• Arne Mortensen

My Time at TDN (13Sep2016)

This past Tuesday, 13September2016, I attended an interview at a private forum held by The Daily News (TDN) at their facility in Longview. The purpose of the forum was to vet Mike Karnofski and me with the ultimate goal of the editorial board deciding on whom to endorse. Mike Karnofski, Rick Parrish, Marianne Chambers, Hayat Norimine, and I were the only persons in the room.

Rick Parrish managed the meeting well and both Mike and I had the opportunity to answer fair questions … where fair means that the questions did not directly require such detail knowledge of internal workings that only Mike could possibly have a chance to answer. Additionally, the questions were useful indicators as to how the candidates could be expected to act in office.

After it was over I could think of dozens of points or counter-points I might have raised, but I am a victim of my own sense of fairness to share the limited time available. When Rick Parrish asked for a concise answer, I honored that request. Of course, one could ask why the overall time was limited to about an hour; given that there is a large gap between Mike and me on attitude and operating principles, a larger time limit would have been more conducive to get beyond some of the claims.

I hope that I gave a clear sense that I am anything but business as usual. Mike gave a clear sense that he is business as usual; he did this by waxing about his many “accomplishments,” with the theme that he is spending your tax dollars for you own good. And therein lies a chasm between him and me; I know it is your money not mine. He gave such an outstanding account of all his accomplishments that I indulged in my only one sniping, stating that if we embrace Mike’s claims, we have no need for the other two commissioners. (I don’t like sniping, but I also don’t like grandstanding; there is ample value in honest, solid discourse.)

There were deflections and no answers to my questions about pertinent issues of the building and planning department, 911, voter dissatisfaction, the strategic plan, and county management by the commissioners. I did not tackle the Love Overwhelming issue, maybe I should have, but I figured that is one issue that is pretty clear to most people, so I did not want to take the time to repeat the known. Let me give you a little about the responses to each of the above issues.

Building and planning department: Mike deflected the issue by saying that the department had improved greatly and that it now is user friendly and works well. I don’t need to say anything about this answer; the people know the truth. He also added that this was the perennial punching bag, intimating that it was a frivolous complaint by the public.

911: Mike completely avoided any sense of responsibility (one of my campaign themes is the lack of responsibility) for the current state of 911. At one point he explained that the current location of 911 was determined by a fear of a nuclear blow out at Trojan … I nearly fell out of my chair! I have been here 11 years and Trojan has not operated since then. Furthermore, (I am guessing) the facility does not have the air filtration and other key infrastructure to support a nuclear problem. Of course, there are many other issues with the location and the fact that nothing has been done by the BOCC about this. Mike will vote in favor of raising the county sales tax by .1% to pay for 911 critical needs. This is a perfect example of the major problem with the “government is the solution” attitude; when government fails, we, the people, are burdened with the cost to fix it. This is common thinking by politicians, and Mike appears to be that kind of politician.

Voter dissatisfaction: Mike does not see any meaningful dissatisfaction. In response to my suggestion that it is a dissatisfied electorate that caused four citizens to file for the office, he cited that he really won the District 1 vote. In his arithmetic, he would have gotten all of Marilee McCall’s votes had she not entered, so he would have bested me by about 1%. So as not to indulge in that kind of speculation, I said nothing. But it is worth mentioning that aside from being presumptive about Marilee’s voters, he avoided any mention about the votes cast for Jim Hill and Curtis Hart. His approach is in line with what I see at the commissioners’ meeting, in which only one side of the argument is presented. (I did bring-up the one-sided approach as a problem, citing the example of voting to pay $310k for an automated scale at the Headquarters landfill without presenting a full picture.)

County management: Mike denied that he operated in a manner that supports bureaucratic expansion. He did not respond to my assertion that his lack of knowledge on technical matters costs the county significant money and limited county solutions only to that which he knows; I gave one clear example, the purchase of software licenses for the building and planning department. (I have a much broader background and significantly more varied experience than he does.)

With that synopsis of the meeting given above, you can see that at election time you have the choice to continue the current approach of management at the County Commissioners’ office by electing Mike. By re-electing Mike, you trust that he will fix problems he has created or ignored and that he has license over your money. You also have the choice to elect me, knowing that my approach of Accountability, Responsibility, and Transparency is distinct and that I am true to the community and my principles and that I know very well it is your money and your property rights.

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