Lawmakers say Transportation chief should be appointed by the governor
State Senators have also approved a bill that would give the governor responsibility for appointing the state’s Transportation Secretary.
Present Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald has been under heat here in Port Angeles and in Olympia for his handling of the dry dock project, and his decision to walk away from the project after investing more than $60-million in the now-defunct site. Lawmakers have wanted Governor Christine Gregoire to intervene, and especially get answers over what went wrong.
But MacDonald is appointed by the Transportation Commission and doesn’t have to answer to the governor.
However, under the bill approved by the Senate this week, the Transportation Secretary would be appointed by the governor, and as such, responsible to the people through an elected official. The idea of making that change isn’t new, but it’s never had this kind of momentum before. With 24th District Senator Jim Hargrove pressing his colleagues to support the measure, it flew through approval on a vote of 45-to-3. That sends it over to the House Transportation Committee, where Representative Jim Buck of Joyce has been pressing for the change, and also where Representative Lynn Kessler has considerable influence.
Senate approves changes for state history agency
Lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved a bill that would provide greater oversight for the state Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation by making it a cabinet-level responsibility of the governor.
The bill sailed through the Senate this week on a vote of 47-to-2.
The Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation had been an independent state agency, before it was brought under the supervision of the Department of Trade and Economic Development. The idea of bringing the office under the control of the governor had been raised last year by Senator Mary Margret Haugen, who believed that the change would give more importance to historic preservation around the state.
But the idea has gotten a lot more support this year because of the controversy surrounding the state’s Port Angeles dry dock project and the discovery of the Tse-whit-zen village site. Lawmakers have been concerned over what will happen to the village location now that Department of Transportation has walked out. But Peninsula legislators in particular want to know why the archeology office failed to raise concerns about the dry dock site being the location of the Klallam village and cemetery, since it had been given a 1991 report that nearly pinpointed Tse-whit-zen and recommended more research before any excavation took place in the area.
Under the bill, the director of the history agency would be appointed by the governor. The Senate version of the measure will now go to the House for approval.
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