I frequently get questions from readers, more so around elections. I save them with the thought that others may have similar questions. Here are some recent questions and answers.
Q. With Joe Fain’s loss in the election, who becomes the frontrunner to replace Pete von Reichbauer on the County Council when he retires?
A. In the short-term, Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell would take that role. However, given time to review numbers, others may want to look at it. How about former state Sen. Mark Miloscia? Or Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus? Backus has won several awards, is well liked and less controversial than Ferrell. And there could be others. Or what if the investigation clears Fain? On the other hand, von Reichbauer may never retire.
Q. What did you think of Mayor Ferrell and Federal Way dropping out of SCORE to save $2 million?
A. In the short-term it saves money, but I am not persuaded that the financing plan for jail services is good in the long run. The last financing plan was for the Performing Arts and Event Center and the city missed by several million on the tax credits, still hasn’t sold naming rights and have had to take loans. Jail services is more complicated than you might think as it has many moving parts that all have to fit right. Remember why the cities went together to build SCORE? The other route, which is what Federal Way will go back to, was too expensive.
Q. How will the other mayors treat Mayor Ferrell after Federal Way leaves SCORE?
A. They will be cordial, but it was not a friendly break-up. The other mayors are not happy and still remember Ferrell gave in to county pressure on the county heath facilities rather than provide a unified opposition to the county. If Ferrell, or Federal Way, need friends on a regional issue they may not jump at the chance to help him.
Q. Why did you call the election a blue slosh rather than a blue wave? And how did your election picks turn out?
A. A blue wave would have had the Democrats also winning the U.S. Senate, and they didn’t. I guessed right on two of my three upset picks. Claire Wilson defeated Mark Miloscia and Dr. Kim Schrier defeated Dino Rossi. I missed on Congress woman Jamie Herrera-Butler retaining her seat over Carolyn Long. On the rest I had 24 correct and five wrong.
Q. I read where Sound Transit Director Peter Rogoff got a pay raise to over $364,000? Do we taxpayers really have to spend that much?
A. You have to pay for talent. But in this case I have questions. The board had to hire an executive coach for him because of how he treated people — that shouldn’t be necessary. Previous director Joni Earl was one of the most talented CEOs in the northwest, didn’t need a coach, and wasn’t rude to people either. She was a true leader. Fortunately, Sound Transit has good staff, but for that much money we should be able to get talent and adult behavior.
Q. What would improve the management at Federal Way City Hall?
A. Fresh ideas. Hiring from within is good for moral, but bad for getting new ideas. About half of the department heads were internal promotions. That is a sign that Ferrell finds comfort with the known, which is not the sign of a sophisticated manager. City Hall needs a trained professional city administrator to help Ferrell. Three of the council members tried to get him to hire one and he wouldn’t do it, and never will. That stubbornness will continue to hold him and the city back.
Get rid of the old boys club and hire some talented strong women from outside. It would significantly improve decision making process. But Ferrell’s not likely to do that either. Ferrell is a likable guy who knows politics, but he is not a trained or experienced senior level manager. The fact that some council members were public in their desire for an administrator should be a clue that the management needs to improve.
Thanks for reading; have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.