The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
In Our View: The County Executive's office


The collapse of integrity

The collapse of accountability and integrity in the office of County Executive Aaron Reardon does violence to the public trust.
Legislative aide Kevin Hulten, the operative behind the online harassment and surveillance of Reardon's real or perceived enemies, continues to work and draw a county salary. Aide Jon Rudicil, who also participated in the ruse, remains at his desk. In Reardon's office, consequences don't seem to follow indefensible conduct.
As The Herald's Scott North and Noah Haglund reported Monday, Hulten is not only on the job but is seeking "whistle blower" protection, demanding an investigation of county prosecutors. Hulten is the consummate example of someone seizing a law conceived in the public interest to sidestep accountability (see "collapse of integrity," above.)
Reardon was more expansive last Thursday, calling for an investigation of misconduct by "other Snohomish County government officials." Pray tell, who are these bad guys? Fill in the dreamed-up blank. Reardon, still a public official, doesn't make himself available for interviews. Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe offered insight as he tried to explain the latest Hulten puzzle. "I'm not sure you need a law degree to figure this one out," he said.
Maybe not a law degree, but a love of history is instructive. Paranoid politicos have their antecedents.
Sixty years ago, the late Erna Miller, a Congressional secretary and Everett native, sat in the audience during the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings. It was a primer on the abuse of power, on the twisting of institutions and privileges for political advantage. For years, Wisconsin Sen. Joe McCarthy trafficked in groundless accusations; then the senator pointed his finger at the Army. Army counsel John G. Adams recounted how McCarthy aide Roy Cohn had threatened to "wreck the Army."
"We will start investigations," Cohn said to Adams. "We have enough stuff on the Army to keep investigations going indefinitely, and if anything like such-and-such double-cross occurs, that is what we will do."
At last McCarthy had crossed the gut-check line and outrage reached critical mass. Consistent with human nature, some things never change.
The county executive could side with right action and take responsibility. He could fire Hulten and Rudicil or, in the very least, put them on administrative leave and at a remove from public documents. The absence of trust is why the County Council passed an emergency ordinance last week to pull the Department of Information Services from the exec's office.
When a vanquished Reardon announced his May resignation last Thursday, he said, "Enough is enough." Apparently, for Reardon and company, it's not.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

Herald Editorial Board

Peter Jackson, Opinion Editor: pjackson@heraldnet.com (@PeterJHerald)

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer: cmacpherson@heraldnet.com

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor: npattison@heraldnet.com

Josh O'Connor, Publisher: joconnor@heraldnet.com

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to letters@heraldnet.com, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at cmacpherson@heraldnet.com or 425-339-3472.

HeraldNet Classifieds

HeraldNet highlights

Tulips in bloom
Tulips in bloom: Photo gallery: A rainbow of color in Skagit County
He was a devoted family man
He was a devoted family man: Stephen Neal was working in a home when the mudslide hit
'Blood moon'
'Blood moon': Lunar eclipse delights, at least where skies are clear
No longer alone
No longer alone: Lynnwood couple, 96 and 85, say it's never too late to wed