Island County Releases Selective Information Concerning Bob Pedersons Resignation

Our Island County Commissioners and their underlings are releasing selective bit’s of information surrounding Bob Pedersons resignation. In an article published online today in the South Whidbey Record Elaine Marlow released information that Bob Pederson WAS attempting to sue the county.  There was no reason given for why he would be suing the county but the article did go on to state the following:

“Given the unique situation concerning Commissioner Kelly Emerson and the planning department, I thought it would be best to limit any potential future risk on the county’s part,” said Marlow, in an interview this week.”


In this selective release of information Elaine Marlow is pointing the finger directly at Commissioner Emerson as the cause of this lawsuit. Now we do not know what the whole truth is on this issue as no one at the county or the Commissioners are commenting. They are selectively releasing information and refusing to answer questions that have been asked directly to them.

On March 11th the following email was sent to all 3 Commissioners:

Recently as you know Robert Pederson Planning Director resigned from his position with Island County. As the rumors are swirling about his resignation I thought I would ask our commissioners directly about these rumors in an effort to clear these rumors up.

1- Was Robert Pederson asked or requested to submit his resignation?

2- Did Robert Pederson threaten to sue the county?

3- Were there any present or future monetary payments to Robert Pederson in return for his resignation?

4- Were there any present or future monetary payments to Robert Pederson to settle any claims or potential lawsuits against the county?

5- Was Robert Pederson given or promised any compensation or severance pay outside his regular salary?

Thank you for your time,

Cliff Howard

CC; Helen Price Johnson, Jill Johnson, Kelly Emerson

The following response was given by Jill Johnson:

“I don’t discuss personnel matters as a standard leadership practice.”

The following response was given by Commissioner Kelly Emerson:

“While I am quite certain I had every opportunity to be involved in discussions regarding Mr. Pederson, I chose to let my colleagues handle this one. Sorry I can’t be of more help on this issue.”

No response was received from Helen Price Johnson

None of the Commissioners answered the questions that were asked to them directly. On March 12th a Public Document Request was sent to the Island County Commissioners with a broad request for information surrounding this issue. We knew when the document request was made that this would more than likely trigger some form of statement from the County concerning this issue. They chose to make a selective release designed to have the appearance that this issue was caused by Commissioner Emerson. While no one is releasing any information enough information was released by this county employee to shed an unfavorable light on one of our Commissioners.

This is the type of information release that does not do the citizens of Island County any favors. A partial release of information like this is designed to not tell the whole truth and leads to open speculation as to real cause as to why Bob Pederson is leaving County employment.

Our Commissioners need to be more up front with issue such as this. When a Commissioner is asked a direct question on a subject like this it does not look good when they answer “I don’t discuss personnel matters as a standard leadership practice.” but then less than a week later an official representative and an employee that works for the commissioners releases selective bits of information designed to make another Commissioner appear to be the cause and reason for the lawsuit without specifically releasing the actual cause.

It seems that our Commissioners are still playing games. By selectively releasing information that alludes to a cause but then not answering questions that are asked to them directly by a constituent they are hiding something.

Selectively releasing bits and pieces of information on this subject and then hiding behind statements such as “I don’t discuss personnel matters as a standard leadership practice.” really makes one wonder just what is going on in our county. Jill Johnson refuses to ask a direct question but someone under her control IS releasing information and the information they are releasing is designed to directly infer something that may or may not be true.

So the question is…why cannot Commissioner Jill Johnson directly answer questions made by constituents? And why is an employee of the County, Elaine Marlow, releasing the information that a County Commissioner refuses to release?

We were all hoping that when Jill Johnson was elected as our new Commissioner this type of game playing would end. Instead we see her and her employees directly in the middle of the game with her refusing to answer questions directly but then allowing one of her underlings to release partial information and in a manner that sheds poor light on another Commissioner.

Jill? When are the games going to end?

When are you going to stop hiding behind nifty little executive statements but then allowing your employees to do the dirty work by releasing partial information to a local newspaper?

Is this the type of administrative policy that you stand for?




  1. I believe that Island County Prosecutor, Greg Banks should appoint a special procesutor to get to the bottom of this whole issue, with the same fervor that he prosecuted Larry Kwarsick’s case, if he can. There is likely more, much more to this story and I personally would welcome an unbiased investigation.

    1. It is certainly interesting that our Commissioners are doing everything they can to obfuscate the facts in this issue. I do know that we need someone from the outside to take a look at this especially seeing how the county is now selectively releasing information with a spin attached to it. This certainly is not doing the county any favors.

      Why cannot our commissioners just tell the truth about this issue and release the facts? Jill is hiding behind executive statements while someone is releasing information concerning this issue either behind her back, without her knowledge or possibly with her collusion we don’t know which. Helen refuses to answer questions about this also.

      The appearance is certainly that there is a cover up in progress and that they are in fact hiding information from the public and only releasing enough to be damaging to another Commissioner. It is as if Angie Homola has never left the Commissioners office…

      A citizen should be able to go directly to the commissioners with their questions and have them answered directly. Just the fact that Public Document Requests have to be filed to find this information is troubling.

      When the same information that our Commissioners refuse to answer directly is released by a county employee under their control it is certainly troubling. Especially when it appears that a County insider, an employee, appears to be taking advantage of inside political information to selectively make releases to the local paper and the information released is just enough to shed poor light on another Commissioner.

      I wonder who it was that authorized this release? Do employees working for the Commissioners office normally go out of bounds and release information without authorization?

      1. Cliff I too wondered WHO, WHAT & WHY
        Following is a PDR I submitted a couple hours ago; wonder how they will spin out of responding this one

        PDR sent to all 3 Commissioners…
        March 25, 2013, County Commissioners were requested to provide information about Pederson’s “Retirement”

        Commissioner Emerson responded, “I had every opportunity to be involved in discussions regarding Mr. Pederson, I chose to let my colleagues handle this one.”

        Price-Johnson did not respond

        Commissioner Jill Johnson responded, “I don’t discuss personnel matters as a standard leadership practice.”

        Less than a week later Elaine Marlow, an employee who works for the Commissioners, released the same information to the newspapers that Commissioner Johnson stated was “Personnel” related and would (?could?) not release it

        That action seems to conflict with Commissioner Johnson’s response

        Pursuant to the Public Disclosure Act, RCW 42.56, this correspondence is an official request for access to and copies of any and all information pertaining to the following:

        All verbal and/or written documentation regarding who approved, how and why employee Marlow was legally authorized to release another employee’s personnel information to the public

        Please notify me… when said documents are assembled and available for my review.

        I look forward to your response within five working (5) days

        If you choose to deny this request, please provide a written explanation for the denial including a reference to the specific statutory exemption(s) upon which you rely, and provide a listing of all segregated portions of exempt material.

        1. It is too bad we have to resort to a PDR to get information out of our county. I would have suggested that you first e mail the commissioners and ask them directly but with the zero interest they have to share what goes on in our county with the public it more than likely would have been a wasted effort.

          Now that you have sent your request look for an article in the WNT or SWR with the information that you requested. It is more than likely this will trigger another partial release of information from the county to cover their tracks…and spin the message. That certainly seems like the mode of operation our county is taking.

      2. Cliff,
        When you have all of the documents compiled and have interviewed all of the respondents for completeness of your request, plese forward a copy of everything to me. I am preparing a paqckage for the State Auditor about this situation and would like to reference the documents, as well as this blog (with your help and consideration). The State Auditor is the proper authority because our Prosecutor is in the middle of the issue and the Auditor oversees the risk pool.

        1. Will do Ken. I have not seen the documents requested from the risk pool/Elaine Marlow yet but I am expecting them to be ready any day now.

    2. Roger that Ken, except I think Prosecutor Banks may have a conflict of interest and should refer the issue to another county thereby protecting himself from any appearance of impropriety, or because he was party to the agreement. Good thing Commissioner Emerson steered clear of this pit of vipers.

      Hmmmm. If he wasn’t party to the agreement, he probably should have been. Perhaps the other three (don’t overlook Ms. Marlow) acted without county legal advice, and may have stepped in it.

      1. Grassroots Grunt, I agree, this definitely should be referred to another county. Immediately if not sooner.

      1. Mike,
        You may be right on part of the story but from my research Kwarsick did damage himself. But, it also seems that the “whistleblower(s)” may have had an axe to grind in the case.

      2. Mike, and you can thank Marianne Edain, head WEANie and her insignificant pal Steve for that screw job all to get even with Kwarsick for WEANs bogus wetland declaration and planting contract with Langley being canceled

        1. Why Banks and Judge Churchill didn’t recuse themselves and send the case to another neutral county still needs answers.

  2. The $21,000.00 + $37,000.00 Question Still Remains. What was Bob Pederson going to or considering suing Island County for? Also, since when is someone paid off for quitting an “at will” [position? This sure has the hallmarks or indicators of “Extortion or Bribery” the way the story is being portrayed.

    1. Agreed. if this was not simply part of a standard or previously contracted severance package, or simply paying Bob Pederson some owed vacation time, then no statement such as that which was made by Elaine Morrow never would have or should have been made.

    2. Q. Just like a previous substantial raise for? A. Great job performance with 100% happy customers. B. TBD

    3. I wonder how much it would take to secure a legally binding letter from the Emersons promising not to sue the county again? Have the County Commissioners corporately or individually, ever responded to the letter of demands from the Emersons’ attorney several weeks ago? One wonders, especially when Commissar Priceski – Johnsonavitch keeps parroting a term she evidently doesn’t understand, transparency.

      1. That’s an interesting question. Maybe if Bob Pederson had actually DONE SOMETHING – ANYTHING – to move forward with the Emersons’ lawsuit over these past few years, we may be a bit closer to knowing the answer to that question, and many others, and the Emersons would no longer have to be paying attorneys to resolve this lawsuit!

        Instead, Bob Pederson perennially SAT and SAT on that lawsuit, keeping it perpetually in LIMBO within HIS DOMAIN….up until just shortly after her majesty Angie Homola got OUSTED from public office!

        Pederson SAT and SAT on that lawsuit so that some people could continue to simply politically LAMBAST Kelly Emerson over ERRONEOUS allegations!

        During this past election cycle it became obvious rather quickly that Angie Homola’s warped campaign strategy was to attack Kelly Emersons’ lawsuit (and, by extension, to attack Kelly Emerson personally) as a primary reason NOT to remove Angie from her position on the BOICC. (Even though Kelly was not even up for re-election!)

        In doing so, it eventually became obvious that Angie was so confident personally that she was going to WIN re-election that she was focusing more on politically BASHING Kelly Emerson a full TWO YEARS PRIOR to when Kelly was even up for re-election!

        Angie’s re-election strategy failed, and it was only AFTER it failed, and after Kelly Emerson was amazingly told (by newly elected Commissioner Jill Johnson, of all people!) that the onus was on Kelly (in her position as an elected COMMISSIONER, no less!) to somehow RESOLVE that lawsuit with Island County!

        Methinks that now, following Bob Pederson’s departure, when we DO finally get movement forward to RESOLVE the Emersons’ lawsuit – like by bringing it in front of some hearing board or a judge – that a lot more information is going to “come out” than some people have bargained for.

        At that point in time, the years of simply SITTING on that Emerson-lawsuit for political purposes is going to extract a price that folks like Angie Homola and Helen Price-Johnson, and others at Island County, are going to to regret, seriously.

        And, the longer they sit on and cover up the political games which have been played, and the longer they piecemeal that information out to the public, the less control they are going to have over their own destiny when the information finally explodes into the daylight of public scrutiny.

        1. Concur with you Bill. I can’t imagine that Jill has been enjoying the past three months. For best results, she needs an attitude change and an immediate course correction or it’s going to be a long four years. Although I don’t expect to see Jill debating here, I do hope that she is following some of this.

          1. GRASSROOTS, She must be reading some of IslandPolitics postings, ie
            this gem from her Facebook postings

            “Jill Johnson-Pfeiffer
            For all the effort we put in to teaching our kids about Cyberbulling, this town would be much better served if we started first by educating our adults.
            Like · · Share · 7 hours ago near Oak Harbor · ”

            evidently she feels we are being unkind to her…BUT on FACEBOOK, neither does ..
            “Tara Hizon Amen! Unfortunately, the people who would benefit most from this lesson are the ones who think it doesn’t apply to them.”
            “Joe A Kunzler Well if I’m being a cyberbully, I expect to be called out on it. Period. People like that don’t deserve a circle of Facebook friends.
            I also have had to deal with one very recently who lobbed smears. It’s sadly a pain many of us go through.
            Oh and BTW, I don’t care for the childish toons of you on, er, some blog. Takes away from their research.”

            “..Tara Hizon Joe, my dear, to imply that there’s anything resembling research on some, er, blog, is giving them entirely too much credit” AND, BEST OF ALL ARE THESE, esp TARA’s GEM!!!

            “Bill Strowbridge Did they teach a bulling class when you were in school Jill?
            46 minutes ago”

            “..Tara Hizon If they did, she was probably too busy being a SOCIOPATH WITH NARCISSITIC PERSONALITY DISORDER to notice.

            1. “Jill Johnson-Pfeiffer
              For all the effort we put in to teaching our kids about Cyberbulling, this town would be much better served if we started first by educating our adults.”

              Ha- This is from a person who refuses to answer questions directly or at all made by her constituents but yet stands by while her underlings answer those same questions and allows a fellow commissioner to be smeared in the press by half truths, innuendo and selective releases.

              I don’t see much difference between a cyber bully and a press bully. By her acts of ommission and not being honest with her constituents she is encouraging the continuence of a smear campaign against a fellow commissioner.

              Isn’t a smear campaign just another form of bullying?

              I think it is…

              1. So, in other words, Jill Johnson believes it is perfectly okay for her first to make public proclamations via the newspapers to her constituents suggesting that Bob Pederson’s resignation is NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING extraordinary in nature, but then when she is asked a direct question about that same event FROM a constituent, she clams up and proclaims that her style of “standard leadership practice” 100% PREVENTS her from discussing “personnel matters” whatsoever!?!

                And, then, because people criticize her for such DUPLICITOUS behavior, she is now characterizing discussion of her behavior as a publicly elected official as “cyber-bullying?


                In the interim, Commissioner Jill Johnson then happily stands by in her new “standard leadership practice” mode of silence while Elaine Morrow, an un-elected Island County employee, makes additional comments via the press delineating that $$ had to be given to Bob Pederson to prevent him from bringing a LAWSUIT against Island County due to Commissioner Kelly Emerson!

                So, we the public, are now going to labeled “cyber bullies” by Commissioner Jill Johnson because we will not accept being MISLED by our publicly elected officials?

                So, we the public, are now going to labeled “cyber bullies” by Commissioner Jill Johnson because we will not accept being told half-truths by our publicly elected officials?

                So, we the public, are now going to labeled “cyber bullies” by Commissioner Jill Johnson because we make it clear that duplicitous misleading behavior by our publicly elected officials is NOT ACCEPTABLE?

                Yes, using the local mainstream press to control what the public is “fed” via the newspapers so that the newspapers can simply regurgitate what they are told in order to mislead the public is a well-practiced form of “media bullying” on Whidbey Island by Island County officials.

                I hear that Jill Johnson, once elected as an Island County Commissioner, is to have stated that she is now “all about politics”.

                I believe her.

                Too bad she is not “all about” being upfront with the people she was elected to serve, which is NOT the same thing.

                1. Yes, very disappointed in Jill Johnson. Not only has she allowed this ongoing issue to fester unneccessarily with her refusal to supply ANY information about this when asked directly but she has apparently made the point that she feels “bullied” by requests for the facts concerning this issue. I guess it does not bother her to see another commissioner again being drug through the mud because of the counties partial release of information. This certainly could have been avoided but apparently she gains something in all of this. What in the world that may be is only known to Jill Johnson. It certainly does nothing for our county except cause unnecessary costs for the many PDR’s we have made. A few simple answers could have certainly gone a long way not only in respect to Jill and her open government problems but also in many peoples opinion of her. Her refusal to answer direct questions certainly goes to the root of the problems with Jill…she has made it known that she is better than us poor citizens.

                  I guess she has never read Article 1 Section 1 of our State Constitution which she swore to uphold when taking office.

                  And apparently she does not believe that we the people need to know the details of the decisions that she makes…

                  Jill is certainly no friend of open government.

            2. “Jill Johnson-Pfeiffer
              For all the effort we put in to teaching our kids about Cyberbulling, this town would be much better served if we started first by educating our adults.
              Like · · Share · 7 hours ago near Oak Harbor · ”

              Cyberbulling? What’s that? Like riding the wild bull in bars in the 1970’s?

          2. She can choose to be either be part of the problem or part of the cure, it is up to her. I hope she chooses to be part of the cure. Our county and it’s citizens deserve an open and friendly government not one that we have to pry information out of and risk being called bullies because we get no cooperation from our elected officials.

            Jill needs to realize that what Billb said above is very true about “a well-practiced form of “media bullying” on Whidbey Island by Island County officials.” The people deserve to be informed of the all facts surrounding issues that are important to them and that have a great effect on others in this county. What we received from this latest “press release” is nothing but more of the same that we have seen for the last 4 years… we were hoping for something different with Ms Johnson but so far it is apparent that she has chosen to go along with the “media bully” crowd at the expense of others and herself. Same old game just different players…

  3. I never thought of that angle. BUT it does appear to be either extortion, bribery or paying someone to keep quiet.

    Especially seeing how this information is being selectively released to the newspapers. We all know, including those at the county, that Black Press reporters do not follow up with any pertinent questions when they report on issue such as this. They are basically shills for political attacks. You would think the first question a reporter would ask is “what was the threatened lawsuit over?”. No mention of even a refusal to answer about this question.
    We have seen how the local papers have been used politically by the county, the commissioners and it’s employees in the past so this is certainly nothing new and it appears that they are again being used to selectively spin any news coming out of the Commissioners office.

  4. “Black Press reporters do not follow up with any pertinent questions when they report on issue such as this.”

    Bingo! Their “reporting” is more like “regurgitating” only what they are fed – kinda’ like a trained seal when a small fish is dangled in front of it.

    Their news articles often simply raise more questions than they answer: questions which were so OBVIOUSLY NOT asked, but certainly should have been asked by the so-called “reporter”.

    1. That does appear to be a correct interpretation of the relationship. The county/city employees and electees know this and that is why they use the Black Press newspaper like they do. I think it is actually by design, by allowing themselves to be a mouthpiece for certain people/factions in the county they are assured to get the latest scoop on any news that comes along.
      It is just truely sad to see our county engaged in things like this.
      I do know for a fact that in private industry if I were to go public with any form of information to anyone I would need explicit instructions and permission from whoever is in charge or I would immediately lose my contract and be fired.
      I cannot believe that this “release” was not authorized by one of the Commissioners. This is the type of behavior that needs to end in our county. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired of seeing our county being used as a political attack machine. This is just another example
      of the same kind of crap we have seen in the past. Same actions but different actors this time.

          1. At this point, we don’t know what was suggested, what was offered, what was”requested” nor the conversation that actually took place. Apparently the approximate $21,000, if that’s the true amount, was the agreed payment, but who knows? What credibility does PJ – J.J – EM – BP or the newspapers have?

              1. No. Not even by accident. I wonder if others have? One could pose that question during public comments though just to get an idea. I wonder if Bob Pederson (I started to type, Bob Johnson) has with other jobs?

  5. Cliff, Did County respond to the specific documents you requested in your PDR or did they state the RCW that allows them to not provide the documents?

    This should be done in a reasonable amount including an acknowledgement of reciept of your PDR and when to within 5 days including an indication of when the requested doucments will be available for your review
    Are Johnson and Johnson acting as though they are above the law or are they really that stupid to think your request is not an important item on their “to do” list?

    As I recall your PDR DID start with:
    “Pursuant to the Public Disclosure Act, RCW 42.56, this correspondence is an
    official request for access to and copies of any and all information
    pertaining to the following…”

    They must communicate specifically to you according to the RCW; no political wiggle room and cherry picking of info released by subordinates to newspapers etc
    AND who elected Elain to speak for elected officials on such an important issue; she is NOT the 4th Commissioner
    The county’s response has bween uaceptable
    If they have not followed the laws We need to get J&J back on track with a call to Banks or the AG’s office

    1. NO. So far the county and Pam Dill have been very responsive. I am not sure what they have included or excluded yet. And I have not seen the dcuments yet. They do have some documents ready for me to review but I am waiting on more information due to a clarification that was needed.

      I think the Commissioners are acting like they are above the law. They certainly want to not be forthcoming with information that will eventually come out in the public daylight. This action makes an appearance of attempting to hide something. It also costs the county taxpayer dollars for Pam Dill and her staff to take the time to comply with the broad requests made. It would have been much easier and more cost effective for one of the commissioners to reply to the first email I sent directly to them and explain what we will eventually know anyway.
      For them to go to the newspaper with partisan information knowing that it would be published tells the whole story.

      I guess I could ask the Commissioners directly who authorized the information release that the employee made to the paper but I don’t think I would get a straight answer…probably have to make another costly PDR to get that also…

      1. For the record and to not duplicate effort, Following is what Cliff requested in ths PDR

        Island County Board of Commissioners.
        Island County Human Resources department.
        Island County Prosecutors department
        Island County Auditor


        Pursuant to the Public Disclosure Act, RCW 42.56, this correspondence is an
        official request for access to and copies of any and all information
        pertaining to the following:

        1- Copies of any and all employment contracts for Robert Pederson Planning

        2- Copies of any and all termination, resignation or settlement documents
        for Robert Pederson Planning Director.

        3- Copies of any and all communications between Human Resources Department
        and Robert Pederson Planning Director regarding his employment or any
        documented complaints.

        4- Copies of any and all communications between Prosecutors office and
        Robert Pederson Planning Director or any third party involved in negotiating
        his resignation terms and conditions.

        5- Copies of any and all communications between Board of Island County
        Commissioners office and Robert Pederson Planning Director. Limited to
        employment, resignation or complaints.

        6- Copies of any and all settlement documents, severence pay documents, or
        any copies of funds or reimbursements paid to Robert Pederson Planning

        7- Copies of any communication between Robert Pederson Planning Director,
        Island County Commissioners, Island County Human Resources department and
        Island County Prosecutors office concerning any potential lawsuit or
        complaints between Mr Pederson and Island County.

        8- Copies of any employee evaluation forms or other criteria used in
        determining the recent raise in salary for Robert Pederson

        Also please provide a copy or reference source for all Island County
        codes, policies, RCWs, rules, or ordinances that were utilized for all of
        the actions and decisions of County officials and employees in this matter.
        If your agency does not maintain these public records, please let me know who does and include the proper custodian’s name and address.
        For paper documents please notify me via the following email address: when said documents are assembled and available ”

        As you can see, Cliff was very thorough in his request and when we get these documents many of our questions and concerns will be satisfied with FACTS
        We can then move forward dealing with the GoodBye Pederson fiasco with strength

        That’s a lot of documents that need to be reviewed and selected for value
        Cliff, IMHO will need help to get the job done properly

        Cliff, I am available to help when you need and I hope many others of you will also find time to help

        1. I amended item one on my original request on 2-20:

          1- Copies of any and all employment contracts, agreements or other related documents outlining the employment, pay, terms or responsibilities for Robert Pederson Planning director.

          And after reading the article in the SWR I today I also requested the following:

          1- Any communication between Elaine Marlow, Island County Commissioners, Island County Risk Manager, Robert Pederson and The Washington Counties Risk Pool. The information requested is any information that contains information concerning a lawsuit, settlement, payment or seperation agreement or claims against the county ot it’s employees or commissioners.

        2. Cliff, have you had any response yet from County Human Resources re your…
          “Copies of any and all communications between Human Resources Department and Robert Pederson Planning Director regarding his employment or any documented complaints.”

          That response would verify, fact or fiction, the rumor that Pederson filed a formal complaint with HR against Commissioners Homola & Price-Johnson that could lead to him taking legal action against them if not resolved

          1. Yes I have received a response. Pam has several sets of documents waiting for review. I recently added one more request on 3-25 based on the information released in the paper:

            Any communication between Elaine Marlow, Island County Commissioners, Island County Risk Manager, Robert Pederson and The Washington Counties Risk Pool. The information requested is any information that contains information concerning a lawsuit, settlement, payment or seperation agreement or claims against the county or it’s employees or commissioners.

            I was waiting until all of the documents are ready before taking the time off to go and review them. I will more than likely go down tomorrow and review what they currently have if you want to go along.

            At this point we still have no idea what Pedersons lawsuit or threat was over. It certainly appears that it was made against the county and not an individual or an employee so by assumption we are ruling out as the paper alluded to that it was about something Kelly Emerson did or said. Besides Kelly has pretty much recused herself in dealing with planning so there is no reason Pederson would have to sue her or the county for her actions. This is certainly about somethng else…no matter what the local newspaper alludes to.

  6. Did Island County, in their agreement, indicate that they would indemnify Bob Pederson for any of his potential wrong doings, such as “Official Misconduct”? Did Bob Pederson withold information of Misconduct of others? Just who is being protected by this action:

    “Given the unique situation concerning Commissioner Kelly Emerson and the planning department, I thought it would be best to limit any potential future risk on the county’s part,” said Marlow, in an interview this week.”

    Since Island County cannot defend an “Official Misconduct” case, what happens if “Official Misconduct” is found to be the case?

    1. In a similar situation with some “good old boys” ignoring laws the Attorney General’s office stated the following:
      The Attorney General of Washington does not have the authority of jurisdiction to involve itself in the internal workings of local political subdivision…suggest you contact Internal affaird Department of the Oak Harbor Police Department , the county Sheriff, of the Washington State Patrol to voice your concerns”

      In this case Sheriff Brown’s orgainzation did an excellent job in their investigation of Larry Kwarsick for violations of RCW.42.040, RCW 9.92.120, etc

      1. Bill,
        I think that this has to be brought up by the prosecutor and or a judge for this to get any traction. I wonder though, if the prosecutors office was involved in crafting the payoff document?

        1. I think Prosecutor Banks only acts when Sheriff Brown’s organization provides him evidence of criminal acts but, Brown has few deputies available for investigation

          Banks has little, if any staff to dig for evidence of criminal conduct and events

          PS: Unless the Commissioners provide funds to rebuild their organizations cloose to what it was in 2008, little will be done
          There’s more to Brown’s job that should and could be done if he had the needed resources and it ain’t taking incident reports after the fact or passing out speeding tickets


          1. Bill,
            The Prosecutor didn’t seem to have much trouble going after Larry Kwarsick for a much smaller infraction than what is going on here. there is way more corruption and a lot of people involved with this. Time will tell.

            1. I have copies of every document Banks used and that included all the evidence the deputies obtained
              The man hours and techniques used BY the deputies blew my mind
              Hundreds of man hours were spent by Brown before he could provide Banks with the documentation needed for his successful case against Kwarsick

            2. When the new planning director, not Mr. Interim, reviews your file he may be the one that initiates the action be it through the commissioners or directly to the sheriff. I’ve read many times of citizens getting action through a complaint to the FBI.

              1. The new planning director may be shocked at how little documentation is in the files and how few rules and laws the old planning director ran his department by.

    2. To me, when I read that, it seemed that Marlowe was stating the County has liability in the Emerson case.

  7. When are these ladies going to take training classes on the legalities of doing their jobs.

    The following response was given by Jill Johnson: “I don’t discuss personnel matters as a standard leadership practice.”

    Asinine response. If you were in an executive session discussing personnel issues, you legally cannot discuss those issues. That has zero to do with your perceived ‘standard leadership practice’.

    1. Mike,
      If information was discussed in or out of executive session that is of an illegal or potentially illegal nature should it see the light of day and the public informed of it or is it ok to hide facts to protect some individuals?

      1. Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!
        Sir Walter Scott,

    2. That is just another way of saying that we are going to make you hunt for the hidden information while we selectively release information in a manner designed to spin this information to the public. This guarantees that by the time the facts are found it can be spun politically and the damage will be done.

      That is exactly what happened here. Jill avoided my direct questions while either her or her compatriots in the Commissioners office released selective information to the press with the intent of damaging another commissioner. It seems nothing has changed since Jill Johnson took office. We still see our County Commissioners and staff being part of a political hatchet attack on another Commissioner. This is the worst kind of disclosure that they could make and it was certainly done intentionally and with intent to damage.

      Instead of the facts being answered directly we received political spin in a release from our Commissioners.

  8. It will be interesting to see if, in Bob Pedersons parting bonus package, there is a provision that indemnifies for acts of “Official Misconduct”. This would in fact be contrary to Island County Code, Chapter 2.38.030B which clearly , in part, the following:

    Such services or reimbursement may be provided to both past and present officers and employees as long as the cause of action arose as a result of acts or omissions occuring during their tenure of office or employment………On the other hand, legal services will not be provided to officers or employees of the county to defend a charge of official misconduct or the right to hold office.
    I do not recall a public meeting being held to change this section of ICC.

  9. I just re-read that article in the South Whidbey Record again, and, in doing so, the degree of evasiveness and deceptiveness being displayed in this entire scenario by Island County officials, both elected and un-elected, is mind-boggling.

    For example, the article says that the $21,000 cash payout to prevent Bob Pederson from filing a lawsuit against Island County was “was brought forward solely at her (Elaine Morrow’s) request.”

    As if we are somehow supposed to believe that Elaine Morrow is running the whole show at Island County now and she is able to dole out cash-prize “hush money” to employees who resign, all due simply to her position as the budget director and risk pool manager? BS! Obviously, there is MORE to this story and obviously BOTH Jill Johnson AND Helen Price-Johnson (and others – maybe Greg Banks) MUST know WHAT Bob Pederson had HANGING over some people’s HEADS in order to pay him $$ in order to SHUT HIM UP!

    Of course: no insight whatsoever was provided in the SWR article as to WHY Bob Pederson would sue Island County. After all, the fact is, he voluntarily RESIGNED his position from Island County!

    So, how does someone voluntarily resign and then also get paid “don’t sue us” or “keep your mouth shut” money at the same time???


    When I then conjoin the above thoughts with Commissioner Jill Johnson’s evasive and childishly faux “leadership” response. i.e.: “I don’t discuss personnel matters as a standard leadership practice” plus Helen Price-Johnson’s complete lack of a response, this whole thing begins to stink like ROTTEN FISH!

    There is simply NO WAY that our two in-the-know elected Island County Commissioners (Johnson & Johnson) can justify also keeping THEIR MOUTHS SHUT on this issue while not also making it appear very likely that the REASON Bob Pederson is being paid “do not sue us / keep your mouth shut money” is because what Bob Pederson has hanging over some people’s head is ABOUT the island County Commissioners themselves! (Maybe, also, in part, Bob Pederson’s “hush money” also blankets one recently DEPARTED Island County Commissioner – Angie Homola).

    Moreover, I would imagine that whenever the word “lawsuit” is brought up with respect to Island County, that the Island County Prosecutor MUST also be an “in-the-know” person on this matter, too.

    So, then, if this is at all anywhere near reality (and it certainly seems pretty likely that this IS the case), the question becomes: WHY is Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks blessing the hush money paid to have Bob Pederson not sue Island County?

    This situation does then seem to me to have the appearance of a HUGE conflict of interest within Island County Government. Money is apparently being paid to shield either Island County Government as an entity and/or to shield some Island County Officials from being exposed for some wrongdoing and to cover up that wrongdoing.

    When this issue finally “blows” publicly, and I predict that it will, I, for one, would absolutely NOT want to be any one of the people who are going to be within the blast zone, such as Greg Banks, Johnson & Johnson, Elaine Morrow, or anyone else in Bob Pederson’s office who has insight as to what Bob Pederson had hanging over some people’s heads for which he was paid in order to try to get him to shut up and simply to go away quietly.

    Whatever wrongdoing Bob Pederson may have documented is NOT going away.

    The cover-up ABOUT what Bob Pederson is being paid to SHUT UP is NOT going to remain a cover-up for much longer

    Because of the “hush money” presently being paid to Bob Pederson, for the time being, Bob Pederson may be the only person who is “going away”, but, when this issue finally blows up, some of the other people I mentioned in this post may also find themselves “gong away”, and for quite some time.

    Then again, this is all just wild speculation on my part.

    Maybe the real issue is: some years ago, when Kelly Emerson was running for office, Helen Price-Johnson and Angie Homola held a tea party (you know, where people sit around and drink tea from cups and saucers) at which things got out of hand and during which they kicked Bob Pederson’s dog and then Helen and Angie told Bob Pederson to repeatedly kick Kelly Emerson’s dog every day forward or else they would kick his dog again.

    Years later, when Bod Pederson decided to leave, Elaine Morrow found out about this dog-kicking and decided to pay Bob Pederson in order to get him not to talk about all the tea party dog-kicking, and Greg Banks was only too happy to make sure that nobody got wind of all the actual dog-kicking that Island County officials had been doing behind closed doors because of those tea party folks.

    Maybe that’s what this is all about?

    1. It is certainly interesting to see how far the story has changed so far. First we have Bob Pederson resigning with well wishes from the commissioners like ““We accepted that and are thankful of his service,” Johnson said.” and “She also wished him well, saying she is “excited to see what he chooses to do next.”

      And now the story has changed with the SWR story where he was paid $21,000.00 after threatening to sue over some non disclosed issue.

      Even more interesting? Is how the information released to the SWR was crafted to ensure that Kelly Emerson was blamed by default. They are again working on the principle that if you tell a lie enough times it will become the truth. This has all the hallmarks of a Helen Price Johnson attack on Kelly and more than likely with Jill Johnson’s assistance. I would be interesting to find out who Elaine Marlow was directed by to release this selective information.

      There is no telling where this story will go and where it will end up. The facts will come out no matter if our Commissioners that took action on this issue try and obfuscate the truth and the facts. When the facts do come out it is going to look pretty bad for our Commissioners because of the obvious cover up that is currently going on…

      I know another party that has placed a PDR into the Washington State Counties Risk pool based on the information in the SWR article. It will be interesting to see what those results are, that was an angle that I had obviously overlooked in my PDR request but now that we know the risk pool was involved it brings in another totally different angle and scope of the investigation.

      It is troubling to see how far our county will go and how many taxpayer dollars they will spend in an attempting to cover this issue up and hide the facts. They are costing the county oodles of money and probably grey hair for Pam Dill all because they refuse to be honest and up front with their constituents.

      Apparently our Commissioners, at least 2 of them, do not believe in open government and that it is the people that give them the power they have and that they are answerable to those people.

      I do not know what they are hiding but it is obviously fairly important for them to hide it and also spin a tale to the newspapers in an attempt to place the blame on another Commissioner. Pedersons lawsuit may have been about Kelly Emerson for all we know. I would find that a bit unusual just for the fact that Kelly has been excluded from almost all executive sessions in the past that dealt with planning and from what I understand has always abstained from voting or participating in issues with planning because of her percieved conflict with Pederson and the planning department. So the question really is what issue would Bob Pederson sue the county over in relation to Kelly Emerson as the newspaper and Elaine Marlow have alluded? And if that is not the reason for Pedersons perceived liability against the county what else would it be? That is the real question here. And that is what we will eventually find out with or without help from our obstructive Commissioners.

  10. We must remember to factor in the VERY RECENT interest by some to retain Bob as a consultant planning planning director. I believe Jill correctly resisted that suggestion.

    1. That’s simply bizarre:

      “I resign”.

      “Here’s hush money, please don’t sue us!”.

      “Would you like to do some consulting work for us?”

      “Oh, yes!”


    2. She did Grunt, but when it comes time to finalize the decision don’t be too shocked if/when Jill follows HPJ’s lead: the Johnson & Johnson brand of decision making is replacing the fiscal management we thought we voted for last November

    1. It sorta’ reads as if Bob Pederson was some sort of indentured servant, or worse, being freed from an oppressive employer worried about any and all possible future retributions against them.

      1. He is the one that threatened to sue the county. Also, It is interesting that IC won’t contest his unemployment claim. After all, he quit and shouldn’t be elgible.

          1. And Island County tax payers foot the unemployment compensation fees. Probably some L & I claim coming up too, depression, paranoia, post traumatic stress, back pain, whatever. Let’s be thankful he’s gone, and tackle the mess he created.

      2. County can give Pederson a letter of recomendation citing all his “? great accomplishments?” but any prospective employer doing a background search, maybe with GOOGLE, will end up with getting the real Bob Pederson story from newspapers and blogs like IslandPolitics
        Remember how easy it was for us to find out why he “resigned” his planning job in Manatee County Fla and why Homola, Dean and Price-Johnson and maybe WEAN wanted to hire him?

        1. Though we will likely never see the letter of recommendation, it is logical to assume that it is favorable to Bob Pederson’s cause, the text may have even been dictated by Mr. Pederson. However the point I want to mention is that two Island County Commissioners knowingly signing on behalf of Island County, a letter containing untruthful comments about Mr. Pederson’s attitudes and quality of work, though perhaps thought to be expedient, have sought to deceive. If true, we have two unethical commissioners with no credibility.

          1. “If true, we have two unethical commissioners with no credibility.”
            Grassroots Grunt, I agree
            They are either unethical or stupid or both

            Whatever, but we the voters are the cause of this problem; we elected them and it’s time we find a way to force then to SERVE the taxpayers and stop making decisions responding to special interest minority groups or their personal agenda items like they have done TO CITIZENS the past 4+ years
            We must find a way to correct our voting errors of last November
            WE must watch and document their every move and build a case with facts that will make sure they are not reelected,
            *OR generate enuff public pressure on them that they have some attitude adjustments.
            *OR we have legal grounds for recalling them from office,
            *OR we present evidence of criminal acts to Sheriff Brown /Prosecutor Banks and the courts will decide what to do with them
            We the majority
            We the people, run this County
            They, the Commissioners, only serve us.
            WE are their bosses and employers

      3. That is certainly how it reads to me also. I did think at one time that this had to do with something Kelly Emerson did. After reading the seperation agreement it is pretty clear that is NOT the case. The county is protecting themselves against some action the county or commissioners did that caused Bob Pederson harm. As Kelly had recused herslef from almost all actions relating to Planning and Pederson I cannot fathom that is would be about her and some action that she took. As she took no action where would the lawsuit against her come from? It has to be about something else no matter what the newspaper alludes to.

        1. That’s interesting. I can see how some people might also have come to the same initial conclusion that you did. Elaine Morrow’s statement to the media certainly appear to have helped nudge people’s opinions in that direction, and none of our ELECTED officials (e.g. Johnson & Johnson and/or Greg Banks) have done anything to dispel that notion.

          Perhaps that’s because having the public MISLED on this issue via NON-elected officials serves to keep in-the-dark as long as possible whatever “action the county or commissioners did that caused Bob Pederson harm”.

          Maybe, this is sorta’ the same modus operandi the ELECTED officials at Island County (e.g. Helen Price-Johnson, Angie Homola and Greg Banks) used in conjunction WITH Bob Pederson during his tenure at Island County, and which they now need to pay him $$ to keep quiet about.

          1. Nothing like throwing someone under the bus. This is exactly what we have seen from the commissioners office for the last 4+ years. Slander by omission is the game they have been playing and continue to play. Let the people blame whomever the WNT decides to infer caused this issue and keep the facts quiet so as not to confuse the populace. They have their scapegoat and it is Kelly Emerson, just ask anyone that reads the newspapers on Whidbey.

            They would rather the wolves have a playday than defend the sheep.

        2. The county has continually allowed Bob Peterson to be the scapegoat for the Emerson litigation, by not resolving the situation. The commissioners Angie and Helen continually refused to discuss possible resolution.

          Seems to me that Peterson should aim higher. $21,000 is peanuts for being the county’s scapegoat.

          1. I think you may have hit the nail on the head. If we look at the facts a relatively simple planning issue has been turned into a political football. 2 1/2+ years to resolve an issue like the Emerson’s issue has to be a black mark on any planning directors resume. If Pederson was encouraged or hampered to delay the resolution of this issue by staff or the Commissioners that would explain the $21,000 payoff as it is a direct hit on his reputation as a executive in a leadership position. We have to assume that Mr. Pederson approached his position with the county with one of professionalism and was brought into not resolving this issue due to politics, This long winded public episode cannot help him with any future public employment as it certainly cannot be considered a professional example of leadership of a county department.

            We may never find out the true reason for the payment to him or the reason why Elaine Marlow and risk pool involvement was necessary. Our county leadership has decided that the public does not need to know this information, they are in fact hiding the reason why while releasing selective tidbits designed to reflect poorly on another commissioner.

            This has been a sad episode for Island County and we deserve better from our leaders. Their refusal to come clean and be honest with the people they serve will guarantee that this will follow our local politicians to the end of their political careers. We cannot sit idle while our commissioners or any other leaders use their positions to cover up the resolution of issues that have been made very public by those same commissioners.

            Issues such as this have ruined a lot of political careers but that is the path our commissioners have chosen…so be it.

            1. Potential employers or business constituents of potential employers may individually contact Island County developers and allied businesses seeking truthful opinions regarding Bob’s public “service” as planning director.

  11. My goodness, so much information here and so many comments from interested people. This begs the question, why has none of this been covered by the Whidbey News Times? Did I miss the story or are they once again a day late and a nickel short.

    1. Maybe they will get around to it when they have figured out what those Whidbey Island UFO sightings are all about, or maybe they will get interested when they are finally done attacking the straw-man-reality they have created regarding the of Oak Harbor City Council’s EPIC FAILURE regarding WA State firearms’ regulation. They’ve been hard at work on the latter for a couple of months now.

    2. It is probably a good thing if they do not report on it. The article in the SWR inferred the cause of this was something that Kelly Emerson did and more or less blamed her by logical fallacy* without any proof or evidence. It is hard to imagine how badly the WNT would mangle the story.

      Post hoc ergo propter hoc – after this, therefore because of this, is a logical fallacy and that is what we got from the SWR news report.

      A person has a beef with the planning director.

      The planning director threatens to sue the County.

      Therefore it must be the person who has the beef that caused the lawsuit so let’s include that in our story.

      Negligent news reporting at it’s best.

  12. Here’s a concise letter that appeared on-line today and which is related to this topic:

    “Emerson issue is government issue”


    Hopefully you will see fit to publish this letter from “the other side.” It is written in rebuttal to the vitriolic letter by Helen Price-Johnson supporter Barbara Brand, published March 20.

    The county and/or Bob Pederson began harassing and fining the Emersons for building too near a wetland. This was after they began rebuilding a porch without a permit, but that’s a separate issue.

    The wetland doesn’t exist, a fact certified by two real, licensed hydrogeologists on two separate occasions at the Emersons’ expense.

    The original building permit was issued, approved and then held up in the Planning Department for years. It is the Emersons who tried time and again to get the issues settled with no response from Pederson. Fines were levied on a bogus claim of a wetland. This is government at its worst.

    Barbara Strowbridge
    Oak Harbor”

  13. Didn’t Pedersen have issues at his prior job as well? I seem to remember he did.

    Would love to see Jeff Lauderdale jump in for this position!

  14. Charlona Sawyer, YES, he was and the reason he was fired, (politically correct in Coupeville is “resigned”)
    The reason he was fired in Fla was exactly why Homola, Dean, Price-Johnson and WEAN wanted him here…
    “…MANATEE COUNTY – Carol Clarke stepped down as director of the county’s Planning Department on Thursday. So did Bob Pederson, the department’s community planning administrator and second in command.
    In a statement, the county called the changes “the latest in a series of moves to make Manatee County a more business-oriented, customer-friendly operation.”
    Developers have complained that, in the past, it took too long to get plans through the Planning Department and permits from the Building Department.
    Clarke, who has left the county’s employ completely, was unavailable for comment after the announcement was made.
    Recently, Hunzeker appointed a new director of the Building Department, John Barnott, to overhaul it. Builders say that department now runs more smoothly.
    Hunzeker next wants more reforms in the Planning Department to improve customer service and revise the county’s land development codes and comprehensive plan.”

  15. I just posted this to the SWR

    How about a follow up on article, what exactly this ” potential future risk ” really is. Is it possible that all the third party, for hire, expert consultants are right and there are no wetlands or reason for the 2 year delay other than to make Commissioner Emerson look bad, like a scoff law?

    Elaine Marlow: Makes it appear like Commissioner Kelly Emerson was the reason for his departure. Why the generous good by kiss for quitting, including paying 3 months salary $21,000, pay for his COBRA medical coverage for three months and not challenging his “unemployment claim’. He quits and gets unemployment?

    Publish a link to the Employment Separation Agreement, so the public can see that the county did and who has their butt covered by the agreement.

    “Given the unique situation concerning Commissioner Kelly Emerson and the planning department, I thought it would be best to limit any potential future risk on the county’s part,” said Marlow, in an interview this week. WHY? Where the details or the FACTS?

    John Brooks

    1. “WHY? Where the details or the FACTS?”

      Facts are not what we are being given by our county administration and that is what is really sad in all of this. The WNT is just quoting what they have been told and looking no further.

    2. John, Today Cliff and I were reviewing the few documents provided to date resulting from his PDR
      While reading the frustrating lack of what we wanted to see Cliff noted that that Commissioner Emerson did NOT sign the agreement; therefore, according to the wording of the agreemant SHE is NOT a party to any of the terms and conditions of that agreement
      That realization was probably the most productive part of our effort in the Commissioners’ office today, but we still have several hundred of emails and Marlow’s response, when available, to research

      1. Cliff, this is me thinking out loud again, but I wonder… in our review of documents there was nothing regarding your request for , “Copies of any communication between Robert Pederson Planning Director, Island County Commissioners, Island County Human Resources department and Island County Prosecutors office concerning any potential lawsuit or
        complaints between Mr Pederson and Island County.”

        and your supplemental request for, “Any communication between Elaine Marlow, Island County Commissioners, Island County Risk Manager, Robert Pederson and The Washington Counties Risk Pool. The information requested is any information that contains information concerning a lawsuit, settlement, payment or seperation agreement or claims against the county ot it’s employees or commissioners.”

        Maybe when we get the response from Marlow that information will be included??
        But without involvement of Banks maybe Marlow or the County HR Director used a standard “fill in the blanks” Separation Agreement form available from many sources??
        If we discover this is true Johnson and Johnson and Marlow and the HR director’s actions border on violation of RCWs or other laws for
        bribing (paying-off) an employee they planned to fire to avoid that employee suing them personally and the County which would end their political careers like happened to Langley’s Kwarsick?
        There must be more to Pederson’s resignation
        Those preparing and signing the agreement are responsible for any subsequent, resulting problems

        1. When one couples-up Elaine Morrow’s statement to the South Whidbey Record as head of Island County’s risk pool management team about Commissioner Kelly Emerson…

          …PLUS the fact that Kelly Emerson has 100% recused herself all along with ANYTHING to do with the Emersons’ lawsuit that Bob Pederson decidedly simply SAT on for years as an Island Country official…

          …PLUS the fact that the only two folks who signed Pederson’s cash payola resignation agreement were the OTHER two Island County Commissioners, Johnson & Johnson…

          …PLUS the fact that BOTH those two Commissioners have now REFUSED to explain WHY they paid Pederson $21,000 NOT to sue Island County…

          …PLUS the fact that Human Resources is ALWAYS completely involved whenever anyone resigns and there is employee controversy such as admitted references to potential lawsuits from that departing employee…

          …PLUS the fact that the separation agreement contains a GREAT DEAL of “legalese” that it surely MUST have also been reviewed by the Island County Prosecutor…

          …there 100% IS something that we the public are being purposely DECEIVED about by Island County Government!

          More and more, this “Pederson payout” DOES have every appearance of it being a bribe of some to prevent Bob Pederson from “going public” with whatever he had been mixed-up-in / dragged-into while working at Island County, and, specifically, while “working” the Emersons’ lawsuit issue.

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