Tag Archives: Norman D. Dicks

David Dicks must live in his father’s shadow

UPDATE: Nov. 19
Readers may be interested in this commentary from Rep. Dave Upthegrove published Wednesday in the online Seattle PI. Upthegrove, a Democrat from Des Moines, was one of the principal authors of the legislation that created the Puget Sound Partnership.

In his statement, Upthegrove was complimentary of David Dicks:

During Dicks’ tenure at the helm of this new agency, he distinguished himself as a strong leader who was able to corral diverse interests to unite for a common goal: a healthy Puget Sound by 2020.


David Dicks will leave his post as executive director for the Puget Sound Partnership at the beginning of December to take a new position at the University of Washington’s College of the Environment. Check out my story in today’s Kitsap Sun.

To maintain David’s expertise on the partnership, Gov. Chris Gregoire has appointed him to the Puget Sound Leadership Council, the governing body of the organization.

From my perspective, David Dicks has been great to work with the past three years. Whenever I’ve had questions about something, he has taken time to explain things at great length. And his staffers were available at a moment’s notice. Even when the partnership ran into financial-management troubles with the State Auditor’s Office, David stepped up and explained how the problems occurred and what had been done to correct them.

Were all the answers about the audit complete and satisfactory? It’s hard to judge. But, as Sen. Phil Rockefeller told me yesterday, “David went through some tough times, and I think he emerged wiser and smarter. It’s a new day and a new ball game there now.”

I’m not sure David realized in 2007 what pressures he would be under when he took this high-profile job as the son of a U.S. congressman. It has been impossible for anyone to disprove the notion that he only got the job because he was Norm Dicks’ son.

His standing apart from his father was not helped by the fact that Norm was bringing big dollars into the state for Puget Sound restoration — even though Norm was doing that long before his son came on board and would have done that in any case.

David Dicks became the target for those who dislike his father’s politics as well as those who believe the Puget Sound Partnership is a waste of time and money.

The question remains: Given these circumstances, was it ever a good idea to appoint David Dicks to lead this new agency?
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Norm Dicks is dealt a new hand to play

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks summed up his place in the next Congress by quoting former Seahawks coach Chuck Knox:

“You have to play the hand you are dealt.”

Norm Dicks

Norm Dicks, the Belfair Democrat, is well known for bringing home federal dollars to restore streams and estuaries throughout Puget Sound. Everywhere he goes, he’s patted on the back for the many restoration projects that seem to be improving conditions for fish and wildlife. After last week’s election, everyone from shellfish growers to Gov. Chris Gregoire must be wondering what will happen next to Puget Sound funding.

Norm told me after the election that he has always worked well with Republicans on the Interior and Defense appropriations subcommittees, the two bodies where he has recently served as chairman. (See my story in Sunday’s Kitsap Sun.) Before 2006, as ranking minority member of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, he helped launch an initiative to restore facilities in rundown national parks, an effort that continues to today.

Maybe Norm’s 34 years in the House gives him a special perspective, but he seems undaunted by House Republicans, who appear to be in no mood for major spending on programs like the national parks. To me, it looks like we’re going to have gridlock between the House, controlled by Republicans, and the Senate, controlled by Democrats.

Dicks wishes more voters nationwide would have recognized how many jobs were created by the federal stimulus package. He doesn’t think cutting taxes, as Republicans propose, will create many new jobs. And reducing the federal budget will cause layoffs — at least in government — with ripple effects in the economy.

On “60 Minutes” (9:42 into Part 1), correspondent Steve Kroft asked President Obama, “What can you do to create jobs that hasn’t already been done?”

Obama’s answer was not surprising:
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Norm Dicks and musings about political power

When I use the term “political power,” does it make you think of something good, bad or indifferent?

Like it or not, political power is what gets things done in our city councils, Legislature and Congress. Voting by qualified citizens is certainly one form of political power.

Whether Congress spends our money to fight wars or to restore the environment is a result of political power. Some would say we have no choice but to fight wars at key times in history. Others would argue that we have no choice but to save the Earth. But, of course, there are choices in how Congress spends our money.

I got to thinking about this after I wrote a story for today’s Kitsap Sun about U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks and his change in chairmanships in the House Appropriations Committee. Dicks will soon move from a position where he has a major say about environmental spending to a position where he will have a major say about Defense spending.

His predecessor on the Defense Appropriations Committee, Rep. John Murtha, held a reputation for wielding political power to bring federal projects to his home state of Pennsylvania.

Dicks enjoys a favorable reputation among environmentalists nationwide for his work on restoring national forests and national parks as well as his support for regulations to protect the environment. But Dicks is celebrated in his home state of Washington for his intense focus on our local forests and waterways.

That makes this Bremerton native a target for those who think our money is better spent on other things or not at all. I wonder how that perception will change when he becomes more focused on Defense issues, which attracts a more conservative constituency. That’s not to say that Dicks has not already wielded political power on defense issues, given the large number of military bases and defense-oriented companies in Washington.

For some reason, this very notion of political power seems a little distasteful, but it is how government gets things done — or not done. It is political power, after all, that the brings Republicans together in a solid block —without a single vote out of line — to block some of President Obama’s prize initiatives.

What actions would you like your government to take? As they say, political power is a little like sausage. We may not want to see the process that gets it done, but we can enjoy the result nonetheless.