An informal talk with the agency's new deputy director to learn about their background resulted in board members opening up about their own reasons for joining WSLCB.
Here are some observations from the June 5th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Executive Management Team meeting.
My top 3 takeaways:
- This Executive Management Team meeting served as an informal introduction and Q&A between members of the Board and the incoming WSLCB Deputy Director, former Department of Licensing Director Pat Kohler. Peter Antolin, the current WSLCB Deputy Director, is retiring and his last day will be Thursday June 28th. Pat Kohler steps into the Deputy Director role on July 16th.
- Pat Kohler gave a brief self-introduction highlighting some past experiences and current qualifications (transcript, audio).
- Pat Kohler comes from a military family and grew up in the Lacey/Tanglewilde area. Kohler graduated from Central Washington University and started her career in accounting as a CPA. She moved on to work for the Washington Department of General Administration, first auditing state agencies, then working as a comptroller, and finally working in procurement for 8 years where she learned to “not just look at cost, but look at all the factors that make [potential procurements] a good investment for the state.” Her next position was with the WSLCB as the Administrative Director when it was still the Liquor Control Board. She developed a strong partnership with WSLCB Director Rick Garza which she looks forward to renewing. During her time with the WSLCB she worked on several projects implementing and improving technology on the retail level for the formerly state-run liquor industry, experience she believes will be useful in her upcoming role. Kohler currently serves as Director for the Department of Licensing where she has acquired knowledge she hopes to bring to the WSLCB regarding implementing technology and preparing organizations for change. Kohler also mentioned that she has had many conversations with Director Garza about the importance of organizational cultures that increase morale and encourage process improvement.
- Director Kohler asked the Board to share their backgrounds and reasons for joining the WSLCB (transcript, audio).
- Board Member Russ Hauge stated his background provides an understanding of enforcement processes and “how difficult enforcement can be.” Member Hauge stated, “If we pass a rule we better be able to enforce it. And we better make sure it’s fair. And we better make sure that it’s gonna do what we want it to do.” He expressed his desire to “build more of a relationship approaching partnership with other state agencies.”
- Chair Jane Rushford believes her background in organizational structure, contentious stakeholder engagement, and rebuilding agencies helps the WSLCB. Chair Rushford stressed public safety is most important to her.
- Board Member Ollie Garrett brings a background of advocacy for women, minorities, and small businesses. As a business owner and President of Tabor 100, Member Garrett heard community discontent when recreational cannabis was legalized in Washington State and licenses were starting to be issued. Member Garrett helped channel access to opportunities through the Governor’s Office, where she found a supporter in Kelly Wicker who eventually convinced Garrett to run for the Board.
Follow Up (Jun 5, 2018)
Here are secondary and primary sources providing some perspectives on the incoming WSLCB Deputy Director’s most recent role.
- Seattle Times (Jan 11) – “Washington state regularly gives drivers’ info to immigration authorities; Inslee orders temporary halt”: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/times-watchdog/washington-state-regularly-gives-drivers-info-to-immigration-authorities-inslee-orders-temporary-halt/
- Latino Civic Alliance (Apr 9) – “State and Community Leaders Demand Removal of Washington State Licensing Director for Failure to Comply with Governor’s Executive Order 17-01 to Protect Washington Residents”: http://nebula.wsimg.com/e7250ffe0a21d5162f57d5c9cd4e3c2c?AccessKeyId=DC28A0CF50211B3AA9FC&disposition=0&alloworigin=1
- Pat Kohler’s resignation letter to Governor Inslee (Apr 27): https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/Kohler%20resignation%20letter.pdf
- Governor’s Office (May 10) – “Pat Kohler stepping down from Department of Licensing”: https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/pat-kohler-stepping-down-department-licensing
- Seattle Times (May 10) – “Washington Department of Licensing director resigns after controversy over info-sharing with immigration officials”: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/washington-department-of-licensing-director-resigns-after-controversy-over-info-sharing-with-immigration-officials/