Sens. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, and Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, released this statement following Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement of demotions and reprimands for certain Department of Corrections employees involved in the early release of thousands of felons:
“The fact that the governor has decided to punish a handful of mid-level managers at the Department of Corrections for one of the most tragic management failures in Washington history should not make any of us comfortable.
“In the Senate’s independent investigation of the Department of Corrections, we have learned this agency failed to make public safety its first priority. Its former secretary, Bernie Warner displayed an alarming lack of interest in his department’s day-to-day operations. Perhaps our inquiry helped the governor recognize what a poor manager he was – certainly the governor rehired Warner in 2013 and offered him much praise; the governor’s own report on the situation just two weeks ago ignored Warner’s role. Now the governor tells us he would have fired Warner, if he hadn’t already quit.
“We need to remember at least two people are dead. We should wonder why it took a horrific case like this one for the governor to recognize the mismanagement under his nose. Why was there no system in place for the state’s chief executive to monitor the performance of his top managers?
“Accountability isn’t just for the low person on the totem pole, nor does it stop with the one in the middle. You can be sure we’ll be asking the big-picture questions as the Senate’s independent investigation continues.”