Apparently, State Attorney General Rob McKenna is too busy representing the people of Florida to do his job representing the people of Washington, at least as evidenced by his announcement yesterday that he would no longer represent the state Department of Natural Resources in its legal fight against Okanogan County’s condemnation of Common School Trust land to build a PUD transmission line.
McKenna’s shirking of his constitutional obligations (he is, after all, the state’s attorney) leaves DNR, which has already laid off about 9 percent of its workforce, scrounging for money to hire an outside attorney in order to defend income producing public trust lands.
Which raises the question: who the hell does McKenna work for?
I thought he worked for us, the people, or more directly for the various state agencies for which his office is required to provide legal services, but McKenna apparently takes a more cavalier approach to his job. In defiance of both the Governor and the Legislature — our state’s policy setting bodies — McKenna was quick to use his office to join Florida’s lawsuit to repeal federal health insurance reform that is slated to bring hundreds millions of dollars a year of new federal funding to the state. But when Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark needs the AG to represent the interests of the people of Washington state, McKenna can’t be bothered to perform the mundane duties of his office.
Let’s be clear: it’s not McKenna’s job to determine the merits of the case or weigh in on the policy decisions guiding it. He’s DNR’s attorney, not it’s judge or jury, and his ethical and legal obligation is to represent his client to the best of his ability. And that, he is clearly failing to do.
The result? Okanogan PUD’s bifurcation of public trust lands with transmission lines and maintenance roads will reduce the value of the land and the income it produces to the state, while increasing both the fire risk and the cost of maintaining and patrolling it. This takes money out a public trust that has generated over $3 billion for public school construction over the past several decades.
It’s time for McKenna to put aside his 2012 gubernatorial campaign and start doing the job for which he was elected.