Commissioner Scolded for Losing Temper With Ferry Workers

Washington State Ferries workers had enough of Bob Distler, the Washington State Transportation Commission’s expert on ferry matters. They turned him in to their bosses, who wrote him a letter saying to leave them alone, according to a story last week in the San Juan Journal.

Steve Rodgers, WSF’s director of marine operations, wrote to Distler on June 18 that, “I … want to be sure you understand that harassment or hostility towards WSF employees engaged in their duties will not be tolerated. WSF has the authority to deny passage to anyone who engages in disruptive behavior and will exercise that authority if necessary.”

The letter was in response to May 14 incident in which Distler, who lives in the San Juans, said he was short-tempered with a worker about how the boat was being boarded in Anacortes. He later apologized.

It wasn’t the first time it had happened, according to WSF spokeswoman Marta Coursey.

“It had happened on more than one occasion and they wanted to make sure Bob didn’t do it again,” the paper quotes Coursey as saying.

Distler admitted he “can get a little heated at times” and that he’s a “brusque person.”

There are few people who know more about ferries than Distler, which is an asset for the Transportation Commission, most of whom don’t live in the Puget Sound area. I’d even bet he was right in his dispute with the workers, but that doesn’t excuse being a jerk. He’d win more people to his way of thinking if he was nicer to them.

Distler’s commission term expires June 30. He said he has applied for reappointment.