Value of labor not measured in money

Labor was very much in the news this holiday weekend, in the traditional sense of labor vs. management. A baseball strike was averted at the last minute. Teacher strikes in some districts appear likely, as does a machinist walkout at Boeing.

The issue in those dust-ups is money – the workers think their services are worth more than they are receiving. Or, in the case of the baseball situation, worth no less.

Fine by us. We think folks deserve to be paid a fair wage for an honest effort (although we found ourselves less than sympathetic toward the baseball players...that’s another story).

But as the selection of Garnie Quitslund as the Kiwanis Club’s Citizen of the Year reminds us, money is not the only measure of a job well done.

Quitslund is retired, and lives modestly on a pension. What he does have is time, and he has devoted a great deal of that to a number of causes, mostly to affordable housing.

Called by some a “community provocateur,” Quitslund has been effective by making sure that we don’t forget the problem – caused chiefly by the exploding cost of land on Bainbridge – and by having the patience to work towards small successes like the Housing Trust Fund and the Housing Resources Board. As he says, those who work in a community should be able to live there and share in its weal. That is no less true on our Bainbridge Island than anywhere else.

Labor Day is an appropriate time to acknowledge the labor movement, and its contribution to our lives. It’s also time to acknowledge folks like Garnie Quitslund, who show us how much can be accomplished by those willing to wade in without a financial incentive and make our communities better places.


Thoughts on judgeships

Washington voters this fall are being asked to winnow the field for two contested seats on the Washington Supreme Court.

We think it’s unfortunate because the validity of electing judges is, in our view, dubious at best. Elections ensure that public officials are responsive to the views of the people, but judges are supposed to be responsive to the law, not to popular view. Moreover, it’s almost impossible for the public to determine who possesses the abilities needed to be a judge –

particularly a judge on the Supreme Court, which must decide propositions of law, not issues of fact.

Here – and we say this with some sighing – we can place some reliance on the views of attorneys, who are probably the only professionals in a real position to know.

Having so said, and having reviewed the comments of those in whose spheres they have served, we recommend for position 3 King County Superior Court Judge Michael Spearman and assistant attorney general Mary Fairhurst, former state bar president. For position 4, our choices are incumbent Charles Johnson and criminal appellate attorney Pam Loginsky. Supreme Court Justice Bobbi Bridges and appellate court judge Robin Hunt of Bainbridge Island are, thankfully, unopposed.

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