Gov. Gregoire made her end-of-session visit today to the editorial board, bringing House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler with her. (Speaker Frank Chopp must have been packing for his trip to Spain or busy building an even bigger majority.)
We asked Gregoire about the Puget Sound Partnership. A key victory for the governor was getting a Puget Sound cleanup package through the Legislature on the first try. Lawmakers earmarked $7.6 million in general fund state dollars, $28.5 million from other funds and $202 million in the capital budget to clean up pollution, restore shorelines, reduce stormwater runoff and protect habitat.
Gregoire, citing polling numbers that show 97 percent of the public wants to preserve Puget Sound but only 29 percent realize the Sound faces major health problems, said she wants to get the cleanup effort “out of Olympia.” It makes sense to her to headquarter the cleanup effort somewhere central — and Gregoire thinks of “somewhere central” as Tacoma. "If we don’t engage people on the ground, we’re never going to get this. … If it’s all from the top down, rule-making, you get push back."
The governor said she is eyeing the University of Washington Tacoma, where Urban Waters – a public-private nonprofit organization involving the city, UWT, Port of Tacoma, SSA Marine, the Russell Family Foundation and other partners – has endowed a chair. Urban Waters’ aim is to study sources and potential solutions to pollution in urban waterways, a key piece of any Puget Sound cleanup plan. If Tacoma gets the nod, it could be a big boost for the local campus and Urban Waters.