Opinion

2011 public service awards | Bob Roegner

It’s that time of year again when we bestow on our leaders, somewhat tongue in cheek, awards for their public service.

The “understatement” award goes to a local city council member who, during a discussion on downtown economic development, noting that the new manager of The Commons Mall was from Las Vegas, commented “I think their community model is a little different then ours.”

The “Key Vote” award goes to new city council members Susan Honda and Bob Celski, who may emerge as important players on the city council if alliances develop as expected.

Speaking of the new council, it is going to look a lot different come January than it did this year. Mayor Skip Priest gets the “who are those guys” award and the “and which way did they go?” award, as new council members replace two of his longtime allies — and may have different ideas and want to go different directions than currently planned.

Democratic State Rep. Mark Miloscia gets the “lucky break” award, as he finally gets a chance to run for his dream job as State Auditor with Brian Sonntag’s retirement.

The “I’m really a moderate” award goes to Linda Kochmar. The Republican candidate for the Legislature, who sometimes sounds pretty conservative, has to convince independents and middle-of-the-road voters from both parties that she is politically moderate if this city councilwoman is going to have a chance of winning Miloscia’s vacated seat.

If she can’t, expected candidate Tony Moore will take the conservatives, and the Democratic candidate will keep the party faithful in line. And both will squeeze Kochmar.

Moore, the school board president, could have been be a candidate for “I’m really a moderate” award, but he probably isn’t. And he can’t afford to look like one, anyway, without alienating his conservative base. If he makes it past the primary, then he will need to start looking like a moderate. Maybe we’ll consider him for next year’s award.

The same goes for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, who has to look like a moderate in King and Pierce counties and look like a conservative every place else. It has been about 30 years since a Republican was governor, and he has been mistake-free. McKenna gets the “right time, right place” award.

The “who’s that?” award goes to Jay Inslee, the likely Democratic candidate for governor. His name identification appears somewhat limited in South King County.

The award for “smart move” goes to King County Council member Jane Hague for undercutting her opponent’s position on the tab fee increase, leading to her re-election. But she shares the award with Federal Way Public Schools Superintendent Rob Neu, who appointed school board candidate Liz Drake as principal at Thomas Jefferson High School. Drake gets to fix the problems at TJ, and Danny Peterson gets the school board seat.

The “what will I do next” award goes to Federal Way City Council member Jim Ferrell, who was just re-elected to his third term on the council, but chose to pass on running for the Legislature. Since he has been an advocate of term limitations, and he still seems to have political aspirations, what will he run for?

It is hard to resist awarding Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn the “Tunnel Vision” award. His unrelenting opposition and defeat on the downtown tunnel has made many believe the mayor is politically vulnerable in 2013.

However, McGinn’s political problems have kept the media busy, thereby benefiting King County Executive Dow Constantine and his management team, who have quietly improved county government. That earns the Executive the “I’m supporting McGinn for re-election” award.

The “odd couple” award goes to non-partisan Democrat council member Bob Ferguson and non-partisan Republican council member Reagan Dunn, who have worked on the King County Council for the past year while both were planning their campaigns for Attorney General. The Christmas party must have been interesting.

The “full of patience” award goes to Sound Transit Executive Director Joni Earl, who has continued to maintain a dignified persona despite catching flack in Federal Way and having to deal with the dynamic politics in Bellevue and Seattle.

While not an award, it seems that President Obama may be one of the few giving thanks for the Republican presidential debates. It is as if the Democrats handed all the Republican candidates a script for self-destruction, and they were kind enough to follow it.

Have a Happy New Year and thanks for reading.

 

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