#5. Leaders Far And Near

I’ve gotten some PMs basically saying “Stop gassing on about what’s –wrong-. What do we –do-?” We’re getting there. I want to cover all the obvious ‘strategies’ people have already tried because I want you to understand why they can never work in the case of fixing SeaTac before moving on to what actually -will- work.

So you want to fight. It’s logical that your first impulse would be to take your problem to your elected leaders. Unless you’re totally cynical (and I am definitely not), you would –think- that approaching various political leaders is –the- way to go. But unfortunately that is again –almost- ( but not totally) a complete waste of time. This is for a couple of reasons, some of which, having read thus far you should be able to appreciate by now. There is a lot of value in dealing with politicians, but it is definitely –not- because they will ‘help’. I know that sounds complicated. Hang in there.


If you’re talking about any leader above the pay grade of State Senator, you’ll immediately run into the fact that they represent a large group of people and the majority of those people are not negatively impacted by SeaTac Airport. In fact, they –benefit- from the airport so for all intents and purposes, if you communicate with a Congressman, Senator, Governor or even someone on the King County Council, you may as well be talking with a Commissioner of the Port Of Seattle or an FAA Regional Mountain Asswipe (sorry, slipped out). All these officeholders’ represent constituents who overwhelmingly are not –you-. And as we’ve seen, in a democracy, if you’re in the minority? You’re in trouble.


Your local city council or State Senator are the only possible exceptions to this law of averages. They represent a narrow constituency of people, which is good. However, they also represent a narrow constituency, which is bad. But we’ll come back to that.


Back to the higher-up leaders. As an example, let’s say that by some –miracle- you are blessed to get 15 minutes to plead your case to someone like Adam Smith. And you find out that his dad worked as a baggage handler at SeaTac back in the day. WOW! So you figure that he –must- be on your team, right? Wrong. From his or her point of view, they only have to –appear- to be on your team. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Your leaders do not have to actually be on your team. They only have to convince you that they are on your team. Again: they have large constituencies to manage. They don’t want to anger –you-, but they definitely aren’t going to ignore their other (larger) voters.

So how can you be sure they’re on your team? So simple: Ask him or her what their –goal- is. And by ‘goal’ I mean, what does a –win- for your community look like to him?

This is where a looooooooot of people waste a loooooooooot of time. You can spend days/weeks/months/years assuming that because you both are upset with the Port and the FAA that you both share the same goals. This is the fallacy of the shared enemy: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
OOOOPS! I’m telling you right now that you should check the goals FIRST with –any- ‘leader’ you engage with. Don’t be so concerned about what you both are –against-… make sure you both are –for- the same things!


So you struck out with your Congressman. Or woman. There’s always your State Senator or City Council. Or woman. Right? Maybe. So you ask –them- for a quick meeting to discuss how to save your town and they agree. You get there early and you order a couple of especially tasty six dollar specialty coffees. But because you’ve had your heart broken so many times, you decide to be smart for a change. So your first question is, “HEY, FRANK? WHAT LOOKS LIKE A –WIN- FOR DES MOINES?” (You shout because you’re not only frustrated, but also deaf from all the planes, right?)

And they hem and haw. They talk about ‘the need for more information’. They talk about how much the Port and the FAA are delaying any good solutions. But you persist and finally they say, “I’m going to demand that we get filters and other mitig…” WHOOSH! (That’s not the sound of a 777. It’s the sound of you getting up and leaving the meeting without picking up the check.)

If we’re talking about the airport communities in 2018, I have yet to meet a single politician at this level who has good goals. Just ask them: they all talk about ‘practicalities’. And that means that they aren’t fighting for good goals. They’re fighting to achieve some sort of compromise that gives you ‘something’ but without actually inconveniencing the airlines.

Don’t believe me? Just ask them directly. I’ll wait.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *