What Changed in Clark County?

by lewwaters

Madore 003I was recently asked by a Home Rule Charter supporter if I would list the difference between past efforts at a Home Rule Charter and the latest effort.

Perhaps I should have put the question back on him as it appears it is those that now support it are who have made a 180° Turn Around.

In the 2002 effort, Democrats fought against any Home Rule Charter with everything they had. Statements against from the 2002 Voters Pamphlet by Democrats below;

Proposition No. 1


Statement against:

“Home Rule has already been voted down in Clark County twice before — in 1982 and 1997. Recently, it was rejected in Kitsap, Cowlitz and Skamania Counties. No county has approved a Home Rule Charter in the past 15 years. Clark County currently enjoys a clean, efficient government that has won many awards for innovation. Surveys show a 66% approval rating.”

“Home Rule will result in conflict, corruption and expensive court costs that will take money from taxpayer’s pockets. It also opens a Pandora’s Box for changes that are bought with outside special interest money, the same thing that is destroying our election system now. Citizens have demanded campaign finance reform to limit these influences. Doesn’t our county deserve the same protection?”

“In designing the charter, the Freeholders left no way for citizens to revoke Home Rule if they don’t like it. Charter provisions make it difficult or impossible to withdraw bad laws that may have unintended consequences. This isn’t what we want for our county government. Vote no on Home Rule.”

For more information, contact: NoHomeRule Committee; Email:
nohomerule@attbi.com; Web Site: http://nohomerule.home.attbi.com” (links dead)
Written by: Carrie Parks 2002

“Rebuttal of statement for:”

“The Freeholder’s Committee didn’t adequately study the risks of Home Rule before submitting its charter to this vote. The charter will disrupt government and create conflict without really giving citizens more power or choice. Special-interest groups will have more influence than citizens. A majority of Clark County citizens are satisfied with our county government, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

“Vote no on Home Rule.”
Written by: Carrie Parks & Tom Armstrong,
co-chairs, NoHomeRule Committee 2002

Proposition No. 2


“Statement against:”

“Increasing from three to five county commissioners is unwise at a time of financial decline in state and county revenue. Adding two more commissioners with associated staff, supplies, office space and equipment, etc. would cost $464,100 per year. Is it really worth spending the extra money? Will adding two more people improve the County Commissioner’s decisions or rulings or improve services to the citizens?”

“There are more pressing issues facing the county than adding more politicians to the payroll. You could add 10 new employees with salaries of $35,000-$40,000 per year for the same price as two new commissioners. The extra expense of nearly half a million dollars will take money away from services and salaries of people doing the front-line work that directly benefits citizens. Wouldn’t it be better to spend this money on police and fire protection, social services or health district functions? The idea of cutting back commissioner salaries to pay for the extra positions has been suggested, but a separate salary commission would have control over that, not the voters. What’s on the ballot is a straight up or down issue, with no means to adjust, compromise or weigh the additional costs against the whole budget.”

“Vote no on increasing the number of commissioners.”

“For more information, contact: NoHomeRule Committee; E-Mail:
nohomerule@attbi.com; Web Site: http://nohomerule.home.attbi.com”

Written by: Carrie Parks 2002

“Rebuttal of statement for:”

“In the coming year, Washington will face a $1-$2 billion budget deficit, meaning more cuts to county and city funding. We just can’t afford two more commissioners right now.”

“The money would be better spent on direct services to citizens.”

“Please vote no to adding more commissioners.”

Written by: Carrie Parks & Tom Armstrong,
co-chairs, NoHomeRule Committee 2002

Proposition No. 3


Statement against:

“Using districts/wards for representation has merit if there is a large and diverse electorate, particularly if the voters are spread over a large area which makes it difficult for citizens to gather in a common meeting place.”

“However, Clark County does not face this condition, therefore districting is unnecessary. Local government should elect their representatives from the county as a whole, thus ensuring that the concerns of all citizens will be taken into account in making decisions on public matters.”

“A district system for Clark County would almost certainly result in competition and conflict between districts. No commissioners would be accountable for looking after the county as a whole, but instead would protect the much more narrow concerns of his or her particular district. Since county commissioners have both legislative and executive duties, creating such parochialism would be destructive of the public good. The problems and corruption associated with the Chicago ward system are widely known.”

“Districts also actually reduce your representation. The way it is now, you vote for all three county commissioners. Under districts, you’d only get to vote for one. It takes away your right to choose all of your commissioners.”

“We should keep the present system of electing our commissioners at the district level in the primary and at large in the general election. Vote no on districts.”

“For more information, contact: NoHomeRule Committee; Email:
nohomerule@attbi.com; Web Site: http://nohomerule.home.attbi.com” (link dead)

Written by: Carrie Parks 2002

“Rebuttal of statement for:”

“Going to districts will result in competition and conflict. Commissioners won’t have to be responsive at all to anyone outside their district. Now you vote for all three commissioners. Under districts, you’d only vote for one. We need our commissioners to look out for the good of the county and all of its citizens as a whole.”

“Vote no on districts.”

Written by: NoHomeRule Committee 2002

Proposition No. 4


“Statement against:”

“Americans have demanded campaign finance reform in recent years because of concern over how special interest money corrupts presidential politics. Initiative and Referendum sounds like a good idea, but what it really does is open the door for the same corrupting influences to destabilize our county government. The results can be disastrous, leading to inefficiency, loss of service, increased taxes, and potentially, even bankruptcy.”

“I&R has become a big business where paid signature gatherers, advertisers, campaign consultants and lawyers are paid millions of dollars to pass initiatives which frequently benefit huge corporations more than the average citizen. How can grassroots citizens and volunteer signature gatherers compete?”

“Initiative and Referendum are being promoted as a way to give citizens more choice in their government, but it gives false expectations. It cannot change any federal or state laws, budgets, or employment practices. However as written in the charter, a small group of only 100 people can use referendum to suspend and delay laws, creating uncertainty and delays in government operation. It also makes it difficult or impossible to revoke bad laws that have unintended consequences.”

“Vote no on Initiative and Referendum. I&R is complex.”

“For more information, contact: NoHomeRule Committee; Email:
nohomerule@attbi.com; Web Site: http://nohomerule.home.attbi.com.”
Written by: Carrie Parks 2002

“Rebuttal of statement for:”

“The courts have eliminated safeguards to keep the Initiative and Referendum process clean. Backers can spend as much as they want and use misleading tactics. This makes it good for big money special interests, but not for the citizens. It’s inflexible, not allowing bad laws to be corrected or revoked. It actually takes away our choice as citizens if Democracy is put up to the highest bidder and used for self-serving purposes.”

“Please vote no.”

Written by: Carrie Parks & Tom Armstrong,
co-chairs NoHomeRule Committee 2002

Subsequent efforts at Home Rule elicited;

“Proposed changes in county charter could be awful.” Clark County Democrat Party Newsletter, May 2011

“Cheers: To county commissioners for putting an end to the home rule charter process this year. Inspecting methods of government is always a good idea, but there was no demonstrated need to elect a slate of freeholders to, in essence, draft a county charter that would replace the current system.” Columbian Column, In Our View: Cheers & Jeers; May 28, 2011

“When a wild goose chase clearly defines itself before it even begins, responsible travelers will decline to embark on the journey. Such is the case before Clark County commissioners as they ponder another expedition into the well-known futility of changing county government to a home rule charter.”

“But, as the Columbian wrote recently in an editorial, exploring the idea of a home rule charter would be a wild goose chase, seeking to solve problems that are nonexistent. This time, we’ll opt for a different animal analogy and reiterate that it would be a waste of time, money, and energy only to have voters beat this horse again.” Columbian Editorial, In Our View: Solutions … No Problems; March 19, 2013

“Apparently unable to determine whether or not the horse is dead yet, Clark County commissioners are moving ahead with their exploration of a home rule charter. The idea of such a charter was rejected by voters in 1982, 1997, and 2002, and yet the citizens of the county can’t kill it. Commissioners last week agreed to add discussion of the matter to the agenda for an upcoming public hearing.” Columbian Editorial, In Our View: Home Rule Again, Really? June 3, 2013

The question remains, what changed since then?

The County Commission majority is what changed. For the first time in a very long time, Democrats are not in the majority and they don’t like it.

I get that they despise David Madore and hate that Don Benton was hired as Director of the Department of Environmental Services. But they are temporary and can be voted out.

Future Commissioners, or part-time councilors as they would become known, will be largely powerless and as Carrie Parks brought out back in 2002, with their election by district only, each will have no incentive to represent other parts of the county.

This Home Rule was rushed to get it on the ballot this year, all in an effort to neuter the current County Commission.

It is flawed and not well thought out.

It will be much easier to oppose it now, vote it down and then spend the proper amount of time discussing what, if any changes should be made to county government.

Once in, it would be much more difficult to make needed changes.

I urge you all to join me in voting no on this half-baked idea of Home Rule Charter.

4 Comments to “What Changed in Clark County?”

  1. Partisan hatred does not rise to the level of justification required to give the left another shot at taking over county government… which… at base… is what the entirety of this scam is about.


  2. Creating a new form of government structure should never be about the one or two individuals in power right that moment. It is a long standing form of government which changes indefinitely the entire organization of government and how it responds to the people therefore it should only be about the best government of the people. I am voting no.

  3. I’m sure we can count on The Columbian to bring up these inconsistencies.

  4. It is not just the stance, it is the charter itself, which is different from the 2002 vehicle in some very real ways. While long term planning based on short term thinking tend to be hallmarks of Democrat belief and action, the structure outlined and defined in the current proposed charter are not what the proponents tell us they are.

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