Updated 10/23/11: In Hopes that Local Media will Shed Some Light

I haven’t found the time to post much lately, homework, work, kids football and the list goes on, but as our next chance to vote fast approaches I’m finding that one crucial issue has not come fully to light.  The issue is whatever went on in the Whatcom County Treasurers Office between Steve Oliver and one of his employees as well as how our County Executive Pete Kremen handled it.   I can’t tell you what went on for sure, only that something apparently has gone on, but that is the point of this post.   I hope that our local media will shed some light on what has gone on, before we receive ballots asking us to again vote these men into public office.  The people of Whatcom County deserve to know.

For months now I’ve heard rumors of a scandal between County Treasurer Steve Oliver and one of his employees as well as a subsequent hush hush dealing with the situation by County Executive Pete Kremen.   I’ve seen no direct evidence of the situation, so these rumors have remained rumors from my standpoint; I’ve never repeated them.  I frankly had hoped that both County Executive Pete Kremen and County Treasurer Steve Oliver would quietly end their political careers by not seeking re-election this year, or  in Mr. Kremen’s case, election to a new position on the County Council.  Withdrawing candidacy could have left what is undoubtedly also a sensitive personal issue to be dealt with on a personal, not public level.   Sadly it doesn’t look like that is the way it will go down.

Both these men were recently questioned on this subject in open public forums and both seemed to acknowledge the situation, taking it out of the realm of gossip and rumor.  Yet, neither shed light on the facts of the situation and, as of several days later, I’ve read nothing in the news.  So in lieu of the real media at this point, I’ll pass along what I believe to know in hopes that we can make more informed decision.

At a recent NW Business Club forum, County Executive Kremen was asked if he bypassed the human resources department in dealing with a serious situation at the Whatcom County Treasurers office and his response apparently confirmed that he did.

Next, Whatcom County Treasurer Steve Oliver was asked at a Birch Bay candidate forum if he, while in office, did or did not engage in a relationship with a female employee that involved any form of affection, physical contact, sexual contact, or any other inappropriate conduct.  And as a follow up he was asked how that kind of behavior would affect his ability to conduct the duties of the Treasurer’s office.  His response was along the lines that there was no complaint, no grievance, no lawsuit, no threat of a lawsuit and that there had been no liability.  And as far as I know, he didn’t deny anything and as far as I know, he didn’t answer the followup about the effect of this on the Treasurer’s office.

The lack of denial by either Pete Kremen or Steve Oliver gives substance to what had been only  rumors.  Apparently scandal did occur at the County Treasurers office and apparently it was dealt with in a less than standard fashion at the County Executive level.

I think the smartest move at this point would be for Pete Kremen and Steve Oliver to withdraw themselves from candidacy, however I won’t be holding my breath.  But with ballots now close at hand, I sure hope that someone in our local media (Herald, KGMI, Cascadia) will step up and bring some facts to light so that voters may make more informed decisions.

Updated 10/21/11 – In response to a couple of comments suggesting that this post is based on rumor, I added the following which is from the Birch Bay candidate forum.  As you read the exchange ask yourself how you might respond to a similar question and how Steve Oliver responded.  I think for most of us the answer would be something like no or heck no!

Question from audience:

“Mr. Oliver, yesterday I attended a forum in Bellingham, where Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen was asked if he was aware of a personnel situation in the Treasurer’s office.  The County Executive confirmed that there was a very serious matter, a very serious situation.

Now it is appropriate to ask you directly, did you or did you not in your term as County Treasurer engage in a relationship with a female employee of the County Treasurer’s office that involved any form of affection, physical contact, sexual contact, or any other inappropriate conduct? Yes or No.

Furthermore, please explain to this audience how you as an elected official, how this kind of behavior would affect your job, the ability to conduct the duties of the Treasurer’s office.”

Response from Steve Oliver

“Well, I wasn’t at the forum the other day, but, you know, what, what I would say is that, you know, there has been no complaint, there’s no grievance, been no lawsuit, there’s been no threat of a lawsuit, there’s been no liability, and there was due diligence performed to substantiate that issue completely. I, all I can say is, I love my wife, I love my kids, and I’m not going to do anything that’s going to hurt them, end of story.”

 

Updated10/23/11 – Glad to see that the Herald has posted an article on this situation, although for me most of the articles content brought up even more questions.

Treasurer Steve Oliver said he has not been involved in any inappropriate or sexual relationship with any of his employees,

…his denial wasn’t worded strongly enough to squash the rumor.

So why did he dance around the question at the forum instead of answering it out right, Yes or No as he was asked?   “No” is a pretty strong word and he was offered the chance to use that word yet he didn’t.  Was he caught off guard?  Was he channeling Bill Clinton?

Now, I have to go back to work on my State of the Union speech. And I worked on it until pretty late last night. But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you

And what about this?

The rumor stems, Oliver said, from a person not employed by the county who had come into County Executive Pete Kremen’s office in spring 2010 with allegations of an inappropriate relationship between Oliver and one of his employees.

Who was the person not employed by the county and what was the allegation?

Was any part of the allegation true?

What was their relationship to those involved?

Did the Herald start their investigation before these issues were raised publicly?  If so why?

As I think I said before, rumors abound, did the Herald ask for other records to address or lay to rest other rumors?

Some Youtube footage available at the Whatcom Excavator brings even more questions

I could go on, but suffice to say that something did occur at the Treasurers Office.  And regardless of what that something was, the something was squelched by Pete Kremen and Steve Oliver to the extent that it took an election race to flush them out.

I won’t be voting for either of these men and I suggest that you don’t either.

 

10 Comments

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  2. samiam

    I am sad to see that Steve Oliver has not been investigated for his outside activities. Steve had partnered with a group who called themselves NW Pyro. His business relationship included a woman who left Salish Fireworks as an employee and took their customer records to start Steves business. Steve and his associates knew of this but had no problem contacting those individuals without their permission. Steve then had gone to MO. to meet with the owner of Hales Fireworks in April 2009. He had received a substantial credit from that company to operate from his home at Lummi with his wife Teresa Taylor and expand to sell wholesale across the state illegally without a state license. He had also been selling overloaded fireworks and still continues to this day. When unable to pay his 150,000.00 debt to Hales, he was given another year to do business and continued to operate the business in the red. After another season of trying to get the business going, the owner of Hales paid a personal visit to collect money he was owed. Steve had no answer for missing funds which ended up being around 180,000.00. Hales ended up taking back the left over inventory at a loss. Steve is not fit to handle our counties cash and he certainly has shown he has a pattern of lying. If anything, the IRS and Feds need to look at his dealings.

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  5. connie munoz

    Really? We are going to judge by rumors and not by what steve oliver has done for whatcom county in his last term. I think this is totally a way for the opponent to fling mud or to get elected by rumors or gossip. Come on people, lets look at the real picture, why would we want to vote for someone that is using unsubstantiated rumors as a tool to win an election?

    1. Edward West

      Connie, you are suggesting that Steve’s opponent, (Brian Smith) is driving this infidelity issue and promoting mud slinging to get elected. As his campaign manager, I can assure you that Brian’s focus is on fixing what is broken in the treasurers office but integrity is only one of the things broken. Brian actually feels sorry for Steve for putting himself in this position. As for the rest of the people talking about this issue, it is about shedding light on what is being kept in the dark which “most” people appreciate. If our representatives cannot have integrity in their own life or are lacking core values, how are we expected to believe it will be valued in any other aspect of their life. I was at the forum when Pete admitted to circumventing the process when he found out and therefore admitted this “rumor” was accurate. Get your head out of the sand. As for what Steve has done for Whatcom County, he has brought shame…. I only pray his family will remain protected from this.

    2. wally (Post author)

      To be clear, I don’t have anything to do Brian Smith’s campaign nor have I discussed anything about this post with them. I did have a chance to briefly meet him at a picnic over the summer but that was it.

      This isn’t really about who is running against Pete Kremen or Steve Oliver, it’s about letting the voters see all the information before they vote rather than after.

  6. MissOdie

    Wow! Wasn’t Richard May running for a political office in 2010? That doesn’t speak highly of his principles for any public office in the future.

  7. Richard May

    Hi Wally. Actually, at Birch Bay, Steve was more specific that “…he would never do anything to hurt his wife and family”.

    I hate “where there’s smoke, there must be fire” politics, because it’s really too easy to make smoke.

    But frankly, I am picking my vote for treasurer bases entirely on… get this, …which guy can handle our money the best. I don’t give a rats butt whether the guy from the “Big Love” Mormon poligamy show and his three wives are the ones in the treasurer’s office, or if it’s a eunuch monk.

    Steve Oliver protected our money with smooth transitions to safer havens with better rates, in a timely fashion during the worst economic obsticle course in the last 80 years.

    By the way, the economy, budget, deficit and surplus was better under Bill Clinton than it was under committed and faithful W Bush or Obama. I would put Bill Clinton in as Whatcom Treasurer if I had the chance.

    1. wally (Post author)

      Really? Anything goes in the treasurers office as long there is a good return on investment? Wouldn’t you at the very least want to know what you are overlooking to get that better rate?

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