The Nose

The Nose: A solution to lengthy public testimony, plus legislators fighting over lawn mowing!

Many people accuse The Sniff of excess negativity, of being another jumped-up back-bencher pointing out problems and never offering solutions.

“Sure,” these tiresome critics of criticism say, “maybe you’re right about those Olympia legislators and their sad antics. Maybe those Spanaway tarp jokes hit the mark. Maybe you pegged The Fishwrap’s in-house columnist, Mad Matt Driscoll, as an unhinged menace bent on limitless power. But what have YOU ever proposed? How will YOU solve all our problems?”

Oh, OK. You wanna go? Here’s an idea for a capital improvement, a real job-creator, compliant with applicable labor laws: an Evil Genius trap door in the Pierce County Council chambers, right under the podium where staffers try to explain budgets and lumpy citizens air their grievances about the council’s snoozy ideas.

Sounds good already, right? Wait for the kicker! The trap-door button is lodged at Councilwoman Pam Roach’s elbow. Instead of metaphorical dips in the Roach dunk tank, you get the real thing, including a pool of bloodthirsty piranhas waiting below.

Apart from comedy, the device would add efficiency. Pistol Pam’s now-established routine in public meetings would be shorter.

At the moment, her patented method, delivered roughly three times per meeting, is to ask a jittery county staffer or hapless member of the public a belligerent question.

The offender offers some mealy-mouthed answer like, “Well - ” or “I -” before Pam interrupts with another confrontational question-slash-accusation like, “You don’t know, do you? You don’t know why county email addresses are so confusing!”

The routine typically closes with an irritated growl from Councilman Rick Talbert, a gavel-down from Council Chairman Doug “Why Do I Do This” Richardson and Roach’s now-traditional retreat to Twitter to claim that someone attacked her, followed by rambling, 30-minute calls to Fishwrap staffers to explain her views in exhaustive detail.

Instead of going through all that bother, Pam could ask her question, dispense with waiting for an answer and push the button: Whoosh! Aiieee! Problem solved!

Heading for OT — again: In case you didn’t notice, your aforementioned state lawmakers are hurtling toward yet another special session, or as the Sniff likes to call it, that moment when everyone starts negotiating after pretending for four months to be interested in negotiating. Other names for this time of year include a) Ignoring Gov. Big Jay Inslee; b) Leaving town until leadership sorts it out; and c) Let’s take some more shots at Inslee and hope everyone buys it.

The new squabble is the same as the old squabble: a budget and state school funding. As it happens, legislators have been so busy not negotiating that they took time out this week to fuss over the surge of dandelions sprouting on the Capitol Campus and its ecofriendly lawns. The horror! Sen. Mark Schoesler, Republican Senate majority leader and noted Ritzville weed-hater, said he was “absolutely embarrassed” by the slovenly appearance of the grounds.

This is turning into standard procedure for state solons. Agreeing to something in the regulated time span has become shameful, like you’re giving something away without the spectacle of a fight no one really wanted to have.

For the past few years, legislators have treated state-mandated deadlines like mild suggestions. Who do they think they are — journalists? They should opt for The Fishwrap’s new normal: Scribble four or five sentences that reduce a complex issue to us-vs-them soundbites, slap a video on top and call it good!

Maybe that newsie analogy is more fitting than it sounds, since Senate Republicans and House Democrats accuse each other of pushing fake news, or more precisely, fake budget proposals, according to the Fishwrap’s Mighty Melissa Santos.

Republicans say Democrats are too afraid to take an actual floor vote on the taxes they’ve proposed, while Democrats say Republicans are using the old send-it-to-the-ballot dodge to avoid taking tough votes themselves. Hey, the truth hurts — amazing how much fear comes into play when the time comes for actual voting. (Or as The Sniff puts it, earning your legislative paycheck.)

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