A school superintendent will run the new governor's office. Boeing wants a mediator. And more talk about North Sounder rail's future.
An unexpected pick for Inslee
Incoming Gov. Jay Inslee has made an unusual selection for a key post in his new team. He's picking Renton School Superintendent Mary Alice Heuschel as his chief of staff.
Heuschel has an excellent reputation, so this could prove reassuring for those who have worried about whether Inslee, with long experience in Congress, would manage well. A chief of staff has to be driven, and The News Tribune reports that Inslee cited her "unrelenting search for quality" as a superintendent.
Managing large school systems is one of the most demanding jobs around, as attested by the frequent turnover among superintendents. Of course, when schools find a good one, the communities are reluctant to lose them. Renton Patch reported that Heuschel expressed mixed feelings of her own in a message to school staff.
Patch noted: "In addition to her duties as superintendent, Heuschel is also a bit of a 'Community Rockstar.' Last year she appeared on a King 5 Evening Magazine segment called 'makeover Monday.' "
Inslee has talked gamely of using smart management to slim down government enough to pay for school improvement without tax increases. So, now it may be Operation Makeover Olympia for the governor and his new chief of staff. Even with such a talented staffer, it still sounds like a larger order.
Boeing contract difficulties
Speaking of large, complex organizations, the Boeing Co. today said it is seeking federal mediation in its stalled contract talks with the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace. The Herald in Everett said the company explained its thinking in a message to employees today: "We hope the expertise of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service can help move the two sides toward a resolution."
Sound Transit's Sounder rail service on traditional railroad tracks has always been sort of a tale of two counties. The connections running between Seattle and Pierce County have been popular; the line north to Snohomish County cities, not so much. At all.
There are calls for saving money on the North Sounder service, or even eliminating it altogether, though Snohomish County mayors emphatically reject that idea.
A smart piece by Martin H. Duke on Seattle Transit Blog today suggests ways to increase ridership without investing lots more money from Sound Transit:
[T]here are two hugely important things that cities could do, one that costs money and one that doesn’t. The expensive option is for the cities to step up and provide parking. There’s no reason that this has to be paid for by Sound Transit. Cities that value the service and are constrained by parking can benefit their citizens by making it easier to access.
free revenue-generating option is to upzone. We shouldn’t kid ourselves that a four-trips-per-day line will spawn “Transit-Oriented Development” in the classic sense, but there’s no fundamental reason that cities couldn’t allow more people within the walkshed of their stations. A few thousand more units could make a big difference to Sounder ridership and have additional side benefits for the neighborhoods.
Weddings, weddings everywhere
With voter approval of marriage equality kicking into law next week, some local governments have been stepping forward with plans to make weddings happen quickly. Today, Heronswood Gardens, owned by the The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, made its pitch for weddings at the historic spot.
Heronswood was once renowned for its diversity of offerings as a nursery, but went through some near-bankruptcy experiences before the tribe purchased it last year. Technically, it's still under renovation, with a view to hosting weddings regularly and opening it to the public a few times a year.
The announcement today couldn't resist getting into a bit of good punning:
Heronswood wants to help same-sex couples plant the seeds for a successful marriage.
On December 9 from noon to 5 p.m.—in celebration of Referendum 74 officially going into affect [sic] — the world-renowned botanical garden will open its gates for up to 20 same-sex couples looking to be among the first to tie the knot in Washington State.
The announcement didn't include any marriage advice to prospective newlyweds, but we will: Take Gen. David Petraeus seriously when he writes, according to NBC News, in a letter to an old friend, "I screwed up royally."