SEATTLE — It’s easy enough to tap out a 10-second comment and hit “send.”
Sometimes it’s a thought that momentarily lands in your brain. Sometimes you can smile to yourself: Oh, I’m a clever boy!
More than 330 of you took those 10 seconds when there was a call-out in July by the state’s Transportation Commission for naming a new state ferry.
Well, so far, none of the proposed names have met the guidelines set by the commission. That would have meant putting in the time to write up a background history for the name and other things that go into bona fide proposals.
The new ferry is a big deal for the system. It’s been a decade since the 21-boat aging fleet has had an addition until the Legislature signed off.
The new ferry, to be built in 2022 and slated to sail in 2024, is called a hybrid electric ferry. That means it would mostly run on electric power and use the diesel engines for backup and to recharge the batteries.
And here you are, told of plans for this innovative hybrid electric ferry, and your name suggestions include:
MV DB Cooper.
Kraken Kruiser or The Krakenator.
The Sea Hag.
Hector the Vector Connector
M/V Sir Floats-A-Lot
The original deadline for submitting proposals was Oct. 1. Given the zero that met all the criteria, the commission has extended it to Oct. 8.
True, there were many suggestions with a tribal connection. All 21 state ferries have tribal meanings, from the Spokane (“children of the sun”) to the Puyallup (“generous people”).
But the commission wants more than you putting out a name. Explain in writing why the proposal has “regional significance; why it represents “state-adopted symbols;” why it meets “ethical standards;” why it has “broad familiarity;” why it’s “non-offensive.”
There is at least one person who, so far, has made an effort to perhaps have the Transportation Commission take her proposal seriously.
She is Cheri Filion, of Whidbey Island, who’s pushing for the name “Kalakala II.”
Yes, the Kalakala, the ferry with the memorable art deco styling that lingered on and on in disrepair until 2015, when it was finally taken apart for scrap, although some pieces were saved. You can see the wheelhouse, rudder and other parts in the parking lot of Salty’s on Alki.
Filion, a retired Social Security administrative law judge, certainly knows how to put together something that a government bureaucracy will pay attention to.
Reema Griffith, the commission’s executive director, says she expects more proposals the closer its gets to the deadline.
But if Filion’s proposal is the only one that meets the criteria?
Griffith says the seven-member commission, appointed by the governor, then would have some thinking to do. Maybe the Kalakala II will do just fine with the commission.
But, says Griffith, “If that one isn’t going to fly, nothing requires action at that point. Maybe we go back out for another process, have discussions about how to do things differently.”
Filion typed out 1,300 words, going through the boat’s history and its space-age, rounded exterior made of steel plates coated with gleaming aluminum paint. It sailed Puget Sound between 1935 and 1967.
But it grew obsolete and, troubled by safety issues, was sold, converted into a floating fish cannery in Alaska, and then beached on a Kodiak mud flat.
Filion is a Seattle native — Nathan Hale High, 1971 — but hadn’t heard of the Kalakala until reading about what would become failed efforts to save the boat. The cost was always estimated in the millions.
At one point the rusted Kalakala ended up moored in Lake Union. Driving by it, Filion couldn’t help but marvel.
“I read about it, how it ferried soldiers during World War II, how it was a luxury ferry that had midnight cruises. Wouldn’t that have been something?” she says.
After submitting her proposal, Filion received a letter back from the commission saying more was needed.
For example, something that Filion hadn’t included was, you know, “public outreach.” It’s part of every decision maker’s modern vocabulary and sounds very nice in annual reports.
“I’m in my late 60s. I’m not savvy with social media,” Filion says All this public outreach? “Oh, my gosh.”
Luckily for Filion, her daughter, Kate Riley, is a public-relations executive.
“She told me what to do, with hashtags, posting on Facebook, sending something to my friends, contacting the press,” Filion says.
Lo and behold, you send out a bunch of news tips and, hey, a reply! Hashtag, “scored.”
To end this story, here are few more of those over 330 suggestions you sent to the commission in those 10 seconds.
The Sound and Fury.
Dixy Lee Ray.
George Washington Bush
Boaty McBoatface or Ferry McFerryface or Floaty McBoaty (the result of a British agency in 2016 asking the internet to name a $287 million polar research ship; that didn’t happen, but Boaty McBoatface was used for a smaller robotic sub.)
And, of course, we really shouldn’t forget this paper’s commenters, who also contributed in the July 25 story about the ferry naming.
Taxme McTaxme Face.
Jay Loves Suzy.
Gertrude, “to honor Seattle’s earliest cross dresser.”
“Since there is probably enough space on the side of the boat ton fit a long name, I propose: ‘Will the driver of the silver BMW with license plate NME 241 please return to the ferry deck immediately and switch off your car alarm.”