By Noah Haglund Herald Writer
EVERETT — The “personal and destructive” tenor of local politics dominated much of Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon’s annual speech that usually sums up the status of the local economy.
Reardon used Thursday’s State of the County speech to lament that too much is at stake to allow “petty bickering and politics of personal destruction” to continue between his office and the five county councilmen.
The executive vowed to improve communication and said he took responsibility for creating some of the friction.
“From this day forward, I am willing to bend over backwards to improve the communication and relationship between our two branches,” he said. “But communication and relationship-building is a two-way street. It happens between individuals, not on the front pages of local newspapers.”
Council Chairman Dave Gossett, who was among about 100 people at the Everett Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast, agreed that better dialogue was in order.
“I do find it ironic that the executive has consistently cancelled meetings where issues could be discussed privately, and chooses a major public speech to argue we shouldn’t communicate through the newspaper,” Gossett said.
In particular, Gossett said Reardon had cancelled the past two leadership meetings, which are scheduled every other week between the two branches of government. Another leadership meeting is scheduled this morning.
The council has taken recent moves to check up on Reardon’s oversight in two key areas. One is the department that handles the county’s computer and printing needs. Another is how Reardon reviews worker complaints of harassment and discrimination.
They also differ about the county budget.
In his speech, Reardon predicted that county leaders would have to adjust the council’s $202.7 million 2010 general-fund budget. Unions have not agreed to the five unpaid days off in the council’s budget. Reardon’s budget included 15 furlough days for county workers.
Projections for the county’s future are troubling, Gossett said.
The county’s $14 million in reserves is enough to keep assets liquid and pay bills. A recent five-year forecast, however, shows that reserves could dwindle to nothing by 2015.
He cautioned that those numbers are only preliminary and could change.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, email@example.com.