County A Cesspool – An Anonymous Letter from County Staff

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The Island County Free Press received a copy of an anonymous letter from a County staff employee. The letter is published in its entirety:

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What’s going on at Island County?

Recently the Administrative Services Director – Michelle Meyer resigned. The news came in a memo from her to directors. She had only been with the County for 6 months. Why is she leaving?

Apparently, the job required the Commissioners to relinquish control of some functions – HR, IT and GSA to the new Director. The Commissioners created the position because they wanted out from under making these decisions. They said they wanted to focus on the public facing needs of the County. But the Commissioners did not heed their commitment to move the control to the new Director. Instead they favored the old guard and let them run roughshod over process and policy. This made the new Director a scapegoat instead of a change agent.

The new HR manager who reported to this Director totally disregarded her as a manager. This came with the blessing of the Commissioners. Why?

The HR Manager – Catherine Reid (a disbarred California lawyer) was co-opted into becomming ‘the Commissioner whisperer’. Instead of doing her HR job she now spends her days politicking the Commissioner offices and talking to them one-on-one. If she’s not in their offices, they are in hers. This enables them to secretly make deals behind the scenes without meeting as a group. Meeting as a group requires a public meeting. Heaven forbid the public know how messed up the management of Island County has become with fiefdoms abound.

Melanie Bacon was the previous HR Director and is now Commissioner of District 1. She has her finger on the scale. Her role is to protect Catherine Reid and advocate for her promotion. It is likely that Commissioner Bacon will work to promote her into the Administrative Director position. Catherine doesn’t have the skills to perform the job, but politics will overrule that aspect of need. Catherine is Melanie Bacon’s confidant and tells her what she wants to hear. In turn, Melanie tells her what to do and say. This comes at the detriment of not performing her HR job. This back-room behavior is very likely illegal as it is meant to get around the public meeting requirement.

From all input gathered, Catherine Reid is simply a terrible communicator when it comes to County needs. She sends randon emails as her method of communication. Meeting with Directors or departments to take in and provide information does not happen by virtual or in person meeting. Policies seem to randomly occur with no concurrence of staff. Then when new policies don’t seem to be workable, they are retracted. Catherine does not have the respect of County Directors or Elected Officials. Human Resources is a real mess and likely a facade for other functions. Nobody seems to have faith in the County HR policies or trust in the hiring and equitable wage decisions.

You must ask yourself, “with so many good candidates on the market, why would Island County hire a disbarred California attorney to be the HR Director?” She has no past HR experience. A review of her resume indicates that after being disbarred for filing false documents in California she worked as a union representative for one of the county unions. Then she was hired by the County. It all stinks. This woman does not tell the truth, appears corrupt and needs to go.

As a citizen of Island County, I recently started researching why so many things controlled by the County such as the handling of the pandemic have gone awry. This isn’t the case with all Counties, why ours? This is a direct result of the bad behavior of our three elected officials. As I research and discover the cause of why things go terribly wrong so many employees of the County have been willing to tell their story. It appears that employee turnover in the past six months has been enourmous. Now you add the disbarred lawyer into the mix, and it has become what appears to be a cesspool of corruption, skirting of laws and lying to the community. And, this is only month two of this commission, what will be next?

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The Island County Free Press is committed to transparency and accountability within Island County. If you have a story for the Free Press please email: editor@islandcountyfreepress.com

9 COMMENTS

  1. This sounds really bad. I do not know enough about how the Island county government works, but it sounds like something we should really rally against. Corrupt government is intolerable ar all levels.

  2. Yes, intolerable indeed! As is with the school board who is acting with authoritarian contempt against a large, concerned community voice who disagrees with their controversial policies which semantically skirt political activism. However, they are empowered by their very vocal far left echo chamber who praise teachers who violate their very own policies. Moreover, activist superintendent and other educators are aligning with the most radically divisive, racist, movement in modern American history to warp children’s worldviews, right here in our small community. Time to wake up and speak up, Whidbey Island!

  3. This is a case of one hand washing the other.

    It’s becoming clearer that the Island County government is nothing more than a cabal.

    You only have to look to the fact that the property assessor is also the head of the planning dept. No conflict of interest there, nothing to see here.

    If the commissioners are skirting the quorum issue by having back door meetings, we have a real problem.

  4. An anonymous letter. Those are the kind we should put the most credence in for sure. We watched this kind of “journalism” happen all during the Trump administration. If there is a story here, ferret it out and tell it, but to print an unsigned, poorly written, diatribe, not worth the ink.

    • Mrs. Peterson,

      Perhaps you are unfamiliar with journalism and the importance of anonymity, especially when dealing with government bodies.

      “According to the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), “Anonymous sources are sometimes the only key to unlocking a big story, throwing back the curtain on corruption, fulfilling the journalistic missions of watchdog on the government and informant to citizens. But sometimes, anonymous sources are the road to the ethical swamp.””

      The ICFP would receive a source from within the county that was willing to go on the record, but would also advise the source of the dangers of such a position as it relates to the impact to their job. Very few are so bold as to stand against a corrupt government agent in the cause of ethics, especially when such agents hold power over their livelihood.

      We hope the publishing of such stories inspires others to share their stories with the ICFP and clean up the county swamp.

      Joe Graham
      Editor, Island County Free Press

    • Mrs. Peterson,

      There are lots of provable facts in this letter, as well as some speculation.

      The letter does challenge you to use some critical thinking skills and apply some logic.

      Nothing that is said by this person is unreasonable.

      All of our current Commissioners, HR representatives, DA, Assessor have been involved in dispicable acts of lieing and coverup on so many levels. I would take the time to elaborate for you what I have uncovered over the past three years. But it sounds like you will just disregard what I would say as well.

      I can guarantee you there is a lot of evidence of corruption. It is only a matter of time when all the dots are connected and the complete truth will be exposed, and explained to those who wish to be spoon fed every detail.

      Instead of flat out denying what is said by anyone else. Do some research.

      Do a public records request from the BOCC for all emails containing my last name “Kuehn” you will see reams of information supporting the speculation in this letter. And you will see for yourself how our Commissioners, DA, Assessor and many others can’t be trusted and use deceit to control and maintain their corrupted power.

  5. Mr. Graham and Mr. Kuehn, I completely understand how “protected sources” work in journalism and agree they hold a necessary and valid place. I have close family members who are in the trade. My point was that the way your headline is written it sounds like you received a letter from an unknown source and decided to print it. Such a person, I think we would agree, would not be entitled to be considered a protected source. How would you even know that the person worked for the county? You say you received a copy of the letter, are you sure it was not edited before you got it? I just expected better as I know what high standards you hold others to.

    • Yes, it could potentially not be from an employee as no one was identified. The letter was attached as received by the Free Press with no changes. Readers are allowed to draw their own conclusion based on the source document itself. The headline is not meant to be misleading as the letter is very intimate in its details and the correlation of authorship reasonable.

      Developments after this publication validate the correlation.

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