Letters to the Editor for May 21, 2013

Two public employments can lead to corruption

The constitution of the United States of America prohibits a federal office holder from being a member of congress in Article 1 Section 6, the Second Clause:

“No Senator or representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been encreased (sic) during such time; and no person holding any office under the United States, shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office.”

This clause was included in our constitution to prevent mischief.

This restriction is not incumbent on the states. In the states, the state legislatures control the attributes, structures, responsibilities, and privileges of the counties and cities in the states. That is in Washington State the counties and cities are subsidiaries of the government of the state.

I was surprised to find out that our state constitution does not include good sense restrictions analogous to the wisdom of the founding fathers. The Washington State Constitution should include restrictions disallowing state legislators from having any other public office with the state, counties or cities.

As the Washington State Legislators are part-time legislators, their remuneration is not sufficient to provide some legislators enough to live on. So I understand why state legislators, despite possible conflicts of interest, are allowed private employment while serving. However, the employment should exclude other public employment. In general, having two public employments does not lead to good, honest government. Instead, it provides an opportunity for corruption.

There are other problems. For example, when a legislator is in session and unable to work his or her full-time public office, the taxpayers should not be compensating him or her for work not done. Even though the legislator may refuse the simultaneous compensation, who is doing their job in the interim?

Private employers can decide on their own whether they can tolerate absences of employees from their work, taxpayers do not have that choice.

This issue is not a partisan issue. I think that most citizens want no corruption in our government.

Just because there are legislators from both major parties with other public jobs does not mean that it is honest. Just because there have been legislators for many years with other public jobs does not mean it is not corrupt. Just because taxpayers have not yet complained about this policy, it does not mean that they should be cheated. The founding fathers have provided leadership which we should follow. This issue should be placed before state voters.

Ralph E. Schmidt, Camas

Regretfully, local business is closing

It is with deep regret that after five years of community involvement, Mitch and Cindy Hammontree have decided to close their Quiznos in The Crossing center.

We opened a casual sub shop because we wanted to be part of a community where we could get to know our customers, build relationships, watch families grow, and support the local schools. We are proud we achieved our goals.

When we opened, the reception we received from the community was overwhelming. For five months, business was fantastic; in fact we broke records for the chain.

However, elements outside the control of the customers drove us to our current decision. The economy crashed and the Highway 14 project began, changing the face of how people would drive within the area. The brightest element of the over-long road project was the support of our loyal customers.

Dave Shoemaker and Jennifer McDaniel, both members of the Washougal City Council, illuminate for all of us what it means to be a public servant by representing their constituents.

Their efforts in communicating with WSDOT to do the right thing for all the businesses affected by this massive highway project, affirmed that these two council members set the viability of businesses in Washougal as one of their main priorities. We will not forget their unwavering support in the face of a most challenging business environment and uncooperative government bureaucracy.

Dawn Feldhaus from the Post-Record had accurate and unbiased coverage of the Highway 14 issues and her colleague Dan Trujillo got me involved in Camas/Washougal sports. They were a pleasure to collaborate with and we wish them continued success.

Another sincere acknowledgement goes to all the members of the Local Connections business owner group for the area who listen and support all the local vendors and interests.

When we looked for a place to open our shop, The Crossing seemed a perfect place at that time. We wanted to create a local place with deep ties to these two communities.

It is important to us that our customers know how difficult the decision was to close our shop. What a great experience it was interacting with friendly and loyal people. We will miss seeing each and every one of you.

Sending a thank you to the local businesses that contracted for catering with us is also a must. It was our pleasure to serve you and develop a sense of community.

As we both value education, it was a privilege honoring students from both Camas and Washougal high schools through our student of the month program.

Although the business and economic environment of the past five years has been a great struggle, the wonderful people in this area we have served give us great memories to take with us. We wish all of you all the best.

Mitch and Cindy Hammontree, Washougal