DORI MONSON

Dori: Internal ferry system memos show PR image more important than service

May 8, 2022, 7:03 AM
A ferry and a tanker pass through the Puget Sound near Seattle's iconic Pike Place Market on March ...
A ferry and a tanker pass through the Puget Sound near Seattle's iconic Pike Place Market on March 11, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

In an internal public relations move last October, the Washington State Ferry System preemptively slashed sailings rather than face ongoing negative publicity for possible service disruptions and cancellations, the Washington Policy Center WSDOT canceled ferry service to avoid daily bad press, the Washington Policy Center has learned.

WPC writer Mariya Frost told The Dori Monson Show on Friday that she confirmed this after obtaining emails through the Public Disclosure Act. The memos showed DOT secretary Roger Millar, recommending “making reductions now.

The newly renovated Mukilteo ferry terminal is ADA compliant, but still needs improvements

“It will be a story one time,” Millar wrote on Oct. 7, 2021 to his communications team. “Daily missed sailings will be a daily story.”

It shows, Frost told Dori and his listeners, the move was about “putting the image of the agency above service.”

Millar told colleagues his recommendation was opposed by Governor Jay Inslee.

But one week later, WSF director Patty Rubstello issued an Oct. 13 public press release that stated, “To better reflect the service we can currently provide and to minimize last-minute cancelations due to a lack of crew, we made this difficult decision to adjust our schedules.”

WSF claimed the cutbacks were announced to show more “reliability,” Frost said. Instead, she told Dori, it was more like “stopping projects to avoid a change order.”

The email threads, Frost told Dori, came almost two weeks before nearly 400 ferry service employees were fired by DOT for refusing Inslee’s COVID vaccine mandate. It also came on the heels of months of unexpected service reductions due to staffing shortages, blamed on a combination of COVID illness and worker retirements.

Washington State Ferries struggle to get walk-ons back after pandemic

The preemptive, she said, was “PR strategy. . . In other words, `we do not want to deal with bad press every day, where we get staff calling out sick. . . Let’s just do a clean sweep, cut service. One story and then everyone moves on with their life.’”

Had WSF waited until the cuts were truly needed, she said, “At least they would have been able to provide what service they could. Chances are they cut service that did not need to be cut, inconveniencing hundreds or thousands (of passengers).”

Listen to Dori Monson weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

Dori Monson Show

Dori Monson

(Photo by J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images)...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: With ongoing emergency powers, Gov. Inslee imposes permanent vaccine mandate for state workers

A June 30 memo issued by Gov. Jay Inslee says you’re going to need to be vaccinated – and continue to get boosted against COVID-19 before July 2023.
3 days ago
(KIRO 7)...
Frank Sumrall

Dori: King County Sheriff’s Office arrests son after killing mother in Shoreline

The mother had a restraining order on her son, but ended up letting him live with her.
4 days ago
Dr. Faisel Khan, King County's next Director of Public Health (KIRO  NewsRadio)...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Will KC health director appointee push for mask mandate return after St. Louis finger-flip fray?

Local eyes will be on Khan, who comes from Missouri where he was acting director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health since February 2021.
4 days ago
(Photo by Bernd Wüstneck/picture alliance via Getty Images)...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Local crimes spike due to more repeat offenders

In the past three days, there have been 14 shootings in Tacoma alone. In King County: 29 shootings in the first 28 days of this month.
5 days ago
Photo by Win McNamee...
Dori Monson

Dori: ‘Just want to coach again’ says Bremerton coach after Supreme Court victory

What started as a prayer of thanks on a Kitsap County football field has now ended as a prayer of thanks in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, for former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joseph Kennedy.
6 days ago
Photo by Bill Clark...
Dori Monson

Tiffany Smiley pushes for debate with Patty Murray in U.S. Senate Race

After 14 months of vying to overtake the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic incumbent Patty Murray, who has held the seat for nearly three decades, candidate Tiffany Smiley said she continues to pose the same question to Washington state voters on the campaign trail.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Dori: Internal ferry system memos show PR image more important than service