Mr. Federal Way gets far more entertaining questions than I do, but here are some asked of me along with my answers. The questions are not exactly as I received them, as I deleted the naughty words, because my church pastor sometimes reads the column.
Q. Did you agree with the mayor firing the parks consultant?
A. Mayor Jim Ferrell did the only thing he could do. But the mayor shouldn’t have been put in that position in the first place since there were questions about the consultant’s presentation last year. Nothing should be put on a public agenda, like the retreat, that has not been vetted for content and accuracy. It was obvious that the financial costs caught everyone in attendance by surprise. More care should have been taken by whichever staff person held the responsibility.
Q. Over the years, your column seems to have become more pointed when writing about city politics, is that true?
A. Yes, when I first started the column the city had a council-manager system. The manager was a trained professional and the politics were at the council level. As a result, I focused the readers’ attention more on the council’s dynamics and what was really going on behind the scenes.
I still do that, however the switch to the mayor-council form of government brought a more political focus to city government through the mayor. The mayor is a politician and sits in the biggest chair of responsibility in town. As a result, I write more about accountability.
The mayor has a lot of staff and money to tell readers what he wants them to know. So more of my job has become raising questions and urging citizens to think for themselves and ask questions of their government, not just accept what they are told at face value. Transparency and civil discourse are essential to a healthy political environment. As you may have noticed, not everyone at City Hall, or their supporters, like questions.
Q. What do you think the mayor and council should do about marijuana?
A. I voted against it and was disappointed it passed. However, we have elections for a reason. It was passed by the voters of our state and it passed among constituents here locally.
The mayor should come out strongly in favor of implementing the voters’ will and the council should pass the legislation to allow marijuana to be sold in town.
Q. Why were you critical of the mayor and council on supporting the day shelter — didn’t they say they were for it?
A. Yes, they did. However, their actions suggest some of them see the issue as a low priority. It isn’t and shouldn’t be. Spending $8 million of local tax money to purchase the former Target building and then asking the state Legislature for money to fund the day shelter rather than step up with city money isn’t a subtle gesture. It’s a message.
Q. In your column, you frequently use unnamed sources. The city has been critical of you for that. Why do you do that?
A. Because all politicians, many staff and even some citizens, will be much more candid and open when they know they won’t be quoted in the newspaper. Of course City Hall, and a lot of other people, want to know who my sources are. Not tellin!
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn: email@example.com.