EPA’s overreach deserves strong response from Olympia

Our state is in the middle of the process to update water quality standards. It’s not an exciting topic, but if not handled properly, it could prove very expensive for cities and homeowners and result in lost jobs. The standards are set largely around an unimportant-sounding statistic called the Fish Consumption Rate. The state has […]

Ports make smart move some thought impossible

The barriers were obvious. There were “turf” concerns, worries over political control, and fiefdoms to protect. The two sides won’t get past their suspicions, some thought. Instead, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma overcame those barriers and announced a draft proposal for the Northwest Seaport Alliance. This new collaboration is a smart move that will […]

Six “good little bills” for smarter government

“This is a good little bill,” legislators like to say on the floor when they’re urging their colleagues to vote yes. It’s a common Olympia-ism that evolved from a catchphrase to a pat cliché to a standing joke (they’re all good little bills to someone). But “good little bill” is an apt description for some […]

A local perspective on “high-stakes testing”

Dealing with our transportation system and our schools are the two most common ways citizens interact with government, so it’s no surprise those two topics elicit so much commentary here. As the passionate comments on SGW and Facebook attest, there’s no shortage of opinions on these subjects. I’ve certainly made no secret of my thoughts […]

State labor council says “Do as I say…”

“I am a man of fixed and unbending principles,” Everett Dirksen, the ‘60s Republican leader in the Senate, supposedly said, “the first of which is to be flexible at all times.” A certain flexibility is expected in politics, as people react to the events of the day, change their views, and stay open to the […]

It’s Sunshine Week – is state gov as open as it can be?

Journalists and open government advocates are marking Sunshine Week, celebrating government transparency and openness and pushing for better access to records and decision-making. Our state is fortunate to have a strong, voter-passed Public Records Act. The preamble to that law boldly states that the people, by delegating to government certain decisions, do not give officials […]

Tolls coming to I-405; state needs to get it right

Washington needs a new round of transportation investments to boost our economy, and I believe the constitutionally-protected gas tax is the best way to pay for those improvements. There is no doubt though, as cars become more fuel efficient and more people choose electric vehicles, that the gas tax will decline as a stable funding […]

A new tool for officials to cover up bad news

If you enjoy following the latest silly trends in government, then you’ve probably already heard about the Genuine Progress Indicator, or GPI. It’s an alternative metric for tracking a state’s “health.” Really, GPI is tailor-made for politicians whose own policies are hurting their state’s economy. Got bad economic news to deliver? Don’t! Just change the […]

Open public bargaining not as scary as some want you to believe

Washington has strong public records and open meeting laws that reflect the voters’ notion that we all have the right to know how our government operates. Every one of us has the right to see how our money is spent, how government decisions are made, and what public employees are doing on our behalf. Those […]

A smart idea emerges from a near-tragedy

Looking back at the collapse of a portion of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Spring 2013, it still seems somewhat miraculous that, on such a busy freeway, no lives were lost that day. Soon after the collapse, the state Department of Transportation acted quickly to replace the collapsed section and get people […]