06/17/2006: "How did Mr. Grout become a finalist?"
Letter to the Editor
I applaud last week's editorial, "Straddling the fine line," regarding the influence of the "Friends of the San Juans" on our County Council. An important additional related issue needs mentioning: the recent hiring process for our Charter-mandated County Administrator.
Many of us were shocked when Dick Grout's name turned up on the short list of finalists provided by the consulting firm, Waldron & Company, hired for $35,000 for this purpose. While Mr. Grout has strong environmental and planning credentials, his background and experience as an administrator didn't begin to compare to the other finalists, nor match the job's requirements. These shortcomings became apparent during the interview process I observed, particularly a session with the Citizens' Panel. Nevertheless, the Island Guardian reported that Lynn Bahrych and Larry Hendel, influential "Friends," still ranked Mr. Grout as the best qualified candidate.
How did Mr. Grout become a finalist?
Was he on the consultant's "short list," or did Councilman Ranker arbitrarily add him?
Did the "Friends" and/or the Council encourage Mr. Grout's candidacy?
If so, why would they do such a disservice to our community and to a clearly under-qualified candidate?
Did the immediate strong negative feedback the Council received on the subject prevent an unwise selection?
Fortunately, this is only conjecture after-the-fact. The Council, at the end of the day, chose the best candidate. The fact remains that the political maneuverings of the "Friends" creates continual issues of propriety and disproportionate influence in the affairs of governance.