Madore changes tune on public comments, revisiting decisions

Clark County Commissioner David Madore wants to move public comment to the end of meetings, saying Wednesday that he wants county business put first.

But back when Madore was a regular citizen who routinely attended Vancouver City Council meetings, he had a different idea about when the public should be able to speak.

In 2011, the city council decided to limit public comment on non-agenda items to twice a month, at the end of meetings. (People wishing to speak about topics on the agenda, however, could still speak at the beginning.) The change came about because the same people were showing up at every meeting to protest the Columbia River Crossing.

In September 2010, Madore told The Columbian that he objected to Mayor Tim Leavitt’s plans to move comment on non-agenda items to the end of meetings.

“Who are they to define what the citizens think is relevant to current city business?” he asked. “You could make it really simple: You could speak as long as you like as long as we agree with you. … Whatever it takes to silence the dissent.”

At the council’s Sept. 20, 2010 meeting — which was after the Jeanne Harris ‘gavel down’ incident — Madore chastised the council for not reconsidering its position on the Columbia River Crossing and for not appearing to listen to the public.

Flash forward to Wednesday, when Madore said he never reconsiders a decision unless he receives new information. He said he hadn’t heard anything new about the decision by him and Commissioner Tom Mielke to appoint state Sen. Don Benton as the director of the county’s environmental services department.

On Tuesday, he heard during public testimony that, among other things, Benton was ousted as leader of the state GOP for suspected misuse of public funds, has consistently voted against laws to protect the environment, has one of the worst attendance records in the legislature, is a bully and that commissioners violated their own policy by appointing Benton instead of letting Administrator Bill Barron make the appointment. Several people said that rather than an appointment, Benton should have had to go through a regular hiring process. The job should have been publicly posted, they said, and if Benton really was the most qualified, he would have earned the job.

During the 2010 meeting, Madore told the council that  free speech includes the ability to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

“The fact that you’ve already made the decision doesn’t take it out of the realm for us to address,” Madore said.

The public may not have known about the decision until it was made, he said. (And this was about the city’s endorsement of the Locally Preferred Alternative, a decision made in 2008 after a multiyear public process. In the case of the Benton decision, not even Commissioner Steve Stuart knew about it until Mielke and Madore made the decision May 1.)

“It might be too late in your eyes, but we’re just waking up to it,” Madore told the council in 2010.

Here’s video of Madore in 2010

And here he is on Wednesday


Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at or 360-735-4508.

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