Unexpectedly Intriguing!
07 April 2005

You might think that the recent scandal involving the alleged unethical and potentially illegal conduct of the King County Medical Examiner's Office's in harvesting the brains of the deceased for profit might have taken on greater notoriety than it has to date. That it has not may have more to do with the continuing controversy associated with the 2004 Washington State Governor's race, which has embroiled King County's top leadership in charges of mismanagement, incompetence, arrogance, fraud and cover up. (For more background about the election, the most definitive coverage of the seemingly unending series of irregularities is provided by Sound Politics, whose contributions in reporting and analyzing the election controversy are far too numerous to single any one out at this point.)

Viewed from afar, the experience of watching the developing scandals in King County is much like watching the film of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge disaster in slow motion. Just as you think it can't possibly get any worse, the bridge's collapsing system of interconnected supports ensures that it will, ultimately resulting in spectacular failure. (For those interested in seeing a film of the bridge, Carleton University's Civil Engineering department hosts this 700KB MPEG clip, which shows the violent motion of the bridge prior to its collapse.)

I wonder if King County residents are now watching the political equivalent of the spectacular bridge collapse in their local government. The growing weight of scandal appears to be nearing the critical mass that might ultimately claim the careers of many individuals within the County's leadership, whose support system I believe is now approaching the point of failure. If only they could have foreseen the potential impact of their choices at the time they made them.

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