Saturday, March 25, 2017

The "Pointless" Task Force

"the task force is pointless"
Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson is again in the news after attempting to throw Polk County Commissioner Jennifer Wheeler under the bus on a local radio show.  On March 16, the same day Salem Weekly published a cover piece on Carlson titled "Radio Show Outs Commissioner",   Carlson went on another show ("Gator's Radio Experience"), and said that Wheeler had resigned from the Task Force because "she had some personal things going on in her life at that time."

Did the KYKN team ask Carlson, if that's true, then why did Wheeler's letter say "It is with the full consensus of our Polk County team that we will no longer be participating"?  Of course not.  But you'd better believe the KMUZ WWU Tuesday team who broke the story would have. 

Polk County records (above) show that the Polk County team ceased participating on the Task Force because doing so was, in their view, "pointless."  Therefore, unless you consider not wanting to engage in pointless activity a "personal thing",  Commissioner Wheeler did not resign because "she had some personal things going on in her life at that time", as alleged by Commissioner Carlson.  But, lest there be the slightest doubt, consider the below email, received March 23, 2017, from Commissioner Wheeler:

So why did Commissioner Carlson tell the KYKN team that Commissioner Wheeler resigned because "she had some personal things going on in her life at that time"?  Did/does she sincerely believe that to be the case?  Based on oral reports and public records of events on October 18 (the day Wheeler resigned), the answer is no.

As reported previously, Commissioner Wheeler's letter reached Commissioner Carlson on the morning of October 18, just before a large, regular meeting of public officials.  The news resulted in Carlson's having an emotional "meltdown" strong enough to cause Mayor Peterson to come to her aid.  After a few "there there"s, it was resolved between Mayor Peterson and Mayor Clark that they would go to lunch and decide "what to do" about the resignation.  "What to do" did not include reaching out or otherwise expressing care or concern to Commissioner Wheeler, as one would expect from persons believing "personal things" had caused a colleague to resign.  Nor did "what to do" include promptly informing the other Task Force members of the resignation and the reasons for it.  No.  "What to do", here, meant "damage control."  Consider Carlson's thought process, in her own words:
[T]here was some confusion in how the letter was written, and so, when, when we got the letter, Anna, Cathy and myself, from Karen [sic], we needed to check in to find out whether it meant that Jennifer was stepping down, or whether Polk County was stepping away.  And that took us a little while to, uh, Anna talked to Mike Ainsworth, I talked to Craig Pope, uh, we also talked with our legal counsel, they had not rescinded their charter, so we thought it would be best to clarify at the next meeting, that while Jennifer had resigned, that Polk County was still at the table.  So it was the consensus of the co-chairs to come up with a statement, uh, to say that the four jurisdictions were still moving forward.  When I talked with Craig, they were really not interested in trying to, you know, the other two commissioners had a lot of commitments, didn't want to step in, and only three meeting left at that point, so, uh, that was where we went.              
Consistent with a sincerely held belief that Wheeler had resigned because of "personal things going on in her life" or fake news?  We might find out if Carlson or the County's Public Information Officer ever gets around to rescheduling their interview with KMUZ's Willamette Wakeup Tuesday team, but don't hold your breath.  Hear the WWU Tuesday team's comments on the Salem Weekly piece and the KYKN interview here

On April 20, 2017 the Task Force's "Transition Team" (COG President Mike Ainsworth, Salem City Mgr. Steve Powers, Chuck Bennett, Janet Carlson, Cathy Clark, Shaney Starr, and Jon Reeves) will meet at COG to discuss implementation of the Task Force's strategic plan.

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