many who simply won’t follow my advice:

Don’t Do Stupid Stuff.

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