The computer system at the King County Superior Court Clerk's Office has been down for five weeks. Five weeks. That means for 25 days now...
The computer system at the King County Superior Court Clerk’s Office has been down for five weeks.
Five weeks. That means for 25 days now, there has been a line of people out the door, waiting for records. People with jobs and children and better places to be. Lawyers who have been charging their clients countless hours just for standing in line.
Wasted money, wasted time.
I thought that a fitting motto for King County until Tuesday, when — lo and behold — the Metropolitan King County Council passed on spending unnecessary millions.
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Council members nixed a proposal by Executive Ron Sims to purchase a $22 million consolidated election center in Seattle’s Rainier Valley.
The council did approve Sims’ request to fund 14 additional election workers, and for that, I am grateful.
But in yanking the purse strings over the building, the council proved it can think like the rest of us, who have long wondered:
Do they not see how screwed up the elections office is?
Instead of funding a new elections facility, shouldn’t they fix what would go into it?
Instead of moving the old trash to a new bag, shouldn’t you sort through it to figure out what smells so bad? Four different panels are doing just that.
There’s the Citizens Elections Oversight Committee, formed by the council in 2003, and reconvened in the wake of November’s ballot debacle. Recommendations coming soon.
There’s the Election Center, a national outfit doing a full audit of the elections department. Results to come.
The Washington state Attorney General’s office is overseeing an investigation into the actions of former King County Elections Supervisor Julie Anne Kempf. She was arrested July 19 and is suspected of forgery, theft, criminal impersonation and assault — all allegedly done after Kempf was fired in 2003.
(By the by, Kempf’s successor, Bill Huennekens, was demoted last month after more than half a year of embarrassing revelations about mistakes in last year’s election.)
Finally, there is Sims’ Independent Task Force on Elections, which released its full findings yesterday.
Its most urgent recommendation: that the county bring in a “turnaround specialist” to work over the elections department.
“They are not asking for (King County Elections Director ) Dean Logan’s head,” Sims spokesman Sandeep Kaushik told me yesterday. “They’re saying that Dean’s OK, but he needs help.”
Sounds like the rainy day the council was saving for will hit any minute now.
Anything spent on revamping — heck, exorcising — the Board of Elections can only be money well spent.
And if there’s any left, the council should splurge a little on the folks in Superior Court: flowers for the workers. Something cold to drink for the poor saps standing in line.
Fixing the computers would be great, too.
Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baby, he was born to Ron.