Opinion

County commissioners’ ‘listening lessons’ cost taxpayers thousands

Are you able to get any work done in your office?

Most people can, inasmuch as offices were created and exist solely for that purpose.

How about your co-workers? Managing to communicate with them reasonably well, are you?

Probably, assuming yours is a workplace where everyone speaks the same language.

We had always assumed the Kitsap Courthouse was such a place until last week, when the county commissioners toddled off to Quilcene on a day-long retreat at which they learned to “know each other’s priorities and listen to each other,” according to South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido, who apparently instigated the outing.

Funny, last time we looked the commissioners’ offices were all located within a few feet of each other at the Courthouse. And even if the walk is too strenuous, one assumes they’re still linked by telephone, allowing our able leaders to visit regularly with one another without even leaving their desks.

But evidently that isn’t convenient enough.

No, in these tough economic times the commissioners felt justified spending an estimated $3,000 being taught how to listen by a husband-and-wife consultant team — the latter of whom helpfully lists “poet” among her qualifications.

As government expenditures go, of course, $3,000 may not seem like much. But from little acorns do mighty oak trees — and million-dollar deficits — grow.

More to the point, according to the most recent U.S. Census, the median household income in Kitsap County is $52,503 annually — meaning the commissioners blew in one day what a normal family would take the best part of a month to earn.

And they did it learning how to listen.

It’s not that we object to listening, mind you. In fact, we’re all for the commissioners paying attention.

It’s just that for $3,000, it seems like the least they should have gotten is a lesson on how to listen to us — the folks who put them into office with the hope they’d spent our tax money responsibly — not each other.

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