Weekly Update: 01/19/2020

This Week

Monday: Happy Martin Luther King Day! Meeting with Councilmember Satwinder Kaur of Kent. She’s on the Sound Cities Association (SCA) Puget Sound Clean Air Committee. Regional organizations like this are something Des Moines needs to get more involved with. Just one, kind of a weedsy detail: there are no pollution monitors around Sea-Tac Airport! The closest one is in Georgetown, eight miles away. Small cities like DM never almost never get enough attention from regional planners unless we have our electeds on these committees. And that means housing, environment, transportation. We started engaging with SCA and PSRC tw years ago after a long absence–which is good, but we’ve got a lot of ground to make up.

Tuesday is another regional committee I’ve mentioned: South King County Transportation Board (SCATbd) ‘skate-board’. They cover all things transportation related. If you’re concerned about getting better bus service in DM, SR509, the airport… anything like that? SeaTac City Hall. 9:00AM.

On Wednesday, I’ll be in Olympia (again) to give public comment again on the House Bill on Port Package Updates (HB 2315 ) introduced by Tina Orwall. You can introduce a bill on either the House or the Senate side. Or you can introduce basically the same bill on both sides as Senator Karen Keiser and Rep. Orwall have done. ThisΒ can increase the chances that the bill will pass, not least of all because it indicates that you can muster support in both houses. As with companion bill SB6214 my testimony will be to make sure that lawmakers understand that this bill is meant to help homeowners with real damage to their homes from poor installs–not just get people ‘new doors and windows’.

Wednesday is also my weekly meeting with the City Manager, Michael Matthias. A lot of this job is simply being made aware of what is going on and this is the chance to cover items that can’t easily be done via e-mail.

Wednesday is also the Highline Forum, a group of electeds from all the airport communities plus the Port Of Seattle started waaaay back in 2005. It meets every other month (is that bi-monthly or semi-monthly? πŸ˜€ ) The original purpose (I guess) was to foster good relations between the Port and the communities in the aftermath of the Third Runway Lawsuit. I think there has always been some hope (at least on the community side) that it would evolve into something more. What it is is basically information sharing and there is increasing talk of ditching the whole thing. (To give you a notion of where I stand on this, three years ago, I made a speech where I advised all City electeds to immediately adjourn to the IHOP across the street,Β  and start a new group (without the Port) with the explicit purpose of negotiating a deal with the Port for ongoing compensation. Needless to say, that is not the official position of participating Cities. πŸ˜€ But it should be.)

Thursday I’m meeting with our King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. And then there is our City Council Meeting at 7pm. Agenda here. There will be the annual performance review of our City Manager, which of course, is done in Executive Session. More on that below.

Friday I’ll be meeting with Mayor Jim Ferrell of Federal Way and his (kinda) new Strategic Advisor. (It’s worth mentioning that almost nobody you’ll read here is someone I’m meeting for the first time. I’ve been annoying electeds throughout King County for years. πŸ˜€ ) All I’m trying to do now is tell people, “Hey, I want to engage with you on shared issues besides the airport. And by the way… did you know thisabout the airport? πŸ˜€ )

Last Week

On Wednesday I attended a Reach Out Des Moines meeting at Pacific Middle School.Β  As I said last time, this is a wide group of people who are involved with teens in every possible context, including Des Moines Community Service Officer Tonya Seaberry. The primary goal includes reducing juvenile violence in the Pac Ridge neighbourhood and nearby schools. But there are so many benefits to the program because the tools used to achieve this goal also end up improving school attendance, reducing hunger and on and on. Just one stat that CSO Seaberry presented:Β  Juvenile Crime in Des Moines has gone down from 68 arrests in 2013 to only 17 in 2019. That’s truly amazing! And I hope the City can find ways to further their efforts.

On Thursday I was in Olympia to give public comment on SB6214. I wrote more about that (including a link to the view) here.

On Saturday I met with our new State Rep. Jesse Johnson (30th D) who was just appointed. He was previously on the Federal Way City Council and his background and passion is for education. When he ran for City Council he doorbelled over 8,000 homes. RESPECT! I gave him a rundown on airport issues (of course) and a little about the south end of Des Moines. He told me that, as a kid he used to train for track meets by running the Boardwalk. So he knows Redondo. πŸ™‚

I also met with Mayor Matt Pina and newly elected Deputy Mayor Matt Mahoney. It was my second meeting with Mayor Pina since the election. The original purpose was to discuss Committee Assignments. As I said after the first CC Meeting, in our City, the Mayor chooses which committees each CC is on and that’s a big deal. The obvious way to choose people would be based on their desire and expertise on relevant issues. But, frankly, the Mayor could also choose people whose agree with his policy agenda and exclude CCs who do not. I am not saying that’s what’s currently going on in DM. I’m just telling you one potential concern I have with the current system and why I wish it were different.

It’s all about Timing, son

The thing I want to mention about the City Manager Performance Review is ‘timing’. Mr. Matthias’ contract says that any changes of terms (salary, benefits, etc.) should take effect in January. So the Council has previously done the annual review in December. But because there would be two new members on the Council, the previous Council thought best to wait until we were seated to give us noobs a voice in the review–for which I am very grateful.

However, it does put us new guys in an awkward position. We’re expected to review his performance with almost no time on the job–and that may make other Councilmembers feel like our opinions don’t matter as much.Β  Of course I have real opinions about his performance in public settings because I have been so engaged in local politics over the years. However, I’m the first to acknowledge that that is far from a complete picture.

It would be better, in my opinion, to move these reviews (for all employees subject to Council oversight) further into the year–perhaps as part of the Budget process, so that new members of the Council have time to get a feel for the people.