Readers know that my position on the now infamous legislative effort to emulate the Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany was not all happy face.
There was no excuse for any of this effort, the now famous ESB 6617, AKA "Lock up the records in the legislature so we can protect ourselves and our lobbyist buddies" bill, that was slammed through almost instantaneously, without a hearing or seeking out public input of any kind... in either House and without even a floor debate.
That is not what we call "democracy in action."
Westneat screwed up his message a tad by mixing federal issues into it, but the gist is the same.
At the core of the entire mess was contempt for the public.We've seen it time and again: contempt for the public... the very public they allegedly work for.
And it's a bi-partisan contempt. Both parties do it. Both of them think we're stupid, or have a short attention span or when election time rolls around, we'll have forgotten all about it or they'll find some way to talk themselves past this massive insult to our intelligence.
Sadly, that is a conclusion made of our doing. Time and again these scum rip us off. They make pledges they cheerfully blow off to get us to pull the lever for them so to speak; they make pledges they fail to keep... including important pledges that could, for example, have impacted veteran suicide in this state.
They cause massive explosions in our property taxes and then try and cover their tracks by "advocating for lower property taxes" having been a proximate cause for the explosion in the first place.
They view Olympia as a freestyle sexual Olympics, nailing anything that moves including us.
The GOP-controlled state senate raping us with gas tax/tab fee increases, the largest in our state's history. Throwing $5.5 Billion at the WEA without accountability measure one built in. We got screwed for nothing. And the GOP did it to us.
Yes, the contempt... the lies... the efforts at maneuvering us into continuing to support them while they exhibit their "contempt for the public" in so many ways is what they count on.
And Westneat nails it.
Why do they do this to us?
This past week we had the sorry spectacle of state lawmakers exempting themselves from the Public Records Act. Arguably worse was the tornado of spin and falsehoods they unleashed after that. When that petered out, it was a mass retreat into the panicked politician’s favorite safety blanket: the formation of a task force.
At the core of the entire mess was contempt for the public. (Edit: my emphasis)
This seems contagious. Consider the CEO of our light-rail agency, Sound Transit. Records released this past week show that when Peter Rogoff was first hired in 2016, a reporter, our own Mike Lindblom, asked a routine question about his salary as part of an “introduce-the-new-director” story.
“Mike Lindbloom [sic] called to inquire about Peter’s salary,” recounted an internal memo. “Peter’s response was ‘tell him to go (bleep) himself.’ “
Well that pretty much sums it up! From the feds to the state on down to the locals, you pesky people can go (insert raw Rogoff here).
Salaries of government employees are public for the same mundane reason government employees should deign to take citizen testimony. Because: They work for the public. Does this really have to be said?
Ditto with state legislators. Their office records are actually your records, because you are their bosses. That this is now a matter of controversy shows how much lawmakers have lost touch with their reason for being.
For the record, Sound Transit’s Rogoff, who was inexplicably just given a 5 percent raise, makes $328,545. Your tax dollars at work.
Now it’s fine with us in the media if we’re told to go bleep ourselves. Happens daily! But there’s a real disregard for the public here, in this sham federal hearing, in those rigged, rushed legislative votes with no public input, with the imperious attitude of a civil servant who is then rewarded with a pay raise.
Amid all that I squirmed when up jumped the opportunistic Tim Eyman, shilling another of his endless initiatives. Only this one is unusually straightforward. It would make state lawmakers abide by the same public-records rules as everybody else. It would end this debate where it ought to have rested all along: with the public in charge.
This is what we’ve come to. People are having to organize their own “shadow” public hearings. State legislators are having to be electronically flogged with 10,000 emails to do the obvious. And I now stand with Tim Eyman.
Danny Westneat’s column appears Wednesday and Sunday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or email@example.com
Because we let them. Because we do not hold them accountable.
I simply could never again vote for anyone who supported this.
To believe a yes vote was called for because this fixed some small part of the problem of transparency, i.e., protecting "constituent communications", without the rest of the bill equating to a poison pill is simply inexcusable.
I can... and do... personally like some of the people who voted for this. But their vote makes them completely unsuitable for governing us and I would oppose any effort by any of them, regardless of party, to run for either reelection of any other office... were they ever so inclined to do so.
Government can be and do many things. But it can never hold us in contempt. And those who do... any other issues notwithstanding... are not fit for elective office.
This November, we have the opportunity to make a statement. In November of 2020, those in the State Senate who voted for this atrocity should get the same message.
Stop lying to us like so many have and do.
Stop believing we're stupid.
Sadly, for those of you who voted for this, it's too late. You cannot justify a vote that's 10% "good" and 90% "bad."
You treat us with contempt, but somehow then expect us to avoid returning the favor.
A pox on both your Houses.