Commissioner (selectively) quotes from Benton’s performance review

Retired labor leader Ed Barnes again criticized Don Benton, the state senator hired to head Clark County’s environmental services department, during the public comment portion of Clark County commissioners’ weekly meeting today.

Since Benton’s appointment in May, Barnes has repeatedly attacked commissioners Tom Mielke and David Madore for hiring their friend and fellow Republican for the high-paid job. (Benton’s current county salary, thanks to standard pay adjustments and a step increase, is $114,648 a year.) Barnes keeps speaking up, even though Benton has threatened to sue him.

This week, Barnes suggested the county should have Benton undergo a mental health evaluation, given recent run-ins with other elected officials.

Commissioner Tom Mielke came prepared this time. He read portions of Benton’s recent performance review. Mielke said former county administrator Bill Barron came out of retirement to prepare it.

Here’s the part Mielke read:

First, Mr. Benton is performing his job in an environment filled with “extraordinary scrutiny and hostility.” This environment has provided a unique opportunity for Mr. Benton to carefully tend to the morale of his employees.  This will be an on-going task for the director.  I believe that he is aware of this need and is giving it his full attention. …

Mr. Benton’s position as a sitting state senator and appointed county official has posed unique employment circumstances.  Mr. Benton has handled this situation quite well.  He has reported to me when he is going to be accomplishing legislative business and has taken appropriate time off to do so.

What does rest say? Good question. After the meeting, I asked Mielke for a copy of the entire performance review. He said he’d have to ask Benton first. Just in case he forgets to follow up, The Columbian is filing a formal request for the document under the state’s open records act.

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