“This is how the grownups do it.  Clark County needs to graduate to adulthood and do it this way too.”

Last Tuesday, I attended the Clark County Council’s regularly scheduled meeting with the intention of speaking during public access time.  While waiting for several hours to speak, I endured the Council Meeting lasting several contentious hours longer than it should have.  The driving reason for this extensive delay is  based on the content of the public agenda.  My experience compels a call for a major educational, emergency intervention in Clark County, for the sake of sane and rational local government.

I have attended a lot of public meetings in a wide variety of local governments all around Washington State.  These experiences help explain the interventions and suggestions provided below.

David and Marc
There are clear factions on the Clark County Council, but those divisions should not prevent these needed interventions

I am aware of the chasm of political division on this county  council.  This fact is painfully obvious to even the most casual observer or political neophyte.  The comments and suggestions aren’t meant to support the Pro-Madore crowd or disparage the Hate-Madore scene.  This is simply an offering to save Clark County citizens from grief and pointless wasted time, regardless of their political self-identification.   An utter failing to extend common courtesy to the citizens waiting patiently to make their comments demands a real intervention.

Common sense, good government process – Clark County doesn’t have it.

In most local government bodies in Washington, work session meetings are scheduled to go over questions, background, and details associated with agenda items that will come before the elected body. In Clark County this is called “Board Time”.  Those are open public meetings, but they are intended for staff to come prepared to answer all the questions asked by the elected officials.  The reason normal, mature government has these sessions is because there are complex, expensive, and sometimes challenging issues which come before our elected officials, and the staff doing the day-to-day work is tasked with helping clarify and answer these questions before the issues are voted on.  Citizens should want this because we don’t elect any politician (regardless of party) just to be a brain-dead rubber stamp for whatever staff dumps on their lap.

council meetings are well attended
Clark County Council meetings are well attended. The failure to use grown up policies in scheduling processes results in wasting the time of everyone here.

How it is done in grown-up land.

In Clark County, for some weird and inexcusable reason, the normal, rational order of government business is flipped backwards.  The official board meetings when votes are taken are made on Tuesdays, then they schedule “Board Time” (or work sessions) on Wednesdays, then they post next Tuesday’s agenda items on their “grid” system for review on Thursdays, but no Board Time to hash out the details before the next Tuesday circus.  On what planet does this seem like good or even functional government?  Clark County has designed a process that creates maximum chaos and inefficient government even if all 5 of the County Councilmembers were angels and sang from the same choir book.

I can only speculate this strange schedule scheme was a natural mutation of the charter process.  Also inexplicable, the County

Mark McCauley appears to support the chaos
Mark McCauley appears to support the chaos because he could easily fix it following these suggestions

Manager,  Mark McCauley,   is going along with this dysfunctional calendar process.  I would gladly debate the County Manager on this subject if he seeks to defend this bizarre approach.  Aside from the live tweeting reporter for the Columbian, no one in the room was enjoying this cumbersome and unnecessarily burdened immature process.

Speaking of the Columbian, I understand that conflict sells newspapers and is helpful clickbait, but the only Clark County entity who benefits from this is the Columbian, and judging from their steady circulation declines over the years – it doesn’t seem like they are benefitting enough to justify the public suffering.  Fortunately, this problem is easily resolved.

There is no reason to waste people’s time in Clark County

Recommended policy changes for Clark County

This is the least controversial policy change I have ever recommended to any government entity in the last 6 years.  This shouldn’t even be controversial.   I defy any bureaucrat to defend the status quo because it should be embarrassing to them that anyone has to point this out.  These recommendations may not pave the road to universal nirvana or a path to higher enlightenment, or even help us climb the stairway to heaven.  However, I have great confidence it will get us off the highway to hell that these Clark County Council meetings have become.  Very simple:

  1. Post “Grid” agenda Items as the first step in the process so all can see them in advance.  If this seems confusing – look at any random assortment of hundreds of other elected government entities in Washington State to learn how.  None of them are perfect, but the majority of them get this one right.
  2. Schedule “Board Time” at least a day BEFORE the general business meeting, AFTER the agenda items are on the “Grid” so the elected officials can have their political gladiator matches in an open meeting, but without unduly burdening down well-intentioned citizens who just want to be more civically engaged via public comment.  This is also common courtesy.  Every elected councilperson will have the opportunity to get answers to all questions they have from staff.  This provides a setting which lays the foundation for the general business meeting – regardless of how they vote – the council will know exactly why they are voting the way they do.
  3. If “Board Time” creates an environment where agenda items are slowed down because the elected officials are doing their due diligence on issues, so be it.  Staff can suck it up, do their job, and justify why the taxpayers pay their salaries.  If problems are uncovered in this process, fine, then items can be tabled or delayed without wasting the public’s time.  This is how the grownups do it.  Clark County needs to graduate to adulthood and do it this way too.

Clark County Whistleblowers – please go here to learn more

Nothing proposed here is partisan.  These minor scheduling reforms will greatly help smooth the functioning of Clark County government.  These changes will bring us closer to to the decent, functional government we expect rather than the chaotic circus it has become.


Clark County Employees are the Best
Clark County employees are the best whistleblowers about the truth in local government…


Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.”  It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people.  It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government.  It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.”  Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed

Related articles:

The Clark County Charter – a quest for utopia or inevitable fiasco?

Despite charter vote, Clark County trends more conservative in 2014

A discussion by the Freedom Foundation about the Clark County Charter Proposal

The CRC Zombie Died:  winners, losers, what comes next

Clark County citizens reject Oregon Ponzi scheme

Why Can’t we build bridges in Washington State?

David Madore – Civic Engagement Video

Interesting Board Time Meeting short video

If Clark County can't get some adult supervision, they might as well be heading down the river without the paddle
If Clark County can’t get some adult supervision, they might as well be heading down the river without the paddle


  1. Appreciate the way you respond to these folks critical of your analysis. Common courtesy is being relegated to the rear view mirror in today’s Internet discourse. So much of these comments belong on Reddit, not civilized sites like yours.

    • Jon,

      Thanks for the kind words, and yours actually are kind. I don’t mind the harshness of folk who disagree with me. I tend to believe most people can come to their own conclusions as they look at the facts. Plus, it is always helpful to have critics who can point out my flaws and mistakes – helps make the final information better for everyone.

  2. 1. A few years back, I realized that my (then) local newspaper was reflecting serious “Bush derangement syndrome.” After reflecting upon the matter, I decided that I would support no publication that does not make a reasonable effort to fairly report actual news and to provide balanced reporting. I note that nearly emptied my mail box. After moving here, a brief look at a copy of the Columbian and I discerned that it was a worthless newspaper that simply delivered propaganda for their political position(s). I did not and will not subscribe to the Columbian so long as that policy continues. I also don’t look at any ads appearing in the Columbian, so any advertiser who wishes my business will not get it through an ad placed in that paper. (But I do not advocate boycotting such advertisers — they just need to understand that their advertising dollars would be better spent elsewhere.)

    2. The suggestions you make regarding the scheduling of council meetings makes a lot of sense. The council should consider the rearrangement of their system accordingly.

    3. The blind hatred by many opposed to Mr. Madore has caused great difficulty in the relations within the council. I moved to Clark County from the Bay Area in California (I am a native Californian). I observed the degradation of that state as more and more “progressive” policies and ever higher taxes were imposed. Eventually, the high taxes drove me out of California.

    Washington is a lovely state, but it has a serious “progressive” streak — but is without the large population and other resources available for squandering that California used to fund it’s profligate spending. There is some hopeful signs, with multiple efforts to force a super-majority on the state before it can raise taxes, though in true progressive manner, the legislature and courts have ignored this public demand.

    I can only hope that suitable candidates for the County Council will materialize in the future that will further attempt to hold back the continued growth and waste of our local administration.

    4. Sadly, in the district I live, Julie Olsen ran for her council position as a “republican.” This proved to be misleading. When I emailed her about her repealing the proposed 2% property tax reduction, her response indicated that the reduction “would be unfair to the county employees…” Apparently, she does not understand who, exactly, she represents. I THOUGHT she realized that her allegiance is to the voters of her district, not the bureaucrats dispensing with services from the county offices. I will be more careful in choosing whom to vote for in the future.

  3. The author of this is a good friend of David Madore. The crazy flock together. David Madores approval rating is in the dump. This community can’t wait to vote him out.

    • Kelly, I am not sure that David knows me well enough to consider me a good friend, but if you bothered to see the videos I produced last year, you will know I have been a fan of many things he has done in the past. I don’t believe in a cult of personality – particularly with elected officials. I am sure David is far from perfect – I think I point that out in one of those videos.

      However, Madore’s approval ratings – positive or negative really don’t matter to the content of this article. If you believe you speak for everyone in Clark County then maybe he loses his reelection. If you can’t control everyone in the county, then he gets reelected.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  4. You’re right, we don’t have good leadership at Clark County. Councilor Madore has destroyed public records. He refused to sign an affidavit stating that he turned over all requested public records. Instead of leading, he criticizes, besmirches and makes allegations against people. He needs to be voted out of office.

    • Dylan,

      Fortunately for you and all of us who live in the United States, we do have an opportunity to vote for our elected officials. It doesn’t sound like you are voting for Madore, and that is your right.

      You might be a little myopic in your obsession on just one of the 5 elected officials, but there is no law against that.

      I’ve had some interesting comments here from people who are unusually obsessed with David Madore, and their collective hatred is unusual to me in its intensity and focus. I’ve come across many bad actors in government, and they usually don’t generate that much of a hate-fan base.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment

  5. Still going about ALEC’s business, I see. Who in their right mind, would ever think that you are impartial enough to honestly help whistle-blowers, when your bias is clearly seen? You must think everyone is a moron.

    Let’s just see where this new lawsuit takes us, shall we? Maybe your pal Madore isn’t everything he claims to be. Maybe it’s a case of a real whistle-blower actually blowing the whistle on real corruption in the Council. But if Madore’s the one who’s corrupt, it wouldn’t support your agenda, wouldn’t it?

    • Stuart,

      Thanks for the kind and thoughtful words.

      If you could help me contact ALEC, that would be awesome.

      The common denominator with whistleblowers tends to be a recognition that if they expose corruption in government they will lose their job. Historically, despite the theoretically legal protections, this is true. I am not a cult of personality guy – in fact I tend to believe that the nature of man is such that corruption, incompetence and other problems are proportional to the number of people in a bureaucracy. Not a conspiracy, just the nature of man. If you want less corruption and incompetence, then you will aspire to reduce the intrusiveness and size of bureaucracy.

      It seems like you have some anger and hatred issues with Madore, and if you can get some peace and catharsis from being a distant observer on the sidelines to this lawsuit, then I hope you are able to find the peace you need.

      Thanks for commenting

    • Stuart, I saw that Terry Whipps Conner shared a post to the Facebook group: Clark County Citizens for Good Governance. I loved the comments.
      Would have liked to help with some clarification to the stranger conspiracy theories, but I am not able to do so right now. You seem unusually obsessed with ALEC – do you work for them yourself? If you could share with the others on that site – it is pretty easy to get my background since it is posted on this website as my bio. Easy to check where I live and that I haven’t worked for the Freedom Foundation since January of last year. I know that level of research takes a click or two, but feel free to be the one to try. Again, thanks for commenting.

      • You say you haven’t worked for the Freedom Foundation since January of last year. They’re kinda slow updating their web site. They have a profile on you that still has you listed as an Adjunct Fellow. You may want to let them know you don’t work for them anymore, and they should remove the profile.

        You can think of me as you wish. But, I know when someone isn’t being entirely above board. The tells are usually deception, and a lack of candidness. The alarm bells went off as soon as your name started popping up on the internet, and I saw your (past) associations.

        The Freedom Foundation is connected to ALEC, which is well known for their own deceptiveness, and desire to buy off politicians. I think it’s referred to as “politics as usual”. So, it seems like you are a-ok with underhanded, secret deals, co-opting our system of government. I don’t think ALEC is what our founding fathers had in mind when they established our Republic. It’s actually what they fought so hard to avoid.

        You say you are all about government transparency, but you work(ed) for an organization that thrives in lack of transparency, and you don’t think anything is wrong with it. That is a good indicator as to the type of person you really are.

        Your own bio says you live in Thurston County. As a non-resident of Clark County, why are you even involved with what’s going on here?

        Where are you getting your funding?

        If you are all about transparency, then be transparent. In the meantime, all Clark County residents should be skeptical of your motivations, especially county employees.

        • Stuart,

          I appreciate your concern and your willingness to communicate. That is usually a good first step towards enlightenment, and I’m sure if you stay on this path and keep an open mind, you will find it.

          The Freedom Foundation doesn’t have a bio of me on their staff website, which is actually found here: http://www.myfreedomfoundation.com/staff. I realize they don’t keep their website updated very well, but with a few exceptions their staff site still looks reasonably accurate. They do have an archived bio, which you correctly found. I was an adjunct fellow for about a month, if I remember correctly.

          You truly are obsessed with ALEC, which is fine. It is a free country, and you are perfectly allowed to obsess over whatever you want. That is probably one philosophical difference you and I have. I don’t care what your obsessions or hobbies may be so long as you don’t hurt others. You appear to be very obsessed about others. We just share different world views when it comes to this.

          I am curious, however, the last few folk I ran into who were obsessed like you about ALEC and generally read from the same talking points were followers of George Soros or Tom Steyr. Do you consider yourself in that camp? I’m not judging – just interested.

          As I have stated in every bio ever published in the last six years or so (on this website, and on others) I do live in Thurston County. Congratulations for finding that – I apologize for not having a better organized web site, but I will strive to make that easier for you to find.

          As you can also tell, I have been working all over Washington State for six years now, so it would be pretty normal for me to write articles or produce videos in Clark, just like I do in Whatcom, King, Douglas, Island, San Juans, Thurston, etc. You might be surprised to know that in a free country people actually can do this. I invite you to expand your horizons as well. You might improve your perspective that way.

          Corruption is found everywhere. It tends not to be a conspiracy. Just human nature. No need to get defensive about it unless you are profiting yourself from the corruption. Clark County is not inoculated from this anymore than any other state or local government entity. All we can do – and I suspect you could help – is expose the truth, whatever it may be.

          • Stuart,

            Just to save you some time on conspiracy theory websites, here is another active bio for me on the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights website: http://capr.us/blog/capr-welcomes-glen-morgan . That is my part time day job. No big secret or black helicopter stuff either. And, yes, I am helping to organize a new local chapter in Clark County by request of some local property rights activists, so I imagine you will see more of me for that issue as well.

            Feel free to introduce yourself to me if we are at the same functions. I promise I don’t bite, and I always like to meet people who are interested in local issues…

        • Stuart,

          As stated earlier, your obsession with ALEC is awesome, and I don’t think you are stupid. I don’t think you should assume you are stupid either. I wouldn’t mind working with them if I was doing anything that made sense in their policy areas, but I never have. I am just not that qualified or important. I’m just focused on my home state and I care about local government issues here.

          The most significant relationship to ALEC from the Freedom Foundation is actually the fact that the founder, Bob Williams, who I know and admire, is actually on their front page: https://www.alec.org/person/bob-williams/ It doesn’t take a conspiracy theory website to find this out. Just look for yourself. You’d save yourself many sleepless nights just going straight to the source.

          Hopefully, this helps you find peace, my friend.

  6. Do they have public comment only at the end of the meeting? If so, one very simple change would be to have public comment at the beginning of the meeting, or both at the beginning and the end. The latter is what we do in Kirkland. The second public comment period is skipped if it’s after 10PM.

    • They do. I agree that sandwiching the meeting with public comment, which is common around the state as well, would probably be good. These are late morning meetings – which start at 10am, so the time pressure is not the same as an evening meeting. However, they did allow citizens to comment on each agenda item as it came up without signing in – which seemed to work by itself pretty well. I liked that aspect of citizen engagement.

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