October 10th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

from 'fantomaster' at flickr.com

The first Washington governor of my lifetime could also be considered the state’s first “modern era” leader.

At a time of postwar complacency, just after the fading of “red scare” smear campaigns (yes, there were McCarthy-esque witch hunters here too), Rosellini enacted a bold progressive agenda.

He backed the Seattle World’s Fair.

He helped organize the cleanup of Lake Washington, once a mightily polluted body. He boosted college funding.

He established a separate juvenile justice system, and improved horrendous conditions at adult prisons and mental hospitals.

He boosted economic development and infrastructure investment, including the SR 520 bridge that now bears his name.

And yeah, he also stayed lifelong allies with the likes of strip-club maven Frank Colacurcio Sr., which eventually led to the ex-governor’s last, less-than-positive headlines in the 1990s.

You can disapprove of the Colacurcio connection and still admire Rosellini’s steadfastness to longtime friendships.

And you can look at the whole of Rosellini’s works and see a man who did all he could for what he believed in, even if it cost him most of his political capital before his first gubernatorial term was up.

Would there were more like him today.

Music scene tie in: Gov. Rosellini’s press secretary was Calvin Johnson Sr., father of the K Records swami.

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