Benton, Madore, And Mielke, Part Two

When I retired I had sick leave and vacation benefits that had buiit up. The question my wife and I had was how best to use that money? We thought, lets use it for a trip? Eventually we dismissed that because it would have been a one and done event. We wanted something that would give us an on going happiness. We decided to buy a something that would give us many years of pleasure. We have used our little Maggie Motorhome many times for camping. It was a purchase that continues to give to us, much like a gift that keeps on giving. Madore and Mielke have had the same effect on us by providing us with an event that keeps on giving.

As the Columbian continues to explore the event of hiring Don Benton for a county position that he is not qualified for, we learn how weird state and county politics can be at times. I know I have done some pretty stupid things over the years, but this trio of players (Benton, Madore, and Mielke) continue to give us fodder for discussion.

The Sunday Columbian Newspaper reported that Benton’s predecessor was forced out by Tom Mielke. The Columbian stated the reason for this event was that Kevin Gray, Benton’s predecessor, was told to resign due to his disciplining of Tom Mielke’s neighbor and campaign donor. Kevin Gey even filed for Whistle Blower protection because of Mielke’s retaliation. The Columbian stated, “A Columbian investigation and review of documents show Gray did not leave the county on his own terms.”

Reading this information makes me wonder if Madore and Mielke had this planned all along? Get rid of Gray, who they can’t work with, and hire Benton who has similar beliefs concerning the environment? This is horrible leadership. If Benton is the right man for the job, then let the process work. Even Gordon Oliver, Strictly Business, weighed in on the subject. His column this morning was titled “Benton is lucky to be an inside man.”

Oliver writes about how people line up for jobs at the front door, but often it is the person who goes in the back door that gets the job. It is not what you know it is who you know. I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon, and often the right person for the job is the one who comes in the back door, but most companies try to establish a due process to ensure the most qualified person is hired. The last thing an employer wants is to get the wrong person in a role that hurts the organization.

Oliver says this about the hiring of Benton without going through the formal channels, “Benton isn’t quite coming through a back door; he is walking through a front door no one else knew was open, since the job was never posted.”  Oliver then ends his column with wise words, “There will never be an end to backdoor deals, no matter how many mechanisms are put in place  to prevent them. . . But let’s hope most employers will give a fair shake to those who still standing in those lines [at the front door], asking to be given a chance.” There are times when a leader knows someone who is perfect for a position and can quckly deal with the need, but other times the leader needs to follow process. A good leader knows the difference.

If I were Don Benton I would tell the Commissioners to follow the process. If Benton is the right person for the job let the process tell us that. Madore and Mielke need to honor the process. If not Clark County politics may continue to evolve into what Jeff Mapes, The Oregonian, called us, “Clarkistan.” The Columbian again reiterated this morning that Benton does not have the experience for the job, but also added that Benton TransAlta as a donor to his campaign. TransAlta owns a coal power plant in Chehalis. They also stated that other campaign donors included fuel transportation firms, energy companies, railroads, “and the Association of Washington Business, which opposes many pro-environmental bills in the legislature.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am about creating jobs for our people, but I believe in the triple bottom-line which defines a sustainable business model as one that takes into consideration economic, social, and environmental issues. I am not too sure Benton would take a balanced approach to the issues. However, my biggest concern about this whole event is the elitist cronyism that is occurring in our County.

I think I have said enough now, although I’d love to discuss Benton’s letter, signed by 36 other state senators, whining about the loss of their French Chef during the repair of the Capital Building in Olympia, but I won’t go there. Elitism and cronyism is alive an well in Clark County.

And that is my thought for the day!

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3 thoughts on “Benton, Madore, And Mielke, Part Two

  1. To the Editor (Columbian)

    Clark County: Banana Republic

    The state capital newsletter, The Olympian, says that Clark County is “Looking more like a banana republic than a progressive metropolitan county.” This observation followed the appointment of Senator Don Benton as the county’s chief environmental manager. I agree with the sentiment. But Clark County is a banana republic because we the people elect banana Republicans.

    The appointment of Benton is wrong on so many levels that it should be laughable. Unfortunately, as a constituent of Benton’s, I just find it depressing. Where to start? How about blatant cronyism, total inexperience and just being flat out anti-environmental?
    Don Benton has absolutely no environmental management experience or education. Why not find him some nice political hack job like being the county lobbyist? At least that would pass the falling down laughing test.
    Benton cares about the environment? No sane person believes that. Look at his legislative record. Benton will gut the county’s environmental program. This appointment signals an exodus of county environmental staff who do not want to be associated with Benton. Of course, that is probably one of the reasons he got appointed.
    Finally, Don Benton is being appointed because he is a middle-age, white guy and was appointed by the same. Apparently there are no competent women, disabled or people of color worth considering. At least there are none that commissioners Madore and Mielke owe favors to. There is a county process to hire competent managers in a fair and open manner. This is clearly a backroom deal and payback. That is what is so stunning about it. It is so obvious. But I will give the commissioners credit. They were very transparent in their cronyism.
    For the record, I am neither a Democrat or a Republican. I am an independent. I spent 30 years as a career government manager working at the city, county, regional and state level. I served in the administrations of three governors. This includes the last Republican governor in Oregon.
    After almost a decade, I resigned from my job as a Clark County department director. I left in 2007 and went back to college. I left because of escalating political cronyism, development industry influence peddling and just plain incompetent elected officials. I consider working on my doctorate degree to be both my redemption and penance for my years at Clark County.
    So what now? Commissioner Madore just got in office. But why wait the four years? Just mount a recall. The citizens of Washington are granted the authority to a recall election by Sections 33 and 34 of Article I of the Washington State Constitution. This applies to all elective officers of the state of Washington.
    Richard Carson is currently a doctorate student at Washington State University Vancouver specializing in organizational development in the public sector. He is the former director of Clark County’s Community Development Department.

  2. Being a doctorate student really doesn’t really have any credibitily here. But I do have information. For example, Don Benton can’t sue me in court. Because my defense attorney will be the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. But Don Bent never understood the law.

    • The issue I have is not a personal one with Don Benton, it is with the cronyism associated with how he got the job. I do not know the man personally, although I have read in the newspaper that he is a bully, but I do understand management processes. And that one stunk.

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