It turns out, I’m not the only Democrat frustrated with the recent performance of the Democratic-controlled Washington State Legislature in general, and the relatively toothless Seattle delegation in particular. Indeed, similar frustration is being expressed by some Democratic legislators themselves:
Further complicating matters is Seattle’s legislative delegation, many of whom enjoy near elected-for-life status, who choose to focus on statewide policy issues as opposed to parochial matters.
“We have no united voice,” [State Sen. Ed] Murray said. “Whether it’s Spokane or Bremerton, or Vancouver, the council and the chamber of commerce come down united. We come down fighting amongst ourselves. That is not the way to get things accomplished.”
Huh. That kinda criticism sounds much more credible coming from a state senator than it does coming from a DFLB like me, doesn’t it? And it’s echoed by Rep. Deb Eddy, one of the few legislators who routinely dares to tread in the cesspool that is HA’s comment thread, who confirms that a lack of cohesiveness is not a problem of the Seattle delegation alone.
I absolutely agree that we fell short of the mark this year … the House’s overall work product was not particularly cohesive.
But Sen. Murray’s and Rep. Eddy’s blunt critique is nothing compared to Rep. Brendan Williams’ scathing comparison of Washington legislators to their more progressive and proactive colleagues across the border in Oregon:
As legislative political careerism trumps vision, Washington may only be able to follow its smaller southern neighbor’s lead. Even its emulation falls short, though.
[…] Unfortunately, it’s increasingly clear the far-right homebuilders’ lobby rules Washington in a feudalistic fashion that perhaps only has parallels in the most conservative southern states. Their most recent newsletter celebrates “excellent relations” on “both sides of the political aisle” as the key to stopping taxes, consumer and workers’ rights, and any significant environmental gains. So long as that control persists, I’ll have to keep coming down to Portland to see progress in action.
I doubt either Sen. Murray, Rep. Williams, or Rep. Eddy take much pleasure in criticizing their own colleagues; these are folks they have to work with after all, and under fairly cramped and intimate conditions. And I don’t particularly enjoy criticizing fellow Democrats either.
But it’s hard to look at what happened in Olympia this year, compared to the recent accomplishments of Oregon’s Democratic legislative majority, and conclude that our legislature as a whole is good enough, or that it did the best job it could given the dire circumstances. You know… unless you’re a Republican.
And if we’re not satisfied with the performance of the legislature as a whole, it’s time to start thinking about replacing some of its parts.
There are still a few hours left to vote in our poll on which Seattle representatives most deserve an intra-party challenge. It’s unscientific, sure, but it doesn’t have to be to make a point.
Via email, Sen. Murray clarifies:
The issue I was referring to in PI this morning had nothing to do with the Seattle legislators or really with the Mayor. The consistent problem during my fourteen years in Olympia has been the inability of the council to speak with a single voice on projects they want form Olympia. I have worked with Rice, Schell, and Nickels, and again and again a group of council-members will attempt to undermine what ever the city position is. You just don’t see this sort of disunity from other cities in the state.
Okay, but I think it’s fair to say that the Seattle delegation has no united voice either.