Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Three Reasons to Worry

Clallam County, as we all know, has three - count 'em, three - Republican County Commissioners. Those three have now embraced the "outside the box" idea offered by Mike Chapman to personally select and contract with three of their friends to serve as a rotating pool of hearing examiners.
In case you didn't see the obvious cronyism in this, let me note that four people have applied to do this important job, and the Commissioners are going to offer the contracts to the three people who are locals - which is to say, the people who are already here and in on the fix. (Those three would be Lauren Erickson, William Payne and Craig Miller.)
The reasons offered for doing it this way, needless to say, contradict each other. On one hand, lip service is given to the need for the hearing examiner to be "independent." On the other hand, it's important that the people chosen have, as Bill Peach put it, "some skin in the game." 
After all, who'd want someone who was simply highly qualified, professional and impartial, right?
So say we all!

Said King Jim, giving the idea his blessing: "This individual, or individuals, deals with one of the most fundamental rights that exists, and those are property rights. It's really, really important for folks to understand when they have an issue that comes before the hearing examiner that they've got somebody that lives in the same community that they do and kind of understands the community from a standpoint of being part of it."
After all, who'd want someone who was simply highly qualified, professional and impartial, right? Or did I already say that?
So say we all!

You gotta love it. This is such an important position that they have to pick the right three people to do it, right? Yet, at the same time, they're supposedly doing all this to reduce costs.
The Commissioners were rightly criticized earlier for appointing Mark Nichols to the job, rather than going through an open hire. So their solution is to appoint three people instead of one? That's better? No, that's nuts. As will be the record-keeping. And the continuity. And everything else associated with this idea.
I guess the good news is that - surprise! - all three Commissioners think that all three of the people they're hand-picking to do their bidding are "well qualified." And I guess they're hoping that people will be comforted that they also think this crazy idea is, to quote good King Jim, an "excellent crazy idea."
If these three are in agreement, and it's unconventional, and it involves them avoiding an open hiring process and hand-picking people for important jobs...Well, gee, why does that sound worrisome to me?
Three-headed monsters have been pretty
hard on Tokyo.


  1. Ahaa, you have noticed, the position of Hearing Examiner is the "bench" where sits the next Judge or other local luminary awaiting to be appointed to higher office. Let us review. Judge Melly was the hearings examiner until APPOINTED to the bench. Mr. Nichols was APPOINTED Hearing Examiner until running for and, with the help of piles of money from D. C. banksters, being elected prosecutor. You may also have noticed Nichols sat on his hands as Hearings Examiner when the marijuana growers were trying to find a place to grow. He fiddled while opportunities to jump start the economy fizzled.
    Forgive me for skipping about but let's move down one layer of government to the city government. Last week during a council meeting councilman Lee Whetham asked city attorney Mr. Bloor, "how is it coming with your recruiting of indigent defense attorneys?" Mr. Bloor said, "We put out an RFP to the local bar association and only two responded. The need for more indigent defense attorneys became painfully obvious when a fellow named Wilbur sued the city of Mount Vernon, WA for the piss-poor indigent defense provided him.
    The taxpayers in the city of MV are now paying off a multi million dollar lawsuit.
    Now, back to Bloor. Bloor failed to mention to the city council, after a direct question from a council member, Bloor failed to mention that RFP seeking indigent defense counsel was FIVE YEARS AGO. Bloor has done nothing in the wake of Wilbur v Mount Vernon. Bloor wants to select indigent defense attorneys from a very closed circle of candidates. Also, how is it that the city prosecutor (Bloor) gets to pick the defense he will go up against??
    Wilbur here we come...
    Wonder how many other vague and misleading answers Bloor provides to the city council--even under direct questioning. Dan, your phone is ringing.
    Finally, you may have heard Judge Wood is retiring mid term. Now the back room politics begin to see who will be APPOINTED once again to a judicial post. When these elected officials run for office there is an implied bargain they will finish their terms so the voters get to elect their replacement. Now, for the last 3 cycles, judges quit mid term and the governor, with the help of people like Dick Pilling and Jim McEntire get to appoint their replacement. If this was happening in Central America politicos would say tich tich. As it happens here it becomes standard operating procedure.

    1. The scenario/conspiracy you lay out is pretty convincing. Certainly we all know there's more than the normal level of graft and corruption here. Given what you've laid out, I just have to say how disappointed I am to see George Wood apparently being a part of and party to this. I used to think more of him.

      Of course, at one point, I thought it was a good idea to move to Port Angeles. I guess I keep learning lessons the hard way.

  2. Thanks for being on top of this one, CK. It might seem kind of esoteric to a lot of people, but in reality, the hearing examiner position is very important. In fact, it's so important that these three goons are packing the court, to use their own analogy.

    I'm guessing they'll talk a lot, if pressed, about being able to avoid conflicts of interest by having three hearing examiners. Which is true, to an extent. If examiner "A" has a conflict of interest in dealing with a situation, then you can roll another person over to deal with it. Which is good, to an extent.

    But that doesn't get to the inherent conflicts of interest that are still here, the most obvious of which is the commissioners cherry picking their own hearing examiners. Once again, Clallam County is refusing to go with an open hire, and with a process that is intended to favor the most qualified candidate. Instead, we get the same old cronyism and good ol' boy deals that have hindered this place for decades.

    Like so much that's been coming out of the courthouse lately, this is blatant, unprofessional, and totally counterproductive. I'm guessing this will also be more expensive (in many ways) than they're saying now.

    We continue to be a graveyard for good ideas and worthy ideals.

  3. I guess us silly liberals would say this set-up looks like fixing the system to favor certain projects, people and developments. But I assume King Jim would say it will help "streamline" the system, to the benefit of all.

  4. Did the Commissioners think to first ask the candidates whether they would be interested in accepting one/third of a job?
    I wouldn't be surprised if one or more of them refused to accept the HE contract under the terms and scenario laid-out by the Commissioners.
    Maybe this was the commissioners' hidden "out of the box" agenda? Make sure that less wealthy candidates drop out due to the paucity and uncertainty of compensation?
    And what about the needs of the new DCD Director? Did the commissioners consult her to learn what she thought about this scheme and how shuffling three hearing examiners could impact the functioning of her department? I doubt it.

  5. As bad as it's been here - and we all know it's been bad - I think it's going to get much, much worse with Jim McEntire essentially running the county. His well-documented greed and disdain for public process are enough to disqualify him from holding office. He's just Karen Rogers with slightly better table manners.

    We are in deep trouble.

  6. Off topic, but I think worth your review. Maybe a different thread? What was said then, vs now. EDC rationales.

    What caught my eye was all the different funds, grants, and sources of money the city stitched together to do this. A bit revealing on how they do things. What they think is okay to do, to accomplish what they want.


  7. So....Jim McEntire writes the master plan for another entity on his own, leads the effort to adopt that plan as the county's plan, rams through a big ticket giveaway of public funds to that entity, while totally ignoring public concerns, objections and petitions, and while picking a fight with a fellow commissioner.

    And this morning he is quoted in the PDN as describing all that as "government at its best."

    Give the man credit. His arrogance and ambition to loot public funds are both pretty breathtaking.

    1. Yes. You have to wonder if he'd think the same thing about this being government at its "best" if he'd lost the vote.

      You also have to ask, if this is his idea of government at its "best," what does the worst look like?

  8. Say what you may, Mike Chapman is the adult in the room. Without him there wouldn't even be a debate. thanks Mike

    I hope you will start referring to Peach as "Brown Nose Bill"
    He has his nose so far up McEntire's ass he needs a snorkle to breathe.

  9. It's too bad that the county commissioners choose to have their meetings during the day, when it's difficult for working people to attend. If they were in the evenings, it would be easier for most people to go, to see what really goes on, and to speak up against the insanity.

    But they wouldn't want that sort of visibility, would they?

  10. Age old technique used by the Right Wing types: Divide and Conquer

    Get the liberals to fight among themselves, and the right wing wins every time.

  11. Here we get all three commissioners playing Bad Cop. On the EDC issue, Chapman gets to play Good Cop. The trouble is, though, they're all just playing, and at the end of the day we won't ever have enough Good Cops to do good work for the public.

  12. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. Hope you all have a good day. Might I suggest taking that special someone out for a nice meal in Port Townsend?

    1. LOL! No kidding.

      Anywhere but Port Angeles.