Montesano Mayor’s Race: Better Than a Handful of Haters

Monte sign

In case ya missed it the first time: Once more, with feeling. Because some things are just Too. Much. Fun.

Mayor Estes is running for re-election. Sure as night follows day, the haters went into over-drive at the news. It’s what they do best. But don’t worry. They have short memories.

Don’t take my word for it. Tom Frederiksen* of Montesano Today reminds us why Ken Estes was elected mayor in the first place. Frederiksen’s column, Double secret probation: Government waste is being dealt with, lays out the pre-Estes situation at city hall. It also explains why the Bow Wow Brigade went Mt. Vesuvius when Mayor Estes – gasp! – actually did what he said he would: clean up the place. (Or, as a recent campaign mailer put it: “It’s time to blow the whistle and tell people to play by the rules.” Well shucks, sweetie. Welcome to the party. Where ya been, Tye Dye? And if Mr. Paragon of Virtue is going to talk about “the rules,” the salient question is: “Whose?” Soon followed by, “Tyler’s kidding, right?” Talk about Amateur Night at the Bijou.)

The following was posted by Tom Frederiksen of Montesano Today at 5:49 p.m. on December 11, 2013. Lest you forget:

TF Column 1

TF 2

If you’re havin’ trouble with that, lemme help. The column goes like this:

We as citizens and taxpayers here in Grays Harbor have a covenant with our elected officials. In return for the keys to the locks and access to the checkbooks, we expect a few things. Professionalism, honesty, and accountability high (sic) on the list. That basic trust has not only been abused but completely shattered.

Starting with our own little town of Montesano, Mayor Ken Estes was swept into office with 69.31 percent of the vote. That’s no small task in an area where elections are often decided by under a dozen votes. The message to Ken – clean up the place.

To the shock of many here in Montesano, that is exactly what he started to do. For decades, this town has been run by a cabal of politicians by a group first and foremost belonging to the city public workers union. In return for the elected offices, our politicians looked the other way. Blatantly.

As Mayor Estes discovered, a mere scratch of the surface by the way, was rampant time wasting by employees that in effect were completely unsupervised. Some departments were worse than others. The situation came to a head with the public works department that resulted in a supervisor being terminated and a restructuring of the department.

Staff wasted, as reported in The Vidette, at least 8,000 hours on the clock watching porn and other diversions under the nose of what was supposed to be supervision.

The cost our mayor had to weigh was a $40,000 bill to suspend the porn connoisseurs via arbitration. This is one case where I believe the taxpayers would have gladly spent the money for no other reason that to set an example.

Fast forward to the county courthouse.

This week, County Commissioner Frank Gordon (D-Aberdeen) basically came unglued after discovering our county Assessor has wasted as much as $200,000 on a software program. The figure may be more as the story is unfolding. Worse, the Assessor didn’t even get a software program. It doesn’t work. The money is just gone. Gone. The problem is the county, (this is where you and I come in), may be on the hook to have to repay the money. Gordon’s demand for the immediate resignation of the Assessor, in my opinion, doesn’t go far enough.

The two illustrations listed here, one local, the other broader and countywide, demonstrate just how deep the institutionalized corruption and incompetence has become here in the county. People are comfortable that they can get away with it.

We are about to begin to pay the price for it. Literally. The average homeowner can expect a property tax hike this next year. And again the year after and after that, too. There is no end in sight. …

We are extremely lucky at this point in time that we have two politicians, one a Republican the other a Democrat, fighting to bring a halt to the business as usual of looking the other way. The issue of abuse in the pubic trust out of the arena of partisan politics.

We have only begun to start turning over rocks. It is not easy to be sitting in an elected public office and buck the office.

We have an obligation as citizens to support those that are not afraid to stand up for honest and open government. The alternative is to, again, start looking the other way – and get back to business as usual.

While money wasted here in Montesano is certainly eye opening and upsetting to the 4,000-or-so residents, it is nothing – pennies – compared to the waste and corruption at the county level. The latest abuse of power uncovered and brought to light by Commissioner Gordon is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just one example.

Currently, the county commissioners are under attack by those under their microscope using the tactic of fighting the cost of the investigations. Mayor Estes faced the same ploy. We have come to the point where we, the taxpayers, may have to bite a smaller bullet now to clean these government agencies and departments up. Allowed to continue, the corruption in this county will linger and eventually cost millions. Our homes, ultimately, will be virtually unsellable due to the taxes.

While past area mayors and commissioners have dealt with individuals wasting our tax money by placing the offenders on “double secret probation,” we can take heart that we now have a few politicians coming forward and actually doing their job. (Emphasis added.)

No wonder the Bow Wow Woodsy Brigade is so ticked. And oh yeah: Cleaning up city hall isn’t “bullying.” Nor is it “political paybacks.” It’s cleaning up city hall. And as Frederiksen has already pointed out previously, “Telling people to play by the rules” has and is being done. By the grown-ups. Nice try Bowsers.

Some questions for thinking Montesanoans:

  • Do you really want to go back to “look the other way” leadership at city hall?
  • Will you let losers and leftovers tell you what to do?
  • Are you going to let a handful of haters, serial quitters, and puppet pups choose your mayor?

Frankly, I think you’re smarter than that. And better.

* As for changing his mind on city hall post the much-maligned, much-ballyhooed, mountain-out-of-a-molehill waterfront sale, remember: This Vini groupie also wants you to boycott Aberdeen.

Originally published on May 11, 2015.