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Our view: Secession digression

“Many Puget Sound area residents are not aware that 200,000 jobs in this state are dependent on agriculture.”

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels in a guest column published March 28, 2002, in The Spokesman-Review.

“We (the Puget Sound area) are held back because our state and federal government still believe our economies are driven by wheat farms and timber logging.”

Nickels during a forum in Seattle on Thursday, April 17, 2008.

What’s this, a case of multiple personality disorder?

Six years ago Seattle’s mayor, only a couple of months into his term, was in favor of tearing down the Cascade Curtain. He’d been to a U.S. Conference of Mayors session with Spokane’s then-Mayor John Powers and was brimming with ideas about, and reasons for, collaboration between their two cities.

Thursday, sharing the stage with the mayors of Bellevue (which Seattleites consider the “east side”) and Redmond, Nickels suggested the Puget Sound region split off from the rest of the state.

“I am serious when I say we ought to talk about independence,” he said in a remark his spokesman said was not serious.

Nickels is steamed mostly because state lawmakers did not deliver some transportation projects and gun-control legislation he wanted.

“We have rural legislators making decisions on things like the viaduct and whether we can keep our city safe,” said Nickels, as quoted by the Seattle Times.

His honor reminded the audience that the metropolitan center and population hub of Washington accounts for 67 percent of the state’s economic activity – and still couldn’t dictate all the political outcomes it wanted.

We would remind Mayor Nickels that only 10 of Washington’s 49 legislative district are in Eastern Washington and of the other 39, perhaps half a dozen might not be considered to include some part of the Puget Sound area.

That leaves it a little unclear as to how those rural lawmakers managed to wedge a monkey wrench in the state’s economic engine.

Over the years, frustrated residents of Eastern Washington and North Idaho have sometimes called for secession, and we’ve tried to point out what a dumb idea that would be. We never expected it would be necessary to say the same to the statesman who wrote, six years ago: “We can eradicate the ‘Cascade divide’ and nurture instead ‘One Washington.’ “


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