As of the recent close of filings, Steve Tharinger had drawn two opponents. One is Thomas Greisamer, of Moclips, who describes himself as a “semi-retired” psychiatrist, and who is running as a Republican. The other is Stafford Conway, a neurologist who moved to Sequim less than two years ago, and who is running as a Libertarian.
Curiously, both of these men went to the same less-than-stellar, for-profit medical school, the American University of the Caribbean, which is run by DeVry. (Bloomberg News headline from September 11th, 2013: “DeVry Lures Medical School Rejects as Taxpayers Fund Debt.”) Sadly, both would seem to be unknown kooks who have little chance of winning.
Sadly, you say? Yes, sadly. I’m as progressive as they come, and support progressive candidates - and generally oppose far-right candidates. In my opinion, radical right-wingers can do immeasurable harm to our political system if given control. The only thing that does more damage to progressive ideas and policies are those frauds who masquerade as people who have progressive views, when in fact they do not.
Steve Tharinger is one of those frauds. Though he always has a big Democratic D by his name, his actions are much more like those of a greedy, Republican corporate whore. His actions speak louder than any words. And his actions – public and private – do much to damage the causes that so many of the people who blindly vote for him support. His hypocrisy is a poison in the political system of our State.
Let’s look back to 2010, shall we? In 2010, the Salmon Recovery Board allocated $525,000 to Clallam County to buy a house as part of salmon recovery efforts. That house was owned by Steve Tharinger, and even he described the price set for it as “on the high end of the market.”
After the State allocated the funds to Clallam County, the County then purchased the property – while Tharinger was a sitting County Commissioner. Tharinger recused himself from discussions of the purchase, but still…Doesn’t it seem more than a little improper?
Oh, and who was the chair of the Salmon Recovery Board when they allocated the money for this purchase? Steve Tharinger. Doesn’t that also seem more than a little improper?
After the property was sold, Tharinger bought a house a mile away for $437,000 – clearing almost $90,000 for doing his part for salmon restoration. I’m sure Steve Tharinger still smiles when he thinks about salmon recovery in Clallam County.
Steve Tharinger believes salmon recovery efforts are very, very important
to his local economy.
Moving ahead to 2011…Tharinger managed to win election to State office while still serving as a County Commissioner. This meant he was making $63,504 annually for being a County Commissioner, while simultaneously being paid $42,106 a year for being a State Representative. That’s a total of $105,610 a year for holding both elected offices. That’s also known as double-dipping. It’s not illegal, but, like so many of Steve Tharinger’s actions, it certainly seems to be highly questionable ethically.
This unusual position brought a little heat down on Tharinger, who promised to pay the County back for any pay he got if he was working less than 40 hours a week on County business – while simultaneously supposedly working full-time in Olympia on State business. He said he would track his own hours, and pay back what he thought he should at the end of the legislative session. Of course, he also said that even when the more than full-time legislature was in session, he wouldn’t give all of his County pay back, because “I don’t work for free.”
No, but you certainly seem to forget who you’re supposed to be working for, Steve.
In any case, after making many wildly different statements on this issue, and generally misleading voters as to his intentions, Steve Tharinger drew two full-size government paychecks – and kept two full-size government paychecks. Based on the Commissioner’s $63,504 annual salary, and a 40 hour work week, Tharinger’s County pay was just over $30.00 an hour. When the legislative session was done, Steve Tharinger “paid back” the County to the tune of just over $300.00, or, about ten hours work.
Now, given that he was missing some Commissioner’s meetings, phoning in for parts of others, running back and forth to Olympia…It seems likely that Steve Tharinger missed much more than ten hours of County work during the full-time legislative session. What he did may have been technically legal, but it sure strikes me as sleazy.
And speaking of sleazy…It was about this time that Steve Tharinger, along with Kevin Van De Wege, introduced a fresh poison to our local political scene, when they installed the infamous Matthew Randazzo as head of the Clallam County Democratic Party. Randazzo’s many misdeeds have been discussed at length elsewhere on this blog, so I’ll keep this short. Suffice to say, this arrogant and sexist little man spent most of his time scamming money, attacking local Democratic and progressive political candidates (especially if they were women), while simultaneously helping to prop up Steve Tharinger’s conservative County Commissioner friend, Mike Chapman – a non-Democrat if ever there was one. Randazzo and his unbalanced cohort, Jack Slowriver, left the CCDP in tatters, before they both left town. Randazzo, with the help of Tharinger, was installed in a position in Peter Goldmark’s office in Olympia.
Around the same time that all the chaos was occurring in the CCDP, a great many environmentalists and progressives were upset by, and working to stop, the Nippon biomass project. They feared for the health of the people of Clallam County, and for the health of our forests, as the project intended to gobble up a great deal of the forest slash and “waste” that feeds the soil of our forests, and burn it instead. Democrats, Greens and progressives worked together and spoke with one voice to oppose this project.
Steve Tharinger to Nippon Corporation:
I drink to your health!
Meanwhile, Steve Tharinger was sponsoring HB 1663, which extended for another eleven years a State sales and use tax exemption for the purchase of “hog fuel” – the slash and forest “waste” mentioned above – for the production of electricity. In other words, while his constituents were agitating against the Nippon biomass project, Steve Tharinger was busy doing Nippon’s corporate bidding, and supporting corporate welfare over the welfare of his own local residents and local forests.
Once again…This was not illegal, but highly questionable, and certainly more like something you’d expect from a Republican. But corporate whores are where you find them, and Steve Tharinger can be found right in Nippon’s pocket.
Oh, and do remember that Nippon was also actively busting their workers union around this time as well. So much for Democrats being the ones to stand up for unions, eh?
Steve Tharinger to union members: Drop dead!
Maybe all this two-faced double-talk and money grubbing is why State Rep Steve Tharinger can’t win a majority of votes here in his own County – even as other Democrats (like Obama) are winning here. We know him best, and we like him least. Only a strong Democratic vote out of Jefferson County allows him to continue to hold public office.
In my opinion, Steve Tharinger is a fake. He’s a self-serving hypocrite and a liar. I don’t trust him, and I don’t like him. And I sincerely wish that there were a good choice in the race for his seat. But two kooks and a crook doesn’t make a very good choice, so I guess that I’ll have to write someone in. I’m open to suggestions.