Journal of the San Juan Islands


Save the baby, not the wash | Letters

November 15, 2012 · 8:59 AM

One message of the past local election seems to be the miscalculation of the depth of dissatisfaction among voting residents of the San Juan Islands with their County Council members.

Not only were both incumbents dumped, but with the charter change the entire council will be upended when Proposition 1 becomes effective.

Post mortem over the election will go on for a long time and blame or dissatisfaction will be handed around in ample amounts. Clearly the unrest and vocal opposition to the critical areas ordinance and its endless public hearings on incomprehensible details ran deeper than the council members realized.

The repeated question of “What is the problem we are trying to correct?” resonated with a larger group than just those who packed the public hearings. Questions about the validity of what was presented as “best available science” continues to cloud the larger issue of what can and should be done to preserve and protect our environment.

Yet aside from these issues is the embarrassing revelation that for some time, truly professional guidance for the county council has been sorely absent.

Now the county is moving into a new phase of governing by full-time council persons that have yet to define the role of the staff person that they will need to turn to for advice on a wide range of problems.

Whether called a manager or administrator makes little difference. This person’s qualifications and authority to reign in and organize a currently dysfunctional governmental organization looms as a far more important issue than whether you have three or six council members.

The issue of the role of the new position of manager is not one that should be agreed upon in a smoke-filled room. Quality personnel and efficient governance is a public matter and should be dealt with in a public manner.

Candidates for the three new full-time positions should be questioned on this most important issue.

It is no longer time to question whether Proposition 1 was good or bad.

It is our responsibility to ensure that it works as well as possible and that it is capable of establishing a level of county government that is knowledgeable, transparent and free of political interference.

Don Pollard/San Juan Island



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