County’s settlement with Koster sets a bad precedent

The May 21 guest commentary in The Herald from Jeff Rhodes (“Koster settlement a tax on political correctness,”) is totally wrong about the principle at stake in John Koster’s suit against Snohomish County. It is not about political correctness or political positions or ideology at all.

If Koster had added his name to a letter that just said county employees should have the right to decide whether to pay union dues or not, there would have been no problem. What the letter actually said was “For too long, labor leaders have ripped off our hard-working teachers and state employees …” This is not a political position; this is a personal attack on a group of people, essentially accusing them of being crooks.

The County Council should be ashamed of themselves for approving an out-of-court settlement to Koster’s suit. By doing so, they have established the precedent that any county employee, even an ombudsman, can make a nasty attack on any group of citizens — labor leaders, Jews, Muslims, Republicans, Blacks, Hispanics, Boeing executives, small business owners, whoever — and the county will view it as perfectly OK, even if it reveals a bias that will interfere with the employee’s ability to deal fairly with all members of the public.

Moreover, Councilmember Brian Sullivan’s statement that “This settlement is more about risk management” is total BS. I would far rather have the county spend a million dollars to support civility and fairness than spend half a million dollars to support nastiness and bias.

Gomer Thomas


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