Tony Ventrella

Working together in politics and life

Working Together

The U.S. House of Representatives goes on recess this week. I’m tempted to be a cynic and ask why they get a recess after less than a month at work but I won’t.  Regardless of what you may think of our elected officials, it’s a very tough job and one will never succeed in making everyone happy.  Our state is split into ten congressional districts, six are held by Democrats and Four by Republicans. Often in past years during the House recess, members would organize “town meetings” in their districts to allow citizens to ask questions and gather information on the goings on in Washington D.C.

It doesn’t take a student of government to observe that there is a huge divide between Democrats and Republicans in our state.   In certain congressional districts that gap between the parties is wider than ever putting the representative in that district in a very sticky position.

Two such districts are the 8th represented by Dave Reichert and the 2nd represented by Rick Larsen. A few months after Barack Obama was elected Larsen had a town hall meeting at the Aqua Sox ball park in Everett. Over three thousand people jammed the stadium and pepper Larsen with questions about Obamacare and other Democrat sponsored issues. It got a little tense at times.

Well folks, those were the good old days. It isn’t tense anymore, it’s down right mean. Somehow, some way we seem to have lost the ability and the desire to listen to each other. Our need to be right is blocking all sense of reason and now allowing us to agree on many important issues.

Democrats are demanding a town hall meeting with Dave Reichert who refuses to have one with a live audience. He will do a Facebook live town hall on Feb. 23rd. That’s not really facing the public but I’m not sure If I blame him.

Ideally a town hall offers people to ask a question and get an answer. All too often in my experience the questions are rude and personal and the answers are not nearly clear enough to satisfy the question.

In my view the only solution is a moderator who is neutral and in control of the audience but one who can also elicit a satisfactory answer out of the elected official. I am that person.

As a guy who loves just about everybody I meet, regardless of what they think of me, I’m the perfect choice to moderate a town hall session between angry voters and elected officials. I would explain to the audience before beginning that there are other people in the building who gave up their evening to learn more about what their government is doing for them and to hopefully learn more about what they can do for their local community.

We’re all in this together. Nothing will ever get done at any level if we don’t take the time to listen to each other before we jump in with our own opinion.

I firmly believe there is not a single problem locally or nationally that we cannot solve by listening to each other,  setting a goal and working together. We’ve done it before, we can do it again.

Best Ever - Women's Sports, Huskies and the Pac-12 Tournament

Best Ever

I’ve been so fortunate during my 40 years in sports journalism.  I’ve met most of the all time greats including Muhammad Ali, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey Jr,  Joe Montana, Steve Largent, George Foreman, all the current Seahawks players to mention a few.

No I’m not name dropping here, I’m just trying to give this column a little perspective. I’ve seen so many magnificent sports performances but none of them can beat what I saw on Saturday at the UW women’s basketball game against Utah.

Senior guard Kelsey Plum went into the game needing 54 points to become the all time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball. No one thought she would do it on Saturday. Most of us figured it would happen during the Pac-12 tournament at Key Arena the following week. We were wrong. She scored 57 points to lead her team to victory 84-77 and become the all time leader in points. All of this happened on Senior Day in front of 6,775 lucky and smart fans.

Kelsey woke up Saturday morning with a raspy voice and a bit of a cold. My gosh what would she have done if she was feeling great?  She scored ten points in the first quarter and had 22 by halftime and added 16 more third quarter. Then with eight minutes left in the game Chantel Osahor fouled out. The game was still close so Kelsey did what she always does, she took over scoring 19 points in the final period to lead her team to victory and break Jackie Stile’s all time record. Stiles was among the first to congratulate Plum via Twitter after the game. Plum now has 3,397 career points.

Watching the 5-8 Plum take over another game and make almost every shot imaginable now ranks as the most exciting moment of my sports career. Yes I said it. More exciting than the Seahawk’s Super Bowl win, more exciting than the Mariner’s run through the playoffs in 1995 and the Sonics near NBA title the following year.

Women’s sports get little or no credit on most days in the national and local media. Seattle has two radio stations doing sports 24/7 and they’ve managed to give Plum and her team only occasional mentions. Program directors of both stations have told me, “womens sports don’t move the needle.” In other words unless the talk is about Russell Wilson or the Mariners the radio stations don’t care. Well I do and I am grateful to have seen one of the best individual performances by an athlete at any level last Saturday.  We wish the Huskies all the best in the Pac-12 tournament and beyond.