By Lou Marzeles
Editor and Publisher 

Unraveling the mystery of timing in Songer matter



Friday’s revocation of the commissions as range and timber deputies for Bob Songer and Harold Cole by Sheriff Rick McComas has a good portion of the local community puzzled at the very least. When people were told (as has happened often the last few days) that the sheriff fired Bob Songer—an announced candidate for sheriff in this year’s election, and just two days after Songer’s full-page ad for his candidacy in The Sentinel—the reaction has been the same: a dropped jaw, followed by, “What?!” or “You’re kidding!” or a similar expression of astonishment.

The sheriff, through Undersheriff Marc Boardman (Sheriff McComas did not return our call to him Monday morning), tells the story differently, and every story does indeed have at least two sides. Firstly, he would likely say, Songer and Cole weren’t fired; their commissions were temporarily revoked pending completion of an arrangement that would meet all legal requirements. And he makes a plausible case: considering the issues involved with the contracts for Songer and Cole and the fact that the arrangement between them and Klickitat County is apparently unique in the State of Washington, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that the contracts might be worth reviewing and the arrangement tweaked. One can’t really tell for sure about that without a full understanding of the issues supposedly involved in the contracts, which clearly were tangled enough to cause a lot of people a lot of time and effort to reach clarity on.

What seems astonishing about this move is its timing, which Undersheriff Boardman acknowledged was awful (my word, not his, though his meaning was pretty much the same). No doubt the sheriff has reasons he can proffer to account for the move irrespective of it coming two days after a prominent ad for Songer, probably resting on the timing of word from the prosecuting attorney last week that the existing contract wasn’t going to work. One suspects it won’t matter much, given the proclivity of public response to that first knee-jerk emotional reaction at the news. Explanations can go some lengths to easing initial perception, depending on the person, but it’s hard to dispel that first blush with what seems a shocking development. Were there truly sound reasons for taking this action at this time, as opposed to perhaps waiting a while? Take a side. Were Songer and Cole really fired? Technically, no. Does the public at large get that? Good question. We may not really know the answer until this November.


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