Some of Washington Governor-elect Jay Inslee’s allies want the State DOT Secretary replaced. We explain why that’s misguided. Below is the introduction to the story; read the complete story here, on NW online news source Crosscut.
Some of Washington Governor-elect Jay Inslee’s allies want him to replace state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond with someone who will do more on climate change, bicycle-pedestrian and transit issues. The Seattle Transit Blog has openly called for new leadership, and several environmental groups are privately advocating for new leadership.
These three transportation issues are important for many communities across Washington, but particularly for Washington’s larger cities. More and more people want alternatives to driving — for health, financial, or environmental reasons. I don’t begrudge advocates who are impatient for more progress on climate change, bike-pedestrian and transit issues.
But those people are using unrealistic metrics to measure Hammond and WSDOT. The agency operates within legislative, regulatory and political limitations enacted formally or informally by the legislature, governor, and transportation stakeholders of various stripes. It’s not a system in which bold, disruptive initiatives can be achieved.
Yet Hammond has led WSDOT to impressive achievements in climate change, bike-pedestrian and transit issues. In fact compared to her counterparts around the country, and to most other Washington State agency directors, Hammond has been the disruptive change agent that Governor-elect Inslee wants to attract. You may not realize it, because Hammond isn’t a headline-seeking leader, and much of her work is the day-to-day bureaucratic infighting and policy development that doesn’t translate to news stories. Here are just a few examples: