Last week saw the public farewells for several South Sound public servants who leave office this month. They deserve thanks for time they put in on behalf of their communities.
Among them were Olympia Mayor Stephen Buxbaum and Olympia Councilman Stephen Langer, both of whom chose not to seek re-election, and two-term Port of Olympia Commissioner George Barner, who was defeated by Joe Downing in the November election. Stepping down previously at the port was Michelle Morris, who had agreed to fill in for six months as commissioner after Sue Gunn resigned; E.J. Zita replaced Morris once election results were certified.
Local government service can be a thankless job at times — and the work can seem obscure to an outsider. But it matters.
A good example is that Buxbaum and Langer served during the city’s rewrite of a comprehensive land-use plan, which sets boundaries for growth and funnels growth where it’s needed. Their tenure also overlapped the city’s efforts to spur more housing downtown, which we are beginning to see.
Barner served four terms as Thurston County commissioner before joining the port. At the port, he and Gunn drew regional attention last year for approving a resolution that raised legitimate concern about oil trains rumbling through our county; they also opposed three coastal fuel-shipping terminals being considered in Hoquiam.
As the old guard leaves, several new political leaders are being sworn Dec. 29. Among them is Olympia Mayor-elect Cheryl Selby and Olympia Port Commissioner Downing.
KPLU SALE NEEDS MORE TIME
The leaders of Pacific Lutheran University and University of Washington are wise to consider alternatives to a sale agreement that would send the KPLU public-radio station near Tacoma to the UW for $8 million.
The sale, which drew opposition from many public radio listeners, would merge news operations from KPLU with those of KUOW in Seattle. Both stations carry National Public Radio broadcasts, but KPLU would become strictly a music station. The funds would be added to private school PLU’s $84 million endowment, according to The Seattle Times.
Fortunately, both schools altered course slightly last week. Representatives said they’ll negotiate an addendum allowing an “alternative buyer scenario.” This means KPLU, which has a loyal following that includes Olympia-area listeners, could be sold to a community group with enough funding.
We’ll keep watch. An alternative that preserves a reliable radio voice is worth exploring.
Other than a Jan. 15 deadline set by the schools, there is no real emergency. The universities should provide more time.
GOP CANDIDATES GO FOR THE MEMORABLE
The over-the-top, high-drama opening of the CNN Republican debate last week was worthy of an “American Idol” competition. In the midst of swirling red, white and blue lights, the nine candidates strutted onto the shining stage with the chin-up, chest-out confidence of superheroes ready for combat.
In the two-hour foreign policy slugfest that followed, the candidates sometimes competed to see who could use the threat of terrorism to scare the pants off the most Republican primary voters.
The rest of the time, several of them competed to see who could return the U.S. to all-out war in the Middle East.
Ted Cruz called for carpet-bombing ISIS, and claimed the military can carpet-bomb without harming civilians. Donald Trump called for killing the families of terrorists, an action he described as being “very, very firm with them.” Christie claimed he had protected New Jersey from terrorism as a federal prosecutor and as governor.
But Rand Paul thinks the greatest threat we face is our mounting national debt. After listening to an hour or more of hair-raising bigotry and fear-mongering, that was actually a comforting thought.
WHAT’S NEXT, BARE-CHESTED INTERVIEWS?
Speaking of Trump, the GOP frontrunner has long said he and Russian leader Vladimir Putin would get along just great. And last week Putin took a moment during his press conference to praise Trump as a “bright and talented” person.
It didn’t take long for Trump to soak up the compliment and return one — even looking past Putin’s repression of journalists and political enemies, his adventurism in the Ukraine and his military defense of Syria’s dictator.
Trump said in a statement, “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.” Uh-huh.
We can’t help wonder what a joint press conference with Putin and Trump would look like. Would they sit astride horses? Would they tear off their shirts and maybe launch a few missiles at the Islamic State?
This campaign season teaches us not to rule out anything.