Status Quo Operation
The current pursuit of special interest groups at both the local and state level is destructive. Commissioners are elected by the entire population of the county; yet much of what they do is to serve those who scream the loudest for the plunder of other people’s money. Yes, there are many laws that favor one group at the expense of another group, but there is no law that forces a commissioner to grab taxpayer money to satisfy those corrupt policies. The direction of our local government is akin to driving the Titanic, fully knowing that it will hit an iceberg. The commissioners, referring to technicalities and perceived obligations, are like the deck stewards, rearranging the deck chairs, when they should be on the bridge redirecting the ship to a sensible safe passage.
Keep in mind that any action taken by the board of county commissioners (BoCC) requires at least two votes. So, no commissioner can take full credit for success or failure. So, a commissioner, handicapped by regulations about communication between commissioners, has the task of swaying one other commissioner to support an action. Doing this is a chore for actions that depart from the usual accepted fares. For example, the term from 2013-2016, there were few if any dissenting votes. Now, I lose many votes, as I cast the one dissenting vote. This can be seen in the minutes of meetings, which, by the way, now report how a commissioner cast a vote.
While most of the activity that took place at the regular weekly meeting was usual perfunctory stuff of minimal interest to the citizens, I was responsible for many (likely most) new initiatives or departures from the usual fare that have appeared before the board during my term in office.
Any student of history knows that ATTITUDE frequently determines the outcome of an activity. Any employer knows that employee attitude is a crucial element in a successful relationship. In one of the fora in the 2016 campaign, I was asked if I were elected to office, upon leaving the office what legacy did I want to leave.
That question was bothersome to me because a major problem with government is the “legacy” concept of elected officials, suggesting that the office holder is to have their name, say, on some legislation or some building (all paid for by the people). The real legacy should be the preservation of the legacy given to us by the founding founders; that legacy is the American ethos, now so weakened that it is on its last legs.
My answer to the question: an attitude change. By that I meant that I hoped I would change the focus of government away from itself and its own glorification and expansion, to a focus on the people. Below are some examples of (attempted) changes in attitude:
Before my first day, I asked about the attire at the regular Tuesday meeting.I was told a tie.I asked why?The answer was, “for the dignity of the office.”I did not wear a tie on my first Tuesday.That office belongs to the people, and I do not set myself apart and above the people.
The commissioners were rubber stamping department requests.I began and continue to ask detailed questions.I do not want to be rubber stamp.The staff should look at the BoCC not as a hurdle, but as a part of the solution.
As an example:one day a department asked for a new car.I waited while the first question from the other two was, “Is it in the budget?”Whether it is in the budget is irrelevant.If the car is NEEDED, then it is the BoCC’s job to get it. If it is just a want, then the BoCC should say no.
It is taxpayer money, treat it at least as well as you treat yours, or better. I treat it better.
Focus on the public by service departments – that was needed badly in Building and Planning. There is more work to be done there.
Purpose of Commissioner
I believe that County Commissioners are elected to be advocates for the people, defenders of individual rights, and managers of county resources.
They are not elected abrogate individual rights for any purpose, regardless of the some assumed beneficial reason. To serve the demands of the many elected and non-elected bureaucrats is a clear violation of the spirit of government. It seems like many commissioners think their job is to dot the I’s and cross the T’s of extant programs. The oath of office speaks volumes about the real function of the commissioners: uphold the essence of America, which is embodied in the US Constitution and in the Washington State Constitution. Commissioners are not elected to grow the government and to subordinate individual rights in favor of their own interests.