Moseley will serve Washington state's ferry system well

By Bob Roegner, Inside Politics

For those of you who rushed to the front step to read my analysis of yesterday’s election results in this morning’s Federal Way Mirror, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed.

I usually submit my column on Sunday evening, and despite having been a former Director of Records and Elections, the election’s staff was unwilling to give me the vote total before people had actually voted.

Apparently, that only works in Chicago.

But some other local news did come up recently. Our former city manager David Moseley has a new job.

“Moseley as chief of the Washington State Ferry System?” That question was asked of me recently in a most incredulous and somewhat rhetorical manner and was followed by, “Has he lost his mind?” and “Why in the world would he want that headache?”

Another asked, “Does he know the difference between a ferry boat and a sailboat?” “He’s never worked in the ferry system.” “Why would he want that job?”

As to the state of David’s mind…well, I’ve always had some questions about that, particularly when he doesn’t laugh at my jokes or disagrees with a column I’ve written.

But I can assure you taxpayers, David Moseley is as sharp as they come and no, he hasn’t lost his mind. If so, we should all be that mindless.

Why appoint Moseley? The answer: It is a great example of thinking outside the box to accomplish a goal.

In short, it’s a brilliant appointment. Yes, it’s a thankless job. And the regional media have all written about the labor problems, the state audits, the aging boats and the ship captains who occasionally run aground. One newspaper even referred to the ferry system as a “rogue agency.” But that is exactly why someone with Moseley’s background, talent and experience would want the job. It may be the ultimate career challenge.

As to his inexperience with the ferry system, that is exactly what makes him a perfect choice.

I suspect that what the governor and the secretary of transportation are thinking is that they don’t want someone from inside the agency with too many ties to the maritime industry who would have history and relationships that might color the independent judgment that this state agency needs at this critical time.

And he doesn’t need to know a ferry boat from a sailboat, although I suspect he does, because they have plenty of engineers with good technical knowledge to help. Moseley will pick up the knowledge he needs very quickly.

Also, Moseley can provide honest and objective internal decisions and recommendations to the governor and D.O.T. secretary and the Legislature that are sorely needed. He will be an agent of change rather than a maintainer of the status quo, and that is a viewpoint that is long overdue.

It may mean that his time there will only be a few years rather than the start of another career.

But, that’s what you want in a change agent. Someone who can make the hard decisions to improve the agency and get it headed in the right direction. Then the next person can maintain it. These functions usually require two different types of management.

But when Moseley leaves the ferry system, it will be in a lot better shape than when he found it. A surprise appointment? Absolutely! But also a very thoughtful and reasoned one. The only downside? He knows where all the talent is currently working and may want to “raid” some of the local governments.

Let’s hope the recent turmoil here in Federal Way hasn’t caused some of our “stars” to consider a job change. Congratulations and good luck, David.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn, can be reached at bjroegner@comcast.net.

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