I receive many questions about my columns. Since other readers might have similar questions, I wanted share a few of them.
Q. Should Federal Way fill the city administrator position?
A. Yes. Managing a large city is a complex responsibility. The mayors of Renton and Kent added the administrator position several years ago, and I have heard that Auburn might consider it. Most candidates don’t have both the public executive management background and political skills that are needed. That isn’t intended to be a comment on Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest. He will have to make his own judgment. However, the issue has become a political one. Any mayor who suggests filling the position will be subject to challenge on his capabilities and also charged with wasting taxpayer money. That’s not fair, but that’s politics.
Q. Does the city need over 300 employees?
A. Federal Way City Hall doesn’t supervise either the fire or utility services, so it isn’t a full service city. That changes the comparison a little, but the city’s staffing numbers are not out of line. If anything, they are low.
Q. Are other city councils as political as ours?
A. In general, the Federal Way City Council isn’t as “political” as most. However, you decide. With the 2006 proposed move of the library from 320th Street to downtown, and the 2009 proposed arterial at Steel Lake, the council was headed toward approval. When several hundred people showed up and opposed the projects, the council changed its position. Was reversing its position “political” for caving in to the vocal minority? Or were the council members political for “listening to the people?” Sometimes “political” depends on your point of view.
Q. You criticized the city council for not building city buildings downtown. Weren’t they looking out for the taxpayers?
A. They were indeed trying to keep the costs low. The point of the column was to raise the question of “penny wise or pound foolish” for debate. Look at the area north of 320th Street. Now consider that area with all the public buildings that have been constructed in the past 10 to 15 years. Which looks better, and which would be better for the local economy in the long run?
Q. Do you think it would be better if South King Fire and Rescue and Lakehaven Utility District were under city control?
A. Yes. You could achieve some management and overhead savings and efficiency. More importantly, all local political accountability would be in one place. It won’t happen for that reason.
Q. Will the flap over the choice of Federal Way School Board president hurt the district?
A. No. Overall, it is a good school board. This was minor.
Q. Do you favor red light photo enforcement? Isn’t the government just over-regulating?
A. What I find distasteful is that they are necessary. Red means stop and green means go. We should be able to handle that concept. The genesis of most laws is people not following basic rules.
Q. How old is that picture of you that the newspaper runs?
A. Never mind. We’re sticking with it.