Bob Roegner’s 2008 political awards

Another year just about gone. But what a year it was!

Nationally, change swept the nation as voter dissatisfaction turned a relatively unknown African-American senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, into our 44th president. Here in Washington state, we didn’t really change much as most incumbents from Gov. Christine Gregoire on down were re-elected. But who and what really stood out this year? Drum roll, please. It’s time for our annual awards recognition of our political leaders.

The “Are You Kidding?” award goes to Sen. John McCain who after 26 years in Washington, D.C., tried to run as an outsider advocating change.

The “What I Meant” award goes to Sen. Joe Biden who said Barack Obama wasn’t qualified to be president just a couple of months before saying Obama would be an outstanding president as he joined the ticket as vice president.

The “Public Won’t Notice” award goes to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. With the economy in a nose dive and people losing their jobs and homes, the Republican vice presidential candidate spent $160,000 on clothes and a hairstylist — then seemed surprised when voters found that inconsistent for a candidate running as a “fiscal conservative.”

The “Smartest Political Move” award goes to Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, who bought the television spot right after Barack Obama’s speech advocating change, to also advocate change.

The “Biggest Political Surprise” award goes to Proposition 1 for mass transit. After decades of debate about mass transit and, in the midst of the worst economic downturn in memory, the voters passed Proposition 1 with 57 percent of the vote.

The “Hot Air Balloon” award: Many qualified, but the winner is KJR-Sports Talk Radio, who repeatedly told listeners to throw Gov. Gregoire and incumbent legislators out of office for losing the Sonics basketball team. Listeners must not be voters as the same “team” will return to Olympia.

The “Careful What You Ask For” award goes to King County voters, who decided to give themselves the right to choose the Director of Elections and then were surprised when the list of candidates looked like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The “Christmas Scrooge” award goes to Federal Way City Council member Jim Ferrell, who opposes a new performing arts center. Good grief! What’s $40 million to $50 million among friends?

The “Biggest Loser” award goes to Sonics basketball owner, Clay Bennett, who took a bad basketball team to Oklahoma and made it worse.

The “On Second Thought” award goes to failed Congressional candidate Darcy Burner, who passed on the opportunity to run for the King County Council (which she would have won) to run a second time for Congress (which she lost).

The “Good Move/Bad Move” award goes to King County Council member Reagan Dunn, who in the middle of a nasty debate on the future of the King County animal shelter, adopted a dog — good move. In Yakima — bad move!

Another “On Second Thought” award goes to Pierce County voters, who installed the new “instant runoff” voting process because it was easier, cheaper and, well, “instant.” It was none of these and also resulted in the election of a perennial loser as assessor-treasurer.

The “What Goes Around Comes Around” award goes to national Democrats, who rose to power in the House and Senate after Republican ethical woes plagued Tom Delay, Duke Cunningham and Ted Stevens among others. Now the Republicans are hoping for a return after Democratic problems for Eliot Spitzer, William Jefferson, Charles Rungel and, of course, Rod Blagojevich.

The “Hope the Dam Doesn’t Break” award goes to the City of Auburn, where the two most important city officials in disaster/emergency procedures are in different locations, which makes coordination in a crisis difficult. The police chief is at City Hall and the emergency manager is at the SuperMall. The city is building a new building downtown and has reserved space on the third floor. The building will be done in about a year. The third floor? Doesn’t that suggest there is concern that floors one and two might be under water? Maybe building an emergency center on a hill outside of the Howard Hanson Dam flood path would have been considered?

The “Good Job” award goes to the City of Federal Way, which kept the main streets open during the snow storm better than most surrounding cities.

In closing, best wishes to Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland, Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson, State Treasurer Mike Murphy and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, all of whom will be leaving office at the end of the year. Your service has been appreciated.

And to all of you, Happy New Year!