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Eye On Olympia

FRIDAY, FEB. 6, 2009, 3 P.M.

Like the fog of war, but with Roberts’ Rules…

Rich Nafziger, Senate Democrats' chief of staff, does a good job of capturing the headlong feeling of a legislative session, with 147 lawmakers trying to make sense of a thousand or more bills spiraling through the capitol at once.

In general, for most of the legislative session, legislators are working in the fog. As they labor through the process of studying bills and talking to constituents, they only can barely see the outlines of what is happening in other committees with other bills or with other staff people.

This spawns "conspiracy theories" among lawmakers and staffers, he says.

Behind all these conspiracies is a deeply held view that somebody must be in charge and is running the place. Their friends and allies are in the loop and everyone else is left out. Unfortunately, such command and control management is rare.

This is generally also true of day-to-day newspapering, as I periodically remind politicians convinced that we're out to get them.

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