Last week, Jay Inslee released his report on the state Department of Corrections (DOC) scandal. By every indication, it was our green governor’s attempt to get out ahead of the Senate Law and Justice Committee’s hearings on the scandal that scheduled for this week. Originally, state officials indicated that Inslee’s report would not be released until after the 2016 legislative session ended.
Inslee’s report refrains from demanding accountability from any one person at the DOC for the astonishing “error” that went unchecked for over 13 years (since 2002). Rather, the report blames a “calamity of errors” and “bureaucratic incompetence.”
The mistake is obviously the result of bureaucratic incompetence – that is a problem that appears to plague every agency in our state (the direct result of 32 years of Democrat control of the governor’s mansion). We didn’t need a report by our green governor to tell us that. What we need is accountability after decades of the “bureaucratic incompetence.”
Simply put, Inslee has thus far failed to deliver government accountability. In fact, Inslee’s report goes as far as to exonerate someone who should be held accountable. His report says that former Corrections Secretary Bernie Warner, who headed the DOC from July 2011 to October 2015, did not know about the early prisoner releases.
That’s a direct contradiction to testimonies given by former official of the DOC. The Everett Herald:
“[Former Department of Corrections leader Dan Pacholke], who had been Warner’s chief deputy, said his former boss’ demeanor, inaccessibility and deliberative decision-making ‘set the context’ for the agency’s failure to halt wrongful releases for so long…
“Pacholke said Warner’s style contributed to the “loss of a lot of legacy talent” in the information technology section where the software coding fix would be carried out.
“Pacholke never said Warner knew about the error. He did say he thought the report prepared for the governor focused responsibility too low on the chain of command.”
After the hearing, Republicans on the Senate Law and Justice Committee indicated that they, like Pacholke, believed Inslee’s report failed to put enough responsibility for the scandal onto Warner. State Sen. Steve O’Ban stated:
“I think there are some glaring omissions… There’s certainly a pattern of trying to downplay the role of Bernie Warner’s management.”
Inslee did not appreciate the criticism. “The secretary bears some responsibility,” our green governor said Monday. “We made that clear. There was legitimate concern about how the department was run. I don’t think there is any argument about that. Enough said.”
Inslee’s hesitancy to hold Warner to greater accountability may have a lot to do with his past glowing reviews of the former head of the DOC.
Governor-Elect Inslee said of Warner, “In a relatively short time, Bernie has made significant improvements in prison safety, in effective use of resources, and in building creative partnerships that help both offenders and the community.”
In turn Warner said of our green governor, “Governor-Elect Inslee is committed to constant improvement in how state agencies operate, and I share that commitment. We’ve made significant improvements over the past 18 months, and I look forward to continuing to make our corrections system better.”
In as late as September 2015, Inslee thanked Warner “for his leadership on one of the toughest issues facing state government” in a public statement. He said,
“In many ways he has made Washington a model for how to run a corrections department and always put the safety of staff and the public first in his mind.”
There is only one word that could describe it all: embarrassing. It is Inslee’s “Brownie, you’re doin’ a heckuva of a job” moment. Of course, that’s a reference to former U.S. President George W. Bush’s infamous comment to FEMA director Michael Brown… in the midst of Hurricane Katrina.