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Pierce County Council, exec at odds – again

Post by David Wickert on April 6, 2010 at 9:57 am with 15 Comments »
April 6, 2010 12:24 pm

If you needed more evidence that relations between the Pierce County Council and County Executive Pat McCarthy remain strained, look no further than Monday’s council rules committee meeting.

Pat McCarthy

McCarthy accused the council of springing major budget cuts on the public at the last minute. Council Chairman Roger Bush, R-Graham, accuse the Democratic executive of ignoring council requests for information. The executive walked out of the meeting during the chairman’s remarks.

It was like 2009 all over again.

As I reported in December, the executive and council were at odds for much of last year. Monday’s rules committee meeting indicates relations remain strained despite pledges of cooperation.

At the meeting, McCarthy complained that the council unveiled a proposed $5.3 million cut to the general fund budget on the Friday before Easter without consulting her. And she noted the version considered by the rules committee Monday was different than the version released Friday.

McCarthy has complained several times that the council works in secret, unveiling substantive budget and other proposals at the last minute. She’s said that gives the public and county officials little or no time to review the proposals before the council adopts them.

On Monday she used the word “subterfuge” to describe the council’s handling of the budget cuts. She urged the council to wait a week to give the public a chance to review the cuts.

“I don’t see what the rush is to move forward,” McCarthy said.

Nonetheless, the council appears ready to move forward with the budget cuts today. Bush indicated there will be more last-minute amendments unveiled at the council’s 3 p.m. meeting.

Bush took exception to McCarthy’s remarks. “I don’t think this council has ever used subterfuge,” the chairman said.

Bush said the council has been transparent. He said Friday’s release of detailed budget cuts was earlier than in the past.

The chairman said McCarthy ignored a council request that she come up with a plan for budget cuts of 1 percent and 3 percent back in January. He said the council has demonstrated “remarkable restraint and patience” with McCarthy.

McCarthy didn’t stick around to hear those comments. She left as Bush was speaking.

Councilwoman Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup, took a gentler tone. She attributed the friction to the normal “stress and strain between departments.”

McDonald said other council members didn’t get Bush’s budget proposal until Friday, either. She said the council will recommend its own changes to that plan today.

“It’s a normal legislative process. In fact, it’s a lot better than Olympia,” McDonald said. “This is the way government works.”

Leave a comment Comments → 15
  1. derekyoung says:

    Hug it out people.

  2. ldozy1234 says:

    “McCarthy has complained several times that the council works in secret, unveiling substantive budget and other proposals at the last minute. She’s said that gives the public and county officials little or no time to review the proposals before the council adopts them.”

    I will have to give her points on this one. Frequent and continual problem with the Council that the public has dealt with and complained about for years.

    Come on folks…. get it together.

  3. frankiethomas says:

    I would say this is the way government DOESN’T work.

  4. katrina1 says:

    “I don’t see what the rush is to move forward,” McCarthy said….

    ARE YOU SERIOUS! Wow. This points out how out of touch our county executive is. I’m glad to see the council taking the budget shortfall seriously – while cuts hurt they seem necessary at this time and waiting will only make things worse – do what you need to do and lets move forward, and thank you for taking action insteady of showing an inability to make a decision – that is what we elect you for!

  5. Too bad Joyce McDonald isn’t the chair. Would like to hear more from her. She makes sence. And sounds less partisan than the others.

  6. nonstopjoe says:

    One thing they’ll all agree on, however, is to throw more sewer fund money at Chambers Bay Golf Course (for non-resident hi-rollers).

  7. ydnarnoslo says:

    “She urged the council to wait a week” A WEEK, not months of delay but not a rush to truly cut and run. Released Friday, update Monday, more changes Tuesday and vote the same day – what’s up? The council thinks this practice is democracy and better than Olympia? I’d like a pace that gets it done quickly and with public input. Looks like they forgot the part of working for the citizens and giving us a chance to review and provide feedback. Cuts are never popular and never are tax increases so while the council may view there is no option but theirs – don’t be so arrogant and pushy. This is not defending the county exec and any delay she had in getting options to the council, just seeking a little democracy.

  8. Our executive is correct.

    It would be nice to have a week to review the budget and have the county be able to supply feedback to their councilmembers.

  9. Martsmarn says:

    Makes you wonder why the TNT is not complaining about the secret deals the Council is making. Clearly, they made backroom deals to change what they put out Friday before the meeting Monday. Why doesn’t the reporter ask when and how the agreement on the changes was made?
    Is the Executive out of line to ask that there be some imput from the Executive and the PUBLIC before the Council does whatwever it wants. No one notices that the Council wants to cut Planning another 30 positions right when the paper headline is increasing home sales! Nice future planning Council.

  10. headedsouth says:

    You know the PCC is cutting deals when the Rep majority can appease Dems Farrell and and the re-tread political Gelman and dissing McCarthy in the process. Plus Farrell is tyring to get some Kudos by nesting with the Rep since he is going to try and run against Washam for Assessor.
    I am just sick and tired of the current council and not impressed with the people who have signed up to run either.

  11. cynicalskeptic says:

    She’s a drama queen, that’s for sure. Walking out? Childish!

  12. jiminycricket says:

    This county council has treated Pat McCarthy with disdain from the get go when someone from the good ol’ boy network wasn’t elected county executive instead, and ever since, they’ve had their noses out of joint! They continually whine instead of collectively problem solve. For instance, take the vacant seat on the superior court! They rushed to judgement and decided to eliminate the seat. Madam executive wanted more input from the public, but no, no, no! Against the advice of the prosecutor’s office, the judiciary and others, Roger Bush and Co. moved to eliminate the seat. In the end their decision was overturned. Let’s take a look at the sheriff’s department! They’re upside down about $150k in their budget. Why, because Bush and others on the council did not want to close county polling places like every other county in the state. Our county polling places cost us about $160k per year. These funds could of been put to better use by Sheriff Paul Pastor. This is just the tip of the iceberg! The executive has asked for just a week to give the citizens and the electorate time to respond and give their input regarding the budget. One little week…….but no again says Roger Bush. The real reason for his lack of cooperation comes down to petty politics and when it comes to petty politics, I give Roger and this council an A+!!! I rate the council in the Genius Category” when it comes to secrecy and back door maneuvers! They certainly are the epitomy of an open and transparent government! Believe this and I will sell you an ocean front condo in downtown Denver! Sad to say that there’s probably some takers on this council!

  13. ldozy1234 says:

    The polling place issue has no logic in the argument since it should ONLY be by voter choice to keep the polls open. Both sides need to quit using this issue as a political game and just put it on the ballot.
    Let the voters decide .

  14. jiminycricket says:

    ldozy, good suggestion! This will put the issue to rest, once and for all.

  15. mchawkeye says:

    It is obvious that a couple of members of the Council want to take control of the county government. They seem to think they should have the responsibilities of County Executive, even though the voters have rejected them at polls.

    There is no diplomacy in their actions, and no camoflage in their disdain for the Exec. and a director of particular department. I hope the voters remember them if they have any political assperations in the future!

    I guess we will all have to wait until Bush ( the decider) and his minions can destroy the opposition and post his banner – “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”

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