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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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August 27, 2008 5:19 PM

Another one bites the dust

Posted by David Postman

Another political reporter is leaving the business. The Seattle Times’ Ralph Thomas gave notice today. He’s going to work for the Katz Communications Group, headed by another former Timesman, Dean Katz.

I’ve written before about other political reporters leaving. But this one is personal to me. Ralph is one of my closest friends. We’ve known each other 18 years, back to when we worked in Alaska.

We bonded those many years ago over our shared craft of legislative reporting, but also through a love of music. There was the common thread of being obsessed with Elvis Costello and 70’s funk and soul, and at least familiar enough with the Dickies to be able to sing along to “You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla.)” He understood the appeal of 1960s Ford Falcons, Plymouth Valiants and Volvo 122s.

Friends like that don’t come along very often.

For the past eight years we’ve worked next to each other in the Olympia bureau. We sit close enough that he can swing around in his chair to prop his lousy feet up on my desk. He can swish a coin into my coffee cup and hit me squarely on the temple with a ball of Play-Doh hard enough for me to see stars.

I’m sure he works plenty hard the rest of the time, but he does seem to be able to watch me closely enough that he points out the speed at which I can nervously chew through a pack of gum. He notices what I wear to work and is always the first to ridicule me for it. One day, eyeing a pink belt, he said with such disgust it still echoes in my head, “Pink? God, don’t you get enough attention?”

I can tell you this, and believe it because I’ve heard it from a long list of people including my wife: Ralph is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s also a great dancer and a great cook. He hunts game - and eats it too - and tends a large and bountiful garden. He can converse about Llama poop, Neil Young, the U.S. space program, international soccer, home-brewed beer or the tiny, tiny, details of weather patterns.

Politicians and readers should mourn Ralph’s departure. He worked as hard as anyone I know to always be fair. He got a lot of enjoyment out of finding just the right well-turned phrase or even from the studied choice of a single word in a story.

When he reads this, he’ll probably find a typo because he has a good eye for those things. But I think with his announcement today he loses the right to be so damn picky about my writing,

But he looks pretty happy doesn't he? (Photo by Richard Roesler)

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