Gardner had his flaws

March 19th, 2013 by Ken

Former governor Booth Gardner died last week and accolades continue to pour in.  Most of them point to the fact that Gardner was a nice guy – – and someone that everyone liked.  Even though the man was rich – – having inherited part of the Weyerhaeuser fortune – – he was down to earth and modest.

However, some point out that while Gardner was well-liked, he wasn’t a very good governor.  For my money, they’d be right.

My experience with Booth Gardner, and my concern with his governing, stems from my involvement with the state’s centennial committee.  A group of people starting planning in 1976 for the state’s 100th birthday in 1989.

For several years we tried to gain public support and legislative support for the project.  We were unable to get much of either.   But, with the date fast approaching, we felt we had some chance when Gardner was elected as governor.   We wanted to promote the state and hoped he would put his energy to work to make the Centennial Celebration a major landmark, with some lasting legacy.

Instead the governor gave us the cold shoulder and made his wife, Jean,  the chairman of a new Centennial Commission.  But, because she had no experience in any type of statewide planning, he also appointed Secretary of State Ralph Munro as co-chair.

It wasn’t known until later that the Gardner’s were having marital problems, and some looked upon the appointment as a chance for the governor to get his wife out of the house.

Of course, the Centennial celebration was a bust.  Very little state money came in, corporate sponsorship was almost non-existent and the public never embraced the concept of having a state birthday party and being told to stay home and celebrate.

Governor Gardner may have been a people’s person, but he used the state’s centennial for his own personal reasons and the people of Washington state lost an opportunity to really get something concrete and lasting.

Posted in Government, History, Informational, The Real News

(comments are closed).