Oops! Local Media Errs in Some County Commission Meeting Reportage

I sometimes attend local events or meetings along with members of the local media. Most of these folks are pretty personable and likeable. Some are even fun. But after reading some local press accounts of a meeting or event I attended in person, I sometimes wonder if these peeps were in the same zip code as I was. Dan Hammock’s July 30 recap of Monday’s County Commission meeting is a case in point.

Here’s the link to Hammock’s story: Commissioners Again Shoot Down Attempt to Open Union Negotiations To The Public as it appeared in the electronic version of The Daily World.

I was especially interested in this paragraph:

“The Freedom Foundation, a non-profit “think tank” that supports transparency in union/government negotiations, supported Cormier’s resolution and argued against the notion that opening union negotiations to the public would not stand up to legal challenges and to those who called the resolution a union-busting tool. He said his organization performed a statewide poll and said the results were overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution, to the tune of 90 percent.”

There are at least three errors or distortions in this one paragraph:

First, saying “his organization” performed a statewide poll is misleading. It’s also inaccurate. In truth, the Freedom Foundation commissioned a non-partisan, “independent public opinion poll in October 2017” on the topic. Also, how come Hammock didn’t identify the speaker as Mr. Matt Hayward, Outreach Director for the Freedom Foundation?

It took me about three mouse clicks to find this info. I’m pretty sure your average middle schooler could do likewise.

Additionally, I spent about three minutes reaching out to Mr. Hayward post-meeting. He kindly supplied additional info. on the poll via email later. He even forwarded a copy of the actual Elway Poll. All I had to do was ask. Hello?

Second, Hayward didn’t say poll results were “overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution,” but in favor of increased transparency per negotiations between government agencies and labor unions. See the diff? For more, see: Washingtonians Overwhelmingly Want Transparency.

Third, Hayward didn’t say poll results were “90 percent” in favor of increased transparency, as erroneously reported by Hammock. The figure Hayward actually cited was about “70 percent.” This was obvious to anyone in the meeting who was paying attention.

Here’s a link to the video: July 30 Commissioner’s Meeting. Mr. Hayward’s comments start at about 20:10 and go to about 22:40.

What’re the odds of a retraction/correction? Yeah. That’s what I think, too.

P.S.: This just in from the Grays Harbor Democrats:

Speaking of the county commissioners, you probably heard that a Republican commissioner placed a motion forward to negotiate publicly with county employees. This was his third attempt. With a room packed with labor, it died a third time for lack of a second. Labor was heard!

Too bad your average taxpayer and non-unionistas weren’t. But they were probably at work.

 

Photo credit

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Transparency in Collective Bargaining Reso Dies

 

A transparency in collective bargaining resolution bit the dust at today’s afternoon meeting of the Grays Harbor County Commissioners. Brought forward by Commissioner Wes Cormier, the resolution failed for lack of a second at today’s afternoon meeting.

Today’s reso echoed two prior resolutions to conduct “all collective bargaining contract negotiations in a manner that is open to the public” and “provide public notice of all collective bargaining negotiations in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act.”

Commissioner Wes Cormier brought forward similar resolutions in April 2015 and January 2017. Both were shot down when fellow commishes didn’t sign on to the proposals. Here’s some back story:

From April 2015: Collective Bargaining, Warts on a Toad, & Secret Agent Decoder Rings.

From January 2017Running for the Tall Grass on Collective Bargaining.

In a July 28 Facebook post on the topic, Commissioner Raines writes, “I want to be very clear — my position on this topic has NOT changed, I continue to support CLOSED union negotiations.” Here’s the screenshot:

During today’s morning meeting, Commissioner Raines expressed surprise and frustration about the resolution being placed on today’s agenda “with no warning or conversation about it within the last year.”

Continue reading “Transparency in Collective Bargaining Reso Dies”

Commissioner Vickie Raines Announces Re-Election Bid

Grays Harbor County Commissioner Vickie Raines will be running for re-election. The press release formally announcing Raines’ plans to run for re-election was received earlier today.

Featuring the words Solving Problems – Managing Limited Resources – Developing Partnerships for our Future, the March 13 announcement says Raines is very proud of “some specific projects and collaborative achievements we have experienced in the last three years.” Achievements cited include:

  • A more balanced budget
  • Felony drug court
  • Dedicated funding for criminal justice
  • North Beach sewage treatment improvements
  • Ongoing flood and mitigation and reduction projects “that significantly affect not only Grays Harbor, but the entire Chehalis River Basin.”

Raines notes that while she’s “proud of our accomplishments so far, there is still much work to be done.” That includes industrial development, new infrastructure and employment opportunities. “I continue to be an active part of these collaborative efforts to strengthen our communities,” she adds, concluding with:

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative on important issues that impact our future. It has been an honor and a privilege. With your continued support, I formally announce my intent to run for re-election as your District 3 Commissioner. I will keep working hard, for you and with you. I will continue to be your voice, as we work together to strengthen our County, our communities and our citizens.

Raines bested three opponents, all men, in a hotly contested 2014 race. She was sworn in to her four-year term in January 2015.

 

For additional info., see: Vickie Raines Grays Harbor County Commissioner, District 3.

State Legislator$ Talk $, ‘Vexacious’ at County 

Money, money, money, money was a recurring theme at this afternoon’s Legislative Summit in Montesano. The 90-minute discussion touched on a wide range of local issues from capital budget requests (hi, third courtroom project) to “vexacious” public record requestors to unfunded mandates coming down from the state and smacking the stuffing out of small rural counties like Grays Harbor.

The meeting, which was cordial, included state legislators from the 19th and 24th legislative districts and Grays Harbor County Commissioners Wes Cormier, Vickie Raines, and Randy Ross.  Legislators in attendance were Sen. Kevin Van de Wege(D-19), Reps. Brian Blake (D-19), Mike Chapman (D-24), and Jim Walsh (R-19). Sen. Dean Takko and Rep. Steve Tharinger were not present.

Commissioner Cormier opened the discussion with introductions. He asked each legislator to give a quick one to two minute round up of their expectations for the next legislative session which begins in January.

Continue reading “State Legislator$ Talk $, ‘Vexacious’ at County “

County Commishes to Host ‘Legislative Summit’

State legislators from the 19th and 24th legislative districts will be in Grays Harbor next week to discuss local issues.  Initiated by the commissioners’ office, the October 26  ‘Legislative Summit’ offers Harborites a rare opportunity to interface with these state legislators at the same time, in the same place.

The 24th legislative district is represented by state senator Kevin Van De Wege and state representatives Mike Chapman (pos. 1) and Steve Tharinger (pos. 2), all Democrats.

State senator Dean Takko (D-Longview) and state representatives Jim Walsh (pos. 1, R-Aberdeen) and Brian Blake (pos. 2, D-Aberdeen), represent the 19th legislative district.

A phone call to the county commission office this morning indicated that all legislators from the 19th and 24th legislative districts have confirmed their attendance as of today, with the exception of Steve Tharinger. (That’s pretty much par for the course. In case you’re wondering.)

The Legislative Summit is set for October 26 at 2:00 p.m. in the large commissioners meeting room in Montesano.

Sound like fun?

Sheriff Rick Scott Honored

Some milestones are bigger than others. Forty years is a big one any way you slice it. Especially when it’s for serving in one place, as is the case wth Sheriff Rick Scott. The Sheriff  was recognized via resolution at today’s BOCC meeting for serving 40 years with the county.

In the morning meeting, Raines noted that many people she’s talked to “have indicated that 40 years with law enforcement is a big deal. Forty years with the same agency is even bigger.”

This afternoon, Commissioner and Commission Chair Wes Cormier read the resolution, which expressed “appreciation and recognition” for Scott’s years of service and dedication to the county and the office.

Raines said she’s honored to be sitting on the Board as Scott reaches this milestone. She joked that Scott has served longer than Cormier has been alive.

Commissioner Randy Ross told Scott, “It’s been my honor to know you for the past ten years or so.” He said Scott is “well respected throughout the county and the state.”

Scott thanked the Board for the recognition. “I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been in law enforcement for 40 years, but even prouder that the whole time has been in Grays Harbor. It’s been an honor and a privilege to do this,” he commented. Scott clarifed that he’s “not retiring, just hitting the 40 year mark.”

Speaking of law enforcement – sort of – Bob Ferguson, Attorney General for the People’s Republic of Washington, is wearing a face omlette over today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Trump travel ban. Or should be. 

Want some cheese with that whine, Bobby?

Oh, yeah. Since we’re all about not discriminating these days – oh, the horror – SCOTUS finally got one right today:  Supreme Court Trinity Lutheran Decision – Say ‘No’ to Discrimination Against Religious Groups.

It’s about time.
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County Commissioners to State: Don’t Push Unfunded Mandates Down On Us

Grays Harbor County Commissioners are pretty much telling the state legislature where to get off when it comes to the latest harebrained idea out of Olympia: unfunded mandates related to ballot drop boxes.

In April the House passed Senate Bill 5472. The bill requires one ballot drop box per 15,000 residents in a county, with between 250 and 275 additional drop boxes expected statewide. According to the Spokesman Review, the measure “requires at least one ballot drop box for every 15,000 registered voters in a county and a minimum of one box in each city, town and census-designated place in a county with a post office.”

The problem, of course, is that it forces cash-strapped counties like Grays Harbor to fork out a significant chunk of change for the drop boxes with no $ help from the state. None of the Grays Harbor county commissioners are exactly turning cartwheels over another unfunded state mandate.

I’m really frustrated with this” said Commissioner Vickie Raines at this morning’s commission meeting. Noting that Grays Harbor isn’t exactly Fort Knox, Raines exprssed frustration with the expected price tag attached to the mandate. “You’re looking at around $7,500 to $10,000 per ballot box. There are 16 to 20 (drop boxes) on the (county) list” she said.

Do the math. (That’s okay. I’ll wait.)

Costs to the county don’t end with drop box placement. The new requirement will also cost the county – taxpayers – in staff time and wages. Raines continued, “Were going to have to have someone at each ballot box at eight p.m. on voting night” to ensure integrity of the drop boxes. 

Can you say ‘asinine’? Oh, wait. One of the commishes already did.

In fact, all three commishes expressed frustration with the unfunded mandate. Opined Commissioner Randy Ross, “There’s got to be a way through this, a way to appeal the decision.”

“I’m sure the state will pay for it,” joked Commissioner Wes Cormier.

Raines said she talked to State Rep. Brian Blake and State Senators Dean Takko and Kevin Van De Wege about the matter. She could not recall a conversation with (State Rep.) Jim Walsh. Raines said she’s fine with adding the drop boxes “if the state pays for it. But don’t push it (the costs) down on us.”

Supporters say the new law gives voters a way to cast ballots without paying for postage and increases access in rura areas. Opponents say the well-intended measure forces counties to spend thousands of dollars to serve small numbers of voters in remote communities.

What say you?