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My duties include creating legislation and providing oversight of our City government. But my job is also to listen to you, the people, businesses and organizations of Des Moines. City Council positions are at large, which means that I represent all of Des Moines. No matter where you live, I’m here to serve you.

If you have questions, concerns or suggestions about how we can make Des Moines better place for you, your family, your business or your organization, I urge you to contact me.

Some quick notes:

Weekly Update: 11/28/2021

Posted on Categories Engagement, Public Safety, Taxes, Transparency, Weekly Updates2 Comments on Weekly Update: 11/28/2021

Happy Hannukah!

There’s never a piccie of a dreidel or a menorah when you need one. 🙂

Public Service Announcements

And just in time for the holidays: OMICRON! Fortunately, the current vaccines are effective, free and you can get your appointment today here and here , including walk-Ins at Walgreen’s, Rite-Aid, SeaMar and Healthpoint.

  1. Friday December 3, 6PM Destination Des Moines Tree Lighting at Big Catch Plaza
  2. We’re about to update our Parks, Recreation and Senior Services Master Plan. Read that, comment by email or attend the December 2 City Council Meeting to comment!
  3. We’re embarking on the redevelopment of the Des Moines Marina. Please read the Draft Master Plan and then my Marina Redevelopment Talking Points. This is the largest capital project in our city’s history and we need your input! Send your questions and concerns to marinamasterplan@desmoinewa.gov.
  4. The Utility Moratorium ended September 30. Help is available, but act now!
  5. Sign up now for the King County Emergency Alert Program
  6. Please join the Trusted Partner Network – King County
  7. Renters!  King County Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program
  8. I know you want to help save the Masonic Home. So sign up for the new site hosted by Washington Historic Trust!
  9. City Of Des Moines Minor Home Repair Program This is one of those great programs the City has had in place since forever, but we only advertise every quarter in the City Currents Magazine. Basically, low to moderate income households can get grants to do all sorts of necessary repairs. Just email Minor Home Repair Coordinator Tina Hickey (206) 870-6535.
  10. Every home should have a Carbon Monoxide Detector–especially during the colder months! Full stop. If you need one but money is tight, South King County Fire And Rescue will get you one. Just call their Community Affairs Office at 253-946-7347.
  11. And last, but not least: If you have a Port Package that is having issues, please email SeatacNoise.Info with your address!

This Week

Monday: Highline Superintendent Search. (ERAC, Burien) Come join me to comment on what you want to see in the next Executive of our school system!

Thursday: 3PM Municipal Facilities Meeting. No agenda yet. Supposedly a review of the Capital Improvement Projects and Marine Redevelopment?

Thursday: 4PM Public Safety Committee Meeting (cancelled) I only mention this because this was supposed to be the penalty of Councilmember Martinelli’s censure. Boy we really laid on some punishment there.

Update: Due to the recent events on Pac Highway, the meeting is back on. The Agenda will consist of a discussion with Chief Of Police Ken Thomas. I would urge people to sign up to attend via Zoom.

Thursday: City Council Meeting (Agenda as always the Agenda has directions on how to make public comment or attend via Zoom.)

Of note… we will be approving renewal of two consulting contracts:

  1. Our State lobbyist. His accomplishments include helping us locate developers for the Marina. He has also been attending our StART meetings and the 2nd Airport Siting Committee as an observer. $6,000/mo.
  2. Our Marina consultant on ferries. He also happens to be our Citizen Representative to the StART–even though he resides in Normandy Park. Mr. Philips is also the publisher of our City Currents Newsletter. $3,000/mo.
    We will be approving our Parks/Rec/Senior Services Master Plan. The resolution cites the great public engagement. However there has been no discussion of the actual proposal (which you can read here: https://jcharrisfordesmoines.com/…/Des-Moines-PRSS… ) because the Council (and public) received the plan -after- the last meeting with the consultant team. So… again… we have no opportunity to talk to the consultants in an informed manner.

Do you see a pattern here?

  1. Have meeting with experts, but with no data.
  2. Deliver data -after- meeting.
  3. Vote on final thing at next meeting, but with no experts on hand.

Apparently, the Mayor will be making a statement re. the Human Services Advisory Committee. But there are no materials and no explanation of what that might entail. November is -usually- when the HSAC presents to the City Council and this is a sore spot for me because this is literally the -only- time during the year the Council gets to hear from the HSAC. In all other Cities, the HSAC reports to Council at least quarterly in some regard. The membership of the group is not even on the City web site.

We will also be approving our Legislative Agenda, which has only one item on it concerning aviation: support for Rep. Orwall’s Indoor Air Quality proviso (which actually includes the outdoor sampling which I hope to get made into an annual process.)

Last Week

Tuesday: Meeting with Arshia Nilchan, political director for Rep. Adam Smith. No, I’m still independent. But all the candidates for City Council this cycle were running as Democats and at least a few asked for his endorsement, so I wanted to give him some feedback on the process.

Thursday: I only want to point out that this was the single most viewed post I did on Facebook for 2021.

I made a reference in there about Hogan’s Heroes–and was taken to task by an incoming colleague that it was not about Nazis. Uh oh. 😀 I guess my point was how much the world has changed. I mean, looking back from where we’re at a society now, it just seems odd to me that there was ever a popular ‘comedy’ show with… you know… swastikas?

Public Safety…

Residents are understandably freaked out about the recent spate of incidents along Pacific Highway and Kent Des Moines Road.

I’m going to  gas on a bit here about our police department in general and that spot in particular because we’ve been down this road before (no pun intended) and I’d prefer that we handle things a bit differently this time in order to hopefully prevent a next time–if you take my meaning. But first, the obligatory show of concern:

The Des Moines Police Department will effectively address the current spate of problems. They are really good at acute interventions like this. And your City Council will provide them with all the necessary resources to effectively handle that acute need.

The tricky part is that Pac Highway and Kent Des Moines Road are mostly in the City of Kent. So there will be some partnering, which I am also quite sure will be effective. But… it’s about to get ‘complicated’.

It’s a numbers game

I often get asked, “How many police officers do we have?” The subtext is usually we don’t have enough police officers. But the total number is a bit misleading.

Currently, we have 4+1 officers per shift: four Patrol and one Sergeant. And with that configuration officers are able to respond to calls for service. Keep that phrase in mind. Calls for service. That is the model. They respond to calls. Despite the nomenclature they generally do not ‘patrol’ in defined ‘sectors’. So if I were being wonkier than usual I would rename the position ‘Responder’. Because, again, officers respond when a call comes in–often in teams of two cars.

Big picture history

Backing up a bit, like most cities,  we have always spent about 50% of our general fund budget on public safety. That amount is regardless of the number of officers. The rule of thumb is to spend as much as we can without really hurting other services (roads, kids, parks, seniors, etc.) Fifty percent.

Now, back in the 2000’s we had a lot more police. So we had not just the responders, but also officers that actually did patrol key areas (what us old people used to call ‘beat cops’.)

For a great variety of reasons, the City was going through terrible budget cuts starting in the late 90’s. We were downsizing, downsizing, downsizing. Thankfully, residents continued to keep the PD funded through a special, small tax levy. That was part of the reason other areas wanted to be annexed into Des Moines. We offered the promise of a higher cop to resident ratio. (That’s a real thing, by the way.)

However, after 9/11 and Tim Eyman’s various initiatives got rolling, DM voters started saying not just ‘no’ but ‘Hell no!’ to any City-sponsored levy. Roads. Police. What-evehhhhr. So we were forced to dump any of that sector-based jazz. And code enforcement? Buh-bye! Drove me bonkers. Truth be told the police were so short staffed at times that they were running 3+1 or even 2+1 in some cases. Fortunately, violent crime had been steadily dropping, reaching historic lows until the pandemic. So we kinda dodged a bullet there. (Sorry… that’s pretty dark humour. Even for me.)

With the economic recovery, our budget started getting better and my predecessors responded admirably by rebuilding the force and re-establishing a dedicated Code Enforcement Officer. So despite the lack of a dedicated ‘police tax’, in 2019, City was able to proudly state that we were once again ‘fully staffed’.

But that is one of those statements governments make that are accurate but not exactly ‘true’. Because all ‘fully staffed’ means is that we’re back to having enough officers to do 4+1. We’re just not short-staffed. Get it? In truth, we’re still nowhere near the staffing levels we enjoyed in that ‘golden age’ pre-2008 recession.

But here’s the thing: Most planners tended to think (or hope) that the lower violent crime rate in the 2010’s was sort of the ‘new normal’. We thought it would persist. In fact, at our last Budget Retreat, a lot of the discussion centered around how the entire concept of policing and court were changing throughout Washington. We’re now moving towards using mental health professionals instead of guns and badges. Our courts are using any number of interventions instead of putting people in jail. These are huge policy changes that took years to develop.

And at the same time it has gotten more and more difficult to recruit new officers. I know my colleagues get a bit annoyed at my hypothetical questions, but at that same meeting, I asked the Chief whether not we even could hire ten more officers (assuming we found a million dollars hiding under some rock.) That simply may not be possible in the near term given the shortage of qualified candidates, intense competition and the long lead times.

But think of it this way: George Floyd was killed less than eighteen months ago. The entire conversation about ‘policing’ has changed (again) in a very short time frame.

And now? If we want to hire police they come at a premium. Seattle is currently offering up to a $25,000 signing bonus. That is the competition.

That darned boundary…

Unfortunately, that whole area of Kent Des Moines Road and Pacific Highway has been problematic for decades. (Again, without a newspaper it’s hard to keep track but for example, there was a high-profile car show murder in the parking lot of the Goodwill in 2011(ish?)

But since most of you are relatively new to the area, when the public thinks of ‘high crime’ they often think of Pacific Ridge–largely because of some high profile incidents between 2013 and 2015. The police did put emphasis there and it helped. But a lot of the long-term improvement was not about guns and badges. It was more about building Waterview Crossing and establishing anti-violence programs like Reach Out Des Moines and citizen activism like clean-ups and then Midway Garden and now the City has stepped up to make significant improvements to the park. Most of that is super-low cost and it really works. But it all takes time.

So for a good while there we kinda took our eye off of of KDM. Which was not a great idea because historically that has often been where a great deal of the ‘action’ has been.

We can get into a long discussion as to why the border between Des Moines and Kent is so verkachte. And we should definitely revisit that. And we can definitely discuss why it’s so hard to successfully police that border. And we can also discuss why that corner has been steadily going down hill for the past twenty years.

OK, back to the big picture…

But the fact remains that policing is reactive. The police respond to calls for service. Their primary business is not crime prevention, just as it is not about addressing homelessness or  people with chronic mental health issues. By the time people call 911 it’s already too late.

Since I have lived here a while I can assure that this spate of incidents will abate almost regardless of what the police do. That is not to minimise our police force. But it did before and it will again.

My real concern is that as soon as it does, the public will once again take their eye off the ball and we won’t address the structural issues that have caused that area to deteriorate–and ‘leak’ from the perimeter into Des Moines. Because it’s that deterioration that inevitably causes the flare ups every few years. And we better get on that before the Light Rail Station opens.

Eat your heart out Batman…

Now at our ARPA Stimulus vote on September 16, the Deputy Mayor proposed hiring four ‘new’ officers. I was not thrilled about that because we’re not really adding new people so much as keeping the pipeline going in the face of retirements, sick leave, etc. We ended up voting for two, for a three year period. But, full disclosure: I was vehemently opposed to that as well. Not because I don’t think we need them. We do. But because we voted to use one-time money for salaries–which is exactly the kind of accounting gimmickery that got us into trouble in the 2000’s. If we want more police officers, don’t use money that was meant for something else. Commit. Now. Don’t saddle the 2025 City Council with that choice.

OK, have you looked at a fully equipped police officer lately? Bruce Wayne is jealous of all the stuff they have on their utility belts. Throw in the compensation package and benefits. And then add in the vehicle and all the other accoutrement. When you see a DMPD officer driving by you’re waving at over $200,000 a year. No kidding.

But that’s not even the expensive part. To get to what people really want (that sector-based policing) would require almost doubling our patrol officer staff. I mean like twenty officers. Because remember, during that golden age there were up to as many as four officers patrolling areas of the city. So even if you make them miserable with four twelves that’s at least twenty people. That’s $4,000,000 a year. If you look at our current budget, carving out space for that much money would mean saying, “Good bye parks! Good bye roads! Good by senior services! Been nice knowin’ ya!” That is the price of the golden age model of public safety for Des Moines.

The only way to get to that special place is to do what we used to do: ask you voters to pay for it. And for what it’s worth? I would be absolutely thrilled to pay that kind of tax. Why? It’s targeted. I’d know exactly where it’s going–a purpose I totally approve of. It’s not some blank check that could be re-purposed by those no-account politicians.

Remind me why I voted for you?

When I ran in 2019 I was constantly trying to beat up on my colleagues for talking about how we had a ‘fully staffed’ police force. As I door belled people I’d comment on all the new ‘Ring’ cameras and really expensive CCTV systems. But when I asked voters how they’d feel about instead paying  for police officers? They’d look at me like I was nuts. I had people say, “I was gonna vote for you, but now? No way. You just want to tax me to death.” And I dunno how to respond to that. I get that many of you no longer trust the government to do anything. And I get that we as a City haven’t always done a bang up job of improving that sense of trust. But in this one specific case, I’m gonna ask you to give that a re-think. If not? Enjoy that totally vivid 4K video of some guy removing your catalytic converter at 5AM. I’d rather put that money into a patrol officer.

On the other hand…

The primary job of our police force cannot be crime prevention. At least, not without waaay more very expensive police than we can hope to afford. Police are trained to respond to occasional calls for service. If there is more than occasional crime on your street? Don’t take this the the wrong way, but there is something wrong with your street–and  that requires a different model of intervention. Good neighbourhoods have low crime. Full stop.

So after all that, I gotta say, I am much more inclined to direct City money towards crime prevention than a massive influx of people to respond to more calls for service. Both approaches take years to implement. But prevention costs less and in the end you can’t keep calling the cops. At some point, you gotta improve your neighbourhood.

Safety first…

Forget all that noise. You’re freaked out now. You want relief now. Got it. So again:

The Des Moines Police Department will address the current spate of problems. They are really good at acute interventions like this. And the City Council will provide them with all necessary resources to effectively handle that acute need.

But think about it: if there were a lot of fires in your neighbourhood, your first thought would probably not be “We should definitely hire more firefighters!” Your first thought would likely be, “What’s the deal with all these fires?”

It’s all about you…

The real problem(s) are going to take years and your energy to solve.

  • I’ve been grousing about the boundary for years. But you can get the Cities to (finally) engage again.
  • And you can get the two Cities to work on economic development.
  • And you can get us to commit to crime prevention programs throughout Des Moines . (They work in Pac Ridge. And they’re cheap. So we should expand those programs everywhere.)
  • And we know that code enforcement is effective in identifying problem houses before things get out of hand. You can make all that happen where us politicians have previously lacked the will.
  • And, yeah, some of it may also require you to step up and pay a few extra bucks a month for new officers.

But specifically: if you live in the area of Kent Des Moines Road and 240th, permanent change will mean be your neighbourhood getting organised as an ongoing project–especially with the advent of Link Light Rail. As residents of Des Moines, you will need to work with the Kent businesses and residents west of Pac Highway to help keep the two Cities focused on your issues. Because all of us, residents and governments have very short attention spans. There is always a new crisis every month.

I want to help you create that organisation in any way I can because I have lived here a while. And it took me a long time to figure out that you are what drives long-lasting positive change at the neighbourhood level.

Some see things that never were…

Posted on Categories Economic Development, Policy, Transparency

I’ll say. 😀

At our last City Council Meeting, our City Manager opened the discussion of selecting the developer for Parcel A by recounting that, early in his career he had been given a fellowship by the Robert F Kennedy for work with low income families in Oakland, California. I had no idea what that has to do with building a boutique hotel at our Marina, but I get accused of grandiosity from time to time, so I’m willing to roll with the occasional rhetorical flight.

But then he winds up by quoting RFK…

Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?

Me being me, I have two minor quibbles…

  • That is not an RFK quote. It’s actually from a really stupid play by George Bernard Shaw. The only reason I know that is because we have very few famous people in Ireland, so as a child you’re required to learn about every last one of them–no matter how boring. (Although to be fair, if you ever visit, one of the coolest places is the National Art Gallery–in Shaw’s house in Dublin.)
  • Kennedy used that line while campaigning to end the war in Vietnam, which was a pretty bold move at the time. He was not building a hotel. And conflating the two kinda bugs me in the way it bugs me when Cadillac and Mercedes started using 60’s protest songs to advertise luxury cars. OK, Boomer.

We can debate the merits of building a hotel at the Marina. But that warm-up made it sound as though this development had some connection with a greater service to humanity. And that’s a bit of a stretch for a boutique hotel which would be charging close to $200 a night.

http://www.quotecounterquote.com/2011/07/i-dream-things-that-never-were-and-say.html

Weekly Update: 11/22/2021

Posted on Categories Engagement, Transparency, Weekly Updates1 Comment on Weekly Update: 11/22/2021

Public Service Announcements

And just in time for the holidays: OMICRON! Fortunately, the current vaccines are effective, free and you can get your appointment today here and here , including walk-Ins at Walgreen’s, Rite-Aid, SeaMar and Healthpoint.

  1. Friday December 3, 6PM Destination Des Moines Tree Lighting at Big Catch Plaza
  2. We’re about to update our Parks, Recreation and Senior Services Master Plan. Read that, comment by email or attend the December 2 City Council Meeting to comment!
  3. We’re embarking on the redevelopment of the Des Moines Marina. Please read the Draft Master Plan and then my Marina Redevelopment Talking Points. This is the largest capital project in our city’s history and we need your input! Send your questions and concerns to marinamasterplan@desmoinewa.gov.
  4. The Utility Moratorium ended September 30. Help is available, but act now!
  5. Sign up now for the King County Emergency Alert Program
  6. Please join the Trusted Partner Network – King County
  7. Renters!  King County Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program
  8. I know you want to help save the Masonic Home. So sign up for the new site hosted by Washington Historic Trust!
  9. City Of Des Moines Minor Home Repair Program This is one of those great programs the City has had in place since forever, but we only advertise every quarter in the City Currents Magazine. Basically, low to moderate income households can get grants to do all sorts of necessary repairs. Just email Minor Home Repair Coordinator Tina Hickey (206) 870-6535.
  10. Every home should have a Carbon Monoxide Detector–especially during the colder months! Full stop. If you need one but money is tight, South King County Fire And Rescue will get you one. Just call their Community Affairs Office at 253-946-7347.
  11. And last, but not least: If you have a Port Package that is having issues, please email SeatacNoise.Info with your address!

This Week

Tuesday: Meeting with Arshia Nilchan, political director for Rep. Adam Smith. No, I’m still independent. But all the candidates for City Council this cycle were running as Democats and at least a few asked for his endorsement, so I wanted to give him some feedback on the process.

Thursday:Look, I am total policy guy. I forget how much most of you enjoy all that ‘personal crap’ 😀  So if I have failed to show enough appreciation for your support this year, I am truly sorry. If I have failed to ask you how your kids are doing wherever they happen to be doing it, I am truly sorry. But if I have over-burdened you with facts and figures and ways to improve the City when you just wanted to know more about how my family is doing or my health or the boat or whatever? NOT SORRY. 😀  But for what it’s worth, I proposed crab, but will be eating turkey. And apparently the entertainment will consist of this thing you refer to as ‘football’ playing on a device called a ‘television’. I seem to lose votes wherever I go.

!YOU GUYS ARE THE GREATEST ! HAPPY THANKSGIVING DES MOINES!

Last Week

Monday: MRSC Climate Action Webinar. I found this to be extremely useful. It had real-world examples of how cities can reduce emissions, both for its own process, residents and business. There has been a ‘Great idea! You first!’ approach to climate change. And the idea that anything we do will be onerous. I do not think we can ask bigger players to act if we aren’t willing to do our share. Also, it is in our best interest to be aggressive. People come to Des Moines for the environment, the beautiful shoreline, trees. Those are the assets.

Tuesday: Port Of Seattle Commission (Agenda/Video) The Port finalised it’s budget for 2022. There was a good discussion on the Port’s initiative to bring the Maritime side down to net zero emissions.

Wednesday: Salmon Counting at McSorley Creek with Trout Unlimited and Friends Of Saltwater State Park. We saw one dead female salmon

Wednesday: Reach Out Des Moines. I proposed creating a web site for the Pacific Middle School Design/Engineering program. The goal is to showcase their past successes and testimonials from students and parents.

Thursday: Transportation Committee Meeting (Agenda) (Video)

Thursday: Environment Committee Meeting (Agenda) (Video)

Thursday: City Council Meeting (Agenda) (Video)

‘The Three Ring Circus’

This last meeting was as action-packed as it gets. And that in itself is problematic. Our calendar really should have some ‘load-balancing’, where significant work is more equally spread out during the year. Jamming so much significant work into a single meeting is an invitation to bad government. But that’s another rant about process for another day.

As occasionally happens I got some snippy comments about my appearance. What was unique this time was that the remarks acknowledged that the entire Council was a ‘three ring circus’ and that somehow my appearance was as bad as the rest of the Council’s ongoing conduct. Now normally, I don’t comment on that sort of thing, but this gets to the heart of what is wrong with our politics.

The idea that my appearance rises to a level of ‘unprofessionalim’ equivalent to the obvious failings of my colleagues is like telling students that a dress code violation is as bad as cheating on a test.

If those are your priorities? You have only yourself to blame for bad government. In fact, if my ‘image’ is what you choose to focus on? You are encouraging bad government.

Property Tax Levy

We covered a Property Tax Levy. As usual there were some snarky comments about ‘taxes too high!’, even though no one showed up for the Public Hearing. But in fact, the increased taxes are simply a function of increased property values in King County. This is one area where I agree with the Administration in that it has consistently worked to keep tax rates as low as possible and not recommending that we take the legally allowable 1% annual bump.

I want the public to understand that this is one of those no free lunch deals: Everyone loves low property taxes. But if you also are unhappy with the level of services? Not allowing this tax rate to even keep up with inflation creates a ceiling that prevents us from putting more money into parks, seniors, kids, etc. All that jazz about ‘outrageous salaries!’ You never heard that from me. Because it was never the reason for weak services. But that’s also a rant for another day.

Budget Amendments

We approved the 2022 Budget and it was approved without a single amendment. As it was last year.

Actually, there were proposed amendments. Councilmember Martinelli proposed adding $250,000 in one-time money for tenant relief at a prior meeting.

And I submitted six amendments totaling a whopping $41,204.

Neither was even discussed. And I mention that because amendments are supposed to be discussed as a part of the process. The Mayor simply did not allow that part of the meeting to happen. He also did another weasel move by removing the New Business portion of the Agenda at the last moment. (And in #297 of “I told you so”, when the Mayor proposed creating that ‘New Business’ part of the Agenda, none of my colleagues supported my motion to amend Council Rules to make it permanent. I argued that, “if the mayor creates it, he can simply take it away when it is to his strategic advantage.” And that is exactly what happened. Any nine year old knows “get it in writing”.)

So, since none of my colleagues objected, and since CM Martinelli was not there, I smiled and let it go. I guess my concern is that you don’t know what an egregious violation of parliamentary procedure that was.

I’ve taken to sending people this fifteen second link, which they find very cryptic: The Law Of Gravity Is Nonsense

All it means is that City Council creates its own reality. If the public doesn’t know how things are supposed to work, whatever happens on the dais seems ‘normal’. You have no way of knowing that it’s bad. And since it’s not an ‘issue’ like “more police!” no candidate understands either.

Now, back to my extravances what did I want $41,204 for?

  • FIX THE WEB SITE. Breaking the code of silence here… apparently ‘key people’ find nothing wrong with it. Really. No. Really.
  • Commit to permanently recording and allowing for remote attendance of Committee Meetings. Why is this necessary? Because the City Manager has not reported back on a ‘vendor quote’ to do that work… in six months. And again… breaking the code of silence here… some of my colleagues and staff do not LIKE having recorded and zoom Committee Meetings. They were (candidly) much happier -without- those pesky citizens watching the sausage get made.

Apparently, these extravagances will need to wait until “end of Q1”

Marina Redevelopment Developer Selection for Parcel A

I asked residents to Reject All Three prior to the meeting and at least a dozen of you wrote the City Council. Thank you! Although my colleagues voted to proceed, you sent a message. This is far from over. As more of you engage, we will be able to obtain better outcomes.

All along my entire sales pitch has been: learn more. I believe that the arguments against this stuff are self-evident. The only challenge is in getting you up to speed after four years of the City moving ahead without proper public engagement.

Below is my response to the discussion, which was about as egregious a discussion as I’ve witnessed in my dozen or so years observing our City government.

Censure

More parliamentary silliness. I fully supported the concept of Censure. I made a motion to amend the resolution to remove the police report and *Items 5 and 6. That would have ended the discussion which had gone on long enough in my opinion. Let’s do it and move on. Anything beyond that was calling more attention to the woman and child. My motion did not receive a second so on we went. And Councilmember Buxton asked to speak last so that… wait for it… she could propose removing the police report. She wanted to make the same motion. Which then passed of course.

But the Mayor then added one final dollop of humiliation by proposing that the resolution be further amended to send the resolution to all regional electeds. And that also passed.

So to recap, the final resolution removes the police report, but substitutes a link where anyone can get a copy of the police report. And it sends the resolution to all the media and all our regional electeds and posts it on the City Bulletin Board.

I voted against the final resolution because

a) The actual ‘censure’ came down to preventing CM Martinelli from attending one committee meeting. Seriously. That is all the ‘punishment’ it inflicts.

b) Everything else is shaming. And as you can tell, I have no problem with (useful) shaming and blaming. But in this case every action taken against CM Martinelli, including these lengthy public discussions, calls more attention to the woman and child. It also doesn’t make the City look particularly great either.

This negative side-effects of this resolution, and in fact every aspect of the City’s handling of the issue have started to swamp any responsible actions we have taken.

Parcel A

At our November 18, 2021 meeting, we chose a developer to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with the City to develop Parcel A of the Marina Floor as described in the RFQ. Essentially, it was a job interview.

After the meeting I got some feedback telling me that I was being ‘dramatic’ and that the process was ‘fine’. Wow. I hate to be that guy, but I have to respond because it was definitely not fine and if you think it was?

Remember that when you watch someone doing heart surgery on Gray’s Anatomy they do not actually know what they’re doing when it comes to heart surgery. 😀 I’m not trying to just be snarky. Unless one is an expert, one cannot evaluate whether any complex process is being handled properly. You can make a lot of things in life appear like people know what they’re doing. And you wouldn’t know the difference unless you really know something about heart surgery.

Again, it was a job interview. We were voting for a firm, not a plan. So think of it like how one hires a City Manager or previous police chiefs. (Notably, our last PD Chief did not go through a public interview process, but that’s another story.)

The process I expected…

  • In my previous experience, if a large corporation wanted to site a culturally significant building–say Apple wanted to redo their headquarters, they would specify in the RFQ that there needed to be some number of qualified applicants before making a final selection. Let’s say three. But definitely more than one. You might need only one legit applicant for a ‘normal’ project, like an apartment building. But for something special, you’d definitely want choices.
  • So if the minimum were not found, the RFQ process would automatically start over. There would be a meeting with the finalist(s) giving them feedback and asking them to re-submit. (And btw ‘rejection’ is not like, “Oh my boyfriend rejected me and sobbing.” This happens all the time in big contracts. Having to resubmit is totally normal. Sometimes it might take 3-4 go-arounds before a vendor is chosen.)
  • The review committee would include subject matter experts (architect, urban planner, landscape designer) And if it were in a particularly important spot, for example a landmark for the community, perhaps even a local historian. The aesthetic significance would be obvious as well as the  ‘setting’. You don’t just want a great building, you want a great building that fits within the context of the place.
  • The finalists would be brought in for review by the planning committee (oops, the City Of Des Moines ended their planning commission in 2013–another story) or in our case the City Council. Because again, it’s a job interview, right? We’re giving the winner a lot of latitude. So we want a lot of reassurance and complete transparency as to who they are and what their vision is. (For example, I would want to know why they chose to put that particular hotel in their proposal rather than something more ‘inspiring’. That was their choice.)
  • And we might not provide an exclusivity clause. Because remember, after only a 35 day evaluation process we approved an exclusive negotiating agreement. We told the developer that we won’t look at any other options.

The process I witnessed

In short, what we got was one legit entry, after a two week review. A company that the City Manager knows, which some CMs have experience with, while others have none. There was no public engagement. And the winner did not lead with their most inspiring work examples. Call me difficult, but this felt to me like one of those presentations where the vendor felt no great need to impress the shit out of us in order to get the job.

Why boutique hotel?

The title of the RFQ was ‘Why Not Des Moines?’ And me being me, my first thought was “Why Boutique Hotel?”

Because here’s the thing: no one ever voted on the concept of ’boutique hotel’. There has literally never been a formal discussion by the Council as to what we should do with that spot.  It’s been mentioned since 2017 as  one possibility, but it was always in this vague fashion, “Well, we could put a ’boutique hotel there–along with many other options of course.” And over time, that ‘could’ somehow morphed into ‘will’.

On the other hand, the 2018-2019 Council did go through a formal process to place the SR3 animal hospital on that particular spot of the Marina Floor. Same thing when we leased the space to the Quarterdeck restaurant. So the precedent is for the Council to vote on the purpose of a spot.

The land side must pay for the water side

Also, there has never been a discussion as to how much revenue should be expected. But do some *quick math on a 100 room hotel with 95% occupancy at $180 a night (according to the consultant) and then look at how much of our Sales and Lodging and B/O taxes.

OK, I’ll save you some time. The stated goal of all cumulative land side projects is to generate $3,000,000 in annual revenue for the City Of Des Moines. Everything: The Adaptive Purpose Building (APB), hotel, ferry, dry stack storage… whatever is inside that Enterprise Fund Area must generate $3M/yr. That is the bar.

Why? Because that is the finance cost for dock replacement. If these projects do not meet that standard, we would have to look somewhere else to finance dock replacement.

And just to be clear: the sum total of expected revenue from all those fabulous ideas do not  come anywhere close to bringing in $3M/yr. And the Administration and my colleagues know that.

So the whole financial ‘plan’ is bogus. It simply consists of projects that our City Manager (who is also our Economic Development Director) seems to find appealing. And since he has convinced my colleagues? It’s happening.

But think about this: if the whole plan does not finance dock replacement, why aren’t we considering other ways to finance it? And while we’re doing that, stop and have a real discussion–with the entire town– about what everyone wants the Marina to be for the next 50 years.

One of those convos you cannot have…

One last detail: There is absolutely no reason why the City could not simply go to the voters and ask them for $1 a month over a period of years in order to finance every aspect of Marina Redevelopment. If one runs the numbers, the amount of such a tax would be laughably small for residents. Maybe the voters would say no, but would it hurt to ask? If the vote were yes, it would completely eliminate any pressure to make the wrong moves. It would put the City in the driver’s seat… and not the developer as seems to be the case.

Because the overwhelming message I got from listening to my colleagues was how grateful they were to be chosen. I want to be careful not to sound disparaging of the chosen developer because they really have done some stellar work, but there was this sense that somehow they were doing us a favour.

Arguments against?

it’s all one master plan…

The Des Moines Marina Association (DMMA), ie. ‘the boat owners’ want those docks fixed. Now! So they will likely view that last paragraph as entirely obstructionist. And they will also likely consider this paragraph inflammatory as hell. But the fact is that they have a perverse incentive to support whatever development occurs so long as it meets two criteria:

  1. That it include dock replacement.
  2. That it happens immediately.

In part, that is why the Marina Redevelopment is being sold as a unified package, when in fact there is no reason to do so. This marketing creates the totally artificial notion that dock replacement and land side development are somehow connected. They are not–well, except to the extent that the water connects to the land. 😀 (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself there.)

And it is also an inconvenient fact that leadership of the DMMA were some of the key donors for the current majority (and especially the Deputy Mayor.)

One proposal is just fine

I got a couple of people saying, “No, lots of projects get done with a single legit proposal. You bet. But not on something of this brand significance. When it’s to do with something that is key to the organisation’s identity? There is always patience.

And then were a few “You misled people! That is not the final design.” Fair enough. Maybe I’m being waaaaaaaaaay too harsh. Just grandstanding ol’ JC.

So lets look next door at a mixed used development in SeaTac opening in 2023. That project also had one legit proposal. And the initial review was also done by the City Manager. Boy do I feel stupid.

On the other hand, take a look at that proposal. This is the image the developer put in their proposal. It is an artist’s rendering of a proposed vision. They weren’t being held to that. It was simply the image they were leading with. Not bad, right?

Wanna know what it’s gonna look like when it opens in 2023? Just like that. Really. And if you look at their review process, it went through a public planning commission and the developer met with the public and the City Council multiple times and look at the specifics on their vision for the place. They did all that basically for some affordable housing apartments; not the most valuable spot in the entire City. And all that was before they even submitted a plan!

We’ve had plenty of community engagement

I am just sick of that bald faced lying. About how much there’s been, what it consisted of, even how many people were involved. This, from the consultant’s own presentation in 2019 is how much community engagement we’ve had.

200 people. In October 2017. I was there with Des Moines Historical Society President James Langston. We did the stickers. Since then the number of people who supposedly attended that event has ranged from 350 to 500 depending on the fish tale being told.

Frustration…

If you watched the discussion of the November 18 Meeting, you heard a great deal of talk about frustration. My whole argument of “be patient” was represented as mere obstructionism. It is not. We just want something INSPIRING that befits one of the most beautiful spots in the entire State Of Washington.

When my colleagues express frustration about how long we’ve waited and how many times we tried, I had to restrain a chuckle.

In a funny way, I’ve been watching the Council longer than anyone up there except Mayor Pina. My colleagues do not seem to realise that all the other so-called ‘attempts’ to re-develop the Marina were impossible because we were in the process of going broke. We never could have proceeded before because we had no money! The City had been slowly going down hill for 15 years or so until things started to turn around in 2017. So all the talk about ‘redevelopment’ was just that: Talk. In fact, this is our first legit whack at the ball. All that jazz  ‘previous attempts’ is simply untrue.

I get that people are frustrated. But don’t conflate frustration over how long its taken to get here with serious attempts to develop the Marina. This really is our first serious time at the plate.

It’s the process, stupid…

However, this is the real deal breaker–the absolute worst. And it likely won’t resonate with the residents like it should But it all comes down to that boring word ‘process’.

Even if (as many people do in private) one acknowledges that there are some (cough) ‘gaps’ in the process, the reason it’s supposed to be OK is that:

“This is just the start. We’ll have plenty of time for votes and amendments.”

No we won’t. If the current majority holds ranks, they will take an up/down vote at every point. Just as there was never a vote or discussion on the purpose of that parcel and there will not be any amendments to whatever the City Manager/Economic Development Director submits.

Well first of all because I attended the last serious Marina Redevelopment

Study Session (Agenda) in 2019.

And also there’s this: In my two years on the Council, at each annual Budget vote (which this year also occurred at the same meeting Nov. 18, 2021). there is a required section for Councilmember Amendments. In both my years on the Council I have tried to present amendments for consideration. (After all, we’re supposed to be legislators, right?)

This year my amendments totaled a whopping $41,204. Out of $29,000,000. That’s a little over one tenth of one percent. And what did I want all that splashy moolah for? Well, as you can read for yourself in the link:

  • Fix the web site.
  • Create a public engagement program.
  • Install a camera in the conference room so that committee meetings could be recorded post-COVID.

You know. Extravagances.

And in both years, the Mayor simply ignored that part of the process and went straight to an up/down vote on the entire $29,000,000. You didn’t notice that obvious violation of parliamentary process because none of my colleagues objected. He literally did not allow it. Because my colleagues were fine with it? It was fine.This is one of those things I absolutely struggle to explain to the public: The City Council polices itself entirely. There is no ‘cop’. Regardless of how egregious something may be at a meeting, if no one objects, there is literally no problem. And since the public has no idea how parliamentary process is supposed to work (or cares much), there is no oversight. If you haven’t fallen asleep reading this paragraph, I salute you.

But that is what we do in DM.

So no, things are not fine. By selecting one developer from one legit applicant in a 15 day review process by the City Manager’s dept. heads with no experts and no members of the public and where there is obvious prior ‘connections’? The entire process is suspect. All of it.


*OK, the revenue we’re talking about is in the $6.5M range. Sounds massive, right? Actually, out of the sales tax, lodging tax and B/O tax, we’re lucky to see $200k. Really. No. Really. I don’t think the public understands how much sales it takes to make a meaningful difference to a small city. Out of all that ‘tax’, most of it goes somewhere else besides the City of Des Moines. You should take that up with your State and County representatives. Seriously. Rather than new State programs that we have to claw back, I would love it if we could just keep more of the original tax and skip the middleman.

Parcel A

Posted on Categories Economic Development, Engagement, Marina, Transparency2 Comments on Parcel A

At our November 18, 2021 meeting, we chose a developer to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with the City to develop Parcel A of the Marina Floor as described in the RFQ. Essentially, it was a job interview.

After the meeting I got some feedback telling me that I was being ‘dramatic’ and that the process was ‘fine’. Wow. I hate to be that guy, but I have to respond because it was definitely not fine and if you think it was?

Remember that when you watch someone doing heart surgery on Gray’s Anatomy they do not actually know what they’re doing when it comes to heart surgery. 😀 I’m not trying to just be snarky. Unless one is an expert, one cannot evaluate whether any complex process is being handled properly. You can make a lot of things in life appear like people know what they’re doing. And you wouldn’t know the difference unless you really know something about heart surgery.

Again, it was a job interview. We were voting for a firm, not a plan. So think of it like how one hires a City Manager or previous police chiefs. (Notably, our last PD Chief did not go through a public interview process, but that’s another story.)

The process I expected…

  • In my previous experience, if a large corporation wanted to site a culturally significant building–say Apple wanted to redo their headquarters, they would specify in the RFQ that there needed to be some number of qualified applicants before making a final selection. Let’s say three. But definitely more than one. You might need only one legit applicant for a ‘normal’ project, like an apartment building. But for something special, you’d definitely want choices.
  • So if the minimum were not found, the RFQ process would automatically start over. There would be a meeting with the finalist(s) giving them feedback and asking them to re-submit. (And btw ‘rejection’ is not like, “Oh my boyfriend rejected me and sobbing.” This happens all the time in big contracts. Having to resubmit is totally normal. Sometimes it might take 3-4 go-arounds before a vendor is chosen.)
  • The review committee would include subject matter experts (architect, urban planner, landscape designer) And if it were in a particularly important spot, for example a landmark for the community, perhaps even a local historian. The aesthetic significance would be obvious as well as the  ‘setting’. You don’t just want a great building, you want a great building that fits within the context of the place.
  • The finalists would be brought in for review by the planning committee (oops, the City Of Des Moines ended their planning commission in 2013–another story) or in our case the City Council. Because again, it’s a job interview, right? We’re giving the winner a lot of latitude. So we want a lot of reassurance and complete transparency as to who they are and what their vision is. (For example, I would want to know why they chose to put that particular hotel in their proposal rather than something more ‘inspiring’. That was their choice.)
  • And we might not provide an exclusivity clause. Because remember, after only a 35 day evaluation process we approved an exclusive negotiating agreement. We told the developer that we won’t look at any other options.

The process I witnessed

In short, what we got was one legit entry, after a two week review. A company that the City Manager knows, which some CMs have experience with, while others have none. There was no public engagement. And the winner did not lead with their most inspiring work examples. Call me difficult, but this felt to me like one of those presentations where the vendor felt no great need to impress the shit out of us in order to get the job.

Why boutique hotel?

The title of the RFQ was ‘Why Not Des Moines?’ And me being me, my first thought was “Why Boutique Hotel?”

Because here’s the thing: no one ever voted on the concept of ’boutique hotel’. There has literally never been a formal discussion by the Council as to what we should do with that spot.  It’s been mentioned since 2017 as  one possibility, but it was always in this vague fashion, “Well, we could put a ’boutique hotel there–along with many other options of course.” And over time, that ‘could’ somehow morphed into ‘will’.

On the other hand, the 2018-2019 Council did go through a formal process to place the SR3 animal hospital on that particular spot of the Marina Floor. Same thing when we leased the space to the Quarterdeck restaurant. So the precedent is for the Council to vote on the purpose of a spot.

The land side must pay for the water side

Also, there has never been a discussion as to how much revenue should be expected. But do some *quick math on a 100 room hotel with 95% occupancy at $180 a night (according to the consultant) and then look at how much of our Sales and Lodging and B/O taxes.

OK, I’ll save you some time. The stated goal of all cumulative land side projects is to generate $3,000,000 in annual revenue for the City Of Des Moines. Everything: The Adaptive Purpose Building (APB), hotel, ferry, dry stack storage… whatever is inside that Enterprise Fund Area must generate $3M/yr. That is the bar.

Why? Because that is the finance cost for dock replacement. If these projects do not meet that standard, we would have to look somewhere else to finance dock replacement.

And just to be clear: the sum total of expected revenue from all those fabulous ideas do not  come anywhere close to bringing in $3M/yr. And the Administration and my colleagues know that.

So the whole financial ‘plan’ is bogus. It simply consists of projects that our City Manager (who is also our Economic Development Director) seems to find appealing. And since he has convinced my colleagues? It’s happening.

But think about this: if the whole plan does not finance dock replacement, why aren’t we considering other ways to finance it? And while we’re doing that, stop and have a real discussion–with the entire town– about what everyone wants the Marina to be for the next 50 years.

One of those convos you cannot have…

One last detail: There is absolutely no reason why the City could not simply go to the voters and ask them for $1 a month over a period of years in order to finance every aspect of Marina Redevelopment. If one runs the numbers, the amount of such a tax would be laughably small for residents. Maybe the voters would say no, but would it hurt to ask? If the vote were yes, it would completely eliminate any pressure to make the wrong moves. It would put the City in the driver’s seat… and not the developer as seems to be the case.

Because the overwhelming message I got from listening to my colleagues was how grateful they were to be chosen. I want to be careful not to sound disparaging of the chosen developer because they really have done some stellar work, but there was this sense that somehow they were doing us a favour.

Arguments against?

it’s all one master plan…

The Des Moines Marina Association (DMMA), ie. ‘the boat owners’ want those docks fixed. Now! So they will likely view that last paragraph as entirely obstructionist. And they will also likely consider this paragraph inflammatory as hell. But the fact is that they have a perverse incentive to support whatever development occurs so long as it meets two criteria:

  1. That it include dock replacement.
  2. That it happens immediately.

In part, that is why the Marina Redevelopment is being sold as a unified package, when in fact there is no reason to do so. This marketing creates the totally artificial notion that dock replacement and land side development are somehow connected. They are not–well, except to the extent that the water connects to the land. 😀 (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself there.)

And it is also an inconvenient fact that leadership of the DMMA were some of the key donors for the current majority (and especially the Deputy Mayor.)

One proposal is just fine

I got a couple of people saying, “No, lots of projects get done with a single legit proposal. You bet. But not on something of this brand significance. When it’s to do with something that is key to the organisation’s identity? There is always patience.

And then were a few “You misled people! That is not the final design.” Fair enough. Maybe I’m being waaaaaaaaaay too harsh. Just grandstanding ol’ JC.

So lets look next door at a mixed used development in SeaTac opening in 2023. That project also had one legit proposal. And the initial review was also done by the City Manager. Boy do I feel stupid.

On the other hand, take a look at that proposal. This is the image the developer put in their proposal. It is an artist’s rendering of a proposed vision. They weren’t being held to that. It was simply the image they were leading with. Not bad, right?

Wanna know what it’s gonna look like when it opens in 2023? Just like that. Really. And if you look at their review process, it went through a public planning commission and the developer met with the public and the City Council multiple times and look at the specifics on their vision for the place. They did all that basically for some affordable housing apartments; not the most valuable spot in the entire City. And all that was before they even submitted a plan!

We’ve had plenty of community engagement

I am just sick of that bald faced lying. About how much there’s been, what it consisted of, even how many people were involved. This, from the consultant’s own presentation in 2019 is how much community engagement we’ve had.

200 people. In October 2017. I was there with Des Moines Historical Society President James Langston. We did the stickers. Since then the number of people who supposedly attended that event has ranged from 350 to 500 depending on the fish tale being told.

Frustration…

If you watched the discussion of the November 18 Meeting, you heard a great deal of talk about frustration. My whole argument of “be patient” was represented as mere obstructionism. It is not. We just want something INSPIRING that befits one of the most beautiful spots in the entire State Of Washington.

When my colleagues express frustration about how long we’ve waited and how many times we tried, I had to restrain a chuckle.

In a funny way, I’ve been watching the Council longer than anyone up there except Mayor Pina. My colleagues do not seem to realise that all the other so-called ‘attempts’ to re-develop the Marina were impossible because we were in the process of going broke. We never could have proceeded before because we had no money! The City had been slowly going down hill for 15 years or so until things started to turn around in 2017. So all the talk about ‘redevelopment’ was just that: Talk. In fact, this is our first legit whack at the ball. All that jazz  ‘previous attempts’ is simply untrue.

I get that people are frustrated. But don’t conflate frustration over how long its taken to get here with serious attempts to develop the Marina. This really is our first serious time at the plate.

It’s the process, stupid…

However, this is the real deal breaker–the absolute worst. And it likely won’t resonate with the residents like it should But it all comes down to that boring word ‘process’.

Even if (as many people do in private) one acknowledges that there are some (cough) ‘gaps’ in the process, the reason it’s supposed to be OK is that:

“This is just the start. We’ll have plenty of time for votes and amendments.”

No we won’t. If the current majority holds ranks, they will take an up/down vote at every point. Just as there was never a vote or discussion on the purpose of that parcel and there will not be any amendments to whatever the City Manager/Economic Development Director submits.

Well first of all because I attended the last serious Marina Redevelopment

Study Session (Agenda) in 2019.

And also there’s this: In my two years on the Council, at each annual Budget vote (which this year also occurred at the same meeting Nov. 18, 2021). there is a required section for Councilmember Amendments. In both my years on the Council I have tried to present amendments for consideration. (After all, we’re supposed to be legislators, right?)

This year my amendments totaled a whopping $41,204. Out of $29,000,000. That’s a little over one tenth of one percent. And what did I want all that splashy moolah for? Well, as you can read for yourself in the link:

  • Fix the web site.
  • Create a public engagement program.
  • Install a camera in the conference room so that committee meetings could be recorded post-COVID.

You know. Extravagances.

And in both years, the Mayor simply ignored that part of the process and went straight to an up/down vote on the entire $29,000,000. You didn’t notice that obvious violation of parliamentary process because none of my colleagues objected. He literally did not allow it. Because my colleagues were fine with it? It was fine.This is one of those things I absolutely struggle to explain to the public: The City Council polices itself entirely. There is no ‘cop’. Regardless of how egregious something may be at a meeting, if no one objects, there is literally no problem. And since the public has no idea how parliamentary process is supposed to work (or cares much), there is no oversight. If you haven’t fallen asleep reading this paragraph, I salute you.

But that is what we do in DM.

So no, things are not fine. By selecting one developer from one legit applicant in a 15 day review process by the City Manager’s dept. heads with no experts and no members of the public and where there is obvious prior ‘connections’? The entire process is suspect. All of it.


*OK, the revenue we’re talking about is in the $6.5M range. Sounds massive, right? Actually, out of the sales tax, lodging tax and B/O tax, we’re lucky to see $200k. Really. No. Really. I don’t think the public understands how much sales it takes to make a meaningful difference to a small city. Out of all that ‘tax’, most of it goes somewhere else besides the City of Des Moines. You should take that up with your State and County representatives. Seriously. Rather than new State programs that we have to claw back, I would love it if we could just keep more of the original tax and skip the middleman.

Proposed Budget Amendments 2021

Posted on Categories Uncategorized2 Comments on Proposed Budget Amendments 2021
Submitted to Councilmembers as “information only” November 13, 2021
Fellow Councilmembers,
At Thursday’s meeting I will present the following six budget amendment items, most of whichh I have already discussed with Beth Anne and Dan Brewer on November 4. They total $41,204. $5,000 of which is a one-time expense and the remaining $36,204 to be considered as expenses that would become structural. At least one of these items will require a vote of the Council (item #2) and at least one other will require a resolution to provide a legal framework (item #4). Obviously, if those items do not get an affirmative vote the money would be returned to the general fund.
Since the total amount is relatively small, I would not anticipate that these would have any impact on our reserve. Broadly speaking, all these items appear to fall within the Finance or City Manager’s Administrative budgets so obviously the hope is that ways might be found to make room without too much hardship to other needed programs.
My hope is also that most of these are relatively easy to say ‘yes’ to since all these have precedents in other cities (eg. SeaTac has a subscription system Item #3… and all our sister cities except Normandy Park now have some form of ‘digital media consultant’… Item #6.) But if you have specific information-only requests, please let me know how I can help give you the answers you need.

1. Attached is an application for the City to re-join National League Of Cities. The annual cost is $2,004. If you haven’t looked at them recently, please do. My individual interest is that they are the nexus of all FAA-related legislation. They have graciously allowed me to audit some of their meetings with FAA and congressmen and a lot of what is proposed does not take into account the unique nature of the Port Of Seattle (not accountable to City or County.) We need to be at that table if only for that reason alone. They also offer some amazing classes on everything from infrastructure to budgeting. Some of this is light years ahead of AWC.

2. I propose that we join with the King County – Cities Climate Collaboration (K4C). This requires an inter-local agreement (see attachment). The annual cost is $1,200. Here is a presentation describing the program and there is a short video here. The main benefit is, in some ways, similar to Sound Cities Association. They put forward an idea is to have a shared agenda on climate-related legislation that will benefit our City and help us identify climate-related grant opportunities. Some of this we are already doing (Greener Cities with Forterra/PoS) but some of this is money we’re surely leaving on the table. Some of the grants have involved improving public buildings to LEED standards, solar panels, street lighting. I’m sure with all our various water and forest systems we can find many opportunities. As anotherr example, as the summers get hotter we should be looking for opportunities to help residents find options to help keep their living spaces cooler. This discussion becomes even more important as aviation traffic increases and more homes have some form of sound insulation–we have to make that issue part of the climate agenda.

3. I would like to provide a maximum $1,000 annual fund for shared digital subscriptions available to CMs for key publications. Other Cities do this by getting a print subscription which is available to visitors in the lobby and then the digital subscription credentials which are only shared with the Council. I’m sure there are others, but my initial suggestions would be:
  • Seattle Times
  • Everett Herald
  • Federal Way Mirror
  • Puget Sound Business Journal
  • Daily Journal Of Commerce
4. I would like to provide a $7,000 annual travel budget for CMs of $1,000 per CM. I’d like each CM to spend that however they choose (so long as it is an obvious Council-related item). This is at least partially necessary because various organisations (such as NLC and AWC) hold conferences that the City pays for but the travel expenses are currently not. There are also special interest conferences (eg. aviation, marina, building trades, etc.) that I found very useful in the past year.
  • Expenses to be limited to receipts for airfare, fuel, hotel, food and only for the CMs
  • CMs would submit their expenses quarterly to be included as an item of a Council Meeting Consent Agenda with the title Travel Expenses
  • If the Travel Expense item is pulled from the Consent Agenda, any individual reimbursement could then be denied, but that denial would need to affirmed by a unanimous vote of the Council
  • Approved items to be paid at the following check run

5. I propose budgeting $5,000 one-time for hybrid conferencing equipment in the North Conference Room. Recorded Committee Meetings have become popular and we should maintain that practice after the State of Emergency is lifted. Budgeting the money moves that process forward. I have been assured that there are no technical limitations. I have asked MRSC and they see no legal issues, but I would defer to our attorney of course because there is at least the -expectation- that on public meting video each speaker is targeted. The $5,000 is a guesstimate and is probably too high. It is based on estimates I’ve seen for providing hybrid conferencing for hotel conference rooms–where there is no such guaranteed speaker-targeting.

 

6. I propose investing $25,000 for the City web site. Nothing is permanent in life, but my thinking is that this amount should be considered structural and not a one-time expense. We should start budgeting for a robust and ongoing digital presence–meaning communications and outreach–and that includes schools, businesses, faith and senior communities. -We- have to start finding ways to make them all aware of each other’s activities and connect them. We should especially give some marketing assists to extend the reach of our retail businesses.

A. Functionally, the #1 priority is Search. It’s terribly broken and it matters not just to find a Council meeting or Animal Control. It’s the key to public engagement on -anything-… and not just on the site. Any Des Moines-related search term across all our domains (beach park rental, marina) has to rank properly in Google. Everyone who wants to find -anything- we do needs us to be the first thing they see on their phone. Since we’re small we have to be -better- at this than other cities.

(However, the new Council Meeting Center has a very thorough search (but apparently limited to council meeting agendas?), but it’s buried down 3-4 links.)

B. There’s all these other things having to do with usability for people with various disabilities. And that includes how we look on various phones and tablets–which is the primary way people reach us now. Given our demographic, it is unconscionable to me that we aren’t better on this. There are add-ons that Civic-Web offer to deal with this.

C. Along the same lines, we need to develop a mechanism for accommodating at least Spanish, Vietnamese and Somali/Amharic… especially when it comes to major press releases.

D. There is content that desperately needs to be updated. We need stories and imagery that match our diverse community and are relevant to -today-. Attached is a screen cap of the home page of our web site as it looked in 2014. I would argue that this version was more appealing. Now one might argue that it is the underlying functionality that matters most. But the visuals are not nothing. We use buzzy phrases all the time about ‘racism’ and ‘inclusion’ and ‘business friendly’. OK, we can do something meaningful with all that -now- simply by telling visual stories about our residents, our business successes. The 2014 version was basically just ‘colourful’ But there is a reason Instagram took over the planet. It really -does- tell stories… and everyone under 45 responds to that.
E. CivicWeb offers tools to do push content to phones–including the kinds of surveys we hired out for the PRSS Update. This is a carrot we can use for everything from billing reminders to calendar invites to emergency notifications. Eg. we offer residents the the ability to get Council Meeting Calendar Invites on their phone as the incentive to get them to sign up for the Code Red Emergency Notification system. This crosses cultural barriers. People who do not speak English -do- have an Android phone. We get their phone number for any number of small services they find useful and then we can start engaging with them on an ongoing basis for emergencies, public engagement, etc.
E. With all that, the key challenge with our web site is human: one-time vs. ongoing labour. We should automate as much of the content generation and syndication as possible with the goal of reducing ongoing staff time. Eg. there should be a mechanism to post a press release on the site and have it automatically syndicated to every social media account. Same with the calendars and any number of ‘busy work’ documents. Law offices and newspapers have been automating this process for decades. We’re doing this with the new accounting system–reducing duplicative entry. Again, CivicWeb already has options to help.
F. But after all that one-time effort at process improvement, there is probably too much ‘stuff’ to be done to provide all the timely content necessary for the community. Again, this is nothing to do with current staff. It’s just that the site requires both a TON of ‘busywork’ -and- fresh content generation to connect with businesses and residents. So part of this process should be evaluating the need for an-call service to provide for content generation and maintenance–just as we now do for specialised engineering services like Excel-Tech. There are firms that provide a pool of talent for everything from graphics, animations and videos to specialised press releases. We should identify the right partner and start building a trusted long term relationship. We already allocated money for the Marina Redevelopment Tour at our ARPA Stimulus meeting so this could tie into that discussion.
Thanks for your consideration.
—JC

Reject all three

Posted on Categories Engagement, Marina, Transparency1 Comment on Reject all three

The central premise of the Marina Redevelopment (land side) has always been that 223rd Ave should be brought down to the Marina Floor in some way. The current plan is to have a set of windy Steps that switch back and forth in front of the South Shores Condo. OK, that part -could- be great.

But for reasons passing (my) understand that is not where we are starting.

At our November 18 City Council Meeting, we will choose a developer to do ‘something’ with this parcel on Dock Ave. Here is pg 187 from that packet (extracted from the MarinaSteps web site, but the entire RFQ is in the packet.)

Which is basically at the foot of 223rd in that empty area to the south of Cliff House and to the north of the where the Steps will go.

We’re voting on a developer, not a plan

We’re not voting on a ‘plan’ we’re voting on a company.The way this works is that we specify some constraints (the proposal says we do not want any more residential, but we’d kinda/sorta like a ’boutique hotel’. Once we choose the developer it is their call from that point. I cannot emphasise that enough. We choose the developer, give them our desires, but then we give up control.

My challenges in not screaming begin with:

  1. The Council got this information at 4PM last Friday. We’re making this decision with literally 5.5 days of prep.
  2. Please look at our agenda. https://www.desmoineswa.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx…. We reached out to 2,500 firms. What you see in that packet is everything the Council has to go on in making this choice.
  3. Now, we’re (cough) ‘selecting’ from three possible suitors which were whittled down by our senior staff over a two week period.
  4. Look at pg 187 of the packet. There is an averaged scoring system. The preferred option is 91. The other two are 43 and 39. So the winner is an A- and the other two are ABJECT FAILURE. Outreach to 2,500 firms. Three responses that are worth presenting to Council but only one passing grade? Go back and re-take the test.
  5. Remember: we are selling off a piece of the most valuable piece of real estate in the entire City. We will -never- control that property again. And -whatever- we put there will become one of the most VISIBLE things people see when they visit DM. Forever. And if we vote as the City prefers, that Independence Hotel is kinda/sorta what it will be.

The epic view

Back up for a sec. Here’s the thing. I just suck. I’ve lived here 27 years now and in allllllllllllllllll that time, it never occurred to me to take a single (I -struggle with how people find profanity annoying here ) picture of the Masonic Home from the water—the image I absolutely -live- for. And Google sucks too by the way because I can’t find any other shot like that on the entire WWW.

So… I need you to use your IMAGINATION!

It’s 6AM, you’re on a boat at the centre line of Puget Sound heading in from Point Robinson. That means you’re looking at a) the sun b) Mighty Mt. Rainier c) the Masonic Home.

 That is your view heading southeast into the Des Moines Marina. That, my friend, is epic. That should be the standard for any development.

The skyline

In fact, that is our skyline. All great cities have a great skyline. Seriously. As you view any great city from the water it looks memorable. Think about Seattle. Or New York. Or, hell, even rusted out Detroit:

And that is what we want the Marina to be for the next 50 years. Any person who is on the water, heading into the Marina should see something totally magnificent as they head into the Des Moines Marina on that fancy schmancy ‘ferry’. Not a serviceably nice hotel. TOTALLY EPIC.

Remember my Google Search? There are almost no images of the Des Moines Marina from the water. Here is one that must be from before 2011 when the renovations were done.

I find that a bit odd. We’re the ‘Waterland City’ but obviously, we don’t think of it like that. If we really want to be a ‘destination’, we must demand a stunning view from the water.

Now, you think I’m overdoing it? As I’ve stated before, if you haven’t done so recently, go by Parkside Elementary School at 247th and 21st. Built by TCF in the 2010. It is beautiful, practical architecture. And that’s ‘just’ a public school! (Hell, I’d like to know if TCF made a proposal!)

There is simply no reason to accept anything less than classic for any development on the Marina. So we should be patient.

The train has left the station?

My colleagues and their supporters (like the Des Moines Marina Association) will acknowledge various ‘challenges’ with every aspect of the Marina Redevelopment. But whenever one asks about anything the reply tends to be ‘the train has already left the station.’ As if there is some law of physics that prevents us from stopping that ‘train’ at any time to make adjustments as necessary. Another metaphor that comes to mind is that notion of the shark: it must keep moving or it will die. That is simply untrue.

I understand the desire to “get ‘er done” after all these years of frustration. But this is not the best we can do. We are literally selecting from one legitimate choice on five days notice and with no opportunity to interview the developer and follow up before choosing. That alone is irresponsible. We should be patient, put out another RFQ and wait for the right choice. There is absolutely no reason to rush this.

Please take action

Please attend this meeting via Zoom. Please make public comment. https://www.desmoineswa.gov/cms/One.aspx… Please write the City Council at citycouncil@desmoineswa.gov.

However you do it, please tell the Council to reject all three current proposals . That will tell the City to offer a new RFQ , be patient and obtain the right proposal. We only get one chance. And there’s no reason to settle for anything less than epic.

PS: Speaking of which, it’s always a good day to show off the wonderfulness of the Masonic Home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2MXFaLFkSM

Weekly Update: 11/07/2021

Posted on Categories Engagement, Transparency, Weekly Updates5 Comments on Weekly Update: 11/07/2021

Public Service Announcements

And just in time for the holidays: OMICRON! Fortunately, the current vaccines are effective, free and you can get your appointment today here and here , including walk-Ins at Walgreen’s, Rite-Aid, SeaMar and Healthpoint.

  1. Friday December 3, 6PM Destination Des Moines Tree Lighting at Big Catch Plaza
  2. We’re about to update our Parks, Recreation and Senior Services Master Plan. Read that, comment by email or attend the December 2 City Council Meeting to comment!
  3. We’re embarking on the redevelopment of the Des Moines Marina. Please read the Draft Master Plan and then my Marina Redevelopment Talking Points. This is the largest capital project in our city’s history and we need your input! Send your questions and concerns to marinamasterplan@desmoinewa.gov.
  4. The Utility Moratorium ended September 30. Help is available, but act now!
  5. Sign up now for the King County Emergency Alert Program
  6. Please join the Trusted Partner Network – King County
  7. Renters!  King County Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program
  8. I know you want to help save the Masonic Home. So sign up for the new site hosted by Washington Historic Trust!
  9. City Of Des Moines Minor Home Repair Program This is one of those great programs the City has had in place since forever, but we only advertise every quarter in the City Currents Magazine. Basically, low to moderate income households can get grants to do all sorts of necessary repairs. Just email Minor Home Repair Coordinator Tina Hickey (206) 870-6535.
  10. Every home should have a Carbon Monoxide Detector–especially during the colder months! Full stop. If you need one but money is tight, South King County Fire And Rescue will get you one. Just call their Community Affairs Office at 253-946-7347.
  11. And last, but not least: If you have a Port Package that is having issues, please email SeatacNoise.Info with your address!

This Week

Monday: SR509 briefing with WSDOT. I’m expecting some graphics detailing how it will affect Blueberry Lane, Des Moines Creek Trail and the bridge over 216th. What’s also pretty keen is that WSDOT will be creating a 1.8 mile bike lane as part of the Lake To Sound Trail and redoing the kinda ‘hidden trail’ from Kent Des Moines Road to 223rd. On a side note: the project will include several roundabouts. I’ve been advocating for these in Des Moines for a while (like 200th and Des Moines Memorial Drive would’ve been ideal.) I’m hopeful that once people see how useful they are, we’ll be more open to using them in Des Moines.

Tuesday: Maritime High School Grand Opening!

Wednesday: Des Moines Marina Association Meeting

Thursday: Des Moines Memorial Drive Preservation Association 100th Anniversary, 11:00AM at Sunnydale School in Burien

Last Week

Wednesday: Salmon Counting at McSorley Creek with Trout Unlimited and Friends Of Saltwater State Park. We saw six salmon!!!!!!!!!

Thursday: Budget Meeting with Finance Director Beth Anne Wroe and COO Dan Brewer. So, this was great in the sense that it was the first one-on-one I’ve had with any staff since about March of 2020. And second of all, well,  it was good to get some feedback on at least one tension–that darned web site.

Thursday: Public Safety Committee Meeting (Agenda) The Guild is still negotiation on the body camera policy. There was a really good presentation by Code Enforcement Officer Kory Batterman. He is just raking in the dough. I bore people with the story of my first City Council Meeting about Code Enforcement and I am a big fan. But since 2009 I have changed my tune a bit. Good neighbourhoods shouldn’t need much Code Enforcement. And you can’t create a good neighbourhood just by fining people. So hopefully the big collections are just a part of COVID and not the start of a trend.

Thursday: City Council Meeting (Agenda) (Video) The biggies were:

  • Public Comment by Selena and Betty Taylor, the mother and grandmother of one of the victims of the La Familia Restaurant homicides last month. They announced their intention to to work on violence prevention programs. I mentioned  in my comments how my family had also been damaged by a repeat offender. We have been in touch since and I hope to help them in their efforts.
  • Censure of Councilmember Martinelli. See below.
  • 2022-2027 Parks, Recreation and Senior Services Master Plan Update. See below.
  • Surface Water Management (SWM) Comprehensive Plan rate update. This is 99% of the work of the Environment Committee. We voted on a rate increase which averages $.079/month and extends the work plan from 2026 to 2029. I was not a fan. As I wrote before, I would have preferred the more expensive plan (a whopping $2/month!) but keep to the 2026 schedule.

There’s a point in there somewhere

Every elected has this dance with ‘the corporation’. You’re supposed to be ‘oversight’ of the corporation, but they actually run things. They have no earthly reason to want or need your help or insight on a gosh darned thing. Their task is to tolerate you with as little friction as possible so they can get back to doing some real work. (OK, that was my approach when I was on the other side of the fence. 😀 )

But as a low-rent elected one does have to try to find out what’s going on, if for no other reason so that you can understand what is possible legislatively.

My career… one long bitchfest…

This blog, which seems so (cough) ‘controversial’ is basically how I lived out my professional life– one big, unemotional confrontation. You’re constantly debating ideas every day when you’re developing products. And then? The beta test program! Hundreds of outsiders constantly sending you bugs. Just bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, BITCH. 😀

And then you have drinks. 🙂

The entire process (up until the drinking) is completely open. Really open. And it’s based on the notion that everything you’re saying is constructive. I guess some of you might say that it requires a thick skin, but I would beg to differ. I always found it very safe because regardless of the volume in the room, everyone assumes that every word is not an insult or an indictment of one’s abilities; it’s just trying to get to a good result. And in fact, in many engineering discussion groups “thank yous” and “I appreciate yous” are frowned upon.  No one is even thinking about how people “feel”. You just assume everyone is fine. Really. No, really.

It took me a long time to figure out that all the “thank yous” and “I appreciate yous” in politics are not an irritating waste of time. In fact, they’re kinda necessary. Because there is not that implicit trust–at least, not in Des Moines. 😀 Politics is not business.

Circling back to that meeting with the Finance Director and COO, we talked a bit about the web site. And what was great was that they told me they have felt picked on. I love that stuff. I wish they had been even harsher.  Of course, the problems I’m upset about are real, but my concerns are never about ‘blame’ or ‘shame’. It’s just about correcting the problems.

Virtual Community Center

This is the web site as it existed in 2014. I think it’s a bit more colourful, but under the hood it is quite similar to what we have now. And that’s my first beef. We went through all this meshegoss in 2021 for what?

But… the new site does have a Council Meeting Center gizmo, which is a big deal. It’s the same system used by Burien. But it’s not out front. And it should be. Now. It has a search system that is an order of magnitude better, a calendar and links to all the videos, agendas, etc.

Beyond that, part of the problem is that I refer to all this as ‘the web site’. In my world, we’d actually call it a ‘digital presence’, but if I use that term nobody knows WTF I’m talking about.

Part of it is that we do not have a community center and we desperately need one. But we’re not likely to get one for a while. So until we do I want a better web… er ‘digital presence’. A much better digital presence. We need a virtual community center. Yes, we need the basic functionality of the ‘web site’ to be corrected. But beyond that we need that digital presence to do a whole lot more. Now. It’s as high a priority as any road, whether the staff or the current council gets it or not.

  • I want the City to be able to reach everyone if we need to for emergencies.
  • I want information, all our information accessible.
  • I want us to be able to do surveys at the drop of a hat on any issue.
  • When something newsworthy happens, I want all the answers people will have available immediately. (When CM Martinelli was arrested, everyone had similar questions. We could have and should have had an FAQ.
  • I want activities to be pushed out to people, even if they’re not in Des Moines. And I want all that stuff to be automated so our staff doesn’t have to do any of that busy work.

The City has been going through a long overdue IT re-structuring. But part of updating any mission-critical system is inertia. And this is one of those very few situations where I do know better than the staff because customer engagement is not their world. It was my world. I’d like their trust and never conflict. But I also want an environment where I can figure out a way to get three more votes,  we hire a specialist to get ‘er done, and nobody gets upset. That’s not ‘harsh’. It’s just the way elected government is supposed to work.

Letters, process…

So far the Council has received maybe six letters re. Councilmember Martinelli. All six have been ‘resign’ but five were obviously partisan (campaign donors for the majority.) But there was one other which also mentioned him briefly and then went on to this very detailed and cogent critique of the parks and rec master plan update. And it put me over the edge about some stuff that I’ve been trying to figure out a way to talk about for a while during the campaign.

Her critique was wonderful. But there was really just one line that mattered. She is the first person to write the Council in my time who noticed a particular ‘play’ that gets run over and over. And she deserves a tall mocha pumpkin spice latte whatever for pointing it out.

The consultant started talking about data sets and materials he will get to us after the meeting. And then we vote on the plan at the next meeting. Now if that sounds vaguely familiar, you also deserve a tall mocha pumpkin spice whatever. With sprinkles. It’s how we did the budget process, the ARPA spending, basically everything.

And just to review:

  1. Meeting #1: Presentation, but no data
  2. Data shows up. But there’s no way to ask questions
  3. Meeting #2: Final vote.

In the real world, if a consultant shows up and starts talking about reference materials that he doesn’t have with him, I or my colleagues immediately say, “Gee, that’s unfortunate. The secretary will show you out and help you reschedule. After we have reviewed those materials, we’d love to have you back.”

I’ve actually tried that once or twice here. And it feels like… you know those National Geographic movies where a pack of hyenas jump on a straggler from the herd? It’s like that. “Well, how dare you! I have all the information I need!” Which sadly, is actually true. But it shuts down any meaningful inquiry or editing function. Which is the entire point: move things forward as quickly as possible.

In my world (and every other local government), you show up with all the materials. You give people time to review it. You have two meetings where you can really dig in. You can be as as firm as you like and you get answers. There is a lot of red-lining and editing and nobody cares because, hey, I get paid by the hour. 😀

You also want as much of the public involved for the same reason that a software benefits from beta testing: you want all the eyes you can get on the process. That’s what this is all about.

And we just don’t do any of that jazz. Speed, congeniality and the absence of confrontation are seen as evidence of good government.

Censure

As I said, her letter opened with a call for Councilmember Martinelli’s resignation. And I understand her feelings completely. I actually started thinking about this over a year before his arrest.

I made a comment from the dais about “shunning” because my colleagues and the City Manager have all treated me in miserable ways that would get anyone fired from a ‘real’ job and cause many a lawsuit. I am not kidding. You think I’m ‘direct’ here? I dial it down. A lot. And just to be clear: this is not whining about how “the other kids don’t like me!” These are ethics violations that prevent government from working properly. Despite that, every week I work with constituents who are supporters of those so-and-sos in a cheerful and sincere fashion.

And my point is this:

Councilmembers have no control over who they get to work with. That’s not a dodge. The law says that the voters choose us and only the voters can remove us. So very early on I made my ethical decision on this sort of thing: Quit in some truly gothic fashion or start looking at everyone strictly as a vote.

I will never avoid giving my full professional cooperation to anyone based on personal animus because ultimately that screws the 32,000 people I was elected to serve.

Some of you will find comparing the treatment by my colleagues and DV an outrageous form of ‘whataboutism’. I respectfully disagree. As a practicing Catholic and the spouse of a domestic violence survivor, the position I just articulated is, for me, the most ethical position. I was elected to further legislation and provide oversight to the greatest benefit if 32,000 people. That is all the RCW says.

However, again, my feelings are totally irrelevant. You will make the difference. If  there is enough public support I am about  100% certain Councilmemember Martinelli will resign. The mechanism is to write the City Council: citycouncil@desmoineswa.gov.

But you’ll need more than those current six e-mails. And that’s after Mayor Pina did a press release to major media and the Waterland Blog and prepared a motion of censure.

ABP

Now lest you think I’m some apologist, I’ll leave you with this: the irony of the current situation is that Councilmember Martinelli tried his darnedest to ‘always be positive’ (ABP as they say in sales school.) He witnessed many of the same ethics violations I have. But if you look at his public writings since taking office they become increasingly positive in describing the City, the City Manager and especially the police.

I also believe in credit where credit is due. But I felt (and feel) that it is never a good idea to overlook ethical lapses, especially because by now the public has no idea what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to official conduct.

Let’s just say we disagreed.

A letter to Selena Taylor

Posted on Categories Uncategorized

Selena Taylor is the mother of a young man killed at La Familia Sports Pub on Pacific Highway September 26, 2021.

Hi,

I am writing you today to (hopefully) respond a bit more clearly to your public comment last night.

Just as you and Betty were speaking it dawned on me that this weekend is, to the day, the 50th anniversary of my sister's death in 1971.

She was 17 and wonderful and her only problem was that she had a boyfriend who had already had -many- run-ins with the law before they met.

The young man killed her. And at his trial, my parents became obsessed to learn that he had already been in 'the system' so many times. They could not understand -why- he had been able to continue after so many arrests and court appearances and so on. They felt let down by -everyone-. And they never got past that... the -unfairness-. It just nagged at them and over time it made them bitter.

My takeaway from my sisters' death was that the problem had started -years- before. Perhaps if that young man had been given some other options, things might have gone differently. I don't say that out of any great sympathy for him. I'm just being practical. Clearly trying to arrest people and lock them up was ineffective.

So since joining the City Council, my particular focus has been on youth programs and education. Des Moines has had areas associated with violent crime and much of it was at the middle and high school level. We implemented a program called Reach Out Des Moines that does just a few things: it encourages kids to show up for school and it provides them with activities after school and on weekends. Those very simple things have reduced teenage crime by as much as 75% in the most affected parts of Des Moines. My hope is that helping those kids -avoid- getting into that system will help prevent tragedies like you are going through now.

Obviously we need to do a LOT more.

So I applaud your ideas, which sound great. I think they will help move the needle and I would like to help in -any- way I can.

In closing, all I was trying to say last night was that this is not a new problem. It's been going on -far- too long. And it will never make sense.

But I think you will eventually find healing and grace.

I want to thank you again for sharing a part of your story. It meant a lot to me and my colleagues. And I hope we can both find ways to use that energy to solve this problem.

Below is my cell phone. Please call me -any- time if I can be of service.

---JC