Embattled Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon resigned today. He said he had had enough of defending himself and his family against "scurrilous accusations."
The latest county controversy stems from apparently well-documented reporting by The Herald. They allege that Reardon's aides filed repeated public records requests aimed at Reardon's critics using fake identities and front groups. Some requests targeted people interviewed during a probe that cleared Reardon of allegations that he misused public funds during an alleged extramarital affair.
Reardon's resignation is effective May 31. That date, The Herald reports, is shortly after the election filing week, thus making it impossible for voters to have the final say on his successor until November 2014. Instead, the county Democratic Party — which is surely tainted to some degree by its ties to Reardon — will choose three possible successors. And the County Council will have to select one from the field.
Reardon is sharp, works well with businesses and has held down costs in Snohomish County. But his high political prospects —he was frequently mentioned as a possible governor until recently — faded as his office slipped into a with-us-or-against-us siege mentality.
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The Herald's investigative reporting on Reardon has been dogged, the kind of public-interest work that has become harder to sustain in the media crisis of recent years. And it comes just as the paper is being sold by the Washington Post Co. to Sound Publishing. That will make Sound's decisions about continuing relatively robust staffing of the newsroom an early test of its commitment to legitimate community journalism. The paper has seen buyouts and layoffs of talented staffers in recent years, making what The Herald continues to achieve all the more remarkable — and important to maintain.
A nudge for education funding
A coalition of parents, school districts and other education supporters is expressing impatience with the Legislature on school funding issues. Last year's state Supreme Court McCleary Decision requires Washington lawmakers to improve support for public schools. The Network for Excellence in Washington Schools seems to be getting a little nervous about the prospect for their success. According to an afternoon Associated Press report, they've written a pointed letter to lawmakers: "Please, do not defy the court order."
Meanwhile, a higher education advocacy group, the College Promise Coalition, released a poll saying that 64 percent of voters would be more favorably inclined toward a legislator who voted to increase support for the state's colleges and universities. The poll also showed 80-plus percent support for the GET tuition guarantee program, which Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom has targeted for elimination. Details of the results are here.
Meet your civic heroes
The Municipal League of King County just released its list of civic award winners for the year. Among them: Superior Court Judge Mary Yu as public official of the year; the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle as outstanding organization; and Maggie Walker for regional leadership for chairing both the Seattle Foundation and Bullitt Foundation boards. The UW's Dream Project received a special award for their work helping low-income students become the first in their families to attend college. The program pairs college-aged mentors with students during the admissions process. And, we have to give a special shoutout to one of our favorite places to find comment and reporting on transit issues, the super-smart Seattle Transit Blog. It was honored for government news reporting.
Is it cheating the universe, or at least the time and space continuum, to be thinking about the weekend during the Thursday workday? We may be ahead of ourselves, but we liked this newly posted Friday-night-in-Seattle video. The apparently tourist-shot piece features shots of the market and Irish music at Kell's (the kind of spot where a round of drinks might suddenly be offered at the insistence of Frank from Columbus, or some such place).
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