It seems Washington State Ferries and the Washington State Transportation Commission might want to consider sending their representatives to meetings in Kingston in flak jackets and armed with tasers. Or, at the bare minimum, the best running shoes money can buy.
Anytime a state official is sent scurrying for the door, mid-meeting and an air horn — yes, an air horn — is sounded in an attempt to restore order, torches and pitchforks aren’t far behind. It’s probably a good thing WTC representative Dick Ford left when he did. At the very least the state is instilling their officials with a good sense of self preservation.
Answers to the tough questions Kingston and North End residents sought? Not so much.
To say the fact that WSF promised a 2.5 percent increase and then decided to propose a 4 percent fare increase was the match that lit the fuse at this community powder keg is a stretch.
No, this one was pretty much doomed from the get go. But that’s no excuse for things to have gotten as out of hand as they did. This isn’t a schoolyard. And WSF and WTC officials shouldn’t be treated like the “new kids” by Kingston’s “bullies.”
Tempers are going to flare, no doubt. But as adults — and after Thursday nights shenanigans that, too, is a stretch for some — it is your role to suppress them in such forum, at which you represent not only yourself but your community as a whole.
There are proper venues in which to lash out. But the Kingston Cove Yacht Club isn’t one of them.
Walt Elliott, Kingston Ferry Advisory Committee Chairman, realized that it was going to be a hot one beforehand, asking that residents don’t “kill the messenger” at the session. His words either fell on deaf ears or were drowned out later at the meeting by shouts of “Go home!”
Is WSF blameless? Not even close, the state agency’s reputation for being shifty and balancing the budget on the backs of the working man is legendary. It seems no one has a clear answer to fund the system and that the “we told you so” echoes of Initiative 695 opponents are still as clear as ever.
But with this crutch gone, WSF, unlike other state agencies seems unable to walk on its own — something that has translated into higher fares for a populace that has cut so many corners on their budgets, their banks are sending them circular checkbooks.
The state needs to find a new solution to this problem, but until it does, we all must remember that local public meetings should, at the minimum, always strive to remain civil representations of the community.