A retired member of Congress probably has a few more career
options than the rest of us when we leave our jobs. “Championing
legislation” might not be a skill marketable should U.S. Rep. Norm
Dicks, D-Belfair, apply for a job at Supercuts. So if you’ve got a
cosmetology degree you might have a leg up on him there. But I
don’t think our 36-year congressman is going to be hurting for
On Sunday in Tacoma, at a party honoring his career, Dicks took
to the mic and showed his versatility. He can not only make a
lasting mark on Tacoma and Bremerton and do whatever opportunity
arises for a former college linebacker, the congressman can
You might want to interpret “can sing” the way all of us “can
sing.” At least he knows the words. Like Buckwheat, once Norm Dicks
sings a song, it’s eternally his.
Most jobs you’re actually allowed to pack up your stuff and leave
the building forever before you’re displaced from your desk. I mean
imagine your boss telling you in two weeks you have to leave, and
for that two weeks you have to move all your stuff to the room with
the vending machines.
That’s akin to what’s happening in Congress. I guess it’s how
things work there, because nobody complains about it that I know
of. I didn’t know that was how things operated and I had the
experience of a highly educational internship as a reporter in
Washington, D.C. in the fall of 1986, when John McCain, John
Breaux, Harry Reid and Tom Daschle gave up their House seats for
ones in the Senate.
I learned all about this office shuffling on Thursday. I had
read the story about newly elected Congressman Derek Kilmer picking
number 65 out of 70 for office space. (In that competition, that
high score is a bad thing.) But it hadn’t occurred to me that Norm
Dicks would already be out of his space. I mean now it makes sense.
Like “duh.” I should have had my first clue when I saw all the
furniture in the Rayburn hallways.
But on Thursday I knew his staff was in the Rayburn building. I
went there and looked at the directory on the wall to find out
which office belonged to our soon-to-be retired politician. I found
the number, went to the location and found a California flag
outside the door. The office now belongs to George Miller, D-Calif.
I asked the cherubs inside the front office where Dicks’ office had
gone to and was told it was in the basement cafeteria, where all
the “retirees” from the building were placed. I put that word in
quotes, because not everyone down there is retiring by choice.
“Basement” in this case isn’t as bad as it sounds, and there is
a separation between the room of cubicles and the actual eating
After finding Dicks’ main cubicle (No. 36) I was told my contact
there, Chief of Staff George Behan, would be there in a while. So I
waited in a comfy chair nearby and was looking over emails when in
my view I saw Cubicle 27, the current landing spot of U.S. Rep.
Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio. You may remember that Kucinich considered
becoming “D-Wash.” but wasn’t exactly welcomed by local party brass
and he wasn’t gerrymandered out of his district as expected.
Instead, he was put in the same district as Marcy Kaptur, another
Ohio Democrat who also wasn’t looking to retire. She beat him in
the primary, which set the stage for Kucinich being found in a
cubicle smaller than mine, straining his neck to talk on his cell
phone and wondering where his stapler went.
Dicks, by the way, being the ranking Democrat in Appropriations,
has office space in the committee offices and he has his own office
space in the Capitol itself. From my perspective, he still looks
like a member of Congress.
Boeing’s rival for the Air Force contract announced it wouldn’t
contest the decision Friday, prompting statements from nearly every
Washington politician we ever deal with.
Excuse the tardiness of this post. I was off work much of last
For a glimpse of how one change can make such a major difference
in a thing like a contract, read Rob Hotakainen’s story from
the McClatchy DC bureau and you’ll get an education on politics in
government and how U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, pushed for one
change in the contract process that may have changed the entire
From the story:
Dicks pressed the issue at the 2008 congressional
hearing after learning that the Pentagon was using a 25-year
timeframe to examine costs. After the hearing, the defense
subcommittee voted to require the Pentagon to consider the cost of
operating the new tankers over the longer 40-year
And then later:
In a conference call with reporters, a top Boeing
official said the lifecycle costs were key to winning the contract,
which will produce 50,000 jobs nationwide, many of them in
Washington state and Kansas.
Dick Morrill at Crosscut makes the case that Olympia is
the most likely central location for the next congressional
district Washington is likely to get as a result of the Census. If
his postulation is correct, that has huge implications for us.
The new Tenth, with Lewis, Pacific, Wahkiakum, and Thurston
counties on its south, would need to add the Olympic peninsula
counties of Clallam, Jefferson, Mason, and Grays Harbor, plus
80,000 or so, probably from Pierce County rather than from
Some of that territory is currently in the Sixth Congressional
District. So Morrill writes:
The Sixth (Democrat Norm Dicks), having lost the peninsula
counties, might logically combine most (or all) of Kitsap and
western Pierce, including Tacoma.
It is worth noting that these theoretical maps contain the
possibility that both of our current members of Congress would be
in new districts. Norm Dicks, whose official residence is in
Belfair, would be part of the new 10th. Jay Inslee would become
part of the Sixth if all of Kitsap was pushed. Political realities,
as Morrill acknowledges, would seem to come into play here, unless
Dicks and Inslee were to suggest that where they live should not
play into the redistricting conversation. That could happen, I
suppose, if Inslee is intent on running for governor and Dicks
decides to retire. Otherwise, I don’t see it. And I would also
think there would be some resistance within Kitsap County about
losing one of two members of Congress with whom to ask for