All Politics is Local

Madore’s verbal attack on Columbian reporter

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Here is Councilor David Madore’s verbal attack at me during Tuesday’s Clark County Council meeting, where the council was discussing ratifying clean water fees. I received a lot of messages and notes afterward so I wanted to respond and provide a verbatim account. I edited two small items for clarity, included in parentheses.

This conversation followed a request by Councilor Tom Mielke to clarify whether Clark County is in compliance with state clean water and stormwater requirements.

Environmental Services Department Director Don Benton: I’ve been here a little over two years now as the director of that department. During that time, we have come out from underneath court order to comply with the law because we are complying. We settled a potential $40 million lawsuit for $3.6 (million). We arranged for our department to be able to apply for grants from the money that was paid out of that lawsuit to enhance the water resources in Clark County.

We are number one in the state for Washington Green Schools because we have more schools now certified in Clark County under the water element of the certification for clean water than any other county in the state.

By every measure in the department, the department is doing a much better job of protecting clean water in Clark County, of protecting flooding in Clark County than they were doing prior. Perhaps it’s a level of not knowing what’s going on in the department. Perhaps it’s because the local press does not report the positive things that we’ve achieved. I don’t know why some citizens come forward and make these claims, but clearly they’re uninformed about the facts of the success that the department has enjoyed over the last two years.

I would be happy to invite any citizen to visit the department, visit with me. In fact, we just, hot off the press, our 2013 annual report. There are many tools available for people to get the facts of what’s really been going on. I encourage people to come see me, visit with the county manager about it.

Acting County Manager Mark McCauley: Well, for the board, well to second what Director Benton is saying, I think by every objective measure the department is performing at a high level, not just on the clean water side but on the solid waste side and the vegetation management area. I tip my hat to Director Benton. He’s got a good handle on his department, and the results speak for themselves.

Mielke: Something else is that (a citizen) was concerned with the new enforcement person that we had being under the Department of Environmental Services. When it went back through the manager and it went back through all the concerns that those people had about our quarries, when you removed the building permit area, everything fell under Environmental Services. That’s the reason that we decided to put it under that code enforcement under that department.

McCauley: That new hire will join Scott Melville who is the code enforcement officer for clean water code and who does a fine job.

Madore: It’ll be interesting, I see we have a reporter here from a local newspaper that has nothing but written bad news and exaggerated it seems. This is an opportunity, we just heard a very good report from our county manager reporting excellent performance by our department of environmental services. We’ll have to see if that makes it to the press, how that story comes out.

I gave this response to someone else, but I’ll repeat it here. The facts of county actions will continue to speak for themselves. My job is to report the news as it is and I maintain that I’ve done no more than report fact. Madore’s comments directed at me were rude and unprofessional, and unfortunately, I believe the way he chose to direct his comments at me speaks volumes over the point he attempted to make in the first place.

My Facebook page, work email, work phone number and, within reason, my personal cell phone number are all readily accessible to Councilor Madore or any other person who believes I have made a factual error in my story. My editors are also readily accessible.

For what it’s worth, you can read the story that came out here, following the council’s discovery that they had inadvertently violated the home-rule charter by ratifying the clean water fees without a unanimous vote.

Kaitlin Gillespie

Kaitlin Gillespie

I'm the education reporter at The Columbian. Get in touch at kaitlin.gillespie@columbian.com or 360-735-4517.