Something is rotten in ‘
Denmark‘ Clark County – With apologies to The Bard *
The team at ClarkCounty.info has reported ongoing abuses of power and an embarrassing lack of ethics on the part of the newest trio of county councilors, Boldt, Stewart, and Olson. Before we get into the recent conflict with integrity and good judgment, let’s review the backgrounds of this triple threat to ‘wise and ethical local government.’
Mark Boldt, the newly elected Council Chairman, ran his recent campaign as having no party preference. The reality is that Boldt, until this election, had always associated himself with the Republican Party and was even a Republican precinct committee officer. Because of this affiliation, he was sanctioned by the Republican Party for ignoring the party’s principles and for endorsing Democrat Steve Stuart for Clark County Commissioner against a fellow Republican. Boldt has no discernible political core other than a fawning devotion to power and influence. His sidekicks on this establishment-pandering ‘gang of three’ are, Jeanne Stewart, pos. 1, and Julie Olson, pos. 2.
The latest mischief this trio is pushing is the ‘coronation’ of Mark McCauley, from Acting County Manager to County Manager—without any reasonable search and with a multi-year rolling contract. As noted in prior articles, these clearly unwise actions are hard to fully attribute to incompetence. There’s a heavy influence of corruption in that the legacy Clark County establishment, and the three liberal councilors know McCauley will be a good facilitator for their big-government and special-interest agenda.
The employment contract: A rolling contract means that every year the contract would automatically renew for some multi-year term until McCauley retires or is terminated. It’s assumed the County Manager position would command a six figure salary, let’s say $200,000/yr. His severance, if fired, would be in the $500,000+ range. Once this man is installed with such an outlandish contract, he would be in a perfect position to run roughshod over county employees, citizens, and county councilors he doesn’t like. If the councilors don’t like it they can send him packing with a half-million dollars of taxpayer money. An unscrupulous person would try to get fired with such contract terms. Thanks Councilor Olson!
Another $500,000 down the toilet – oh well, it’s only tax payer’s money.
If anyone should understand the perils of a foolhardy arrangement like this, it should be Olson. She was on the Ridgefield School Board for eight years, serving for a time as vice president and six years as president. Further, Olson should recuse herself from influencing the process due to a conflict of interest, as McCauley’s wife is a friend and substantial campaign supporter of Julie Olson.
Clark County has recent history with this sort of employee contract incompetence. In June 2013, Battle Ground’s Superintendent of Schools, Shonny Bria, retired with 2 years left on her contract. Her annual salary was $154,000 plus benefits. School board members signed a $401,715 separation agreement which we understand was kept secret until four days prior to her departure. This is flat-out wrong. Tax payer money should either stay in the pockets of the citizens or, if needed, fund programs that deliver better education. To line the pockets of a departing administrator is despicable. This Shonny Bria should be ashamed, as in our view an ethical person would have never taken the money. Sadly these type of fat contracts for senior administrators have somehow become somewhat normal, and weak school boards usually just go along.
McCauley to be vetted – so it appears: It seems the Clark County council has felt pressure to not just coronate McCauley like they wanted. About a month ago they devised an apparent vetting process for him. They call it a 360-Review in which an outside consulting firm will interview selected individuals about McCauley. We asked for and received from one of the councilors a copy of the list of people to be interviewed. Oddly the list was being apparently managed by McCauley and it included heads of local government and quasi-government entities. Many of them are known Clark County establishment sympathizers. The others would have obvious political pressure to support McCauley. This is because most participants know of the cronyism with the County government and would presume McCauley will be passed through. They understandably don’t want to be on record as being negative with an establishment known for retribution. The interview list includes a few Clark County government employees who’d also be reluctant to say negative things about McCauley for fear of retribution. A friend of ClarkCounty.info requested a copy of the interviewee list and the methodology for the 360-Review, but was ignored. So he filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) demand for this information. Seeing the methodology will be helpful, but this employee review process has all the earmarks of a sham and further disrespect for the citizens.
McCauley has serious issues as it relates to permanently filling the County Administrator position. These were detailed in a January 16th ClarkCounty.info article. So fasten your seat belts, folks. This charade is not going to go unchallenged. ClarkCounty.info is and other earnest citizens are looking out for you.
* The original quote from “Hamlet” Act 1, Scene 4 reflects the analogy that “the fish” is rotten from the head down. It means all is not well at the top of the political hierarchy.