Midday Scan: Are Seattle school supporters too embarrassing to show a school candidate?

The School Board wants to hire a new superintendent without having her or him exposed to the full force of Seattle's infamous process.

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Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon

The School Board wants to hire a new superintendent without having her or him exposed to the full force of Seattle's infamous process.

In prepping for a Herculean mission,  Seattle's next schools' superintendent should study Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro in the 2000 comedy, Meet the Parents. Just when you're confident that you've landed the perfect spouse, you discover that your fiance's nettlesome dad belongs in Harborview's lock-down unit. The DeNiro/Stiller warning likely informed the Seattle School Board's contentious decision to keep the superintendent candidates out of the public eye. Finalists (the school board implicitly cautions) pay no attention to that rabble of K-12 activists behind the curtain.     

"The reason, in part, is that board members are worried that the candidates would be scared off by overly negative questioning at public meetings. Members also said they think they'll get more useful feedback from the focus group," the Seattle Times' Brian Rosenthal writes. "It's a move made on the recommendation of the Illinois-based firm conducting the search, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates. It's driven by bitter feelings from the city's past two superintendent searches, in which finalists dropped out after the public meetings."

The School Board's move doesn't appear to violate Washington's Open Public Meetings Act, with two newly elected reform members even giving it the okay. Nevertheless, walled off from the masses, can a superintendent's judgment and mettle be accurately tested?

Physics textbooks will soon be edited to include "Olympia" as a synonym for inertia. Indeed, a second special session looms as Democrats and Republicans kvetch over budget numbers and revenue reforms.  

"Wednesday morning, House Democratic leaders rolled out a new budget proposal and a passel of reform bills they said they hoped would become a vehicle for striking a deal to get everything finished by Tuesday [April 10] when the special session is scheduled to end," the Herald's Jerry Cornfield writes. "'This is not intended to break the impasse,' said Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, chairman of the House and Ways Means Committee. 'This is the current offer.'"

Alas, there are aspects to this "process" that echo the History Channel's Pawn Stars. Can't we just make a deal? Instead it's become the breakaway Scots versus the Brits with no end in sight.  

The battle over marriage equality might be an instructive case study for an uncivil legislature. There are fewer ad hominems and more shoe-leather grassroots' politicking. More of the better angels and less sturm und drang could mean that the wavering middle thoughtfully considers the broader issue of human rights and marriage equality.   

"There was a time when gay-rights supporters fought fire with fire, when they staged operations with names like 'Bigot Busters' — showing up in parking lots, fairs and festivals — places where their opponents were collecting signatures with the goal of mixing it up," the Seattle Times' Lornet Turnbull writes. "Now, as the campaign to put same-sex-marriage legislation on the November ballot gets under way, those wishing to repeal it are making petitions available in hundreds of churches, businesses and private homes across the state, while their opponents have turned not to parking lots and community events, but to the Internet, hoping to 'log' as many supporters as the other side can collect signatures."  

A Sound Transit appointment brings Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon's leadership back into focus. Reardon, under investigation by the Washington State Patrol, is susceptible to integrity potshots even when (as is the case of supporting Dave Earling for the ST board) he makes the right decision.  

"The Snohomish County Council settled a contentious appointment to the Sound Transit Board of Directors on Wednesday, approving Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling's nomination," the Herald's Noah Haglund writes. "The 3-1 vote effectively removed Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine from the Sound Transit board, where he has served for the past four years and had hoped to remain. Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon had recommended Earling for the job, citing his experience in transit and growth management. Marine had called Reardon's decision political payback for not supporting Reardon's re-election to the executive's job last year." 

Lastly, King 5 lived up to its storied past, winning a prestigious Peabody Award for its "Their crime, your dime" series. Just as significant, Portlandia was also honored, "A funhouse mirror reflection of Portland, Oregon, a city that takes its progressivism — and its diet — very seriously. The satire is fresh, organic and cage-free," the Peabody announcement reads

Link Summary

Seattle Times, "School superintendent search process raises concern"

The Herald, "Another special session may be needed to pass budget"

Seattle Times, "Low-key battle over state's same-sex marriage legislation"

The Herald, "Earling approved to Sound Transit Board; Marine out"

King5.com, "King 5 wins Peabody Award for 'Their crime, your dime' series"


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson