Disclaimer: Clark County not responsible for bad information

Last week, Clark County commissioners decided to put a link on the county website to the “other side” of opinions on the Columbia River Crossing.

Apparently the county has linked to the official Columbia River Crossing website for some time, and Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke felt it wasn’t fair to present just one side.

Commissioner Steve Stuart attempted to buck the idea of a new link, saying it would be pretty insane to provide a counterpoint to every issue the county links to on its website. Imagine, for example, alternatives to the Salmon Creek Interchange Project or counterpoints to the county’s battle over the Cowlitz Casino. Could get kind of messy, one would imagine.

So why would they pick this one issue out, Stuart asked.

Madore and Mielke’s reasoning was, in a nutshell, this issue is too important to ignore. And the two stuck to that stance when Stuart suggested they just not link to anything CRC related since the county really doesn’t deal with the project.

And that is why the county now has a link to a site listed under “project opponents.”

It’s an anti-CRC site that Madore says does a good job of presenting information, and one that he has no involvement in.

Stuart chided the site for using superfluous claims, pointing out on his cell phone that the site’s first bullet point is: “Devastating $5 to 10 Billion debt bomb on region.”

And just above the links is a lengthy disclaimer.

“Disclaimer – Clark County’s website contains links to other sites, which allows users to leave the county’s site. Clark County is providing those links only as a convenience. The practices and information on those sites is out of the county’s control. When linking to another site, users are subject to the privacy practices of that new site. Clark County is not responsible for them.

Neither Clark County, nor any agency, officer, or employee of Clark County warrants the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information published by this system, nor endorses any content, viewpoints, products, or services linked from this system, and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of such information. Portions of such information may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this system does so at his or her own risk.”

Judging from the spirited debates you see in the community regarding the CRC, you can probably imagine that one side of the issue will dispute the information provided by the other side.

And what this foreboding disclaimer is telling you is that the county’s job is just to give you the information, not to decide if it’s accurate.

Look at that last part again: “Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this system does so at his or her own risk.”

If the county sends you to a site with bogus info, well, that’s your own fault for trusting links on the county website.

Erik Hidle

Erik Hidle

Erik Hidle covers Clark County government for The Columbian. He can be followed on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ehidle, on Twitter at @col_clarkgov or contacted by email at erik.hidle@columbian.com

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