Cronyism corrodes leadership in Olympia

By Angie Vogt, political commentary

I offer a few definitions to start the day.

Cronyism: “Favoritism shown to friends without regard to qualifications.”

Leader: “A person who conducts or brings about a particular course or vision.”

Consensus: “An opinion or position reached by a group through majority agreement.”

Let’s start with cronyism. Perhaps some might think of President George W. Bush and his list of appointees from his father’s administration, though most of them did have qualifications of some kind. The president’s failed attempt at appointing Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court was probably the most obvious example of cronyism.

Maybe “cronyism” brings to mind Fidel Castro’s recent resignation. After 50 years of tyranny and economic ruin of Cuba, he most “thoughtfully” decided to resign his position as dictator extraordinaire. It was only after much advice seeking and prudent reflection, I’m sure, that he decided to hand the reigns to his decrepit brother Raul, a spry, youngish 76-year-old with the same qualifications as his elder brother — namely, hoarding wealth and power while destroying the soul of a rich native culture and its resources.

I’m actually thinking in less dramatic terms, though, but closer to home — namely, Gov. Christine Gregoire’s recent appointment of our own Federal Way resident David Moseley to the position of state ferry chief. I certainly have nothing against Moseley and have never met him. I wish him all the success in the world.

Trust me, I really want him to succeed. Our ferry system, a mere microcosm of the state’s 20-year transportation crisis, is a quagmire of competing interests and questionable contracting deals between union and corporate special interests. I’m having a hard time figuring out why he was appointed. I suspect that he’s possibly been a longtime supporter and/or contributor to Gregoire (that’s my cynicism showing). That’s the crony part, as nothing in his background lends itself to something as serious as our state’s future transportation infrastructure.

Moseley has assured the skeptical public that he is committed to “talking to employees” and “riding on the ferries” until he feels sufficiently informed to start fixing our many problems. A transportation engineer friend of mine just bristled at the suggestion that such a monumental task as this could be accomplished so casually. Welcome to crony politics.

This brings me to my next two terms, “leader” and “consensus.” By definition, one who employs consensus to make decisions is not a leader, but a mere facilitator. Facilitators are nice for church retreats and group therapy, but they are the last thing we need in the face of serious economic and infrastructure planning. We need someone with vision and leadership skills that inspire others toward their vision.

Gregoire is the antithesis to the very definition of leader. Her vacillating on the viaduct decision and finally throwing a desperate ultimatum (waiting for someone else to make the decision) is a perfect example of someone who prefers to “facilitate” rather than lead.

Our transportation woes — which include the massive federal fraud investigation on the Port of Seattle, the failure in four years to make any progress on the ferry system or to seriously address

the problems of traffic congestion on our state’s roads — offer more than enough evidence of her complete lack of leadership.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in the year of her re-election bid, she makes the “brave” move to actually appoint a new ferry chief. That’s because she had to wait for the former one to retire or resign, since in a crony administration (which Washington state has had in the form of one-party gubernatorial rule for nearly 30 years now) nobody gets fired out of incompetence.

Did I mention she has been in office for almost four years? That our transportation woes have plagued us for 20 years? Yes, a new ferry chief. Completely untrained in maritime matters, but at least he fills the vacancy!

I offer my apologies to Moseley. Honestly, I have nothing against him personally. My disdain is aimed solely at the governor’s incompetence.

Too many favors and friendships have been inherited by the Booth, Lowry, Locke and Gregoire administrations. That’s nearly 30 years of one-party rule, a little more than half as long as Fidel Castro’s “revolution!”

Amigos, it’s time to start our own.

Federal Way resident Angie Vogt can be reached at vogt.e@comcast.net.

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