Weekly Update: 04/13/2021

Posted on Categories Marina, Transparency, Transportation, Weekly Updates3 Comments on Weekly Update: 04/13/2021

As some of you know, the web site (actually my ISP) was attacked by on Sunday causing yet another late, late Weekly Update. Apologies. This issue is seriously rushed so if you see any more typos than usual, please let me know.

Public Service Announcements

  1. Tree planting at Kiddie City Park Saturday April 17th, 9AM!
  2. Also Saturday April 17 at 9AM: Help me set the COHO free! At the Marina dock across from the Quarterdeck
  3. King County is in the process of updating their Climate Action Plan to hopefully include for the first time (unbelievably) aviation emissions. You can and should provide your support and public comment here!
  4. The City of Des Moines Surface Water Management Department is seeking public comments on the annual Surface Water Management Plan. To provide comments or obtain education materials, contact Ben Stryker at bstryker@desmoineswa.gov.
  5. Working Washington Round 4 Small Business Grant program application portal is open until 5 p.m., April 9. Focus ono small for-profit businesses, especially those required to close due to public health and safety measures.
  6. Learn about ShakeAlert the new earthquake early warning system https://www.facebook.com/events/278578143739633 Tuesday, May 4 6:30pm.
  7. I know you want to help save the Masonic Home. So sign up for the new site hosted by Washington Historic Trust!
  8. And Washington Historic Trust is also asking for your support on a tax credit for Main Street small business programs. Please give public comment to help ensure that it passes!
  9. SBA Webinars on new PPP Programs start March 3rd!
  10. Virtual Open House on SR 509 I-5 to 24th Ave
  11. The fourth round of Washington State COVID-19 Small Business Grants starts March 29th. Go get ’em!
  12. If you are a local business, make the Southside Promise from the South Side Seattle Chamber Of Commerce! There are grants of up to $1,000 to help you now.
  13. There are new State Unemployment Benefits. But you gotta read and follow the instructions!
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Rental Assistance for Low Income King County Bar Association – The Housing Justice Project is requesting community based providers assistance to identify households who owe 10K or more in back-rent. “We can zero out $10K or more of rent for folks who are at 50% AMI or below these income limits. If you know anyone, can you have them email fwblackcollective@gmail.com for navigation with case managers or give them this link which has all the paperwork to complete and email to edmundw@kcba.org to get their rent payed out. Forms to Eliminate Back Rent: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=1fUdYAwMFH_V_B1vTD_urmir_ltI8Wfnw. Completed forms can be emailed to edmundw@kcba.org.”
  17. If you wish to sign up for future City Clean Ups Michelle Johansson Fawcett: cleanuri.com/pj4RQ5
  18. 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: I attended the King County International Airport Roundtable. No, it’s not Sea-Tac, but we share the same air space and we need to work together on reducing the noise and pollution.

Tuesday: Port Of Seattle Commission. I sent a letter on behalf of SeatacNoise.Info asking the Port to revise the Sustained Airport Master Plan (SAMP) in light of COVID-19. It is short and if you are concerned about the airport, I hope you will read it.

Wednesday: A presentation of the Marina Redevelopment Plan to the Des Moines Marina Association (DMMA). This will be their general membership’s first look at the proposal.

Thursday: I will be attending the Pacific Coast Congress Conference . The PCC is the big association that all west coast Marina’s belong to. Since this is our big marina re-development year, I thought it would be a good idea to check in and see what’s what.

Thursday: Environment Committee (Agenda)

Thursday: Transportation Committee (Agenda)

Thursday: City Council Study Session (Agenda) The topic will be State Of The City. If you wanna bone up on that, you can look at the version presented by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor last November at the Des Moines Marina Association.

Last Week

Thursday: I attended the Port Of Seattle’s Audit Committee. We have nothing like this in Des Moines. The Audit Committee is tasked by the Commission to investigate any and all issues the Commission may have concerns about. It was established in light of previous scandals and it has been a real help in making the Port more transparent. For several years I have been complaining that the Port’s Noise Monitor System was inaccurate. The Audit Committee has taken up the issue and has confirmed the issues we reported. Why does this matter? Without accurate data, we cannot hope to get better mitigation.

Thursday: Public Safety Committee Meeting (Agenda) There was a presentation on the Valley SWAT Team.

Thursday: City Council Meeting (Agenda) This featured the public unveiling of the Marina Re-development plan, first discussed at the Municipal Facilities Committee presentation on Marina Redevelopment 03/25/21. You can get all the materials here at the Des Moines Marina web site.

Saturday: I attended a regional meeting on aviation impacts organized by El Centro De La Raza in Beacon Hill. The short version is that they are working to get King County to officially include aviation emissions in their climate action plan. Although King County does not control Sea-Tac Airport, this is a big deal since the County Dept. Of Health is instrumental in setting state policy. You can and should provide public comment here.

Council Meeting

Clerk’s Recap Agenda Packet Video

As I said last week, this may have been the most important City Council in years. It’s so huge, I can’t really cover it here. People will think I’m missing the point, but this is my initial over-simplification:

  1. Some of the docks need to be replaced within 5-10 years. But since it may take 3-5 years to get the permits we need to start that journey now.
  2. Unfortunately, we only have the money to replace the first three, so we’ll do them three at a time every few years over a 20 year period.
  3. Therefore, we need to identify an important long-term revenue source, right now, and if we’re lucky, using that we can squirrel away enough cash over time to pay as we go.
  4. The important revenue source that the administration is counting on is the land side… ie. building a massive Adaptive Purpose Building which will house things that generate revenue… somehow.
  5. So: the first step to fixing the real problem (the docks) is to start redoing the land side now, Now, NOW.

That’s the argument, anyhoo. As I always say: it could be a great idea. Or not. Without supporting data (the presentation offered none) I have no idea. What I do know is this: whenever a salesman tells you, “Honey, you gotta decide now.” you should be skeptical. And the salesman should respect that and not pressure you.

My colleagues, on the other hand, seemed ready to sign on the dotted line right then and there… for the largest capital project any Council is likely to confront in our lifetimes. And we’re basically expected to decide the entire shebang by the end of summer (the City establishes its draft budget in August.)

Yeah, I have questions. And if that makes me sound cranky or snarky or whatever, I’m sorry. But this is a fifty year deal.

I was both personally criticized and treated with major defensiveness simply for making the suggestion that the Council should have gotten at least one more opinion from a second consultant. I also am not thrilled that we were not offered any a la carte choices. It is being sold as a single grand option for both the land side and waterside of the Marina. And this is at the beginning of the process. Now that’s what I call defensiveness.

Speaking of which…

Defense

I’ve used the word ‘defensive’ a bit lately with regard to the administration and my colleagues. This started about the time Meg Tapucol-Provo published her resignation letter from the Police Diversity Committee. What I’ve tried to explain is that her experience on that committee was not isolated. She was simply reflecting on what is the culture of our current government.

Part of it is understandable. In the conversations I’ve had with long-time staff and the City Manager, they have said that improving morale was a key goal when City Manager Matthias took over. I fully support that, not just as a management-style but as basic good behavior. People deserve to be properly acknowledged for their good work and always understand that their work is highly valued–especially public employees, who serve us all.

However, morale does not come at the cost of oversight. At least half of the job of the City Council is to ask tough questions. The flip side is that it is the job of the administration to always provide their fullest cooperation to electeds. It is literally the administration’s job to convince the City Council that their proposals are in the best the interest of the public (even if it means having to answer to an idiot like me.) That’s one of the downsides of public service–the heightened accountability. It’s a pain. I’ve told City Manager Matthias that I wouldn’t want to have to deal with that for nothin’. But regardless, that’s just the deal. And an elected should not have to earn that cooperation. The office that the elected holds provides all the necessary bona fides. Or… at least, that’s the theory. 😀

Another meeting, another argument…

During my comments at the last City Council meeting I kinda went off on Deputy Mayor Mahoney… just a little bit… about his City Currents article re. pre-announcing a passenger ferry. That’s only the second time I’ve ever responded to an individual Councilmember. I told the truth, but perhaps one could argue that I could’ve been a bit ‘nicer’. Actually, I thought I was being a bit jokey to avoid displaying how truly upsetting it is.

But jokey or not, the Deputy Mayor and the City Manager do not take this sort of thing lying down. In fact, they spent twice my allotted time telling the public all sorts of anecdotal stuff to prove that not only was a passenger ferry a sound decision, but that the public had already been properly informed, fully engaged  and, in fact, love the idea. There were studies. There were surveys. There were talks. There were dinners. Only you, Mr. Harris, seem to have a problem with the plan.

I am all for studies. I am all for surveys. I am all for talks.  I am definitely all for dinners. But since this is public money I am also for disclosure. And survey results. And public comment. And votes. 🙂

Just to recap…

As I said, the only public presentation on the idea of a private ferry took place on December 2019. What the Council saw was a sample of the study yet to be done; not the actual study. Ten months later, on 24 September 2020,  the *City Manager provided an two minute update  to Council (go to about 18:30) where he stated that the study was complete, a survey had been done and the City was planning a Study Session. That Study Session has not happened. Several times over the past months I have asked the City for that data and been denied. I just did a public records request. Hope to get the results real soon. :).

Apart from how shameful it is that any Councilmember has to go to those lengths to get information about studies paid for with public money, I just don’t think it’s great to announce such a large policy in the City Current Magazine under those circumstances.

People love the idea…

At one point during his rebuttal, the Deputy Mayor said, as if this made it OK, “Hey, people love the idea!” Perhaps. People love a lot of things. But that is not how government works. Even if everyone is jumping up and down for something, you’re still supposed to go through the proper process.

We’re literally talking about a decision about millions of dollars. No Study Session. No survey results. No public comment. No vote of any kind.

And here’s the real point: Even if the City does eventually do all that stuff: has the Study Session, produces the study, and the survey, and  puts it on a meeting agenda for an official rubber stamp… er ‘vote’ of the Council? And even if they say, “See, we had it all right here. You got just got people riled up over nothing, son!” It would still be dead wrong. Because it was pre-decided.

I have no idea if a passenger ferry is a good idea or not. I have no idea if the current Marina redevelopment proposal is a good idea or not. But here’s what I do know: I am treated with defensiveness, deflection and personally criticised every time I simply ask for data and that good process be followed. You can dismiss my reactions as sour grapes or grandstanding, but I hope you keep reading.

The price to be paid

Now, as I said, occasionally I get comments from residents telling me that one should never be snarky. Point taken.

But in my defense (see what I just did there?) you should understand that I pay for my crimes. Whenever I say anything the administration doesn’t like, I know I will get triple-teamed. Specifically…

The rotating cast of characters

As you may have noticed, each councilmember gets four minutes of comment at the end of each City Council meeting. What you may not have noticed is that the Mayor rotates the order in which we speak. It changes from week to week for five of us. But the Deputy Mayor always goes  next to last and the Mayor always goes last. That’s not some ‘rule’, that’s just how Mayor Pina decided to do it. I’ve never asked him, but the only reasonable explanation is so that if some Councilmember says something they don’t like, then both the Deputy Mayor and then the Mayor can respond.

But wait, there’s more. What the Mayor also does–again which is not any rule, he just does it, is that he can call on the City Manager for a ‘response’. And there is no four minute time limit on that. The City Manager gets to say whatever he wants. Now this is a little weird to me because as you saw at the last meeting, a Councilmember is supposedly not allowed to respond to another. CM Martinelli actually tried to respond and was admonished by the Mayor. But the City Manager is invited to join in on the fun.

Anyhoo, I’ll get wailed on three times if I have the temerity to speak against any policy. (Actually, in the past it’s been up to five times, when I’ve been chosen to speak first. Then everyone gets a shot. 😀 )

What I’m trying to say is this: I could be as nice as Fred Rogers in my presentation. Wouldn’t matter. If I speak up against administration policy I will get triple-teamed. It’s not my ‘attitude’, it’s the disagreement itself. They always get in the last word(s). Thrice.

And they do take advantage of those opportunities as the video of any meeting where I’ve expressed concerns will show. It’s not like my colleagues just let me say my peace and move on. It’s not enough to win the votes and let the results speak for itself. A statement has to be made.

So let me ask you: what would you do if you show up for school every day  knowing yer gonna get beat up by at least three guys if you say something they don’t like? How well would you take to that state of affairs?

Is there something practical here or is this just more of your whining?

Is that a trick question? 😀 As I always say: most of you are transactional. So long as the City seems to be doing stuff that sounds good to you, you probably don’t care about this schoolhouse crap at City Hall. I know I didn’t until I started watching.

I point out these ‘inside baseball’ details because I know the public has a tough time telling who are the good guys and who are… well… less so.

But here’s one suggestion: I believe that you can tell a lot about an organization by how they respond to opposing points of view. They can either try to be open and willing to engage… or not. And whenever you are treated with defensiveness and deflection and personal attacks in a professional situation, your first move should be skepticism.

In short, organizations tend to handle the big things exactly the same way they handle the small things. And we got a lot of big things to decide this year.

l’m giving you the link to the City video web site because the video on the City’s Youtube channel omits the entire Administration Report. Again, another detail of process and transparency that drives me nuts.

 

 

 

 

Defense

Posted on Categories Transparency, Transportation

I’ve used the word ‘defensive’ a bit lately with regard to the administration and my colleagues. This started about the time Meg Tapucol-Provo published her resignation letter from the Police Diversity Committee. What I’ve tried to explain is that her experience on that committee was not isolated. She was simply reflecting on what is the culture of our current government.

Part of it is understandable. In the conversations I’ve had with long-time staff and the City Manager, they have said that improving morale was a key goal when City Manager Matthias took over. I fully support that, not just as a management-style but as basic good behavior. People deserve to be properly acknowledged for their good work and always understand that their work is highly valued–especially public employees, who serve us all.

However, morale does not come at the cost of oversight. At least half of the job of the City Council is to ask tough questions. The flip side is that it is the job of the administration to always provide their fullest cooperation to electeds. It is literally the administration’s job to convince the City Council that their proposals are in the best the interest of the public (even if it means having to answer to an idiot like me.) That’s one of the downsides of public service–the heightened accountability. It’s a pain. I’ve told City Manager Matthias that I wouldn’t want to have to deal with that for nothin’. But regardless, that’s just the deal. And an elected should not have to earn that cooperation. The office that the elected holds provides all the necessary bona fides. Or… at least, that’s the theory. 😀

Another meeting, another argument…

During my comments at the last City Council meeting I kinda went off on Deputy Mayor Mahoney… just a little bit… about his City Currents article re. pre-announcing a passenger ferry. That’s only the second time I’ve ever responded to an individual Councilmember. I told the truth, but perhaps one could argue that I could’ve been a bit ‘nicer’. Actually, I thought I was being a bit jokey to avoid displaying how truly upsetting it is.

But jokey or not, the Deputy Mayor and the City Manager do not take this sort of thing lying down. In fact, they spent twice my allotted time telling the public all sorts of anecdotal stuff to prove that not only was a passenger ferry a sound decision, but that the public had already been properly informed, fully engaged  and, in fact, love the idea. There were studies. There were surveys. There were talks. There were dinners. Only you, Mr. Harris, seem to have a problem with the plan.

I am all for studies. I am all for surveys. I am all for talks.  I am definitely all for dinners. But since this is public money I am also for disclosure. And survey results. And public comment. And votes. 🙂

Just to recap…

As I said, the only public presentation on the idea of a private ferry took place on December 2019. What the Council saw was a sample of the study yet to be done; not the actual study. Ten months later, on 24 September 2020,  the *City Manager provided an two minute update  to Council (go to about 18:30) where he stated that the study was complete, a survey had been done and the City was planning a Study Session. That Study Session has not happened. Several times over the past months I have asked the City for that data and been denied. I just did a public records request. Hope to get the results real soon. :).

Apart from how shameful it is that any Councilmember has to go to those lengths to get information about studies paid for with public money, I just don’t think it’s great to announce such a large policy in the City Current Magazine under those circumstances.

People love the idea…

At one point during his rebuttal, the Deputy Mayor said, as if this made it OK, “Hey, people love the idea!” Perhaps. People love a lot of things. But that is not how government works. Even if everyone is jumping up and down for something, you’re still supposed to go through the proper process.

We’re literally talking about a decision about millions of dollars. No Study Session. No survey results. No public comment. No vote of any kind.

And here’s the real point: Even if the City does eventually do all that stuff: has the Study Session, produces the study, and the survey, and  puts it on a meeting agenda for an official rubber stamp… er ‘vote’ of the Council? And even if they say, “See, we had it all right here. You got just got people riled up over nothing, son!” It would still be dead wrong. Because it was pre-decided.

I have no idea if a passenger ferry is a good idea or not. I have no idea if the current Marina redevelopment proposal is a good idea or not. But here’s what I do know: I am treated with defensiveness, deflection and personally criticised every time I simply ask for data and that good process be followed. You can dismiss my reactions as sour grapes or grandstanding, but I hope you keep reading.

The price to be paid

Now, as I said, occasionally I get comments from residents telling me that one should never be snarky. Point taken.

But in my defense (see what I just did there?) you should understand that I pay for my crimes. Whenever I say anything the administration doesn’t like, I know I will get triple-teamed. Specifically…

The rotating cast of characters

As you may have noticed, each councilmember gets four minutes of comment at the end of each City Council meeting. What you may not have noticed is that the Mayor rotates the order in which we speak. It changes from week to week for five of us. But the Deputy Mayor always goes  next to last and the Mayor always goes last. That’s not some ‘rule’, that’s just how Mayor Pina decided to do it. I’ve never asked him, but the only reasonable explanation is so that if some Councilmember says something they don’t like, then both the Deputy Mayor and then the Mayor can respond.

But wait, there’s more. What the Mayor also does–again which is not any rule, he just does it, is that he can call on the City Manager for a ‘response’. And there is no four minute time limit on that. The City Manager gets to say whatever he wants. Now this is a little weird to me because as you saw at the last meeting, a Councilmember is supposedly not allowed to respond to another. CM Martinelli actually tried to respond and was admonished by the Mayor. But the City Manager is invited to join in on the fun.

Anyhoo, I’ll get wailed on three times if I have the temerity to speak against any policy. (Actually, in the past it’s been up to five times, when I’ve been chosen to speak first. Then everyone gets a shot. 😀 )

What I’m trying to say is this: I could be as nice as Fred Rogers in my presentation. Wouldn’t matter. If I speak up against administration policy I will get triple-teamed. It’s not my ‘attitude’, it’s the disagreement itself. They always get in the last word(s). Thrice.

And they do take advantage of those opportunities as the video of any meeting where I’ve expressed concerns will show. It’s not like my colleagues just let me say my peace and move on. It’s not enough to win the votes and let the results speak for itself. A statement has to be made.

So let me ask you: what would you do if you show up for school every day  knowing yer gonna get beat up by at least three guys if you say something they don’t like? How well would you take to that state of affairs?

Is there something practical here or is this just more of your whining?

Is that a trick question? 😀 As I always say: most of you are transactional. So long as the City seems to be doing stuff that sounds good to you, you probably don’t care about this schoolhouse crap at City Hall. I know I didn’t until I started watching.

I point out these ‘inside baseball’ details because I know the public has a tough time telling who are the good guys and who are… well… less so.

But here’s one suggestion: I believe that you can tell a lot about an organization by how they respond to opposing points of view. They can either try to be open and willing to engage… or not. And whenever you are treated with defensiveness and deflection and personal attacks in a professional situation, your first move should be skepticism.

In short, organizations tend to handle the big things exactly the same way they handle the small things. And we got a lot of big things to decide this year.

l’m giving you the link to the City video web site because the video on the City’s Youtube channel omits the entire Administration Report. Again, another detail of process and transparency that drives me nuts.

 

 

 

 

I need your help…

Posted on Categories Environment, TransparencyTags ,

On March 24th, the City Of Des Moines posted on its web site the following:

The City Council did not receive notification of this via official email.

But, whatever, probably an oversight. So, being someone who is concerned about water quality issues in Des Moines and given the fact that I am a member of the Environment Committee, which has official jurisdiction over storm water management, I shared the announcement on social media.

And then, I did exactly what the announcement asks of the public: I emailed the City representative for the educational materials that we’d give out to any resident.

And I got this reply:

Which is the administration’s way of telling me that the City Manager does not want them to reply to my emails. Even in reply to requests for public comment.

Look, I rarely out this sort of behaviour–though it happens to me literally every week. But in this case it’s kinda tough for me to advocate for you when I get push back on any information requests (even public stuff like materials for educators!)

So if you wouldn’t mind, please email bstryker@desmoineswa.gov and ask for the educational materials referenced in the article and let me know.

Thanks in advance.

Weekly Update: 04/04/2021

Posted on Categories Marina, Transparency, Transportation, Weekly Updates10 Comments on Weekly Update: 04/04/2021

HAPPY EASTER! My absolutely fave day of the year. Nice weather. Almost a third of Americans vaccinated. And several big projects on the agenda for Des Moines this year. I hope you feel the sense of hopefulness that I do for the coming year.

But for cryin’ out loud…

Before we get going, I feel obligated to mention a safety announcement. Yesterday I watched my new neighbor do something I’ve watched two other people do in my time in Des Moines: fall off an unsafe ladder while trying to prune a tree. Here’s what you don’t want on yer tombstone:

SURVIVED COVID. DONE IN BY FRUIT TREE.

Right? The only good news is that South King Fire & Rescue got there in under eight minutes. Great work!

But please. Be safe on a ladder. Better still, hire someone else to do it for you. You deserve to live. 🙂

Public Service Announcements

  1. Tree planting at Kiddie City Park Saturday April 17th, 9AM!
  2. Also Saturday April 17 at 9AM: Help me set the COHO free! At the Marina dock across from the Quarterdeck
  3. King County is in the process of updating their Climate Action Plan to hopefully include for the first time (unbelievably) aviation emissions. You can and should provide your support and public comment here!
  4. The City of Des Moines Surface Water Management Department is seeking public comments on the annual Surface Water Management Plan. To provide comments or obtain education materials, contact Ben Stryker at bstryker@desmoineswa.gov.
  5. Working Washington Round 4 Small Business Grant program application portal is open until 5 p.m., April 9. Focus ono small for-profit businesses, especially those required to close due to public health and safety measures.
  6. Learn about ShakeAlert the new earthquake early warning system https://www.facebook.com/events/278578143739633 Tuesday, May 4 6:30pm.
  7. I know you want to help save the Masonic Home. So sign up for the new site hosted by Washington Historic Trust!
  8. And Washington Historic Trust is also asking for your support on a tax credit for Main Street small business programs. Please give public comment to help ensure that it passes!
  9. SBA Webinars on new PPP Programs start March 3rd!
  10. Virtual Open House on SR 509 I-5 to 24th Ave
  11. The fourth round of Washington State COVID-19 Small Business Grants starts March 29th. Go get ’em!
  12. If you are a local business, make the Southside Promise from the South Side Seattle Chamber Of Commerce! There are grants of up to $1,000 to help you now.
  13. There are new State Unemployment Benefits. But you gotta read and follow the instructions!
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Rental Assistance for Low Income King County Bar Association – The Housing Justice Project is requesting community based providers assistance to identify households who owe 10K or more in back-rent. “We can zero out $10K or more of rent for folks who are at 50% AMI or below these income limits. If you know anyone, can you have them email fwblackcollective@gmail.com for navigation with case managers or give them this link which has all the paperwork to complete and email to edmundw@kcba.org to get their rent payed out. Forms to Eliminate Back Rent: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=1fUdYAwMFH_V_B1vTD_urmir_ltI8Wfnw. Completed forms can be emailed to edmundw@kcba.org.”
  17. If you wish to sign up for future City Clean Ups Michelle Johansson Fawcett: cleanuri.com/pj4RQ5
  18. And last, but not least: If you have a Port Package that is having issues, please email SeatacNoise.Info with your address!

This Week

Thursday: Public Safety Committee Meeting (Agenda) An update on vaccinations in the DMPD and the SWAT team.

Thursday: City Council Meeting (Agenda) I strongly encourage you to show up for this one as it will be the first public unveiling of the Marina Re-development plan, first discussed at the Municipal Facilities Committee presentation on Marina Redevelopment 03/25/21. You can get all the materials here at the Des Moines Marina web site.

Last Week

Monday: Meeting with 30th District State Representative Jamila Taylor. There are currently about ten bills going through the legislature on police reform and Rep. Taylor is in the thick of it. Since none of these are on our City’s official legislative agenda there is little chance the topic will get discussed by our Council. But I know many of you are concerned about it so I’m trying to stay informed. Of particular interest to me is HB1203, sponsored by our own Rep. Jesse Johnson.

Tuesday: Meeting with Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell. As you may know, Federal Way is a part of both the StART and Highline Forum. Due to the gradual way planes land, they have neighborhoods that are almost as impacted by Sea-Tac Airport as Des Moines. The discussion is: how do we expand sound insulation further South? Obviously, if that was possible, homes in the South end of Des Moines would also qualify.

Friday: I completed the City Manager Annual Review. I’m not gonna get into it except to say how hard I worked at it. Which is frustrating. It reminds me of so many people here in Des Moines who used to show up for public comment at City Council Meetings and walked away feeling like, “I wasted an hour of my life for that?  That feeling that what you just did made absolutely no difference. But it’s kinda my job to take it seriously.

Future Agendas

The Future Agendas Report is the most important City document that most people have no idea even exists. It acts as sort of a calendar as to what/when things will be discussed at various upcoming public meetings. For example, if you have an interest in a certain project (eg. when are they redoing the Redondo Fishing Pier) you could look here to know when to show up and give your input.

Now you would think that such an important document would be easy to find. And you would be wrong. Which is why it’s always on my Links page along with all the other important stuff I think you should have easy access to.

Most of the time, our Future Agendas Report is very sparsely populated. As it says right at the top it changes all the time so it’s kinda tough to know when the administration might throw in things to talk about. (Eg. last month the mayor cancelled both the Environment and Transportation Committee meetings because the staff had nothing they wanted to talk about.) Which basically tells you that it is the administration driving the bus on meetings, not the actual members of the Committee.

For example, want to know what is not on the Futures report as of today? Anything about a private passenger ferry. But if you read the latest City Currents Magazine or saw the Deputy Mayor’s posts on social media, you’d probably think that had already been discussed and voted on in the Transportation Committee. Or if not already discussed, perhaps that it would be coming before a Committee soon… or at least the full Council… at some time. Nope.Wanna know what else hasn’t shown up on the Futures report? Marina Re-development. The most significant economic development event in DM in two decades pretty much just popped out of thin air in the last week following the 3-25 Municipal Facilities Committee meeting.

Councilmembers often have no idea what the administration will talk about in advance of meetings. Which can make it kinda tough to ask the right questions.

In the administration’s defense, the City Manager and my colleagues probably consider this state of affairs a feature and not a bug. Last year I proposed that the City Manager be required to post his schedule (since managers in all our sister cities file full reports weekly, I considered this to be pretty easy.) Yeah, that went nowhere. The only logical reason I can come up with for not providing a more structured public calendar is that it afford the administration more flexibility in responding to ‘breaking events’. To which I would reply: Flexibility is fine, but oversight is better. And besides, if you really do need to respond to breaking events, then just update the Future Agendas report when the events… er… ‘break’. 🙂

There are reforms and then there are reforms…

At our 8 April Council Meeting CM Martinelli will be proposing a change to Committee meetings to allow for public comment–which I fully support. But I want the public to understand that this reform, as welcome as it may be, is perhaps 5% of the problem.

Because the truth is, I cannot honestly remember when I was asked to vote on anything at a Committee Meeting, other than to a) appoint a Chair b) approve previous minutes c) adjourn. That’s been the extent of Committee ‘decision-making’. I cannot recall the last time I or my colleagues were asked to take a vote on an issue of policy. I cannot recall the last time the administration asked for a formal direction on a policy. These things do not happen… or if they do, so infrequently that the exception proves the rule.

Even at last week’s Municipal Facilities Committee meeting, there was no vote or ‘ask’. What happens is that the administration does presentations and the Committee members ask a few questions within a very narrow window (usually 45 minutes.) Meetings are almost 100% informational and almost 0% decision-making.

The thing I want the public to understand, once again, is that this is not how local government is supposed to work and in fact it is not how things work in other cities.

Whether the policies being moved forward by our administration are good, bad or indifferent is not the point. Good process matters not just because it fosters a culture of open government, but because they make the government functionally better.

Making the sausage…

For many of you, all this governance jazz I go on about may seem a bit ‘high-falootin’. I get it. For most people, local government is transactional; so long as what you see the City doing seems cool, most of us don’t know or care how the sausage is made. I was exactly the same. I only got involved when the City was doing something that I didn’t like.

But as they say, “fish don’t know they’re wet.” It’s been so long since we’ve had an open culture of government here that you likely don’t have a frame of reference as to the benefits–unless you’re one of the incredibly few people who have experience with how other cities work.

But this lack of transparency is especially important this year.

  • First of all, we are still technically in a State Of Emergency. That gives the City Manager essentially unlimited spending authority. Eg. last year, the City Manager spent almost one million dollars of State aid without a single vote or discussion from the Council. For the record, about $500,000 went to salaries (good.) The other $500k went to grants to twenty six lucky businesses; which also sounds good until you realize that there are over seventeen hundred registered businesses in Des Moines who did not get in on that program. (not good.)
  • Second, this year the prizes are going to be extra special. We’re likely going to get close to eight million in similar State money, which could also be spent by the City Manager without having to take any pesky votes.
  • Third, as I said, this is Marina Redevelopment year. Our plan–for both the waterside (the dock replacements) and the landside (what to do with the Marina floor) is the work of a single individual–no second opinions for us. And the schedule (such as it is) calls for a decision to be made on this plan by August. Which is not exactly a lot of time for public input or, hate to sound like a broken record, Council discussion and votes. The Deputy Mayor has already pre-announced one component (that private ferry) as a done deal without any input from the public or the Council–which should be a good indicator of how the broader roll out will go.

So let’s sum it up: we’re going to be doing more stuff this year than in decades, with a ton of free money and none of the usual constraints on spending due to the ‘State Of Emergency’. We’re also making generational decisions in record time with no second opinion. Oh, and this is an election year.

What could possibly go wrong? 😀

I can dream…

I want to be perfectly clear (now there’s a blast from the past), that I have no idea whether the passenger ferry or the current Marina redevelopment plan or anything are good ideas or bad ideas. Maybe they’re absolutely great ideas. But that’s the point: without better processes, including a much more transparent process, I cannot be sure. In fact, no one can. And with the high stakes involved, we deserve the highest level of confidence possible.

What I would like to see happen this year is:

  1. The administration should be required to update the Futures Report with the full calendar of items that will be discussed throughout the year. There should be almost no last minute surprises at City Council meetings. And as I proposed last year, the City Manager should be required to publish his calendar–as is standard practice in all our sister cities.
  2. The City Council should be brought into separate discussions on any and all spending from the upcoming stimulus.
  3. We should have full discussion of any important issue (like the passenger ferry proposal), including a town hall meeting, before moving ahead. In the case of a ferry, bring in independent voices (like the Puget Sound Regional Council) to outline the true demand opportunities and potential pitfalls.
  4. Hire a third-party to implement any future business or employee grants to insure that everyone in Des Moines gets a fair shot.
  5. Engage a second consultant and an urban planner to give our Marina Redevelopment proposal a once-over. You’d get three bids on a new roof. You’d at least get a second opinion on an important surgery. This is a once in a generation project. We owe it to ourselves to perform due diligence.

Action items…

As I said, there are reforms and then there are reforms. A lot of this is not about creating new rules, it’s about a change in work culture at the City. If you have the right culture, you don’t actually need a lot of these rules; the right things just tend to happen. But until we get there (and it’s probably at least one election off) rule changes such as welcoming public comment at all our City meetings are essential first steps.

As always, if you agree with me that these seem like sensible steps to take, I urge you to write the City Council and show your support.

Future Agendas

Posted on Categories Policy, Transparency1 Comment on Future Agendas

The Future Agendas Report is the most important City document that most people have no idea even exists. It acts as sort of a calendar as to what/when things will be discussed at various upcoming public meetings. For example, if you have an interest in a certain project (eg. when are they redoing the Redondo Fishing Pier) you could look here to know when to show up and give your input.

Now you would think that such an important document would be easy to find. And you would be wrong. Which is why it’s always on my Links page along with all the other important stuff I think you should have easy access to.

Most of the time, our Future Agendas Report is very sparsely populated. As it says right at the top it changes all the time so it’s kinda tough to know when the administration might throw in things to talk about. (Eg. last month the mayor cancelled both the Environment and Transportation Committee meetings because the staff had nothing they wanted to talk about.) Which basically tells you that it is the administration driving the bus on meetings, not the actual members of the Committee.

For example, want to know what is not on the Futures report as of today? Anything about a private passenger ferry. But if you read the latest City Currents Magazine or saw the Deputy Mayor’s posts on social media, you’d probably think that had already been discussed and voted on in the Transportation Committee. Or if not already discussed, perhaps that it would be coming before a Committee soon… or at least the full Council… at some time. Nope.Wanna know what else hasn’t shown up on the Futures report? Marina Re-development. The most significant economic development event in DM in two decades pretty much just popped out of thin air in the last week following the 3-25 Municipal Facilities Committee meeting.

Councilmembers often have no idea what the administration will talk about in advance of meetings. Which can make it kinda tough to ask the right questions.

In the administration’s defense, the City Manager and my colleagues probably consider this state of affairs a feature and not a bug. Last year I proposed that the City Manager be required to post his schedule (since managers in all our sister cities file full reports weekly, I considered this to be pretty easy.) Yeah, that went nowhere. The only logical reason I can come up with for not providing a more structured public calendar is that it afford the administration more flexibility in responding to ‘breaking events’. To which I would reply: Flexibility is fine, but oversight is better. And besides, if you really do need to respond to breaking events, then just update the Future Agendas report when the events… er… ‘break’. 🙂

There are reforms and then there are reforms…

At our 8 April Council Meeting CM Martinelli will be proposing a change to Committee meetings to allow for public comment–which I fully support. But I want the public to understand that this reform, as welcome as it may be, is perhaps 5% of the problem.

Because the truth is, I cannot honestly remember when I was asked to vote on anything at a Committee Meeting, other than to a) appoint a Chair b) approve previous minutes c) adjourn. That’s been the extent of Committee ‘decision-making’. I cannot recall the last time I or my colleagues were asked to take a vote on an issue of policy. I cannot recall the last time the administration asked for a formal direction on a policy. These things do not happen… or if they do, so infrequently that the exception proves the rule.

Even at last week’s Municipal Facilities Committee meeting, there was no vote or ‘ask’. What happens is that the administration does presentations and the Committee members ask a few questions within a very narrow window (usually 45 minutes.) Meetings are almost 100% informational and almost 0% decision-making.

The thing I want the public to understand, once again, is that this is not how local government is supposed to work and in fact it is not how things work in other cities.

Whether the policies being moved forward by our administration are good, bad or indifferent is not the point. Good process matters not just because it fosters a culture of open government, but because they make the government functionally better.

Making the sausage…

For many of you, all this governance jazz I go on about may seem a bit ‘high-falootin’. I get it. For most people, local government is transactional; so long as what you see the City doing seems cool, most of us don’t know or care how the sausage is made. I was exactly the same. I only got involved when the City was doing something that I didn’t like.

But as they say, “fish don’t know they’re wet.” It’s been so long since we’ve had an open culture of government here that you likely don’t have a frame of reference as to the benefits–unless you’re one of the incredibly few people who have experience with how other cities work.

But this lack of transparency is especially important this year.

  • First of all, we are still technically in a State Of Emergency. That gives the City Manager essentially unlimited spending authority. Eg. last year, the City Manager spent almost one million dollars of State aid without a single vote or discussion from the Council. For the record, about $500,000 went to salaries (good.) The other $500k went to grants to twenty six lucky businesses; which also sounds good until you realize that there are over seventeen hundred registered businesses in Des Moines who did not get in on that program. (not good.)
  • Second, this year the prizes are going to be extra special. We’re likely going to get close to eight million in similar State money, which could also be spent by the City Manager without having to take any pesky votes.
  • Third, as I said, this is Marina Redevelopment year. Our plan–for both the waterside (the dock replacements) and the landside (what to do with the Marina floor) is the work of a single individual–no second opinions for us. And the schedule (such as it is) calls for a decision to be made on this plan by August. Which is not exactly a lot of time for public input or, hate to sound like a broken record, Council discussion and votes. The Deputy Mayor has already pre-announced one component (that private ferry) as a done deal without any input from the public or the Council–which should be a good indicator of how the broader roll out will go.

So let’s sum it up: we’re going to be doing more stuff this year than in decades, with a ton of free money and none of the usual constraints on spending due to the ‘State Of Emergency’. We’re also making generational decisions in record time with no second opinion. Oh, and this is an election year.

What could possibly go wrong? 😀

I can dream…

I want to be perfectly clear (now there’s a blast from the past), that I have no idea whether the passenger ferry or the current Marina redevelopment plan or anything are good ideas or bad ideas. Maybe they’re absolutely great ideas. But that’s the point: without better processes, including a much more transparent process, I cannot be sure. In fact, no one can. And with the high stakes involved, we deserve the highest level of confidence possible.

What I would like to see happen this year is:

  1. The administration should be required to update the Futures Report with the full calendar of items that will be discussed throughout the year. There should be almost no last minute surprises at City Council meetings. And as I proposed last year, the City Manager should be required to publish his calendar–as is standard practice in all our sister cities.
  2. The City Council should be brought into separate discussions on any and all spending from the upcoming stimulus.
  3. We should have full discussion of any important issue (like the passenger ferry proposal), including a town hall meeting, before moving ahead. In the case of a ferry, bring in independent voices (like the Puget Sound Regional Council) to outline the true demand opportunities and potential pitfalls.
  4. Hire a third-party to implement any future business or employee grants to insure that everyone in Des Moines gets a fair shot.
  5. Engage a second consultant and an urban planner to give our Marina Redevelopment proposal a once-over. You’d get three bids on a new roof. You’d at least get a second opinion on an important surgery. This is a once in a generation project. We owe it to ourselves to perform due diligence.

Action items…

As I said, there are reforms and then there are reforms. A lot of this is not about creating new rules, it’s about a change in work culture at the City. If you have the right culture, you don’t actually need a lot of these rules; the right things just tend to happen. But until we get there (and it’s probably at least one election off) rule changes such as welcoming public comment at all our City meetings are essential first steps.

As always, if you agree with me that these seem like sensible steps to take, I urge you to write the City Council and show your support.

Water District 54 Tower

Posted on Categories Environment, Neighborhoods

The King County Water District 54 reservoir, located on 11th Avenue between City Hall and the Police Department, is almost unique in Washington State. It is one of only three remaining well-water sources and is un-chlorinated. One ‘feature’ of the water is that it tends to contain high levels of manganese–a completely benign metal that is in high concentration in our area. You may notice this as an occasional gray cast in your water.

Effects of airplane exhaust

An easy way to see the effects of airplane exhaust from take-offs heading south from Sea-Tac Airport is to look at the tower.

04/01/2021 4pm South side (behind take-off path)

04/01/2021 4pm North side (facing take-off path)

Sailboat Logo

Until about 2010, the tower was painted with the Des Moines ‘sailboat’ logo. It was painted over with the current blue due to the increase in aircraft exhaust pollution. The custom artwork cost $12,000 and it was thought too expensive to have to keep re-doing every few years.

Summer 2009 with logo. The logo was display in four places around the circumference.

Summer 2009 with logo (close-up)

Weekly Update: 03/28/2021

Posted on Categories Public Safety, Transparency, Transportation, Weekly UpdatesLeave a comment on Weekly Update: 03/28/2021

Late again. As often happens, I usually finish these things on Sunday, but I’ll wait to post because I’ll be waiting for either answers to questions from the dais or materials from the administration which I want to talk about. It’s one reason I keep hoping we can improve the City web site–so that meeting information can made available to the public more quickly.

Public Service Announcements

  1. I know you want to help save the Masonic Home. So sign up for the new site hosted by Washington Historic Trust!
  2. And Washington Historic Trust is also asking for your support on a tax credit for Main Street small business programs. Please give public comment to help ensure that it passes!
  3. SBA Webinars on new PPP Programs start March 3rd!
  4. Virtual Open House on SR 509 I-5 to 24th Ave
  5. Give public comment on Sound Transit’s Operations And Maintenance Facility March 24 and March 30!
  6. The fourth round of Washington State COVID-19 Small Business Grants starts March 29th. Go get ’em!
  7. If you are a local business, make the Southside Promise from the South Side Seattle Chamber Of Commerce! There are grants of up to $1,000 to help you now.
  8. There are new State Unemployment Benefits. But you gotta read and follow the instructions!
  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. Rental Assistance for Low Income King County Bar Association – The Housing Justice Project is requesting community based providers assistance to identify households who owe 10K or more in back-rent. “We can zero out $10K or more of rent for folks who are at 50% AMI or below these income limits. If you know anyone, can you have them email fwblackcollective@gmail.com for navigation with case managers or give them this link which has all the paperwork to complete and email to edmundw@kcba.org to get their rent payed out.   Forms to Eliminate Back Rent: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=1fUdYAwMFH_V_B1vTD_urmir_ltI8Wfnw.   Completed forms can be emailed to edmundw@kcba.org.”
  12. If you wish to sign up for future City Clean Ups Michelle Johansson Fawcett: cleanuri.com/pj4RQ5
  13. 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: Meeting with 30th District State Representative Jamila Taylor. There are currently about ten bills going through the legislature on police reform and Rep. Taylor is in the thick of it. Since none of these are on our City’s official legislative agenda there is little chance the topic will get discussed by our Council. But I know many of you are concerned about it so I’m trying to stay informed.

Tuesday: Meeting with Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell. As you may know, Federal Way is a part of both the StART and Highline Forum. Due to the gradual way planes land, they have neighborhoods that are almost as impacted by Sea-Tac Airport as Des Moines. The discussion is: how do we expand sound insulation that far South? Obviously, if that was possible, homes in the South end of Des Moines would also qualify.

The other excuse for being late this week is that I’m spending some time doing the annual City Manager Review. And these are his 2020 Accomplishments and Actions as he sees them. My responses get compiled with my colleagues’ into a single document and then we have an Executive Session to discuss.

And speaking of which. Here is a statement from our Comms Director:

Pursuant to the City Manager’s contract, he is eligible for a salary step-increase following this evaluation. However, given the existing conditions in our community as well as nationwide due to the COVID 19 pandemic, Michael has asked that the Council not consider a step-increase or any other benefits. Additionally, Michael has voluntarily waived the 1% Cost of Living Adjustment that was approved by the Council for non-union City employees for 2021.

OK, that’s IT! So please fill up my calendar by giving me a call at (206) 878-0578. 🙂

Last Week

Monday: Chat with King County Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott on working with King County to include aviation-related emissions and green house gases in the Counties environmental planning. The good news is that the Beacon Hill groups have done a great job of organizing to get the issue in front of the County Council. The bad news is that the County Council really has no authority. But they have a large bully pulpit. The challenge is getting the Beacon Hill group working in concert with the Cities around the airport. That has always been the big problem in getting any relief: working together.

Tuesday: Puget Sound Resource Council (PSRC) Broadband Community Planning in Puget Sound. This was an excellent discussion and I encourage people who are interested in the topic to watch and read.

Tuesday: Highline Forum. Quick review: There are two bodies that meet bi-monthly with the Port to discuss airporty stuff. The StART is supposed to be for the ‘community’ and the Highline Forum is supposed to be for electeds. Why do we have two such groups? ‘Cause we’re special? 😀 Keeeeeding. I’m over-simplifying, but the StART has sub-committees that work on policy suggestions (reducing noise, voluntary curfews) while the Highline Forum is more like a way for the Port to inform all the Cities’ electeds en masse as to what it’s doing. There is a lot duplicative effort here.

Tuesday: City Of Burien Town Hall on DESC. First of all, they actually had a Town Hall. (It’s something we should be doing here!) Anyhoo, DESC, in a nutshell, is supportive, affordable housing for people who might otherwise be homeless. It follows the ‘housing-first’ model to address homelessness. Whether you’re enthused about this or not, The City Of Des Moines will be looking at the same issues in the near future. Let me be clear: I am not sold. But I am studying. However if you believe that the City has no business getting anywhere near such a program? Then I gotta ask you, sincerely: What is your suggestion? The problem of homelessness is only getting worse and the DMPD would be the first to tell you that we can’t police our way out of this–which is basically what we’ve been doing for forty years. So it’s a good idea to see how other Cities are tackling the problems of affordable housing and homelessness.

Wednesday: Testimony at King County Environment and Mobility Committee on air quality improvements  and health around the airport. As I’ve reported, King County recently released a report on the health impacts of aviation and it’s why I’ve been working with Rep. Orwall and UW on annual air quality monitoring around Sea-Tac Airport.

Wednesday: Public comment on Sound Transit’s Operations And Maintenance Facility siting. As I wrote last week, the Midway Landfill is in play, but there are significant downsides to any of the three remaining contestants.

Thursday: 30th District Legislative Call: I had a chance to get updates on what’s happening in Olympia that affects Des Moines from State Senator Claire Wilson and Representatives Jesse Johnson and Jamila Taylor. The big takeaway is how many bills that seem to be moving forward on various aspects of police reform and broadband.

Thursday: Economic Development Committee Meeting: This is one of the reasons why we need to record Committee Meetings. The City Manager gave a presentation on why he did not favor going ahead with CM Martinelli’s idea of Hazard Pay for Essential Workers. I guess where I come down is this: The Feds are sending us a big ol’ bag o’ money that we must spend on short-term stuff (not long-term capital projects as I would prefer.) That being the case, If we’re going to do anything, I’d be willing to consider a straight income-based voucher. That’s clear and easy to figure out. And my strong guess is that such a program would easily hit over 9x% of the essential workers that CM Martinelli wants to target, but without having to go through all that ‘who is most worthy’ jazz. Because let’s face it: most of the people who really need the dough and are at risk are overwhelmingly low-wage service employees.

Thursday: Municipal Facilities Committee Meeting: Van Gasken Park Update (20 minutes.) Redondo Restroom Replacement CIP (20 minutes.) Marina Master Plan Update (50 minutes.) This thing stretched to the full ninety minutes and it was the most consequential meeting I have attended in years. It was again attended by people from Redondo and those who live near the Van Gasken house. Both groups have issues with policing. I’m about 99% certain they were not entirely happy with what they heard and I will keep pushing for more public engagement because each of those two sites present real security problems that are not being properly addressed.

And so it begins: Marina 2.0

Edit (03/30/21): Here is the Municipal Facilities Committee presentation on Marina Redevelopment 03/25/21

That said, the main event was the unveiling of ‘the plan’ for the Marina. Again, this shoulda been recorded and the presentation materials shoulda been made available right away because this is big. I don’t wanna leave ya hanging, but I’ll write something more specific when I have the presentation. The highlights are that we’re basically going to build a very, very large multi-purpose, three-tier building right where the storage shed now are, move a lot of the small boats into dry-stacks, perhaps putting something like a full-time farmer’s market in there and re-configuring moorage for much larger boats. The over-arching idea seems to be that the Marina should, as much as possible, continue to be self-financing, ie. that all this should cover the costs of replacing the worn out docks of the Marina over time. To say that I have questions is to say that I enjoy waking up in the morning.

But I’ll just point out for now that the Marina has always been a revenue source for the City, not a ‘cost’. You don’t pay for the Marina. In fact, for many years, the Marina helped foot the City’s bills. There’s no use crying over spilt milk, but that matters. If the City hadn’t dug into the Marina fund all those years, we’d actually have the money to rebuild the docks now. For better or worse, by taking money from the Marina in the past, we created an enormous pressure on the present and future to re-develop in a way that generates a lot of cash; basically re-defining what the Marina is and does. I would much rather see that Joe Biden money (the strings on that money drive me nuts) be spendable for this kind of project because it would give us a lot more options to think about what is best for the Community long-term, rather than ‘how do we pay the bills?’

City Currents

This week, the City published its quarterly City Currents Magazine. This gives the Mayor and administration a chance to highlight the City’s accomplishments–which is great. A lot of cool things going on. I especially like the fact that the digital version is now available simultaneously with the print copies you probably have received in the mail.

In this issue, Deputy Mayor Matt Mahoney published an essay on the great possibilities for a private passenger-only ferry that I found really troubling.

First of all, the only presentation made to the Council on this issue was back in December of 2019. This was where the consultants were hired to do a study. That presentation was not the study. The actual study results have never been presented to Council.

Further, the article implies that there has already been public input on this idea. I have no idea where or how. Again, there is no record of any survey being taken. There have been no town halls or surveys or other positive public outreach. As of late Monday, all I have from our Comms Director is that the City Manager will present to the full Council, but that isn’t even on the future’s report.

The real study by the PSRC

However, last August the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) did a very thorough regional ferry study–go to the last page. It ranks Des Moines near the bottom in terms of demand potential. So we’re not going to be a part of the State system.

Now to be fair, their analysis only discusses a Des Moines/Southworth route, which may make you think that there may be other routes which have more demand. But I contacted the analysts who conducted the study. And what they told me (and they did not put this in the study because it was not their mandate) was that they thought that there would need to be some form of external driver of demand to make it profitable, ie. some other entity would be required to provide a steady flow of passengers. The primary source they identified was the Port Of Seattle.

A private, passenger-only ferry could be great, but it also may have any number of impacts that should be considered by the full community and the full Council before plowing ahead. I believe there should be lots extensive public input (eg. town hall, Council presentations) and lots more details provided before we start promoting the idea.

There are lots of unintended consequences/costs to any sort of thing like this. I can think of many but here’s just one… we just paid over $400k to dredge the Marina. We have to do that every 8-10 years based on current usage. You increase usage with larger vessels and then you have to dredge much sooner… and then you get bigger permit fees and problems with the feds.

Bottom line

I thought hard about the tone of this article. I’ve been accused of  ‘snark’ and believe it or not, I try to stick to policy. But in this case, if the charge is snark? I reply: Guilty as charged, ossifer. If this were a proposal that the Council had received full objective data on, run through Committee and then voted on as a body, you wouldn’t hear a peep out of me. I have no problem losing votes. I expect to lose a lot of votes. That’s what it means to be in the minority.

But that article is basically a sales pitch and a re-election campaign piece for an idea that has gone through none of the proper government process. It’s exactly the kind of rubber-stamping I ran against and I want you to understand that, regardless of the merits of a private ferry, the manner in which it is being rolled out is unethical.

The City Currents is distributed to every resident and business in Des Moines. It’s literally the only interaction with the City that the majority of the public will have in any given quarter. So when it is used so poorly I do get snarky.

Weekly Update: 03/23/2021

Posted on Categories Public Safety, Transparency, Transportation, Weekly Updates1 Comment on Weekly Update: 03/23/2021

Public Service Announcements

  1. Spring Recycling Event at the Des Moines Marina Saturday March 27. NEW: You can now bring TVs and electronics!
  2. Kent Des Moines Road Closure March 21 and 23rd!
  3. SBA Webinars on new PPP Programs start March 3rd!
  4. Virtual Open House on SR 509 I-5 to 24th Ave
  5. Give public comment on Sound Transit’s Operations And Maintenance Facility March 24 and March 30!
  6. The Rotary Club’s Poverty Bay Virtual Wine Festival is March 27th! Order a couple of glasses of great wine and support a great local charity!
  7. The fourth round of Washington State COVID-19 Small Business Grants starts March 29th. Go get ’em!
  8. If you are a local business, make the Southside Promise from the South Side Seattle Chamber Of Commerce! There are grants of up to $1,000 to help you now.
  9. There are new State Unemployment Benefits. But you gotta read and follow the instructions!
  10. The recent article in the Seattle Times regarding the Masonic Home has gotten a lot of people talking. As you know, working to save the place has been on my agenda for years. Please contact me or Barbara McMichael of SoCoCulture.org at info@sococulture.org to get involved! She is compiling a mailing list and is coordinating efforts to save the place. 🙂
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Rental Assistance for Low Income King County Bar Association – The Housing Justice Project is requesting community based providers assistance to identify households who owe 10K or more in back-rent. “We can zero out $10K or more of rent for folks who are at 50% AMI or below these income limits. If you know anyone, can you have them email fwblackcollective@gmail.com for navigation with case managers or give them this link which has all the paperwork to complete and email to edmundw@kcba.org to get their rent payed out.   Forms to Eliminate Back Rent: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=1fUdYAwMFH_V_B1vTD_urmir_ltI8Wfnw.   Completed forms can be emailed to edmundw@kcba.org.”
  14. If you wish to sign up for future City Clean Ups Michelle Johansson Fawcett: cleanuri.com/pj4RQ5
  15. 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: Chat with King County Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott on working with King County to include aviation-related emissions and green house gases in the Counties environmental planning.

Tuesday: Puget Sound Resource Council (PSRC) Broadband Community Planning in Puget Sound.

Tuesday: Highline Forum

Tuesday: City Of Burien Town Hall on DESC. First of all, they’re actually having a Town Hall. Second of all, even though it’s Burien, this matters for Des Moines. We will be looking at the same issues in the near future so it’s a good idea to see how other Cities are tackling the problems of affordable housing.

Wednesday: Testimony at King County Environment and Mobility Committee on air quality improvements around the airport.

Wednesday: Public comment on Sound Transit’s Operations And Maintenance Facility siting

Thursday: 30th District Legislative Call: A chance to get updates on what’s happening in Olympia that affects Des Moines from State Senator Claire Wilson and Representatives Jesse Johnson and Jamila Taylor.

Thursday: Economic Development Committee Meeting: Hazard Pay for Essential Workers

Thursday: Municipal Facilities Committee Meeting: Van Gasken Park Update (20 minutes) Redondo Restroom Replacement CIP (20 minutes)Staff will provide a project update highlighting public outreach and preferred options for the Redondo restroom replacement building. Marina Master Plan Update (50 minutes)

Sign up here to participate or provide public comment!

Last Week

Wednesday: Reach Out Des Moines meeting. This was actually pretty huge. We got to see stats on youth crime in Des Moines and it’s taken a fairly predictable upward turn–most likely due to COVID.

Thursday: City Council Meeting (Agenda) Baby, this was super-action packed. A bit more below.

Council Meeting Recap

(Agenda Packet), (Clerk’s Recap), ( Video)

(Check out the Northwest Maritime Center plans for a Maritime High School! It’s in that packet.)

As has been noted, the City has recently announced the retirement of more than one senior official in the building department. I asked the City Manager what the City’s hiring process was for encouraging diversity. He offered no immediate answer but promised an off-line reply. So far, no answer. This is concerning to me. As many of you have noticed, the City staff is overwhelmingly white. I know from my own hiring experience that there is an association representing virtually every combination of professions and minorities (eg. there is a Society Of Black Professional Engineers) and they love to hear from organisations like the City Of Des Moines. I hope that the City is making every effort to recruit people of color–especially at the level of department head.

We had a briefing from Sound Transit re. where to put the Operations And Maintenance Facility and their Draft EIS.–and more specifically, what might be the ramifications of choosing the Midway Landfill (You should provide your public comment.) There is a lot of support for the Midway site–turning lemons into lemonade, right? Well, even though it’s a much more expensive solution than the two FedWay sites, if I were betting (and I’m not) my guess is that it will end up there–at least, if enough Federal Way residents complain. Having seen what this sort of displacement does to an area after the Third Runway, I don’t blame them for not wanting it anywhere near their neighborhoods. That said, here are a couple of interesting notes if the Midway site is chosen.

  1. The whole area is squishy. It’s not solid ground, right? So you either gotta drill real deep or excavate the entire area in order to truck out all the crap in order to build on something stable.
  2. It might take up to twice as long to build. Seven years. (And that’s if it’s on schedule.)

Which means that there might be seven years of hundreds of giant trucks moving fill out of our area every damned day. Think about that.

Resignation from Diversity Task Force

After the whole George Floyd thing last Spring, the Police Department responded by creating a Diversity Task Force, consisting of both police and residents.

On Monday, the Council received this letter of resignation from one member of that Task Force, *Meg Tapucol-Provo. I encourage everyone to read it because it has some really great ideas for improving diversity in hiring–not just in Des Moines, but everywhere. And that is no accident. Apparently, Ms. Tapucol-Provo was something of a ringer. She has worked as a professional diversity trainer. I have spoken to several people who have worked with her and she is highly regarded as a trainer and educator.

I had no idea who Ms. Tapucol-Provo was until after she wrote this letter. I had absolutely no contact with the group and in fact I had no idea who was participating.  As readers of this column know, I have been denied access to any police advisory committee meetings and that the Chief does not return even routine inquiries from me.

I consider myself to be a major supporter of the Des Moines Police Department. In fact, if I had the authority, I would want to hire at least four officers because I know that’s what the overwhelming majority of residents want–more officers on the street–especially in critical areas. But the issues of police reform are real and they apply to Des Moines just like every other town in America.

Ms. Tapucol-Provo gave me her permission to publish this letter.