It must be standard language these days in damage-containment manuals for large corporations and public agencies: The best available response to even medium-hard questions about any given disaster, failure, scandal or general incompetence: “Now is not the time.”

From a cover-your-own assets standpoint, there’s a certain beauty to it. The NINTT response not only serves as “no comment,” it comes with the right-back-at-ya’ accusatory kicker: How dare you be asking these questions? Can you really expect public servants and people with Ph.D.s to focus on more than one thing at a time?

Only problem: We’ve all heard it a thousand times. It’s not the time to be talking about x. We’re 100-percent, laser-focused on y. Now is not the time to be holding people responsible for blatant breaches of public trust.

Predictably, The Time never comes. Mass shootings pile up. Buildings fall down. Ignition switches fail. Consumers get screwed. Life goes on.

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Remember the Skagit River I-5 bridge collapse? The immediate aftermath, with crews scrambling and people recuperating, was “not the time” to be asking tough questions about rescuing the state’s crumbling infrastructure. That was almost a year — and a full legislative session — ago. No changes. Still waiting for The Time, which will arrive … Anyone? Bueller?

So let’s adopt a new rule: No public official is allowed to employ the “time” cliché without actually designating one. Date, time, place. Given the risk of missing that historic, first-ever taking-of-responsibility moment, some of us would like to set an Outlook reminder.

More shifting and dodging:

Reefer Gladness: The state of Washington has announced that the first legal state pot-dispensary licensees will be picked randomly by a third-party accounting firm: Ernst, Young, Cheech & Chong, of Fremont.

Brain Wide Shut: AAA has published a list of 10 ways to avoid being distracted while driving. Very cool. Mr. Wrap is going to load it onto his phone and read it on the drive home.

Looking on the Bright Side: Thanks to CNN, the Malaysia Airlines disaster is a full-time employment act for anyone who has ever flown, worked on, washed, or served a glass of Chablis in a Boeing 777.

Seriously: Mr. Wrap is booked with Wolf the Drone Blitzer as an expert occasional passenger.

Speaking of Which: Lots of head-scratching when the government of Malaysia finally released the true last words heard from the missing jet’s flight crew: “Kenneth, what’s the frequency?”

Dumbo, Meet Thy Namesake: The geniuses in charge of the Woodland Park Zoo have decided to solve the problem of driving the zoo’s elephants slowly insane by confining them in inadequate space by possibly adding yet another elephant. Who’s running that place? Donald Rumsfeld?

Seriously: If the zoo won’t listen to reason, science, public opinion, or even a lawsuit, it looks like the best option for the public is obvious: Boycott.

Inescapable Logic: Chief Justice John Roberts: Campaign spending limits “intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to exercise the most fundamental First Amendment activities,” such as purchasing an election.

And Finally: Seriously, we’d love to dissect the constitutional logic inherent in the above statement. But now is not the time.

Ron Judd’s column appears each Sunday. Reach him at or 206-464-8280.