Discarding partisan stripes is not easy in the divisive political climate infecting all levels of government, from large Federal bureaucracies to small municipalities. And in light of this, we applaud Snohomish County Council Chairman Dave Somers (Democrat), Council member Terry Ryan (Democrat) and Council member Ken Klein (Republican) for working together to bring some semblance of fiscal discipline to Snohomish County Executive John Lovick’s proposed 2015 budget, which would have spent money on unneeded projects, unfilled and unneeded staff positions, and a definitely unneeded 10% raise for the Executive’s staff.
While we would have preferred no tax increase for fiscal 2015, at least these three gentlemen worked together to make some progress toward curbing the spendthrift ways of our County Executive.
That’s the good news. But unfortunately this spirit of bipartisan cooperation did not extend to the Executive. In fact, the response from the Executive’s office was unaccountably hostile, seemingly bordering on childishness. According to a report in the Everett Herald, Deputy Executive Mark Ericks accused Councilman Ryan of being a “terrorist” and said he would kill him “if it wasn’t for jail time.” Reportedly, the Deputy also denigrated Klein’s background in the food services industry.
“This really exceeds what we were subjected to under the Reardon administration,” Somers said Wednesday. “It’s an intolerable, hostile environment. It doesn’t seem to be getting any better.”
Chairman Somers told the Executive:
“When I voted to appoint you as County Executive, following former Executive Reardon’s resignation, it was my hope and sincerely held belief that county government would finally return to a workplace defined by civility and mutual respect.”
From a citizen’s perspective, all this highlights the fact that budget negotiations are by nature difficult, requiring a great deal of emotional maturity and responsible patience; two characteristics not displayed by our current administration in the recent negotiations.
Beyond that, budget negotiations also require respect. Respect for negotiating team members, respect for differing priorities, and respect for citizen concerns. Most of all, they require respect for the long term consequences of poor fiscal decision-making, which, by all appearances, is something this administration is sorely lacking.
Not only does Mark Ericks need to go, but also our Executive, who lacks the administrative skill to reign him in.
Read more about the Snohomish County 2015 budget here.