Q&A: Readers respond to hot political topics | Bob Roegner

I get many emails with questions, and some are also posted to The Mirror’s website. Here are a few, along with my answers.

Q: In the column I wrote about the process for appointing two new members of the Federal Way City Council, one person asked, “You seem to think the appointments will be political. Won’t they appoint the best people?”

A: Of course they will. And the list of possible applicants includes several capable people who could be good appointments. But each council member will view the applicants from their own perspective of what constitutes the “best candidate.” Political considerations will be included in their calculation.

Q: Didn’t Sound Transit lie to us about extending transit to Federal Way and then take our money and break their word?

A: No. The economy reduced the amount of money we are contributing from our sub-area to the future rail system. When your budget at home is lowered, you do what Sound Transit did and cut back expenses for a while. We are still getting bus services. We also got a new transit garage and we will still get the rail line, but it will be several years later than planned. If the economy improves and we start spending more money, the timetable could improve.

Q: Have any of the candidates tried to influence what you write?

A: All the time, but they try to be subtle about it. Although one candidate did try and bribe me with chocolate chip cookies. That was tempting. I like chocolate chip cookies.

Q: Regarding a column I wrote on guns, one citizen wrote, “I challenge your statement that we averaged 20 mass slayings per year since the 1970s. Prove it.”

A: The statement was actually from Professor Fox of Northeastern University and was from a recent Time Magazine article. That reference was included in the first paragraph of my column and I chose to accept the professor’s research and the data provided in the report as verifiable. Please contact Professor Fox if you want additional information.

Q: Regarding a column I wrote on the effort by public employee unions in Wisconsin to recall Governor Scott Walker, “Wasn’t your story on public employee pensions affected by the fact that you collect a public pension?”

A: The column wasn’t really about public pensions. It was about political power and how several state governors, including Gov. Walker, are using the pension issue as a wedge to change the distribution of power between Republicans and Democrats. If the budgetary impact of public pensions were really the issue, Walker would have included police and fire pensions in his legislation. He didn’t. And he wouldn’t have included a proviso to bar public unions from using their dues to support political candidates. He did. Unions traditionally support Democrats and Walker was trying to stop the donation flow to political opponents. Part of the reason for this column is public education. Sometimes what the public “thinks” is much different than what the issue “really” is. That’s why political spin masters get paid well. That said, public pensions are expensive and do need review, but it needs to be done honestly and openly.

Q: In response to a column on a local House race and that 2012 would be a Democratic year in Washington state, one reader said, “Democratic year, Mr. Mayor? You must be reading a different set of tea leaves than I am, my friend.”

A: It was a big year for Democrats in our state.  President Obama won, and the Democrats retained numerical control of both Houses, although the  Senate is questionable due to the Republican coalition with two conservative Democrats. The Democrats also won the Governor’s office and all the statewide offices, with the exception of Secretary of State. They also won the U.S. Senate and the three open congressional seats, and their congressional incumbents were re-elected. The initiatives weren’t strictly partisan, but Democrats won marijuana and same-sex marriage. Republicans won on charter schools. I should note the email writer was most gracious when I reminded him of his email.

Q: Regarding downtown Federal Way, “You seem to be disappointed in the lack of progress downtown.”

A: I think many residents are disappointed. Over the last several years, many opportunities to enhance downtown have been missed, and frankly, not much has changed in the last decade. Federal Way is a jewel that needs an attractive central business district as its community gateway.

Thanks again to readers for sharing your thoughts and questions.


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