By editorial board • 

Berschauer conduct is indefensible

We were not surprised to see the Yamhelas Westsider Trail rejected on a 2-1 vote by the county commissioners Thursday. After all, Mary Starrett and Lindsay Berschauer both ran campaigns pledging uncompromising trail opposition and accepting significant campaign contributions from opponents.

However, we were shocked to witnessed Berschauer, a newly installed novice, launch a series of vicious attacks on veteran county staffers during Thursday’s three-hour debate.

Her behavior was uncalled for. If she can’t conduct herself in a professional manner, she should turn her seat over to someone who can.

We also fault Starrett, in her position as chair, for making no effort to curb the torrent of abuse

The county’s three commissioners are charged with setting policy, its legal, planning and administrative staff with faithfully executing that policy. Since the trail proposal first came before the board in 2012, it had enjoyed either unanimous or majority board support until Thursday. So county officials were merely doing their jobs in advancing the project.

What’s more, anyone with either public or private sector management experience should know you do not publicly berate employees for their performance. Going through the chain of command, you channel concerns down through the ranks in private, one-on-one meetings.

Only the county administrator and legal counsel report directly to the board. Not even they answer directly to Berschauer, whose first few weeks of service hardly give her grounds for fair evaluation in any event.

Castigating and criticizing in public represents an abuse of power and violation of trust. In this case, we also find her accusations of malfeasance, misrepresentation and “borderline fraudulent” circumvention wholly without merit. This kind of flamboyant bluff and bluster has no place in public service entrusted by the citizenry.

We aren’t the only ones reacting strongly either. Online posters expressed horror, dismay, shock and disgust. They found her behavior rude, angry, loud, unprofessional, outrageous, patronizing, slanderous and appalling. They branded her a bully who should be ashamed of herself.

One poster reminded us county officials are “real people with careers dedicated to the work that they do,” and they thus deserve better.

Indeed. We all deserve better.

Here’s hoping this marks an isolated incident, never to be repeated.

Comments

Sponge

What a disgrace. This “scorched earth” type of behavior is indicative of somebody who does not understand her job, but plays to the emotionally-governed ignorance of her support base. It is one thing to hold genuine differences on policy options, but to throw your professional staff under the bus is unconscionable. Ms. Berschauer is protected from recall until July. Here’s hoping she spends the next five months learning what it means to be a professional leader, rather than shooting her lip to appease her base.

Vet24

Sounds like the local swamp is upset with commissioner's doing what they were elected to do, so like many liberals they attack personally. The commissioner's are just upholding land use laws and preventing a huge homeless camp.

VietVet

Vet24 you have no idea about how governments and budgets work do you? By not going through with this plan and using the federal funds to build the trail the county will lose substantial revenue. It would have boosted revenue for local wineries and restaurants and would have paid for itself in spades. When you build things like hiking trails, parks, theaters, etc., you then gain revenue for the community - things generally pay for themselves. Berschauer and Starrett are bad for the county and bad for our communities, and have cost us an untold economic toll. This county is ill served by them - and by an uninformed electorate.

Sponge

You seem to be missing the point, Vet24. If the commissioners were “just upholding land use laws”, those findings could have been made without the unprofessional public disparagement of county staff. If you are truly concerned over “personal” attacks, I recommend you share those concerns with Ms. Berschauer regarding her public deportment.

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