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Tag: Norm Dicks


Norm Dicks: Embodiment of a better Congress

Congressman Norm Dicks

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

To understand what Washington will lose when Norm Dicks leaves Congress five days from now, you have to meet the man.

He comes across as a latter-day Teddy Roosevelt: beefy and bombastic; exuberant, gregarious and dominating; funny, friendly and full of stories. Though he talks nonstop, he’s no bore: The ideas just come too fast.

After about 10 minutes, you realize Dicks is not merely a consummate politician, but also a man of rare intelligence and insatiable curiosity. Once he’s on one of his favorite subjects – stealth aircraft, for example, or Puget Sound cleanup – you start to wonder if anyone else knows as much as this guy.

At 72, he still looks and talks like an irrepressible ex-Husky linebacker, which he is. On the issues he follows, he’s also a formidable intellectual with a dazzling grasp of technical detail and broad context.

Many of the tributes now being paid to Dicks amount to inventories of the projects and funding he brought home to Washington and the 6th Congressional District during his 36 years in office.

None of those lists is complete, though, because he’s done so much. Here is a sampling: Read more »


Norm Dicks, congressman and patriot extraordinaire

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

With Norm Dicks, there are no six degrees of separation. If you live in the South Sound, you’ve been touched directly by his work in Congress.

Dicks’ decision to not run for re-election this year isn’t welcome news, but it’s not a shocker, either. He is 71 and has held his seat in the House of Representatives going on 36 years. All good things must end, and Dicks’ long run in Congress has been a decidedly good thing for this region.

The worst that can be said about the exuberant Bremerton Democrat is that he is an old-fashioned pork-barreler who has brought home the bacon to his state and his beloved Sixth District. But that’s another way of saying he has been very adept at looking out for his constituents.

The “pork” he delivered has stood the test of time. For example, he engineered funding for Interstate 705 – the Tacoma Spur – which extended the reach of Interstate 5 to the heart of Tacoma and the city’s waterfront.

Dicks was the prime mover behind the restoration of crumbling Union Station into a stunning rotunda hung with Chihuly glass. He secured federal grants for other urban redevelopment projects, all of which helped kick-start the dramatic revival of downtown Tacoma in the 1990s.

He was a key player in the historic land claims settlement with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and the creation of the bypass highway around the Tideflats, breakthroughs that greatly expanded the capacity and potential of the Port of Tacoma.

He accelerated the cleanup of Commencement Bay. He was behind countless improvements at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and helped bring the Air Force’s C-17 transports there – a move that enhanced the base’s strategic importance at the time when military installations were being closed and downsized across the country.

Many of Dicks’ individual accomplishments would have been enough – all by themselves – to crown the career of any House member. For example, he – along with Sen. Henry Jackson – turned Madigan Army Medical Center into a reality.
Read more »


A needless shadow over Puget Sound cleanup efforts

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

It was probably inevitable that a Washington Post report on congressional earmarks would turn up something on U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair.

As a veteran member of Congress who has risen to leadership roles, he’s as well-positioned as anyone to bring home the bacon – more politely known as earmarks – to his district and state. For most folks, that’s fine – a perk that goes along with having a congressman with lots of seniority. Read more »


Dicks and Tacoma: A duo that belongs together

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Redraw the political map purely for the benefit of Pierce County, and you’d get a bizarre gerrymander in which four or five congressional districts somehow fan out from the Tacoma Dome.

The more members of Congress looking out for Pierce County’s interests, the better.

That, alas, can’t happen. The four-member redistricting commission now overhauling the state’s political boundaries must pay lip service to geography and is supposed to keep communities as intact to the extent possible. We trust the final plan will also keep a key relationship intact – the one between Tacoma and U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks.

The unspoken – but overriding – priority of nearly any redistricting effort is to protect incumbents and maximize partisan advantage. Washington’s commission is designed for political parity: Two of its members are appointed by Republicans, two by Democrats. Collectively, they’re tasked with drawing lines both parties can live with.

This is an exceedingly complex job, akin to solving an algebraic equation with way too many variables. There are all kinds of reasons to stretch the lines of a particular district one way or another. In fact, the addition of a new congressional district – Washington’s 10th – is forcing a wholesale readjustment of boundaries for both Congress and the Legislature.
Read more »


Congress must help Quileutes escape tsunami threat

The Quileute Tribal School is located just yards away from the Pacific Ocean in the Quileute community of La Push. (Tony Overman/The Olympian)

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

The Quileute Tribal School in La Push is probably unrivaled for its scenic setting, looking out on crashing surf, islands and the kind of picturesque sea stacks that make photographers swoon.

But when the Cascadia subduction zone 80 miles offshore generates a massive earthquake – as it does every couple of hundred years, most recently in 1700 – it will almost surely create the kind of devastating tsunami that recently struck Japan after a similar subduction zone event.

And that schoolhouse – along with a senior center and homes on the Quileutes’ square-mile reservation – would be at ground zero. The ocean that makes La Push such a beautiful setting could be the death of it.
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For Congress: Re-elect Dicks, Reichert and Smith

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

This is one of those “throw the bums out” years. But the South Sound’s three U.S. representatives aren’t bums, and it would be dumb to throw them out.

In fact, the region could lose much of its influence in Congress if Norm Dicks of the 6th Congressional District, Dave Reichert of the 8th and Adam Smith of the 9th lost their jobs.

In terms of raw clout, Dicks is the mightiest of the three – one of the mightiest in the country, for that matter. His 34 years in the House and parliamentary skills have landed him in positions of enormous power in the House Appropriations Committee: chairman of the defense subcommittee and vice-chair of the interior subcommittee.

As such, he has helped secure Washington’s share of the federal budget, steering countless appropriations toward the state and the 6th District, which covers the Olympic Peninsula, University Place and parts of Tacoma and Lakewood. Federal funding of the cleanup of Puget Sound, for example, has multiplied many times over on his watch. Dicks is also one of Congress’ leading authorities on defense and military policy, which makes him an ideal advocate for Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
Read more »


The great debate debate

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (6th District) gets a knock here from the Wall Street Journal for campaign debate-evasion.

This isn’t a new, startling or scandalous phenomenon – though Dicks certainly shouldn’t be invoking spurious legislative obligations, if the WSJ has it right.

Sitting-pretty incumbents are never eager to roll the dice by sharing a forum with their challengers. What’s in it for them? They’ve got little to gain, and challengers trying to close the gap have little to lose. And if they get shut out, they’ve got the “Why is my opponent afraid to debate me?” line.

Read more »


About Afghanistan, Dicks is as nervous as anyone

Concern about the war in Afghanistan isn’t news, but it’s noteworthy coming from U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks. A major power in Congress, Dicks is one of the nation’s chief makers of defense policy and has a strong grip on the military’s purse strings.

As chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, he’s well briefed on the war and visited Afghanistan twice this year.

Visiting us today, he described the war as “a big question mark” – tougher than Iraq, in part because “79 percent of the people are illiterate,” heroin production is widespread and “corruption keeps getting worse.”


Read more »