Like many of you, I was shocked to read the news of Norm Maleng’s passing in the morning papers. For those of us in public service in Washington State, Norm was the epitome of professionalism and intergrity in a business that often fails to adequately reward either trait. I just thought Norm would go on forever and serve as King County’s prosecuting attorney for many more years.
I got a chance to work closely with him in 1990 when I was on the staff of the Senate Ways and Means Committee in Olympia. Norm was named chair of a task force formed in the wake of a horrendous crime committed by a recently released sex offender and emotions in the state capitol were running high. In his deliberate and thorough manner, he wisely steered a large group of elected officials, community leaders and citizens through some very rough waters and emerged with a consensus package of legislation that sailed through a divided legislature unanimously.
I learned a lot from him about the importance of staying calm in the heat of the moment and not allowing passionate emotions to cloud your judgement about the fairness of one option over another. He was truly one of the “good guys” in Washington State politics and he will be sorely missed.