Knute “Skip” Berger of Crosscut.com sometimes writes under the moniker Mossback to signify his status as the voice of those native to the damp Northwest.
His list of Heritage Turkeys of the Year is the region’s best list of the worst of historic preservation in the year past.
Topping this year’s dishonor role is Gov. Chris Gregoire for what he terms her budgetary assault on Washington’s heritage. While he gets the need for budget cuts, he wonders about many other decisions in the budget that do damage to heritage, history and education.
Her latest budget for the 2011-13 biennium makes a lot of tough choices, but it also makes some really bad ones. Notably, subsuming the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation into the Department of Natural Resources, an agency whose mission is, essentially, to grow and cut trees. It makes a strange new home for the urban-renewing Main Street program, and a demotion for the state’s single most important heritage agency. Gregoire’s budget also proposes to shut down the state’s public history museums in Tacoma, Spokane, and Olympia.
Also on the list is the University of Washington Tacoma for allowing contractors to pressure wash the post-Prohibition Heidelberg ghost sign off the wall of the Joy Building.
Historic preservation has been key to Tacoma’s renewal. An essential part of that has been the UW Tacoma campus, and it’s painful to see them stumble badly.