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?