Opinion

Hot political headlines in Federal Way | Roegner

There was almost too much going on in the elections to write about everything. So I saved a couple of questions I received until now.

Q: What did you think of the school district’s resolution honoring Mayor Skip Priest, for work he did as a legislator, while he was running for re-election as mayor?

A: Priest was well known as an advocate for education while in the Legislature, and is worthy of significant recognition. But it should have occurred either two and a half years ago when he left the Legislature, or now, after the election season was over. The board may have been well intended, but a majority of the board and the superintendent were supporters and/or contributors of Priest’s re-election as mayor. The timing makes it look — in the words of the Public Disclosure Commission — “suspect.” It was either an inappropriate political move to “endorse” Priest by way of additional publicity, or a very ill-considered idea that deserved more thought. District leaders should have known better.

Q: What was your reaction to Tony Moore stepping down as president of the Federal Way School Board?

A: First of all, I hope that the felony theft allegations against Moore are somehow explainable. I hate to see the district, Moore and his family put through this. That said, the board meeting appeared to be somewhat staged. It appeared designed to give Moore an easy way out of the more visible chairperson role. The goal appears to be to appease the public with Moore stepping down, and still try and save his seat on the board. Remember, the board was still 3-2 for Moore, unless the election changed the vote count.

Q: Why are you so critical of the mayor and city council about implementing the change from a council-manager form of government to a strong mayor system?

A: Because the public voted to make the change, and the mayor and council have not fully implemented it. Elections count. It’s how we decide things. The council has maintained most of the old council-manager form with an elected manager called a mayor. They don’t get to decide after the fact that they don’t like the result.

Q: I’m angry about the superintendent’s pay raise and the overseas trips he and the school board took. Could they have handled it better?

A: If the school board had implemented the pay raise over a couple of years, the public would have viewed it as the price you pay to get, or keep, a good superintendent. Had the travel been staggered over three years with clear explanations of what was being gained, the public might have been more understanding. It was all just too much in a short period of time, with a public that is still not happy about the grading system. And in an election year? More thought could have gone into the process and the likely public reaction. Anything that is paid for with taxpayer dollars is going to be up for debate. This could have been easily smoothed.

Q: What about the South King Fire and Rescue chief’s son working in the fire department?

A: Most of that is internal, and the officers handling the situation have good reputations. But the question of whether relatives should be on the same public payrolls is a public policy question. In general, it is a very bad idea. No matter what the department says or how the department says it, the public will not be fully satisfied. If you have relatives on the payroll long enough, eventually someone will be in an awkward position. Ethical violation or not, it usually doesn’t pass the “appearance” question. The commissioners should pass a resolution discontinuing the practice for future hires.

Next week, a look at the election results.

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Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn: bjroegner@comcast.net.

 

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