Ryan Pennington is Director of Public Affairs for MWW Group. He has served numerous elected officials and managed several political campaigns in Washington.


October 03, 2007

My Sentiments Exactly

I couldn't agree more with Danny Westneat's column in today's Seattle Times on King County Executive Ron Sims' last-minute flip-flop on Proposition 1, this fall's joint ballot measure from RTID and Sound Transit.

I also couldn't agree more with the gist of Jerry Cornfield's story in yesterday's Everett Herald -- few voters (particularly in Snohomish and Pierce counties) will be swayed by Sims' opposition (or anyone else's endorsement, for that matter).


These facts remain:

1) Our transportation infrastructure in the Puget Sound region is dilapidated, derisory and downright dangerous.

2) Most voters will decide the fate of the Roads & Transit measure based on two things alone -- how they feel about their pocketbooks on Election Day and how they think these projects might or might not affect their daily lives.

Everyone acknowledges that this plan is far from perfect. Yet, if we've learned anything about transportation policy in the Northwest it's that a perfect plan isn't possible.

What's more, a package three times this size would still only begin to address our immediate transportation needs, not to mention the demands of inevitable growth.

While I've never understood or supported the forced marriage of the RTID and ST2 plans, this plan represents the most significant investment in the future of our region in generations.

Failure to act (and failure to lead) on such an opportunity would be inexcusable.

August 18, 2007

Politicizing The Census

I'll confess. For some reason, I just haven't felt passionately one way or another about the issue of illegal immigration, in spite of (or, perhaps, because of) the constant bluster from all sides.

However, I recently came across two AP stories (linked from USA Today here and here) that have now sparked a vague interest in the subject.

According to the Deputy Director of the Census Bureau, immigration officials did not conduct raids for several months before the 2000 census, in order to help census takers get a more accurate count by preventing illegal immigrants from simply going underground during the survey.

The Census Bureau was hoping for similar cooperation during the 2010 census but, because of recent political posturing on the issue, that now appears unlikely.

When first questioned about their plans earlier this week, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman left open this possibility.

Yesterday, however, a different spokesman for the agency said that they "won't entertain any request to scale back our efforts".

This strikes me as contrary to common sense and as another unfortunate example of politics corrupting a basic function of government -- one explicitly outlined in the Constitution, no less.

Regardless of one's favored solution to the problem of illegal immigration, getting an accurate count of the illegal immigrant population is essential for a truly informed debate and for any eventual policy action on this issue to be successful.

I find this belligerent lack of cooperation and blatant political grandstanding to be astounding and inexcusable.

August 15, 2007

A $139 Million Carrot

The U.S. Transportation Secretary announced yesterday that Washington State could receive $139 million in federal transportation grants to help reduce traffic congestion in the Puget Sound region... if the State imposes a toll on the existing 520 bridge by 2009.

With funding requirements for several high profile and sorely needed transportation improvements (including a new 520 bridge) far outstripping the State's currently available resources, this might be just the political cover Legislators need to finally take advantage of an obvious source of funding that, until the new Narrows bridge opened, had gone unutilized for almost 30 years.