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Keeping an eye on the powerful local wizards | Q&A with Mr. Federal Way
Q: Mr. Federal Way, why does it seem like the Mirror publishes so many negative articles about the school district, city and other agencies?
A: One of Mr. Federal Way’s favorite pastimes as a child was watching the annual airing of “The Wizard of Oz” with Mr. Federal Way’s family.
Mr. Federal Way and Mr. Federal Way’s siblings huddled around a huge bowl of popcorn and watched Dorothy lead the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man down the Yellow Brick Road.
Mr. Federal Way always enjoyed when the crew reached the city of Oz. Toto the terrier pulls open the green curtain and a gray-haired man shifting levers notices he’s been discovered.
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” he says.
Mr. Federal Way likes to think that the Mirror and Mr. Federal Way are like Toto, pulling open agency’s curtains to figure out what goes on behind them.
That’s not to say that elected officials who lead agencies hide behind green curtains and have deceptive intentions.
But the core mission of a newspaper is to serve as a public watchdog, holding the powerful — like the Wizard of Oz or Mayor Jim Ferrell — accountable, and paying attention to what’s under the radar and what’s behind the green, or yellow, or blue curtains.
Readers should feel that the Mirror and Mr. Federal Way are looking out for their interests because that’s what newspapers do.
The Mirror and Mr. Federal Way are on the readers’ side.
Watchdogs uncover information like old bones underground, empowering those who read the news.
As you’ve noticed, some of this information happens to be negative.
But Mr. Federal Way has a good solution for eliminating negative news: Don’t do dumb things.
If elected officials can keep their noses clean, then Mr. Federal Way won’t have to dig around them with a tissue.
If agencies remain transparent, spend what officials said they would spend, stop initiating senseless investigations and stop doing dumb things, then Mr. Federal Way will stop paying attention to that man or woman behind the curtain.
Then Mr. Federal Way can spend his time writing about flowers and fluffy things.
But not all news is bad. Mr. Federal Way saw the mayor and police Chief Andy Hwang jogging along Pacific Highway South to raise awareness for the Special Olympics last week.
Mr. Federal Way overheard the school board patting outgoing Superintendent Rob Neu on the back, and heard the Council crooning over the Performing Arts and Conference Center it unanimously approved.
These were all positive things and if you read closely, you may find these stories, and others, in these pages.
Q: Mr. Federal Way, what do you think about the outcome of the civil lawsuit that the widow of the slain police officer filed against the city?
A: Mr. Federal Way is greatly disturbed.
But before Mr. Federal Way pulls back the curtain on this, please allow Mr. Federal Way to refer those city officials who were involved in the case back to Mr. Federal Way’s previous answer: Don’t do dumb things.
City staff discovered that not all police officers were signed up for a mandatory supplemental life insurance policy, just two days after officer Patrick Maher was killed in the line of duty in August of 2003.
Following this discovery, the city took steps to enroll all non-participating officers. Bravo.
But the city clearly knew this was a mandatory policy and that all police officers were entitled to it.
Why else would city staff have been auditing payroll deductions to begin with?
The city should have notified Renee Maher as soon as it learned of this screw-up.
Nevermind that the Federal Way Police Guild was supposed to administer the policy.
The city of Federal Way is ultimately the police officers’ employer.
The man behind the curtain, then-Mayor Skip Priest, should have authorized the city to sign an $88,000 check, made payable to Renee Maher, when staff made this discovery.
Instead, city officials pulled levers and made the problem disappear.
Fast forward more than 10 years later when the widow found out that the insurance policy existed.
In this second scenario, how did Ferrell and other city officials allow this case to become a legal issue?
Why did city officials allow Renee Maher — who lost her husband while he was protecting Federal Way — to go through the legal drudgery?
Mr. Federal Way has a close family member in law enforcement and Mr. Federal Way hopes if something happens to that family member that the city he protects would show that they value his life by taking care of his family.
Mr. Federal Way thinks that honoring a slain police officer and ensuring his family gets the money he was entitled to, is more important than project improvements and throwing money at inanimate objects, such as slurry seal, vent hoods and kitchen sinks.
Q: Mr. Federal Way, which of the five candidates for the Federal Way school district board was the most silver-tongued during the interview process on Tuesday?
A: None of your business.
Got a question for Mr. Federal Way? Email firstname.lastname@example.org