Now that the race for King County Executive is long over, it’s interesting to compare this:
[Susan] Hutchison said she solved a significant budget shortfall as chairwoman of the Seattle Symphony board of directors. “I solve problems and I fix things,” she said, “and King County needs a fix.”
The Seattle Symphony, already beset by immense challenges, including a $4 million debt and vacancies in its two top positions, still has not reached a new contract agreement with its musicians union and could potentially face a musicians strike.
No doubt the Symphony was already in a heap of hurt when Hutchison took over as board chair, but let’s be clear, she didn’t fix crap. Indeed, the Symphony’s fortunes only deteriorated further during her tumultuous tenure. So tumultuous, that when Leslie Jackson Chihuly took over the reins from Hutchison earlier this year, normally stoic board members erupted in a loud celebratory cheer at the transfer.
The Symphony ended its recent fiscal year running a $1.2 million deficit on a budget that Hutchison approved as chairwoman. In fact, they’ve only managed to keep the lights on by dipping into their endowment, already one of the smallest in the nation for a big city symphony. That’s what’s known as eating your seed corn.
Yet, “I solve problems and fix things,” Hutchison repeated throughout the campaign, pointing to her tenure at the Symphony, a claim that largely went unchallenged in the media. Indeed, the Seattle Times editorial board even lauded Hutchison’s budgetary prowess in attempting to explain its ridiculous endorsement of her in the executive’s race.
But now that the shit has finally hit the fan, I wonder if Hutchison will continue to run on her leadership of the Symphony should she choose to challenge Sen. Patty Murray in November? And if so, I wonder if our media will continue to quietly hum along?