Of Tyrants and Tears

Clark County commissioners were probably expecting a mad rush to this past Tuesday’s evening public hearing. It was the first chance for public comment since the vote that set in motion a plan for funding light rail.

But that didn’t happen. Rather, it was just the same old commissioner meeting where everyone knows all the public commenters by name. Because, hey, sometimes you just want to go where the troubles are all the same. Sometimes you just want to go where everybody knows your name.

Whoa, what just happened? Where was I?

Oh yeah, more of the same.

We got Christian Berrigan, operations director of the Clark County Republican Party, to call for Commissioner Steve Stuart’s resignation over the C-Tran vote. His comments included calling Stuart a tyrant, saying he isn’t using that word as hyperbole, saying Stuart violated the law, declaring he believes he would be removed by “the barrel of a gun” if he goes over his comment period, and telling Stuart he can “do this the easy way, or the hard way.”

Commissioner Tom Mielke finally asked Berrigan to “wrap up.” When a member of the audience heckled Berrigan, Stuart then stood up for the freedom of speech.

Alright, pretty par for the course.

Former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard then infers that Mielke and Commissioner David Madore are likely tyrants. He then calls Madore a bully. Tells Stuart he needs to “stand up and have a pair.” He brings up the hiring of state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, to a director role at the county. And he ends it with reminding Madore and Mielke that he’s working hard at a recall campaign against them.

After another commenter tore into Stuart, Mielke looked to Stuart and told him, “it kind of reminds me of a roast.”

“They did it more fun though,” Mielke said, referring to the old Rat Pack roasts.

At least that got people laughing.

At one point everyone starts clapping for some reason or another. Stuart tries to stop that, because it’s generally accepted that it’s bad for decorum and has a tendency to stymie public comment from the minority.

But then Madore said clapping is okay, because who knows.

Again, this is all same old, same old.

What was new was Debbie Peterson, who ran unsuccessfully for a legislative seat last year, crying during public comment.

Apparently she is dismayed that her father fought in World War II  so Stuart could vote yes on a plan to finance light rail and make America into “no longer a nation of laws.”

So yeah, that was new.

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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