State DOT secretary reprimands ferries manager

SEATTLE — State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson reprimanded the operations director of the ferry system, saying he disrespected her in an email and phone conversation in June.

Peterson formally reprimanded Steve Rodgers, 42, who is on paid administrative leave, in early July, The Seattle Times reported Wednesday after obtaining the disciplinary letter and a personnel file through a public records request.

The incident between Peterson and Rodgers followed the state’s unsuccessful attempt to recruit a new ferries director to replace David Moseley, who retired in April.

In a June 17 email, Peterson told the entire Washington State Ferries staff she was reopening the hiring process. Capt. George Capacci, the interim director, had just withdrawn from consideration, while Peterson chose not to hire the other finalist, former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg.

Rodgers replied to Peterson by email: “Considering the union pressure and influence in Olympia they have I doubt this is entirely true.”

Rodgers was “belligerent, challenging and unprofessional” in an email and phone call when he complained to her that union pressure had influenced her decision, Peterson said in her reprimand letter.

The “union pressure” remark by Rodgers in his email is likely a reference to a widely circulated letter to Peterson signed by five ferry captains that blamed Capacci for recent problems, such as downplaying the now-fixed issue of boats designed with a slight lean. The captains urged Peterson to choose Ladenburg.

Capacci had said he pulled out of consideration because of personal reasons.

Peterson’s reprimand to Rodgers concluded with several directives, such as, “Support efforts of creating a positive work environment” and “Refrain from emotionally reacting, and instead react with strategy and calmness.”

A second search for a new ferries director is underway, and there are three finalists, department spokesman Lars Erickson said.

“I respectfully disagree with the reprimand, but my hope is to move forward in a collaborative effort to find solutions to the many complicated issues facing WSF,” Rodgers told the newspaper.

Rodgers had drawn high praise from Moseley, who rated him “above standards” in evaluations.

State Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, has said the lack of an operations director may have contributed to mishaps this summer, such as boat breakdowns and loading the wrong number of passengers.

More in Local News

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Sailors await to disembark the U.S.S. Kidd on Sunday morning at Naval Station Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Stanwood man, 33, killed in crash near Marysville

Speed may have been a factor, the sheriff’s department said.

Street-legal ATVs approved for some roads near Sultan

Supporters foresee tourism benefits. Opponents are concerned about injury and pollution risks.

Jamie Copeland is a senior at Cedar Park Christian Schools’ Mountlake Terrace campus. She is a basketball player, ASB president, cheerleader and, of course, a Lion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Cedar Park Christian senior stepping up to new challenges

Jamie Copeland’s academics include STEM studies, leadership, ASB activities, honor society.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

County plans to sue to recoup costs from ballot drop-box law

A quarter-million dollars could be spent adding 19 ballot boxes in rural areas.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang is known for his people skills

The city’s top cop’s calm demeanor and holistic approach earns him the nickname “Yoda.”

Most Read