Maven Erik is out sick, so I’m filling in on my old county beat. And what did Commissioner Tom Mielke say when he saw me this morning?
“We didn’t cut funding.”
He was referring to our lead A1 story, “County cuts economic group’s funding”. That was the print headline, anyway. The online headline was longer: “County halts funding to economic development council.”
Keep in mind that Mielke thinks it’s splitting hairs to say voters rejected a sales tax increase to pay for light rail maintenance and operations. He thinks it’s OK to just say light rail was rejected, even though community groups that support light rail didn’t support the tax.
Did you even read the letter you signed? I asked Mielke.
Yes, he said.
The recipient of the letter, Lisa Nisenfeld, president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council, certainly interpreted the letter to mean that funding was cut. Here’s the first paragraph of the press release she issued Tuesday in response:
“In a letter delivered this morning, signed by Clark County Commissioners Tom Mielke and David Madore, the Columbia River Economic Development Council was notified that its funding from the county would be terminated immediately due to the organization’s ‘advocacy’ for the Columbia River Crossing project.”
I guess Mielke has a point – they didn’t cut the money out of the county budget, because that would probably take a more formal action than whatever transpired during the Jan. 16 board time – they just decided they would not pay the CREDC any money unless the CREDC denounces the Columbia River Crossing.
As Washougal Mayor Sean Guard noted in the comments section, another word for that is “extortion.”
Let’s see, what other words fit for a situation in which you agree to pay something, but then don’t follow through. How about “deadbeat”? If this was the 1940s and ’50s, when The Columbian would refer to county commissioners as “County Dads,” well I think we would have had a different headline in today’s newspaper.