SEEING THE SIGHTS

Washington Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck and his wife, Paula Fruci, were in Klickitat County Monday visiting the proposed site of the pumped storage project on Highway 14, near the former aluminum plant. “What’s not to like?” he said of the project. The couple also visited the Stonehenge Memorial.

Washington’s Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck visited Klickitat County Monday at the invitation of Goldendale City Council member Miland Walling. He and his wife, Paula Fruci, got a briefing on the proposed Goldendale pumped storage project from a viewpoint on Highway 14 overlooking the site of the former Goldendale aluminum plant.

Asked for his reaction, Heck replied: “What’s not to like? A project that creates all these jobs, both in the short term, but also on the ongoing basis, and something that creates renewable, carbon-free energy.” 

He added, “There are clearly going to be people that bring forth concerns, and we’re going to have to work them through in the regulatory process. But talk about the ultimate curb appeal, this kind of project has it.” During the briefing, Heck asked a number of probing questions about the project.

Heck got his start in politics serving in the Washington State legislature in a district that represented Klickitat County. After that he served as Governor Booth Gardner’s chief of staff, before being elected to Congress from Washington’s new 10th congressional district. In November, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Washington and took office in January. Washington’s Lieutenant Governor also serves as President of the Washington State Senate and can vote to break a tie, just as the Vice President of the United States does in the U.S. Senate.

In another appropriate venue, Heck and his wife toured the Goldendale Observatory, their first visit since the massive remodeling last year. It was Heck’s bill in the Legislature that led to the Washington State Park system to purchase the observatory from the City of Goldendale at a time when the city could not afford to maintain the facility. Heck expressed pleasure at the way things turned out.

Heck also may be the only politician who has an Emmy for work in television. That came as a result of his founding of TVW, the free online service that broadcasts live coverage of the Washington State Legislature when it is in session and covers many other aspects of state government. 

Having established the infrastructure with cameras, microphones and all, Heck had the idea to create an informative documentary. Here’s the story as he told it to us:

“We decided that in addition to the gavel-to-gavel coverage, that there would be good opportunities to use our basic infrastructure to create educational videos.  And the one that we did first, which I thought needed it the most, was explaining how the state Supreme Court works because it’s kind of a black box operation. So I wrote and directed a documentary about an actual case. Gardner v. Washington. Not Booth Gardener, but Kevin Gardner, and it’s a fascinating case. 

“He was armored truck driver. They arrived at a bank branch in Spokane. According to company policy, he stayed in the truck as his partner went in where a gentleman with mental health issues had grabbed a woman by the hair and was holding a knife to her throat. His partner radioed it to him.  In violation of company policy, Kevin left the truck and went in, and, to his great and lasting credit, he talked the man down and then subdued him.

“He was then fired because he violated company policy to leave the truck. It sounds incredibly illogical that they would do that, but then you find out that that was actually not just company policy. It was a part of the collective bargaining agreement, and Kevin was on the bargaining team that agreed to it and supported it because they are good safety reasons for that rule. 

“So we kind of recreated the event and used that case from step one to ultimate outcome to pull back the curtain on how does the state supreme court works. It’s called Supreme Justice.