Saturday, June 19, 2010

WS Ferries and political decision by Hammond

King 5 TV has done an excellent investigation into our poorly managed state ferry system. The latest in the series finds a strange political decision: State DOT director Hammond cares a little about taxpayers' dollars, but the unions come first. Look at this: WSF bureaucrats say good things:
As KING 5 rolled out one story after another, transportation leaders promised reform and a commitment to cutting costs wherever possible. "What we will look for is every opportunity (to save) because we’ve got to make the system more financially sustainable," said the Director of Ferries, David Moseley last month.
But exactly during this time, a strange thing happened to Capt. Pete Williams, the outspoken advocate of saving the ferry system money. Last month Secretary Hammond quietly took away one of Williams’ key responsibilities: representing the state at the bargaining table during union negotiations for the past six years. The union for the captains and mates – the MMP - complained Williams was rude and disrespectful. After that, Williams was out. The decision was made by Transportation Secretary Hammond. "I'm trying to get a respectful table put together so that we don't have people griping at each other, and when they walk in, hostility erupts. I'm not saying that that's what he did, but that's how it was being reported that there's this attitude against each other,” said Hammond. A key negotiator for the state - Ferry Operations Director Steve Rodgers - was blindsided and furious. KING-TV obtained internal e-mails he wrote to Director Moseley. "I stand in complete disagreement with the decision to remove (Pete). It was based on hearsay given to you by an adversarial party with ulterior motives." Rodgers didn’t stop there. In an e-mail sent to Williams, he said, "I have never witnessed anything but professional conduct from you, so I have no idea where or why this surfaces now." In fact, Governor Gregoire herself commended Williams on his expert work in negotiations in the past. She sent Williams a letter in 2006 thanking him for his "professionalism, perseverance, and creativity" in negotiating a union contract back then. Secretary Hammond couldn't come up with any specifics on exactly how Williams has been disrespectful. She admitted to KING 5 that she got input from the union, but didn’t consult with anyone on her own negotiating team.
Is this (A) fuzzy thinking by Hammond, (B) unimaginable management or (C) just playing to the unions? Answer: A, B and C. Plus business as usual for the Washington State Ferry bureaucracy. WSF has been found at fault in audit (P-I) after audit, well, the financial audits got better after 21 straight years. But mismanagement continues in not getting more boats built and on the water.

No comments: