Senate ‘Fires’ WA State Transportation Secretary
You're probably aware of the numerous issues facing the Washington State Department of Transportation, from the delays on the Seattle Tunnel Project, to the 520 Seattle-area new bridge issues. Well, it has cost a state official their job.
Senate and House Democrats call the firing of State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson "election year politics," but the department has faced a number of embarrassing setbacks.
Peterson was an Inslee appointee, shortly after he took office in 2012. She had come from former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber's administration. According to NW Cable News:
" Gov. Inslee appointed Peterson to the job shortly after he took office in 2012. Peterson came to Washington after working as a transportation adviser to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber.
She's had a tenure filled with controversy over problems with transportation projects such as delays on the new 520 bridge and the ongoing troubles with the Seattle tunnel project.
“Senate Republicans today took an action wholly unfitting of the expectations of the people of this state," Governor Inslee said in a released statement. “They engaged in a politically-motivated attack on an eminently qualified woman."
However, despite support from a number of city mayors and other officials as well, when a state agency or department suffers from costly overruns, delays and other major issues with projects, somebody has to take responsibility.
The Seattle Tunnel project, designed to replace the aging Alaska Viaduct road, has turned into one of the biggest financial boondoggles in state history. Construction and drilling were recently halted again on Bertha (the huge tunnel boring machine) after sinkholes were discovered beneath the project.
The State Senate voted not to confirm Peterson last Friday, essentially the same as firing. The last time a state official was removed from such a top position was in 1998, when former Rep. Jolene Unsoeld was removed from the state Fish and Wildlife Commission.