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The Daily Troll: Patty Murray and her tennis shoes finally see some glory

After years of grunt work, Patty Murray finally gets her senate pilot's wings. Meanwhile, a world-wise look at Metro's haphazard RapidRide scheduling and Expedia pushes U.S. vacation time.
Washington state Senator Patty Murray

Washington state Senator Patty Murray Photo: Flickr user seiuhealthcare775nw

The Daily Troll: News for your evening commute.

The Daily Troll: News for your evening commute. Art work by Noel Franklin

Washington state Sen. Patty Murray

Washington state Sen. Patty Murray The Washington State Heritage Center

Patty Murray at the helm

There was a surprisingly long time when power brokers in Seattle liked to dismiss U.S. Sen. Patty Murray as a lightweight. She was stereotyped as a mom in tennis shoes, and her focus on the needs of families struck some as unfortunate — if not irrelevant to their own business needs. That eventually faded as many of them, at least, recognized her hard work on everything from Boeing issues to ensuring that veterans and their families receive decent medical care.

Now? Hah. Forgive those of us who have long admired her for taking a moment to relish her national ascent. She's about to become chair of the U.S. Senate's powerful Budget Committee. She's not just in a position to shape national policy, but also to help on even more local causes than she already does. Congress may not be able spend as freely as it did back when Sens. Warren Magnuson and Henry Jackson brought home appropriations for all sorts of Washington public works, higher education and medical projects, but Murray will still do plenty.

In the wake of Thursday's news that she is virtually certain to receive the post, she is being quoted, praised and featured regionally and nationally. Roll Call, an influential Capitol Hill publication, began an admiring profile this way: "No one takes more thankless jobs within the Senate Democratic leadership than Patty Murray, and the Washington state Democrat may finally be in a position to reap the rewards."

Murray never seems to have forgotten that she's working for the people. She talked to the Roll Call reporter about making national budget decisions — including how the country deals with its so-called fiscal cliff — meaningful to a mom sending a child off to school or hoping her husband gets a chance for job training. She also told Roll Call:

“If we just look at the budget as ‘how do we deal with this debt and deficit’, we are going to short-change the ability for this country to be who we’ve always been: a place of opportunity, in the global marketplace, competitive, forward-leaning and able to invest in our people in this country to be ... at the top.”

Serious stuff, from a senator who studies the issues well.

Metro: The unschedule

Rather than posting a precise schedule for its RapidRide services, most recently added for Ballard and West Seattle, Metro has only been saying how much time there is supposed to be between each bus. Thus, riders are told that buses come every 10 minutes during rush hours, for example.

Maybe it's something that works, at least during rush hour. But the Seattle Transit Blog, which has covered the agency's thinking in some detail, today has a very detailed look at the practices in two dozen cities, mostly in northern Europe, with similarly frequent or considerably more frequent service. Most do provide transit riders the service of giving exact schedules.

The writer, Adam Bejan Parast, said he had collected the data for a master's degree research project. Here's to demanding academic standards — and getting the results to the public.

Boeing contract posturing

Boeing and its engineers still appear far from agreeing on a contract. The Herald of Everett reports that the two parties will resume their long-running talks next Tuesday, but Boeing and the engineering and technical workers' union, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, are still far apart.

A Seattle Times story ealier in the week suggested a breakdown in high-level talks that were supposed to clear the way for big progress on a contract.

Some employees are reportedly reducing productivity to fit minimum requirements in an attempt to pressure the company. But there have been similar reports since at least September. The union isn't expected to move toward a strike soon for practical reasons: Boeing shuts down for two weeks during the holidays.


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Comments:

Posted Fri, Nov 16, 4:12 p.m. Inappropriate

"She was stereotyped as a mom in tennis shoes..."

She was in fact self-styled as a mom in tennis shoes. She even, for a while, gave out some award called something like the "Golden Tennis Shoes Award" until it dropped from the weight of its own irrelevancy. The few times I've heard her interviewed on the Sunday chat shows, she's never strayed from rote recitals of Senate leadership talking points. And the "serious stuff" quote that the author cites is nothing but a platitude that makes fiscal responsibility sound oh so passe. If that's enough to warrant "national ascent" it just demonstrates that we are complacent in the mediocrity of those serving in DC. Jackson or Magnuson wouldn't have taken her as an intern.

dbreneman

Posted Sat, Nov 17, 6:42 a.m. Inappropriate

Too bad she sells earmarks for campaign cash, but I guess that's Ok if you are a Democrat in Washington State. Winning the "No Rocket Scientist Award" as voted by Washington D.C. Staffers and Hill employees is just another feather in her cap.

Cameron

Posted Sun, Nov 18, 8:05 a.m. Inappropriate

Hey Cameron what is she supposed to do when in order to run for office you have to come up with cash? That is inherently wrong and the cause of our current problems in politics. Get the money OUT of politics!

cheyenne

Posted Sat, Nov 17, 1:06 p.m. Inappropriate

She hasn't strayed from the "Senate leadership talking points" because she believes them to be important. They are her talking points; she'snot a Democratic robot. And generally mediocre people don't get made budget committee chairs.

sarah90

Posted Sat, Nov 17, 3:52 p.m. Inappropriate

dbreneman, the Web can help you, too, tell fact from fiction:

Wikipedia: "As a citizen-lobbyist for environmental and educational issues, [Murray] says she was once told by a state representative that she couldn't make a difference because she was just a "mom in tennis shoes". The phrase stuck, and she later used it in her successful campaigns for Shoreline School District Board of Directors (1985–1989), Washington State Senate (1989–1993), and United States Senate (1993 – present). Murray was successful in gathering grassroots support to strike down proposed preschool program budget cuts.[9][10]

"Her 1988 State Senate campaign was successful and she unseated incumbent Republican Bill Kiskadden."

The 18th annual Golden Tennis Shoes Award luncheon will be held in June, 2013. I've attended past events and have enjoyed seeing unsung heroes of Washington State receive recognition for the hard work they do to benefit others in the community.

Posted Sat, Nov 17, 4:59 p.m. Inappropriate

Well, excuse me for not following the Golden Tennis Shoes Award more closely. I'm sure it's a media event that garners the attention of the press around the world. I'm sorry I've missed it all these years. However, beyond correcting the record on that august award, you've refuted nothing else that I've said. It is Murray herself who recounted the (possibly apocryphal) put down, and it is Murray who used it in her campaign. This isn't a title that was thrust upon her, it's the way she defines herself.

dbreneman

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