One of these things is not like the others

There have been a fair amount of illogical arguments raised in our always polite and never verbally abusive comment sections regarding the county’s Don Benton appointment.

I’d like to quickly address one that claims the hiring of Axel Swanson is the same as the appointment of Benton.

Swanson is the county’s Senior Policy Analyst. He was formerly a Democratic county commissioner in Cowlitz County. He lost his job in 2010 after voters elected James Misner, an independent.

The argument being raised is that Swanson’s hiring is the same as Benton’s situation. That is a really bad argument.

Forget all of the politics for a second and let’s look at how the two men got the job. Swanson went through the county’s hiring process. Benton did not.

Okay, sure, add the politics back in now. Swanson went through the county’s hiring process. Benton did not.

You know what? Let’s compare every single top level staff hire the county has made in the past 14 years under the leadership of County Administrator Bill Barron. All those employees, including Swanson, went through the county’s hiring process. Be it an external hiring, an internal hiring, a promotion or a new job created through the county’s staff cuts and reorganization, at some point they went through a process with Barron at the helm.

Benton did not.

I’m not making a judgment call on whether or not Benton’s hiring was right or wrong. But his hiring was different. That is a fact. It factually happened different than how the county typically does it.

If you want to argue the process was bad or unnecessary, fine. That’s not the point here. The point is that comparing the hiring of Swanson and Benton is a logical fallacy known as a false analogy. And it’s one of the flimsier branches to grab out to as you stumble down the logic tree.

These things very factually aren’t the same. But if anyone can find an instance where that is not the case, where a top level hire was done without a hiring process, contact me. I will absolutely look into it.

But come correct. I won’t grab at weak branches.

Erik Hidle

Erik Hidle

Erik Hidle covers Clark County government for The Columbian. He can be followed on facebook at, on Twitter at @col_clarkgov or contacted by email at

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