Norm Dicks' son leaves Puget Sound cleanup agency for UW
The head of the state agency in charge of cleaning up Puget Sound is stepping down to take a job with the University of Washington's new College of the Environment.
Seattle Times environment reporter
Gov. Chris Gregoire is developing a shortlist of people to replace David Dicks, who announced Wednesday that he's stepping down as the head of the state agency charged with cleaning up Puget Sound.
Dicks, an environmental attorney who helped create the state's Puget Sound Partnership in 2007, starts a new job next month at the University of Washington.
He will be the director of strategic partnerships and civic engagement at the new College of the Environment. He'll help scientists and the college coordinate cross-disciplinary research and programs to more directly bear on ecological issues facing the Northwest.
The governor plans to name a replacement quickly, perhaps even before Dicks leaves in December, said Martha Kongsgaard, who chairs a leadership board that steers the agency.
"I know she wants to hire somebody who can signal her deep commitment to Puget Sound, even in this economic environment," Kongsgaard said.
Dicks leaves the $125,000-a-year job as lawmakers prepare to deal with what may be the biggest budget crisis in state history.
Dicks and supporters say he got the small agency up and running fast and positioned Puget Sound nationally as an estuary cleanup project that the federal government may soon designate as significant enough to warrant more federal money — like the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay or the Everglades. "I'm probably too close to pull back and be too objective about it. But in broad strokes, I think we've done the big things well," Dicks said.
But he didn't spare himself criticism. His agency came under fire last spring, after a State Auditor's review found it violated contracting rules, inappropriately spent thousands of dollars on monogrammed jackets and promotional gifts like lip balm, and spent $70,000 on Apple computers and other accessories that sometimes were incompatible with state computer systems.
"Clearly, we had a not-great audit," Dicks said. "We made mistakes. There was no instance in which we didn't get a benefit for the money we spent ... but the public rightfully demanded and deserved better. We fixed those issues, and subsequent reviews have given us a clean bill of health."
Dicks also faced heat for his family ties. He took the helm as Democrats recaptured the U.S. House and his father, Rep. Norm Dicks of Bremerton, gained the chairmanship of a powerful appropriation subcommittee that steered millions of dollars to Puget Sound.
"I think the idea that somehow Norm Dicks cares more about Puget Sound now because I'm here is pure fantasy," David Dicks said. "He's been working on these issues since before I was born."
Dicks said he was leaving because he has a young child and has been working at a breakneck pace and the UW opportunity was too good to pass up.
Lisa Graumlich, dean of the College, said Dicks beat 70 other applicants and was the unanimous choice for the three-day-a-week job. It pays $75,000 a year.
Craig Welch: 206-464-2093 or email@example.com
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
(The Associated Press) Fuel rules get support A Consumer Federation of America survey conducted in April found that a large majority of Americans R...
Post a comment