Thumbs up: State Employees
Despite pay freezes, furloughs and the loss of thousands of co-workers, state employees reached deep into their pockets in 2010 contributing more than $5.5 million to charity groups through the Combined Fund Drive. The money, mostly generated through the state’s payroll contribution program, will benefit more than 1,500 charities. Secretary of State Sam Reed, whose office administers the charitable program, said, “2010 was a difficult year for everyone, and charitable organizations like the Combined Fund Drive are needed more than ever. The generous contributions of state employees show that we are all willing to sacrifice for the sake of those less fortunate in our communities.” Reed noted that even in the face of deep cuts, employees of the Department of Social and Health Services generated more than $600,000 — the most of any state agency. Employees at the University of Washington led public education institutions by producing more than $2 million for local, national and global charities. Well done, state employees, well done.
Thumbs down: KGY
After a stellar career spanning 51 years with KGY Radio, local broadcasting legend Dick Pust was unceremoniously ushered to his car on Jan. 5, by the station’s owner. No one who has given 51 years of his life to a business deserves to be treated like Pust, the station’s general manager, was treated that day. He earned a dignified exit, not treated like a threat to station security. After his final early-morning radio show at the base of Budd Inlet, Pust was dismissed. Pust said he was fired; KGY Inc. President and Chief Executive Jennifer Kerry, a resident of St. Petersburg, Fla., said Pust wouldn’t accept a lesser position at the station and chose to leave. The community rallied to Pust’s side, leaving hundreds of comments on The Olympian’s website and in steady string of telephone calls to Pust’s residence. A movement was launched to draft Pust to run for Olympia mayor. Pust, the dean of South Sound’s journalism fraternity, is an Olympia icon. His show was popular with longtime Olympia residents who matured listening to his morning drive-time broadcast. For his part, Pust said he was in shock and brokenhearted by his sudden dismissal. Any business owner has a right to hire and fire employees. But it’s simply wrong the way Dick Pust left KGY Radio after giving his all for radio for 51 years.
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Thumbs down: Bureaucrats
Too often in South Sound the bureaucracy gets in the way of common sense. Wouldn’t you think when a sewer line breaks and spills 33,000 gallons of raw sewage into Budd Inlet and another 22,500 gallons of raw sewage on the ground, that public servants would think to notify the public? Not in this community. The city of Olympia should have notified the community of the break immediately after notifying the LOTT Alliance of the line break. Instead the notification of the sewage spill was kicked around between the city, LOTT, the state Department of Ecology and the Thurston County Health Department. It was a full day before anyone alerted the public and urged the public to avoid all water contact activities in lower Budd Inlet. That’s irresponsible. The city’s explanation, through spokeswoman Cathie Butler, was that Olympia officials followed protocol and notified LOTT within 24 hours of the break. In fact, Butler said, the city notified LOTT the same afternoon. Good. But how about the public? Butler said the lesson city officials learned on this incident was to also contact county health officials in a more timely fashion. Good. But how about the public? Didn’t the public deserve to know right away that the sewage, mixed with groundwater and stormwater, flowed for about 90 minutes? The water contact advisory, which again came 24 hours after the spill, included the area south of a line drawn between Priest Point Park on the east shore and West Bay Marina on the west shore. Common sense dictates that the public deserves timely notification on issues that could impact public health and safety. Clearly the multi- government bureaucracy got in the way this time.