“Town hall” by deception

The highly touted “non-political” telephone town hall meeting produced by a previously unknown “Leadership Council” was all of that. It was well choreographed and could have been good entertainment if it wasn’t such an obvious deception.

Did you persevere and listen in? Did you dial “star 3” to participate when the alleged opportunity was provided? We did, but alas, like you, we were not among the previously programmed.

As predicted, the programmed consensus condemned the 26 year legislative tenure of Sen. Haugen for the problems we have with the Keystone to Port Townsend ferry debacle which of course ignored how our district has benefited from her advocacy over these years. Questions such as whether the problems were really the fault of legislation, the ineptness of a previous state ferry commission, recognition that Sen. Haugen’s duties invoke statewide responsibilities, and the conflicting demands of the constituent public, were not included in the dialog.

The astronomical increase in fuel costs has created unforeseen fiscal havoc to all of us both private and governmental. A year ago, or even six months ago, who among us knew that the price of gasoline would go so far out of sight? Who among us can do much about it? Is Sen. Haugen to be blamed?

Also condemned were the studies being made of the problem. Think of the condemnation that would result if such consequential decisions were made without them? The public outcry, as well as the emergence of self-anointed politically opportunistic experts, mandates that a carefully crafted long-term solution be developed that benefits our public rather than the pockets of private interests.

How helpful has The Leadership Council and its “executive director” Brent Ludeman been all along? How active have they been in trying to resolve the ferry problems since they were revealed?

Sen. Haugen’s seniority has allowed her the position of chair of the Senate’s 17-member Transportation Committee. We are beneficiaries of her political moxie but she does not own the committee. Committee actions must be passed by the bipartisan majority. While the committee does have strong input in budgeting allocations and legislative direction, it is only one part of the legislative process.

As recent retirees with no political ties and newfound time on our hands, we’ve toured our Capitol several times, attended hearings, watched from the galleries, and found that our elected representatives are overwhelmingly besieged with special interests groups and lobbyists ganged up in the hallways trying to get access and influence. It’s a condition requiring experienced dedication, stubborn ethics, and enormous stamina on the part of legislators to keep the interests of us all in respective balance.

Yes, we have more problems to solve than just the soaring price of fuel. And it’s going to take a cooperative effort by all of us to manage. Blaming a single legislator for an administrative failure, especially when no effort was made to help the situation, comes across as desperately cheap, counterproductive political chicanery with no more validity than the ridiculous “point 9 cent” appendix on the price of gasoline.

Al Williams live in Oak Harbor.

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