June 27, 2005
Is Ron Sims A Good Manager?

I wondered about that during the long King County election fiasco.  And I started wondering about that again when I saw these two columns.  First, Joel Connelly of the Seattle PI on transportation plans in this area.

Two rules seem to govern all these disparate plans: Never connect anything, and duplicate everything.   The monorail and light rail will not meet. Until a Second and Madison station gets built, arriving Seattle ferry passengers will have to walk to Yesler to get aboard the monorail.  The Lake Union trolley will duplicate excellent bus service.

Next, Jim Vesely of the Seattle Times, who has similar complaints, and begins his column with this paragraph:

The real question that came out this past week can be put this way: Is local government competent to handle big problems?

In asking the question for this post, I am being less polite than Vesely, but surely my question follows naturally from his.  If local government is incompetent, then is it not likely that the top local official, King County Executive Ron Sims, is not a good manager?

Note that a person can be a good manager even if they pursue policies that you disagree with, just as a man can be a good general even if he fights for a bad cause.  So I am not asking whether you agree with Sims' goals, but whether you think that he is pursuing them in an effective and efficient way.  And, though I have suspicions, I do not have an answer to that question myself.  (I do think Sims is pretty good politician, which is still a different matter.)

So, now I'll open this for your comments, after saying again that I am asking whether Sims is a good manager, not whether you agree with his policies.  (Of course, I would love to hear opinions on this question from people who work for King County, though I must warn you not to email any criticisms from work, for the obvious reasons.)

Posted by Jim Miller at June 27, 2005 10:45 AM | Email This
Comments
1. A good manager knows how to hire key people or when to let go if his picks proved wrong. Sims just doesn't have this trait to begin with.

Posted by: C. Oh on June 27, 2005 10:59 AM
2. Is he a manager, or is he the Chief Crook and Bottle Washer?

Posted by: lksimstrailgrammy on June 27, 2005 11:04 AM
3. Is a mole a useful skin decoration?

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on June 27, 2005 11:24 AM
4. No. The (several years) ongoing fiasco that is KC Elections would be a prime example of why Sims fails as a manager.

Posted by: ewaggin on June 27, 2005 11:31 AM
5. If you don't like Ron Sims then you need to show your support and donate to David Irons who is running against Sims for King County Executive.
Bring your wallet and come show your support and lets show Ron Sims the way outa King County.

Date: Tuesday, June 28
Time: 6:00 - 9:00 pm
Where: Salty’s on Alki
1936 Harbor Ave. SW
Seattle, WA 98126

Please RSVP to (425) 646-2789 or rsvp@davidirons.org

Posted by: Dave on June 27, 2005 11:45 AM
6. All one needs to do is look at Sims' management of the Medical Examiners office. They have had one scandal after another over there and there seems to be no end in sight.

Posted by: Chris on June 27, 2005 11:45 AM
7. There are good managers and there are good leaders. A good manager does things right. A good leader does the right thing. Maybe, with Sims, it's a case of neither?

Posted by: Interested Observer on June 27, 2005 11:46 AM
8. All one needs to do is look at Sims' management of the Medical Examiners office. They have had one scandal after another over there and there seems to be no end in sight.

Posted by: chris on June 27, 2005 11:46 AM
9. Vesley's question is one that I've come to realize myself in the last several months. These folks don't do big projects in a competent manner--neither the project itself or the $$ part.

And way too much has gone wrong with KC to think that it's being managed well. As someone mentioned, the Med Examiners office, or KCE (and his insistence that the same people be able to 'fix' it), CAO, problems relating to the DDES (where you go to get building permits)--just too many blunders/questionable stuff/growing lack of trust that remain

Posted by: Michele on June 27, 2005 11:58 AM
10. I don't think it's possible to separate goals/policies and effectiveness toward achieving them.

I believe his primary goal is obtaining, increasing and retaining power. If that is in fact his goal, he has succeeded greatly. If everything that has happened the last six years is viewed in that light, he's extremely effective.

Consider the elections office, for example...if he wanted to build an office both competent and transparent, he's failed...but if he sought to build an office that would deliver for him, he succeeded greatly.

I don't think any of this is about results as much as politics. He's an extrememly effective politician.

Posted by: South County on June 27, 2005 12:15 PM
11. As an Army officer, it was impressed upon us that there is a difference between "management" and "leadership." One key difference between the two is that a leader sets an example (not merely just moving chess pieces around the board). A leader is out front, and takes personal responsibility for mistakes. I learned the art of leadership as a Captain in the Army. Most modern politicians (Dem. and Rep., but especially Dem.) aren't interested in serving in our Armed Forces - they often talk about a "father" or "brother" who served.

When these politicians can handle true leadership pressure while being shot at... leading a staff in a battle against paperwork and incompetence will seem (and will be) much easier.

Posted by: YourGovernorCostsMillion$ on June 27, 2005 12:30 PM
12. YourGov--Agree--thanks for your service;

not a veteran here, but I saw the same in the private sector; integrity, honesty and taking shots like a professional; we would move mountains for those leaders--and we did; true, no bullets flying among the cubicles, but I think the same 'battle training' and tactics apply in the "paper-cut world;"

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on June 27, 2005 12:39 PM
13. Just don't make Ron mad, lately he can't manage his temper.
"excuse me, excuse me gentlemen....I expect some good home training"
A confident manager doesn't need to limit the Q&A session to 3 questions either.

Posted by: chardonnay on June 27, 2005 12:41 PM
14. No.

Posted by: SouthernRoots on June 27, 2005 12:55 PM
15. Speaking of Q&A...(off subject) our Governor will be in Black Diamond Weds at noon to hand out some money. Black Diamond Community Center (on HWY 169)

Posted by: South County on June 27, 2005 12:56 PM
16. The first poster had it right: One of the first indicators of a good manager is if he or she surrounds him or herself with good people (ie, hard-working, responsible, accountable). I just don't see that in the top levels of King County management.

Posted by: jimg on June 27, 2005 01:05 PM
17. Of course, JC should speak of the 2nd and Marion stop... as Madison causes them to walk a block out of their way... boo hoo.

Posted by: bmvaughn on June 27, 2005 01:46 PM
18. She is a walking Citizen's Checkbook! It's our responsibility to get the signatures on I912 so that she soon becomes a walking citizen's Bounced Check!

Posted by: GS on June 27, 2005 01:54 PM
19. Ron Sims is only a good manager if your a rabid leftie like headless or (flushie).(Alphabet Soup name for lush flimbaugh.)Hats off to Alphabet Soup for that.I wonder if Ron will try to steal this election.How bad do we need this kind of repeat performance!!

Posted by: Laurie on June 27, 2005 01:56 PM
20. The question usually associated with gov' leadership is:

Are they doing a good job?

Just asking the question in this form answers self.

Ron "tax to the max" Sims is beyond incompetent, bordering on criminal, and certainly disastrous.

Posted by: JCM on June 27, 2005 01:57 PM
21. Redundancy;
How about dual bus systems...why do we need sound transit buses?

clueless
why do we have transit station downtown bellevue w/ no parking around it. So i want to take the express to the airport, departs from there, seems good, but how do i get there from the suburbs? Might as well drive to seatac...

Posted by: righton on June 27, 2005 02:39 PM
22. Is Sims a good manager?

I think GreGore thinks he is a good manager where it counts. He managed the fraud that got her elected pretty well.

So, there you have it. The rest is irrelevant as far as these people are concerned.

Posted by: BananaLand(aka Iguana) on June 27, 2005 03:02 PM
23. Governments are not generally incompetent. That might sound odd coming from me, but it's a far bigger a problem than incompetence.

The problem in King County is that everything is driven by politics or special interests, and not what is right or in the best direction for the people of King County.

Ron Sims lost his ability to manage King County the day he let politics drive his governance. Brightwater or Renton expansion? Brightwater is a billion dollar construction job. The construction industry wanted Brightwater, so Sims gave it to them for their future support. Now how to justify a billion dollar project when you could meet the goal for half that in Renton? Maggi Fimia asked, but she wasn't being a team player and opposition to Brightwater within King County was easily overwhelmed by those pushing for it.

Sims was approached in 1998 with evidence of corruption in DOT. He was sincerely concerned, until he found out who that corruption was benefitting. Then he was part of the cover-up, because his support from those who benefit from that bias and fraud were more important to Sims than doing the right thing. Every improper act that is forgiven then propogates that corruption even further.

A good manager should run a government like a business, making the best decisions for the shareholders, while upholding the law and maintaining the integrity of the institution. Ron Sims, along with Gary Locke and others before him, along with the overwhelming majority of managers, supervisors, and even department directors in King County, have made it impossible to acts as good managers because they have no interest in the people of King County. They are not bound by the law or integrity. Their only concern is getting elected, getting promoted, and making sure that whatever their bosses want, they get.

Nicole Way committed fraud to satisfy her superiors. It is expected and is always forgiven as long as you're not caught. With such an incredible level of wrongdoing going on in King County, who would have expected that this Election case would be the one where fraud and corruption could not be completely covered up? And where did it get the people who found it and exposed it?

Sadly I don't believe any of it is fixable with reforms or changes of laws. The only repair is the election of people of integrity who will put the law and the people first, and say, Hell No! to the special interests that King County currently works for. And then the only problem is keeping them from being corrupted by the system. It won't be fixed with people who've been bought by one or the other party, but how do those people get elected? How much worse did it get with the top 2 primary?

These are the million dollar questions. The only really decent people I've known in politics were either defeated by slimeballs willing to cross any line, or they simply couldn't stomach it and gave up.

Posted by: Mike on June 27, 2005 03:04 PM
24. My underlying point is that any institution will look incompetent if they have no underlying principles that they're following. When rules, policies and laws are only obstacles to be ignored or violated, no institution can look anything other than incompetent, until of course you accept that they are simply corrupt.

Posted by: Mike on June 27, 2005 03:07 PM
25. Sims a good manager? Is a porcupine a good water bed tester? Fffsssssttt!

Mike has is wrapped above in a nice package. Good job.

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on June 27, 2005 03:43 PM
26. If the goal is to enrich and empower your friends and punish your enemies, then Ron is a great manager. However, if your goal is to make a better place for people to live and work, then Ronnie is of limited value.

Posted by: Huey on June 27, 2005 03:57 PM
27. One of my goals as manager in the past has been to hire people more intelligent than I am. I don't think that's the case in KC under Ron Sims, based on the quality of the employees and underlings I've seen. Or maybe it is :)

Posted by: Bubbasaurus on June 27, 2005 04:52 PM
28. Mike nailed it. KC and Olympia are perfect examples of how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Lest we get a big head, if the R's were in continuous control for 3 decades, utter corruption would be a problem.

Posted by: Danny on June 27, 2005 05:30 PM
29. No he is not. If nothing else, good management addresses problems and hires and fires based on problems and successes.

If Ron Sims was generally concerned with the problems in Seattle, he would fire people in the Medical Examiners office, at KCREALS, etc. and he would admit that the CAO was a big mistake.

And he would have the guts to ask why the SMP assumptions of ridership and financing were so far off as to create an unworkable project, even after millions have been spent just studying the project and planning.

Being a good manager and leader is not a popularity contest, it's a tough job. But in today's world where politicians view themselves as celebrities, there should be no surprise when all we ever seem to elect are people like Ron Sims.

Vote for David Irons!

Posted by: Jeff B. on June 27, 2005 05:52 PM
30. Ron is pretty good as an orator and politician. On the other hand he has demonstrated time and again that he has very little talent as a manager.

But that isn't the only problem with his administration. As Danny noted, 3 decades in power, no matter what party, leads to corruption and incompetence.

The democrats owe too many people too many favors to really clean up their act at this point. Its time to turn over the keys to someone new and my vote will likely go to Mr. Irons in November. (Barring any "Westian" outings or other scandals that stick, of course).

Posted by: Deadwood on June 27, 2005 06:28 PM
31. Is Sims a good manager? The real question is will the voting lemmings (gosh help us) continue to re-elect him?

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on June 27, 2005 07:04 PM
32. The orange banner is back!!

Posted by: cc on June 27, 2005 07:39 PM
33. Does anyone know how many areas in King county will even get the opportunity to vote for County Executive. Is it the entire area of King County, rural and metro, or just some sub area of Seattle?

Posted by: GS on June 27, 2005 07:41 PM
34. CC,

Yeah, I like the banner color changes too. Back to Orange in the U-King County. It reminds me the Homeland Security warning system. We'll know that things are safe and Sound when it goes back to Blue.

For now though, we live in political terror so it's Orange to keep us on high alert.

Posted by: Jeff B. on June 27, 2005 08:58 PM
35. The real questions are: should Saddam Hussein be considered for sainthood and is Alcoholics Anonymous hiring Ted Kennedy as their new spokesman?

Posted by: Mark Griswold on June 27, 2005 09:05 PM
36. Anyone who has a lick of common sense would say that he is fiscally irresponsible to the Max !
He is a politician that caters to the lemmings of the left who want a socialist utopia who are as Lenin once phrased; "useful idiots".

His political skills were once fair but have now become mediocre. Why can't people see through his tactics at press conferences ? He has no capacity for disagreement and can't handle it.
To me, that is a trademark of a POOR manager.
However, he is aided and abetted by the local media, which makes him appear better than he really is.

People that I know who work for King County say that he seems like an alcoholic or a substance abuser, as his policies are basically ridiculous, totally lacking in common sense and all about control. Previous posts were much too kind in response to this question.

Posted by: KS on June 27, 2005 09:10 PM
37. I vote we put his visage on the King County flag. Testament for 30 years (?) of public service. Design? Colors? Long may it wave. Fly that baby in (new) Cascade County. Like a hurricane flag warning of impending danger.

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on June 27, 2005 10:10 PM
38. Ron Sims and good manager in the same sentence? nahh....

Ron only manages to be re-elected by the few in his old tried and true recipe of symbiotic primordial soup. Now that the diners have tasted this slop and the kitchen help has uncovered the gut wrenching secret ingredients, he may have to contend with excercising good home training by running away or berating the customers. I expect both, but as the sayings go "The customer is always right" and "customers vote with their dollar".

Posted by: Elvis is the King County on June 27, 2005 11:25 PM
39. Is Ron Sims A Good Manager?

Why lend credibility to this fool by asking such a question?

Ron Sims is so very many things....and none of them good! How can anyone give this man a moment of careful consideration to post an answer to that question? He doesn't deserve our consideration - good or bad. He just needs to lose his election by a huge margin and leave the state and allow us to pick up the many pieces of the shattered lives he left behind..

Is Ron Sims a good manager? My God!

Posted by: Deborah on June 28, 2005 12:33 AM
40. I thought that it was a rhetorical question. Or perhaps some oxymoron pun or something.

Posted by: scott158 on June 28, 2005 12:41 AM
41. Elvis, I think I got tongue tied by that soup!

When it comes to soup and Ron Sims I believe he is up to his neck in red hot soup. If he gets out of this mess then I will take back both the votes I will cast against him, and I live in Snohomish county.

As you can see I am learning something from the Trolls.

Get out the orange banners....Go David Irons!

Posted by: 4pawz on June 28, 2005 12:42 AM
42. I'm gonna take a slightly different tack than you Jeff B.

You said, "...and he would admit that the CAO was a big mistake."

Sims will never admit that it is/was/will be a mistake. If he were a "good manager" he would have slid CAO up our rears so smoothly we would never have noticed.

As a manager, he sucks.....as a flim-flam artist, he's even worse!

Posted by: alphabet soup on June 28, 2005 07:41 AM
43. I think you have to qualify the question in order to answer it more succinctly. Is Ron Sims a good manager? For the people of King County in general? No. He has proven to be biased and manages in such a manner as to benefit special interests instead of the people of King County. Is Ron Sims a good manager for the Democratic Party and the Special Interests who support them? Absolutely. His "mismanagement" of the Elections Department alone pushed Gregoire over the top, and the big projects he has continually pushed to benefit the special interests who support him shows that they supported the right person to get their agenda prioritized above the needs of the citizens of King County.

So, from the perspective of those who supported him, Ron Sims has been an enormously successful manager. But his success has come at the price of alienating a large portion of the citizens he is supposed to represent, as well as any appearance of the ability to be bipartisan in his actions.

Posted by: Kim S on June 28, 2005 09:16 AM
44. Sims - Good Manager?
He's a liberal. What more needs be said?

Some people think he is nice though because they know that if you say he is a good guy often enough, he will give you somebody elses stuff.

Posted by: Amused by liberals on June 28, 2005 09:17 AM
45. Is the Pope Jewish?

Posted by: oswald booth czolgosz on June 28, 2005 09:48 AM
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