David Hiller Leaves Cascade Bike Club for Key Position on Mayor’s Team

by Eric Shalit on May 13, 2011

I took this photo of David Hiller on 1/22/11 following a key hearing on the Vulnerable User Bill in Olympia, WA. The bill has since passed and is about to be signed into law. A major accomplishment for Hiller.

Reflecting the sad state of affairs in journalism today, the Seattle Times has a front page article about Advocacy Director David Hiller leaving Cascade Bicycle Club, but nothing about where he’s going. KOMO News.com has a more factually accurate article online, which isn’t even their primary medium.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has created a new position that will cost the city $95,000 per year.

A spokesman for the mayor said McGinn has hired David Hiller, advocacy director for Cascade Bicycle Club, for a position in his office.

Spokesman Aaron Pickus could not provide Hiller’s exact title, but said he’ll work with the Seattle Department of Transportation and outreach staff, and advise the mayor on the city’s transportation issues. The scope of Hiller’s work will extend beyond issues having to do with bicyclists, Pickus said.

The news came just days after the mayor asked departments across the city – including police, fire and human services — to cut another 3 to 8 percent in spending.

So, what’s the real story? That people will die in fires because the Mayor has created a new position despite cuts to other city services? That the Mayor really is intent on making Seattle a car-free bicycle-only city? That McGinn is an obstructionist jerk and he needed a like-minded buddy? Those are the stories that are too easy to write. They don’t require any understanding of the facts. That lazy “journalism” approach takes the angle “some people think…”. Is what some people think news? Opinions are like assholes. Everybody’s got one.

Many Seattleites dislike people who aren’t warm & fuzzy. Passive-aggressive dithering is preferred. David Hiller is bold — more like a Chicago union negotiator. He actually gets things done. He’s highly regarded in Olympia. He led the charge in getting the Vulnerable User Bill passed. It’s about to be signed into law by the governor. No small feat. Click here to read more about this.

Following this feat, moving to the Mayor’s team will be exciting for David. Mayor McGinn is not one to shy away from tough battles. In hiring David Hiller to join his team, he’ll have a tenacious advocate who really wants to get things done.

The first section of the Burke Gilman Trail opened in 1978. Thirty-three years later it’s still incomplete. The Missing Link section through Ballard has been stalled for years by a group of NIMBY old-time businessmen who don’t want change. They’ve got the bucks to drag the legal process on for years. These are industrial-grade tough guys who don’t play nice. Seems to me that David Hiller is the guy you’d want on your team to move the ball downfield those grueling last few yards for a game-ending win.

With McGinn likely to be a single-term Mayor, the clock is running. I’m sure this isn’t the only issue David Hiller will be dealing with. As a friend, I’m excited for him. As someone who’s interested in smart sustainable solutions to our transportation needs, I’m excited for us.

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