Three cities here to stay

June 5th, 2012 by Ken

Those who are new to our community can’t understand why we have three separate cities. It just doesn’t make any sense to them.

Nobody seems to know where the city boundary lines are and having three city governments seems to be a waste, they say.

Why do you have three police departments? Why do you have three fire departments and three city councils? These are questions newcomers ask.

But, those of us who are natives, who have lived here all of our lives, or for many decades, will tell you why. That’s just the way it is, is our response.

Because for us, it’s difficult to explain why we have three police forces and three fire departments and three separate city governments.

We can talk about historical precedence. We can talk about how Tumwater was the first American settlement in the state (before it was a state). We can talk about how Olympia is a state capital, with different ideas than Lacey, whose residents are more conservative.

We can talk about how as kids, we all attended Olympia High School, until we built North Thurston and Tumwater, and how we always felt discriminated against in high school and how we came to resent our second class citizenship.

How Olympia always felt it was better than its adjacent neighbors and how Olympia always thought it had the best of everything and how those hicks in Lacey and Tumwater didn’t really understand the big city.

We could talk about all of that, but it wouldn’t make much sense to newcomers, who see three separate cities as a waste of time or money and resources.

So we talk instead about regional cooperation. How some two dozen intergovernmental boards and commissions determine how the three cities (and the county) work together.

We can talk about consolidation and its advantages. We can point to recent efforts to consolidate some fire services like vehicle maintenance. We can talk about all of that.

But the bottom line is that we are three separate cities, with three separate identities, and we’ll always be that – – as long as some of us natives are still alive.

Posted in History, Local Politics, The Real News

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