No more Good Ol' Boys

Dear Editor,

As taxpayers, we would like to believe that when we elect our commissioner, they would do their job and take fiscal responsibility and pay attention to how our money is being spent. We all work very hard to get ahead, and when our money is wasted by elected officers who do not pay attention, it’s time to change the players.

My husband was hired as plans examiner for the county building department in July 2008. In the first six months your tax money was used to train and certify him for this position. In return, he was a loyal and committed employee to you, the tax payer. His performance reviews were good with no complaints and good customer service, etc.

While employed as a plans examiner, he also served as a building inspector. He did between 35-40 inspections, both commercial and residential, for the county and for the cities of Tonasket and Oroville. Because he also speaks three languages, he was able to communicate and help in this area and assist other departments who needed an unofficial interpreter.

In September 2011 he was laid off due to the economy.

On June 19, 2012 the head of the building department announced in a commissioner’s meeting that one of the inspectors would be retiring at the end of July 2012 and that they would need to fill this position possibly in the spring of 2013. The person wanted for that position would need experience. (My husband had three years, two month’s experience in that department alone). They would need to be a plans examiner and building inspector. My husband has what they were looking for. After all, he had done the job for three years there.

On June 20, 2012 a job was posted for building inspector. My husband applied and was bypassed for the position that he had been doing (and was trained for with your tax money) for three years.

We asked for a meeting with the commissioners and director to ask why he was not returned to the building department. We were told, “the team felt another applicant was better qualified” and they needed “someone who could hit the floor running.” We were also told that the new hire had five certificates that the state paid for, which was another winning factor for his employment.

While my husband was employed with the county, he asked the department head if he could further his education, at his own expense, for more certifications. He was told no, he had all he needed, and if he had more certificates, the county would be responsible to renew them, but the county could not afford it. That means that when this person’s five certificates come up for renewal, even though he doesn’t need them for his job, the county will be responsible to renew those certificates at county expense.

This is truly not a case where the new hire had more experience or knowledge. If it was, fair enough; the most skilled wins. This is a case of a county officer choosing an “acquaintance”, a long-time friend of the previous department head and possibly a friend of his own family.

Whatever the case may be the director and commissioners allowed the department head to waste thousands of your tax dollars and leave a well-trained man sitting on unemployment who had been employed doing the exact job and hiring to satisfy a personal agenda.

The new hire is a longtime and well-known resident of the Methow. (By the way, the head of the department is also a longtime and well-known resident of the Methow).

According to the director, the new hire has a lot of construction knowledge and has received his certificate through a state Labor and Industries program and no doubt is a skilled person, but he has not been a plans examiner or employed as a building inspector. Nor has he worked for the county.

All the tax money put into training my husband in the first six months of his employment = approximately $17,000; 13 months of county tax money for his unemployment (and still paying) = approximately $22,000. The next six months training the new hire = approximately $15,000. Lack of fiscal responsibility from the director and commissioners = Priceless.

As commissioners and director, it is their responsibility to obtain truthful information from the department heads and to know who is on unemployment from the county. When a position becomes available in a department, the director should inform the commissioners that tax dollars are paying for that unemployed person. If that person has the qualifications to fill the available position, would it not make sense to get them back to work serving the county and taxpayer money?

The only reason for a “proper” hiring process to have been done was simply to cover someone’s behind. The applicants, other than my husband, did not even meet the publicly-requested minimum standards. Sadly, this points to evidence that the new hire may have been selected before the interviews. Another waste of money.

It is time for the “Good Ol’ Boys’ Club” in this county to be broken apart. It is time to hire and elect the people who show loyalty to you, the taxpayer.

This is only our story as to how approximately $54,000 in tax money has been wasted. I am sure there are several stories out there that would tell us how much more is being wasted.

Everyone needs to get involved to make changes. So, when you go to vote for new commissioners, vote for change. Vote for the ones who are not part of the “Good Ol’ Boys’ Club”. Vote for the ones who believe in fairness and loyalty. As it stands today, it appears there is no loyalty unless you are part of the “Good Ol’ Boys’ Club.”

Aby and Kally Berlinger