The promise of a new year

The hope of a new year. Something about 2014 radiates the otherworldliness of 2000 or 1984, the province of science fiction, minus jetpacks and robot butlers. Technology and markets evolve. Human nature? Not so much.

The collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge in Mount Vernon was the 2013 metaphor for dysfunction. Look how bad our infrastructure is, we said. Lawmakers including Rep. Rick Larsen and Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell scurried to the scene with federal support in the pipeline. The turnaround illustrates that government can deliver in a pinch. Sometimes.

Was the bridge galvanizing enough to muster the votes for a state transportation package? Sadly, no. Let’s hope for movement in 2014.

The federal metaphor was the government shutdown and the sputtering launch of Obamacare. The sole consolation is Washington’s (relatively) responsive health exchange.

The Legislature made inroads on higher ed, including additional support for WSU/Everett. And K-12 got an infusion thanks to the cudgel of the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. There was neck-extending leadership by Republican Rep. Mike Hope, who took political hits for embracing background checks for gun sales. Alas, Hope, an NRA target, announced he won’t seek re-election in 2014.

The Washington Voting Rights Act, ably shepherded by Rep. Luis Moscoso, didn’t make it to the governor’s desk in 2013. It needs to in 2014. The one everybody-benefits outcome of the Boeing Special Session was Rep. Mike Sells’ effort to secure funding for aerospace and workforce training, including the Aerospace Training and Research Center at Paine Field.

There were developments on the county level: Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon resigned after a series of investigative articles by The Herald’s Scott North and Noah Haglund revealed enemies-list shenanigans by staff and other ethical lapses. North and Haglund breathed life into journalism as public service. Reardon rubbed in the political salt by waiting three months after his announcement to actually resign, collecting a six-figure salary and not showing up.

And then, the promise of renewal. No one could question the integrity of Reardon’s successor, John Lovick. He was the salve the county needed. Lovick’s appointment of former legislator and U.S. Marshal Mark Ericks as deputy county executive was an inspired move. So far, the executive team is emblematic of transparency and accountable leadership. The county also created an independent ombudsman to police citizen complaints. We hope that John Koster, Lovick’s ombudsman-to-be, thrives.

Meliorism is the idea that we can make this a better place. In 2014, with the 777X decision and a transportation system in need of fixing (remember that I-5 bridge metaphor?), we are all meliorists now.

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