In Office Since January 2010

“The Columbian” Newspaper Misrepresents Dave’s Views

“The Columbian” misrepresented my views in its 27 November 2013 front page article about East County Social Services. East County Social Services is often referred to as The Children’s Home Society (CHS), the name of their operating agency.

The article, by Tyler Graf, is entitled “Agency’s funding could be cut.” Graf made three phone calls to me over a two day period, then disregarded my input and misrepresented my position as being primarily motivated by objections to abortion referrals.

My position is nothing new. Nor is it based primarily or exclusively on objections to abortion referrals.

I have consistently advocated eliminating the cash subsidy to CHS in budget discussions since taking office in January 2010. My consistent position is based primarily on the fact that the State of Washington established the City of Washougal to provide basic municipal services (like public safety, water and sewer, roads and streets, parks, etc.) that did not include social services. That is our mission.

To perform these services, the state provided a tax base adequate to support the mission requirements. The tax base to support social services was awarded to the county and state because they have that mission. The federal government helps out with a variety of social services programs and supporting funding, most of which goes to the county or the state.

Using city funds to subsidize such social service activities makes them unavailable for other city needs. And the last four years have brought a number of these budget needs into sharp focus because of budget cuts necessitated by falling revenues.

Among the budget discussions the city council is having are (1) Washougal Police Department has the highest number of calls per officer among all Clark County law enforcement agencies, (2) if we do not double the amount we budget for street maintenance in 2014 and future budget years, we risk damage to the street foundations that would multiply our outlays by several orders of magnitude, and (3) to achieve efficiencies that would allow us to continue to provide the current level of fire and ambulance services, we are planning to combine our fire department with that of Camas.

My position is not just about abortion referrals. They are a recent addition to my list of reasons for eliminating the cash subsidy of $7,500. It is about how we spend our limited revenues.

My position has been and is based upon four objections to city-provided cash subsidies to social services in Washougal:
1. Social services are a county and state mission.
2. The city lacks adequate resources to support our mission functions.
3. The city already provides substantial support to CHS, including:
a. A rent-free city-maintained building.
b. All utilities, including water/sewer, electric, and natural gas.
c. Janitorial service.
d. Building security service.
e. Elevator maintenance.
4. Charity is a function poorly and inefficiently performed by government agencies and should be performed by the private sector.

This year, I became aware that CHS clients can request referral to health agencies that provide abortions. That awareness added another dimension to my position. But it did not change my basic position that social services are not a supportable mission for a small city with a limited tax base. It merely supplemented my long-established position based on the above listed factors. And my position does not include opposition to referring low-income women to healthcare providers for basic health services, as the article implied. I do not consider abortion to be a health service. It leaves one dead (the baby) and one wounded (the mother). That is not a healthy outcome.

Graf’s article attributes to Cathy Garland, acting director of The Children’s Home Society in Washougal, the idea that the agency would have to “shutter its doors” without the city’s subsidy. It is not clear whether this comment refers to the cash subsidy of $7,500 or all subsidies. In a discussion with Cathy Garland during the afternoon of 27 November, I discovered that her assumption was that the question Graf asked was about all subsidies. Eliminating the cash subsidy, she explained to me, would cause them to reduce services or operating hours, but not shutter their doors.

I would not like to see CHS shutter its doors. They do some good work in Washougal. They also do some work that I believe raises objections of conscience among a number of our residents and should not be supported with tax monies. Charity should be supported by the private sector.

I understand that “The Columbian” is in the business of selling newspapers, and that controversy attracts readers. I do expect, however, that they will adhere to basic journalistic ethics and confine their personal views to the editorial page rather than suffuse their reporting with their liberal-progressive bent.