All of the reporters I know are ethical and trustworthy. But I have learned frequently there is more to a story than what you read in the paper.
That is particularly true in politics and public administration, and there are reasons: a source doesn’t want to be quoted, or a deadline can’t be missed or no one wants to fill in the blanks or look bad, or speak poorly of someone else.
Let me give some examples.
Recently, the Washington State University football Coach Nick Rolovich was in the news over whether he would be fired for not getting vaccinated per the governor’s directions. As a head football coach who apparently is also the highest paid public employee at over $3 million per year, he is very visible. There are also expectations for the example he sets for the young men he is helping to grow into responsible adults.
Rolovich kept saying he would comply with the governor’s directions. But he was very vague, so predictably, he was asked every day if he had received his shots yet. His behavior continued to be vague as he ducked responsibility for a situation he created and would have expected his players to keep their word.
The rest of the story? After saying for months he would follow the governor’s direction, Rolovich applied for a religious exemption as a Catholic. But the Catholic Church leaders announced that they support the vaccinations. What lessons did his players learn? The quarterback is now the team leader, which is a heavy burden for a 20 year old. And what about the four assistant coaches who also lost their jobs? The headline “Rolovich fires Rolovich” was accurate.
In another case of refusing to get vaccinated, the fire chief of the Vashon Fire Department, Charles Krimmert, asked the board of commissioners to change his job description to allow him to stay on without being vaccinated because he held credentials that required him to treat patients at any scene. Krimmert put his board in an awkward position when he refused to get vaccinated. The department only had two employees and the other one wasn’t vaccinated either. The board denied his request. But Krimmert then relented and got vaccinated. The rest of the story? His reason was that he didn’t want to lose his salary and pension. Kimmert was a reluctant convert. But he recognized when it was time to set an example.
The recent dustup with incumbent King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert over a mailer she had sent out, which other councilmembers thought was racist, actually benefited Lambert’s challenger, Sarah Perry. The story appeared to have a decent ending as a wrong was righted. Lambert was removed from leadership positions and apologized. The rest of the story? Earlier in the day, Lambert had again defended the mailer. And we have since learned that the reaction to the story cost her donations and support, including the Seattle Times withdrawing its endorsement.
The departure of Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff was a bit of a surprise because he was expecting his contract to be extended for another year and at least through 2022. Even though his Washington, D.C., contacts had been an asset, Rogoff has never been a good fit for the organization with his East Coast directness. At one point, the board had to hire him a coach. And following, Joni Earl who could be the poster child for talent and Northwest smooth professionalism, may have exposed other weaknesses in Rogoff. Earl would have never let things get this far out of hand. With her skills, she saved Sound Transit several times. And the rest of the story is that sometimes things build up. But a shortfall of $6.5 billion last January, followed more recently with a report that found management problems in how the agency studied its real estate costs, then along with staff being unsure when and how to respond to more bad news … suddenly, there’s no more CEO contract. Some were surprised Rogoff lasted this long.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.