KCTS 9 Connects/Dave Reichert - April 20, 2012

CNX: Dave Reichert 4/20/12
  • KCTS 9 Connects

Dave Reichert

Washington Congressman Dave Reichert joins us for a newsmaker interview. We talk with him about redistricting and how it has changed the make-up of his Eighth Congressional District.

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  • Dave Reichert Transcript
  • Knute Berger Transcript

About the Episode

Washington Eighth District Congressman Dave Reichert joins us for a newsmaker interview. Redistricting has brought big change to the Eighth Congressional District. What does it mean for his re-election? Plus, Space Needle writer-in-residence Knute Berger talks about the 50th Anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair and his new book "Space Needle: The Spirit of Seattle."

Chapter 1: Dave Reichert

Chapter 2: "Space Needle: The Spirit of Seattle"

Chapter 3: Insiders Roundtable

Related:
KCTS 9 Documentary "When Seattle Invented the Future: The 1962 World's Fair"

Enrique Cerna:
Washington congressman Dave Reichert joins me now to talk about the change redistricting has brought to the 8th congressional district. And it's a big change. Because you are now the only congressional district in the state that is west and east, or the folks on the other side of the mountains want to say east and west, right? Yeah.

Dave Reichert:
True. And we're very excited about the opportunity to represent Kittitas county, Chelan county, and a little piece of Douglas county, which is the city of east Wenatchee. But a lot of people don't know that we also have acquired the entire city of Auburn now in the district. So we go all the way to I 5 on the west hill, now included Algona, Pacific, and then essentially east and it continues down the east side of east king and pierce, Mount Rainier. I like to say we have the two jewels of the state, Mount Rainier and Lake Chelan now.

Enrique:
Yeah.

Reichert:
So the furthest northeast city that people might recognize the name is Stehekin, which is...

Enrique:
It will take a ferry to get there.

Reichert:
Or a float plane, yeah.

Enrique:
So you aren't representing them yet, but you will be if you're reelected. But you know, you already heard this, that some over there are saying, what does he know about us?

Reichert:
Yeah.

Enrique:
And we are, and they're concerned that, one publisher has already stated that, is he going to be focusing more on the west than the east because of the base?

Reichert:
Yeah. Well, you know, when I took office here in the current 8th district back in 2005, there was concern that I would put all of my focus on Bellevue and Mercer Island and Newcastle, et cetera, and forget about Eatonville and Orting and Graham and Enumclaw and Buckley. And we've spent a lot of time all throughout the district. And I intend to do the same. And the good thing is that when we meet, and we've been over there a number of times now, I've lost track, just two times again last week in Ellensburg, that concern is expressed by a couple of people. But by the end of the meeting, the welcome mat has really been thrown out, the red carpet so to speak, the comments have been, wow, I'm very happy to meet you, to hear you, to listen to you, I'm excited now about having you as our congressman. So...

Enrique:
If you're looking at this from a political standpoint, actually, it benefits you.

Reichert:
You noticed.

Enrique:
You came out well in the district.

Reichert:
You noticed.

Enrique:
And I'm sure you did too. [LAUGHTER] And what you faced here since you have been representing this district.

Reichert:
Right.

Enrique:
It's a tough reelection. And now, you become in an area that's more conservative and presumably more republican.

Reichert:
Yeah.

Enrique:
And is that going to change the way you vote in congress?

Reichert:
No. You know, we're back to 2005, and look at pictures of me, and look at pictures today. So the battles have taken their toll. But no, I'm excited again about representing both sides of the state. And I've been asked that question too as to whether or not this is going to change the way I vote. And the question sort of, it makes sense to me, but then in another sense, sort of puzzles me in a way. Because people know me and they know that since I've been sheriff and since I've been a member of congress, I have said from day one that I base my decisions on votes on the facts. And you can't take that out of an old cop. You gather the facts, the old Joe Friday dragnet show, just the facts, ma'am, you gather the facts, and you make decisions based on the facts, and of course the input of your constituents. And you're not always going to make the right decision because you're a human being, you know, and you're going to make mistakes. But I think people really appreciate the fact that I'm not just a follower. I'm a thinker and I'm trying to lead.

Enrique:
Let me ask you about one issue that you'll have to really deal with. And that is immigration and immigration reform, particularly in a rural area that depends on farm workers and has depended on, you know, people being able to be available to do this. And since there have been a real focus and crackdown, that has been very troublesome in that part of the state.

Reichert:
Right.

Enrique:
Where are you going to come now on this issue of immigration reform?

Reichert:
Well, you know, as I've talked to people in the agricultural business on the east side of the mountains and sometimes people forget we have that concern over here. We have dairy farms in east King County and Pierce County that hire immigrant workers to come and milk their cows. And they're afraid of losing their farms if they don't have access to that work pool. And so all of those folks really understand, from what I'm hearing from them, that there needs to be some firm enforcement of immigration laws. We have to abide by the laws of this country. They also agree, and I agree along with them, there needs to be a policy language set aside that protects the agricultural industry across this country, so not just here in Washington state, of course it will affect the entire country, because there are a lot of small farms and orchardists and small family farm businesses that are affected by the lack of access to this pool of workers. They'll lose their farms. So I've arranged a meeting with the chairman of the committee responsible for immigration, I set up a meeting with Doc Hastings, Jamie Herrera, and myself, to make sure that the chairman knows we need to have a law that specifically addresses this issue to allow these agricultural professionals to have access to this work pool.

Enrique:
Short amount of time left. I got to ask you a couple of other things. That is, are you for sure not going to run for the U.S. Senate against Maria Cantwell?

Reichert:
I'm not going to run against Maria Cantwell. I am focused on winning this next election for the new 8th district. And I look forward to serving the people in that new 8th come January.

Enrique:
Had you looked at it at all, and why have you decided not to do that?

Reichert:
Yeah, I did. I think even the last time you and I talked.

Enrique:
Yeah, you told me that.

Reichert:
I think you have to in this political world, you have to keep all your options open. You have to examine your opportunities and evaluate your chances of succeeding here or there, and where you need to be, and where you think you can accomplish the most. And I think on being on ways and means right now with some seniority, being on the health care subcommittee and the trade subcommittee, so important and critical for Washington state, I'm in a good place, and the farmers over there recognize the benefits of trade and my position on the trade subcommittee.

Enrique:
Got about a minute left, I'm going to do a little extra time here. Couple of other issues that I'd like to quickly get some feedback on you. Your old job of sheriff, Sue Rahr has left to go to another position, Steve Strahan is now in that position. Now, John Urquhart is going to run.

Reichert:
I heard that.

Enrique:
You know these guys.

Reichert:
I told people maybe I should just throw my name on the ballot, really screw everything up. Throw the whole world into a tizzy. I'm not going to endorse anyone right away. I want to talk to John, of course, again, Steve Strahan has been to meet with me. And you know, there have been some other names out there that have been bounced around that haven't surfaced yet. So I think that, you know, it may be time for someone from the outside to be the sheriff. Because I was the first, you know, in 30 years to be the elected sheriff, and the first internally. I appointed Sue. And she did a great job. And now, you have an opportunity for the people in King County to make a choice between someone that's been in and someone that's been out.

Enrique:
Two other issues, and I'm really short on time here, but I want to get your quick response on this. Will you vote for or against initiative 502, the marijuana legalization? [LAUGHTER]

Reichert:
Well, I never share my votes as far as my personal votes on state issues. But I'll share my opinion. I believe there is some, you know, if you want to talk about smoking marijuana, I'm dead set against it. I'm an ex cop and I know what happens, I've got my opinions as to where that leads people usually. So I'm against legalizing pot in that regard. But my mother recently passed away from pancreatic cancer. They gave her some medication that had small amounts of cannabis mixed with some other medication. It seemed to ease her pain as she was passing away. I think that there's more to be learned about medical marijuana.

Enrique:
What about referendum 74, have you decided that yet? That's the same sex marriage debate here in the state.

Reichert:
Oh, I've always taken a strong stand on that. I think that we all deserve to be treated equally, but my religious background just does not allow me to endorse marriage other than a marriage that exists between a man and a woman.

Enrique:
Hey, thank you for stopping by. We'll talk more about how that works out and that commute across the state there.

Enrique Cerna:
This week, the roof of the space needle got a paint job, just in time to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle world's fair. The color is galaxy gold. But it actually looks more orange than gold, and it's back to the original color of the needle when it was built on April 1st, 1962. And joining me now is Knute Berger, who is writer in residence at the space needle. He's also the author of the new book "Space Needle in Seattle." And he's also part author in the 1962 Seattle world's fair. Thank you so much for that. You've really become the historian, not only about the fair, but the needle.

Knute Berger:
Well, the needle actually. It was fabulous this year, and I found a lot of really great documents and papers, photographs, did interviews with people who were part of the original people who built it. It's a fascinating story.

Enrique:
How did you become writer in residence at a place like the space needle?

Knute:
Well, the space needle approached me and said they were thinking of doing a history for their 50th anniversary. And asked me if I'd be interested. And you know, I went to the world's fair in 1962, born and raised and Seattle. I became a world's fair buff. And I've been to seven world's fairs.

Enrique:
Wow.

Knute:
In seven different countries, since, you know, then, including Seattle. And they were interested in the fact that I was both local, but I also understood the context of fairs. And when we began talking about the research for the book, it seemed like it would make sense for me to spend time down there interviewing people, bringing people down, just getting a sense of the ebb and flow of life in this kind of incredible icon.

Enrique:
The book, it's about the space needle, but the spirit of Seattle as well. In the title there. So I take it it's really also about the people and just everything that went on to make this thing go.

Knute:
Exactly. First of all, the context of the space needle, you really have to understand the cold war context that helped the world's fair become what it was, and also become successful. It was, these things are imbued with tremendous, I think of it as energy. It was a symbol to the world as well as to Seattle and the United States. It was a symbol of an outlook on the future that was a contrast with the Soviet union. They literally, when the space needle was being built, the Berlin wall was being built, right at the same time. You can look at old copies of the Seattle Times. There's one that was very striking, on one part of the front page, there's a picture of the space needle starting to go up, and on the other side is an article about a guy digging a fall out shelter. This was the statement that said they're building walls, they're putting up barbed wire, in communist countries, in our part of the world, we're building vistas.

Enrique:
You know, it's interesting, you said this in the documentary, you felt that the space needle really made the world's fair. And that's something that I think that strikes me 50 years later, the space needle, it's not only a symbol of the world's fair, but it's a symbol of the city. And it's known around the world. If you think about it, it's like the Eiffel Tower is well known, but the space needle is also right up there.

Knute:
It really is. And it's interesting. The Eiffel Tower was built the year Seattle burned to the ground. I just found that was an interesting fact. And I went to china, to shanghai, in 2010, the largest world's fair in history was held in shanghai that year. And they had a display of world's fair, they were introducing a billion people to the concept of world's fairs, because china had never had one before, and most people in china had not traveled to one. And in this display, they had made reproductions of all these buildings that were from worlds fairs, and the biggest one and the most prominent one was the space needle. And I realized that not only is the space needle a symbol of Seattle, it's a symbol of technology and optimism, but it's also a symbol of world's fairs themselves and all that world's fairs embody. People around the world, they see the space needle like they see the Eiffel Tower, and they see something that really is resonant with a message.

Enrique:
In the documentary, the one thing that we note is the fact that it took this small group of people that just were going to do this thing. But also the fact that the space needle, like today, you know, people would try to get tax money, like the same status of building a stadium or something, might not happen at all. But basically, you're talking about private investor whose took a chance.

Knute:
Yeah, it's kind of a monument to public/private partnerships, and it hasn't been controversial over the years because of that. When they completed the idea for a space needle, they knew the world's fair needed a signature object. Also, if you think about the sites where they considered locating the world's fair, most of the earth sites, first hill, Duwamish head, discovery park, these places had fabulous views. They wanted to show off the view. Well, they ended up doing it here to make a civic center, but they didn't have a view. And they were thinking, can we get a structure that goes up and brings in mount rainier, brings in Puget Sound. The group that conceived it hoped that it would be publicly funded, but by the time they came together with the concept, everybody was tapped out. King County didn't want to have anything to do with it. And the head of the building department in Seattle said we don't want to be saddled with this white elephant, literally. [LAUGHTER] And so a group of private investors led by bagley wright and including others, got together and raised money.

Enrique:
Could we do this today? Could we build a needle? I mean we have enough trouble building what we have right now, but could we pull off a world's fair? That always seems to be a question that we ask a lot these days.

Knute:
That's a good question. No, I don't think we could. I think it would be, well, there are some technical difficulties. The United States of America cannot host a world's fair now, because we withdrew under the bush administration, we withdrew from the bureau of international expositions. So you can't host a world's fair if you're not part of the international body that governs world's fairs. So that has to be resolved first. There are cities that do want to host fairs in the United States. Other countries around the world, of course, are doing it, there's one in Korea this year.

Enrique:
And you're going to be going to that.

Knute:
Yes, yeah. I'm very excited. Because it's a small provincial port city that's reminiscent of where Seattle was in 1962.

Enrique:
But can we do these types of things anymore? Because even here, we're so consensus driven as they say?

Knute:
You couldn't do it the same way. There would be a path to success. When you look at the fair and you look at the space needle, there were a couple things. One is it was an exception to the process then. So it's, you can look at nostalgia and say, gee, couldn't that be? People then knew it was a special thing that they could pull off. Secondly, Eddie Carlson said after the fair in the early 1980s, when he was on the Pacific science center at the board there. He said, we couldn't do it because the public is too inquisitive now.

Enrique:
Yeah. And they're following the money. Well, we want to mention here that Knute, is this the first copy of the book?

Knute:
It is, yeah.

Enrique:
First copy of the book. Author of the new book space needle, the spirit of Seattle, all the activities starting tomorrow. And you're going to be in the midst of all that. I know you've had a lot of fun doing all this. Good luck and thank you for taking the time to do this.

Knute:
Thank you, Enrique.

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