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    Memo to Obama: good local talent out here

    So far, no big catches in the Northwest by the Obama team. But keep an eye on Rep. Adam Smith.
    Sen. Patty Murray

    Sen. Patty Murray

    Congressman Jay Inslee.

    Congressman Jay Inslee.

    Are there any local politicians who could possibly be tapped by President-elect Barack Obama's transition team for a role in the next administration? Maybe it says something about our local talent, or our remoteness from the other Washington, but the likelihood of anyone local being selected for a cabinet level position doesn't look good.

    But that hasn't stopped the speculation. Among the names are these top four: U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Seattle-area Congressman Jay Inslee, former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, and Recreational Equipment Inc. CEO and UW Regent Sally Jewell.

    Jewell, an avid outdoorswoman being touted for Secretary of Interior, seems unlikely. The idea was floated to reporters by prominent local Democrat and former Delta Airlines CEO Gerald Grinstein, but her name hasn't appeared on any national lists for the job, perhaps because of the Obama team's preference for deep political experience. Mike Allen at Politico had listed Inslee as another possible candidate for Secretary of the Interior, but local Democratic operatives say Inslee has little chance of moving up from his role in the House. Torie Brazitis, a spokesman for Inslee, could not elaborate further on the matter but did note the congressman had been "taking a lot of phone calls" recently. No word if Inslee had been contacted by Obama's team.

    Kitzhaber is the more likely Northwest resident for the Interior position. He told reporters earlier this month that he had met with the transition team, and would "seriously consider" a top administration job, if asked.

    There has also been some speculation about Murray moving up in the transition reshuffle, most of which has been put to rest. If party leaders had chosen to strip Sen. Joe Lieberman of his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Murray, a three-term Democratic senator, might have moved to chair the Veterans' Affairs Committee. But Democrats voted to allow Lieberman to keep the seat, and Murray was re-elected as the Democratic conference secretary. She will remain the fourth most powerful Democrat in the Senate, behind Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois, and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer of New York.

    Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels or King County Executive Ron Sims are long shots at best for an appointment in the Obama administration. Both are "green" Democrats, but Nickels is far too entrenched in Seattle politics to leave the city (and he hates a lot of travel on airlines). Sims is probably more interested in a new job, but he faces a problem with Sen. Murray, whom he annoyed by opposing Sound Transit and who would exercise approval rights for important Washington state appointments.

    Perhaps the most likely elected official from Washington state who could land a job in the Obama administration is 9th District Democratic Congressman Adam Smith., who was the state chairman for Obama's presidential campaign in Washington, which was highly successful in its fundraising efforts. He is also a close friend of Rahm Emanuel, Obama's pick for White House chief of staff. The two became close while serving together in the New Democrat Coalition, the largest coalition of moderate Democrats in the House, of which Smith is a vice-chair. Smith, whose South Sound district is rich with military bases, also serves on the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, which some speculate could help him land a job in the State Department, possibly as an under secretary.

    When I asked Mike Amato, a spokesman for Smith, about the transition rumors, he said the congressman has "not been formally contacted by the transition team yet." Note the word: yet.

    The apparently small crop of Northwest figures joining the Obama team is surprising in one other regard: This area had become a kind of Clinton government-in-exile during the last eight years. Microsoft and the Gates Foundation are particular repositories of such talent. A leading example is Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who held high positions in the Clinton White House and now is president of the Global Development Program at the Gates Foundation. She is helping Obama folks on the transition, but seems unlikely to want to move back to D.C. Eight years of exile in Seattle often lands such people in very interesting jobs at very interesting companies.

    Clark Fredricksen is a Crosscut staff writer. You can reach him at clark.fredricksen@crosscut.com.

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    Posted Fri, Nov 28, 6:27 a.m. Inappropriate

    There will be change in a number of key state or regional positions, like who will be US Attorney around here and who will lead the regional office of EPA, the Small Business Administration and other federal agencies.

    These positions will draw local talent.


    Posted Fri, Nov 28, 7:10 a.m. Inappropriate

    Jan makes a goood point. Regional and state appointments will come down the line. There always is early excitement, at the outset of a new administration, about Cabinet and major ambassadorial appointments. But, after the initial excitement, it dawns on safe-seat Members of Congress, such as Smith and Inslee, that they are better off remaining in their present jobs rather than taking sub-Cabinet appointments where they soon find themselves sidetracked.

    A Cabinet appointment, depending on what it is, offers a real opportunity for service. But something less than that can prove disappointing to
    politicians, business leaders, and others accustomed to running their own shows and having independence.

    Posted Fri, Nov 28, 8:34 a.m. Inappropriate

    I want to be President Obama Secretary of Sustainability and Long Term Planning
    Has anyone ever never seen the US government communicate a long term unified vision and then describe how every piece of legislation, each part of the tax plan, and how each executive order they proposed tie into that long term vision? NO. And that is why this executive branch needs to start integrating all of its different parts under one umbrella to help ensure the US will be a major player on this planet in the coming decades. The auto industry is a great example of what bad planning and no vision can do to a large entity. The US could suffer the same fate if it does not start to make some radical changes that will keep it competitive in the global environment.
    The globe has limited resources and how we as a planet use the resources is going to determine if our species makes it another 2000 years. The US plays an enormous role is setting the global tone when it comes to lifestyle, manufacturing standards, and consumption rates across the industrialized and non industrialized countries. The US needs to take this yoke of sustainability very seriously as it may be the weakest link in Americas rusting suit of armor. If the US cannot figure out how to balance our energy usage, our waste production, and our resource consumption soon we are going to become incredibly overburdened by inefficiency and high over head costs. This will drive academia, business, and residents away in droves and they search for the next country where dreams come true.
    The Secretary of Sustainability and long term planning position needs to be created and be equal in power to the chief of staff and secretary of state. If you have no business you have no tax revenue. If environmental issues drive catastrophic change to the eastern seaboard you have no tax revenue. If we don’t get a long term plan together and start working to it in 20 years when I want to retire this country will have no tax revenue! You can’t fix roads, you can’t help other countries, you can’t incentivize growth, and you can’t decrease the national debt without tax revenue. This cabinet position would therefore be just as important as the current positions but would be created with the sole purpose of unifying the current secretaries’ individual goals into one vision and taking the cabinet, the president, and the legislature to task when they are not aligned to the vision. This secretary would also need to work with the white house communication staff and department leaders to flow this plan out to the public and to all government employees. This secretary is also responsible for helping guide the residents of the US in a more sustainable direction.
    Many large corporations who need to look 30 years into the future to understand where their customers will be have started seeing energy and sustainability as major components of their future offerings. Google, GE, Boeing, DuPont, and GM have created Vice President positions within their respective companies to deal with these emerging needs. The Obama government will need this insight and the current cabinet positions only offer parts of this picture.
    I want to be President Obama Secretary of Sustainability and Long Term Planning

    I have the educational background to look at problems from many different points of view. Aerospace being my primary professional background is rooted in looking long term and driving efficiency in every project. I want to bring that type of strategic thinking to this country and to the president’s cabinet.
    I have the energy to steer the president’s cabinet and this country in a more sustainable direction and the fortitude to hold influential leaders to an agreed upon long term plan. I have worked with leaders from across the country to build long term visions and the detailed plans that will help realize those visions for many different projects. This has involved working with many “A” type personalities from diverse backgrounds to bring the team to a consensus by documenting agreements and listening to each point of view.
    I have the patience to wait for the right time to push and issue and to have the right conversation on my terms. I also have the ability to learn from and listen to the people around me. This trait is the single largest asset I can bring to the Obama cabinet.
    I am a very quick learner that has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. I will remained reserved until I feel I have collected enough facts to comment or judge a situation. I can start to add value to a team in days rather than weeks and can be brought up to speed on any tool quicker than my peers.
    I am a very driven person who can accomplish anything I set my mind to. My number one motivator is frustration. When things are not being done correctly or are being done very inefficiently I feel that I have three choices; I could walk away and forget it is happening, I could just live with the way things are being done, or I can try and fix the situation. I almost always choose the latter. Thus how this country has been managed has been a disgrace that I often find comical, till I remember that it is my country that is shooting itself in the foot for the thousandth time.
    After assessing the past 3 administration I find a very surprising lack of a long term vision for the US. Maybe these administrations had one and did not communicate to the masses or maybe I am just an ignorant person, but I have never seen a plan. Oh, I have seen bills with sunset dates, and minimum limit increases by such and such a date. But I have never seen an encompassing vision that ties all of the bills, the budgets, the aid packages, and the tax plans together. How is this possible? How do we, the US with all of our brain power not have a well communicated long term strategy for the country? I would like to be the person that helps create this 10 year sustainable strategy for the Obama administration, and for myself so that this country can really start to get productive and the world will have a good example to follow.
    I asked my grandfather when the last time he believed in a presidential candidate as opposed to voting for the lesser of two evils, his response “Eisenhower.” I was not to keen with either candidate’s campaign, but I have been thoroughly impressed by how Mr. Obama has been attacking this transition phase of his first term. I am starting to believe in what his administration could accomplish. For this reason I would like to offer my services, drive and knowledge to make sure this administration is a success.

    Posted Mon, Dec 15, 4:57 p.m. Inappropriate

    It may be both grimly and amusingly ironic that Ron Sims would become Secretary of the Department of Transportation. After all, he was for Sound Transit before he was against it, which makes him eminently qualified to work in Washington, DC.


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