Lovick vetoes council, reclaims tech department

EVERETT — Snohomish County Executive John Lovick on Friday moved to take control of the county tech department next year, disappointing some other elected leaders.

Lovick vetoed the County Council’s decision to keep the county’s tech department under the county auditor through 2017. That overturned an ordinance the council passed Feb. 12 on a 3-2 vote.

The latest actions followed last year’s leadership crisis at the county, in which the council took the extraordinary step of stripping Lovick’s predecessor, Aaron Reardon, from his role in overseeing the tech department.

“Even though I was willing to honor the effects of the 2013 emergency ordinance, I believe the justification of doing so has expired,” Lovick wrote in a nearly three-page veto letter. “I firmly believe that the Department of Information Services should be reassigned to the office of the executive now, not a year from now.”

The tech department became a political football a year ago, as evidence mounted of abuses of power by Reardon and some of his staff.

Auditor Carolyn Weikel agreed to assume control of the department, which includes a nearly $20 million annual budget and 85 positions.

After Lovick was appointed in June to take over for Reardon, Weikel asked for more time to follow through with reforms in the tech department. Lovick said the department should be restored to the executive’s authority, as intended in the County Charter.

“I’m disappointed because I had a lot of positive initiatives I wanted to work on,” Weikel said Friday.

They include continuing work to mend fences with other county departments, improving the way the county handles public records requests and examining data-storage costs.

Council members who supported extending Weikel’s oversight said they found her arguments more persuasive than Lovick’s.

“The reason I voted for it is that Carolyn had a plan, and never once did the executive talk about what he wanted to do with the department,” Councilman Ken Klein said. “I think major changes need to be made.”

Klein said he believes the county potentially could save millions of dollars by implementing changes such as contracting to store data on the Internet cloud, rather than maintaining its own servers.

“My concern is that they’re not going to see these changes that need to be made,” Klein said. “I have no reason to believe that they’re going to happen under the executive.”

Council Chairman Dave Somers said he was disappointed in the executive’s decision, calling it not in the best interest of the department or the county. Similar to Klein, Somers said that Weikel had articulated a clear vision for managing the department, while Lovick had not.

Council members Stephanie Wright and Brian Sullivan, however, have sided with Lovick, arguing that management of the department fits best under the executive now that the leadership crisis under Reardon has passed.

Under the county charter, the council could override Lovick’s veto, but that would require four votes.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A chair lift sits idle on Stevens Pass Thursday afternoon on December 30, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
A blizzard of Stevens Pass complaints hits the AG’s office

The ski resort’s new manager says he’s working to address frustrations about lines and closures.

Branden McKinnon (Family photo)
Lawsuit blames mother’s unsecured gun for Marysville boy’s death

Branden McKinnon, 12, got hold of a gun belonging to his mother, a Department of Corrections lieutenant. His father is suing.

Police: Everett man left family member with life-threatening injuries

An Everett man, 23, was in jail on $100,000 bail after being accused of confronting women and attacking a relative.

Michelle Roth is a registered nurse in the Providence Emergency Department on Sunday, January 23, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Nurses face burnout as hospital staffing shortage continues

‘It feels like there has been a mass exodus in the last two to three months.’

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
A fake vax card could land you in jail if this bill passes

Here’s what’s happening on Day 15 of the 2022 session of the Washington Legislature.

A SWAT team responds during an 8-hour standoff between police and a man brandishing a knife at a home in south Edmonds on Sunday night. (Edmonds Police Department)
9-hour Edmonds standoff with knife-wielding man ends in arrest

The man reportedly threatened to kill his family. Police spent hours trying to get him to come outside.

Security footage depicting an armed robbery at Buds Garage in Everett on Tuesday, Jan.18, 2022. (Contributed photo)
Everett pot shop robbed twice; others targeted in recent months

Armed robbers have hit Buds Garage off Everett Avenue twice since December.

An artist’s rendering of the 4,600-square-foot Progressive Animal Welfare Society hospital south of Snohomish that will care for injured and orphaned wild animals. (PAWS)  20220121
Bears, bobcats, oh my: Wildlife center takes shape near Snohomish

In Lynnwood, PAWS could care for six bears at a time. Now, they’ll have space for 30 — and a lot more.

Island County jail slammed with first COVID outbreak

Three cell blocks are in quarantine and about a third of the jail staff are out with COVID.

Most Read