Friday, April 10, 2009

Did the Whatcom County Prosecutor "trick" local taxpayers into paying him a higher salary?

Before we get started on debunking this myth -- what is the definition of gossip?

Local, petty talk
babble, chatter, meddling, small talk, malicious talk, whispering gallery, hearsay, rumor, scandal, news, slander, calumny, defamation, injury, blackening, grapevine*, grapevine telegraph*.
One who indulges in petty talk
snoop, meddler, tattler, newsmonger, gossipmonger, scandalmonger, scandal-bearer, backbiter, magpie, chatterbox, talkative person, babbler, bigmouth, blatherskite, parrot*, long-nose*, sticky-beak*, blabbermouth*, telltale*, old hen*, fuss-budget*, Mrs. Grundy*, gabbler*.
tattle, prattle, tell tales, talk idly, chat, chatter, rumor, report, tell secrets, blab, babble, repeat, prate, spread a story all over town, dish the dirt*.

How does malicious talk influence people's perceptions of elected officials? Please see Greg Kirsch's post titled "Draft McShane" on NW Citizen.

Now, here's the real skinny on Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney Dave McEachran's 2008 raise.

It all started with a bill in Olympia...

SSB 6297 (C 309 L 08) as enacted.

Brief Description: Changing elected prosecuting attorney salaries.
Sponsors: Senate Ways and Means (originally sponsored by Senators Prentice, Brandland and Sheldon).


Article 11, Section 5 of the Washington State Constitution specifies that the Legislature must regulate the compensation of elected county officials, including the elected prosecuting attorneys.

The same section allows the Legislature to delegate to county legislative authorities the authority to set the salaries of its own members and other county officers. Since 1971, the Legislature has delegated this responsibility to the county in statute.

Additionally, the same statute also requires the state to pay one-half of the salaries of each elected prosecuting attorney. The Office of the State Treasurer currently remits to state's share to the counties.

In 2008, the salary for the elected county prosecuting attorneys ranged from a maximum of $155,694 in King County to a minimum of $52,588 in Garfield County; the average being $106,764.

Under RCW 2.08.092, the annual salary of a superior court judge is set by the Washington Citizen's Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials. For 2008, the superior court judges salary has been set at$140,979.


The Legislature finds that the elected county prosecuting attorney functions as both a state officer pursuing criminal cases on behalf of the state and as a county officer acting as counsel for the county, school districts, and lesser taxing districts as provided in statute.

The responsiblities and decisions of the elected prosecuting attorney are the same in every county of Washington, and the same skills and expertise need to be exercised in the least populated county as it is in the most populated county. The Legislature further finds that the salary of the elected prosecuting attorney should be tied to that of the Superior Court judge.

Effective July 1, 2008, the state must contribute an amount equal to one-half of the salary of a Superior Court Judge towards the salary for the county's elected prosecuting attorney. Upon receipt of the state's contribution, each county must continue to contribute an amount equal to or greater than the amount it contributed in 2008 towards the elected county prosecutor's salary. The requirement that the state pay half of the salary of the elected prosecuting attorney is removed.

Available Background Documents

Bill Documents
Bill Digests
Bill Reports

Original Bill
Substitute Bill (WM 08)
Bill as Passed Legislature
Session Law
Bill Digest
Substitute Bill Digest
House Bill Analysis
Senate Bill Report
Substitute Senate Bill Report
Substitute House Bill Report
Final Bill Report

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