Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Fresh Breeze From The Herald Wafts Over The Partnership


Check out the editorial voice Peter Jackson and his editorial writers at The Herald are establishing. Over the last three weeks, they've opined on coal exports, the San Juan Island National Monument, food fish safety and coal trains.

Earlier this month, the subject was saving Puget Sound and praise for Governor Jay Inslee's proposed natural resources budget.

Specific to Puget Sound, the editorialists wrote:

"Most of Inslee's recommendations dovetail with the priorities of the Puget Sound Partnership, the state agency responsible for the Sound's recovery. The partnership has become a lean, efficient bird-dog of state funds, ensuring oversight and accountability. Coordinating and leveraging federal dollars also falls on the partnership, as well as developing indicators of a healthy Sound consistent with its 2020 restoration goals. The partnership no longer gets scapegoated as too top-heavy or PR oriented, with an evolving bipartisan consensus. The reason centers on tangible results such as restoring shellfish beds previously off-limits because of contamination."

The "lean, efficient bird-dog" description and no longer "top-heavy or PR oriented" description had me checking out the Partnership staff web site since I'd not heard much from or about the Partnership since its executive director Tony Wright resigned earlier this year. I couldn't tell how much leaner or efficient the Partnership had become by perusing its staff roster but I did learn that Marc Daily is now serving as Interim Director.

With all due respects to Marc Daily, having an interim director for an agency charged with saving Puget Sound unfortunately doesn't inspire much confidence in the state's pursuit of this important task.

Nevertheless, The Herald editorialists see a new day for the Partnership thanks to delivering "tangible results such as restoring shellfish beds" and to "
developing indicators of a healthy Sound." That led me to check out how well the Partnership (and Puget Sound) is doing in meeting the 2020 benchmarks that measure how 'fishable, swimmable and diggable' our Sound is. 

The Partnership's colorful Vital Signs display shows a few tangible results-- but we're clearly running out of time as the Partnership moves closer to 2020. What's disturbing is how many of the indicators of Puget Sound recovery don't show progress and some don't have interim targets to measure progress.

Sadly, the Partnership has never told its story or the story of Puget Sound very well since its inception in 2007. Maybe better "PR" -- in place of or in addition to its campaign of picking up dog poop -- would have resulted in more Puget Sound residents seeing the waters of the Sound as at risk. In 2007 about three-fourths of people polled thought the health of Puget Sound to be good or excellent; five year later, the Partnership's polling found little change in that public perception. ( General Public Opinion Survey 2012 ) 

It's a good thing that The Herald newspaper still thinks the Partnership and the need to save Puget Sound are important enough to editorialize about.  The issue is too important to fade from public awareness. How about Puget Sound environmental groups and other major news media do their parts to watch dog the Partnership and put the "action" into its Action Agenda?

--Mike Sato

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the update Mike.

    I Looked at the Report Card section of the Partnership website - also very colorful and easy to read and navigate. But the very top of it says that 61% of the (about 200) action items in the Action Agenda are on track (as of end of 2012) while the budget to do them all is less than 1/4 of what is needed. (124Million vs 600Million.) Talk about a pending "Fiscal Cliff." This kind of presentation of data - without any apparent sense of "OMG!" - makes it hard to take any of their stuff seriously. As I think the surveys show.

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