The Washington Newspaper Publishers Association held its annual “Press Day” at the Washington state Legislature last week. The event is an opportunity for newspaper people to hear directly from sitting legislators, both Republican and Democrat, who come to speak informally and answer questions with newspaper people in the very midst of discussions on the House or Senate floor.
This year, members of the press heard about everything from problems with designing and funding the Interstate 5 Columbia River Crossing bridge to the difficulties finding common ground on changes to public disclosure laws. What was evident was the expression of equal parts passion and frustration from the lawmakers. They are keenly aware of their status with citizens who blame bipartisan bickering for inaction and gridlock.
While lawmakers try their damndest to move forward with key bills that they hope will move people and goods, create jobs and educate children, they must also deal with the baggage of past policies and mistakes. An example is the huge overhead of pensions, cost overruns, mistakes and unfunded mandates, increasing social services costs, etc.
Moving forward means a lot of looking back.
Mercer Island is set to lose yet another Island touchstone, Alpenland. After barely a year, its new owners have decided to let it go. There will be loud protests and expressions of sadness and regret tinged with shock. These words suggest that the restaurant and cafe is always busy, full of patrons.
It is tough to run a small business. Competition for diners is fierce. There are more choices not only for dining in but for takeout. Not only are there pizza places, yogurt shops, bagels and more, groceries stores have larger deli departments. The cost of running a business is not necessarily related to its size, particularly for those who might import goods. There are labor costs, taxes and new regulations. It requires those resources and more. Time.
Island institution or not, if you asked an Island small business owner what they really need to succeed, it is not admiration, but shoppers and diners.