Weekly Update: 01/26/2020

If yer looking for my post on our City Manager’s raise, it’s here

This Week

Monday I’ll be Olympia again, at a Stakeholders meeting with Tina Orwall on the whole Port Package Update bill. Some details here.

Tuesday and Wednesday, I’ll also be in Olympia for the Association Of Washington Cities (AWC) events. Tuesday is a training session on parliamentary techniques, which sounds boring but if yer in the minority on a City Council, you need to learn all the rules in order to have any chance of making a difference. Wednesday is called ‘Legislative Day’ and it’s a chance for noobs like me to meet with not just Senators and Representatives, but also the people who run important departments like Transportation, Ecology, State, etc.

Tuesday at noon is a Port Of Seattle Commission Meeting at Sea-Tac Airport. I urge anyone interested in airport issues to attend or watch the LiveStream as there will be an update on the whole SAMP (airport expansion) projects. I wish I could be there.

Thursday is yet another all day schmoozefest–an annual Puget Sound Regional Council get-together in Seattle. Again, relationship building.

Somewhere in there will be a bunch of meetings with residents and our cousin Councilmembers in neighbour cities. πŸ™‚

Last Week

Monday I met with Kent Councilmember Satwinder Kaur. She’s on the Sound Cities Association (SCA) Puget Sound Clean Air Committee and has done fantastic things with their local parks–including clean up and beautification efforts similar to what we’ve done at Midway Park. We talked about how we can work together to get pollution monitors installed around Sea-Tac Airport–something that was supposed to be part of the Third Runway mitigation program but somehow never got done. (Gee, I wonder why?) Without sounding too cynical, the reason it never happened is that, as I often say, “If there’s no data, there’s no problem.” Without pollution monitors, there’s no ‘official’ data. And without official data, there can be no State or Federal funding or legal action to improve the situation.

Tuesday I was at the South King County Transportation Board (SCATbd) along with Councilmember Mahoney. The PSRC (you’ll soon learn that they’re everywhere in these updates) is offering grants for bike and walking trails and at the last City Council Meeting I suggested that we apply for a portion of those to finish the Barnes Creek Trail and connect Kent Des Moines Road all the way to 200th! πŸ˜€

On Wednesday, I was back in Olympia to testify on behalf of the House Bill on Port Package Updates (HB 2315 ) introduced by Tina Orwall. The good news is that the bill passed out of Committee and is now seems to be moving forward with support from all sides. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday I had my first weekly meeting with the City Manager, Michael Matthias. There was some ‘air-clearing’. I claimed during the campaign that I had heard him make several dishonest statements. Accusing someone of dishonesty is a huge deal, of course so I completely understand why he’d be more than a little dis-chuffed. One of those involved a ‘Tree In Lieu Program’, which I said did not exist. He gave me a copy of the City Tree Regulations which describes this program. So I guess I stand corrected. I’ll just add this: I went to the City’s web site to look for the text from the printed page he gave me. I was really upset that I might have falsely accused him of something based on laziness on my part. However, I could not find the same text on the web site. So perhaps this is all a terrible misunderstanding. I do know that I’d be a lot more contrite if I knew why I couldn’t find the text on that web page. Perhaps this just underscores what I’ve been saying all along: We need a better web site. The inability to find information can not only be annoying, it can cause serious problems. Regardless, he has my sincere apology.

Wednesday was also the Highline Forum and the Port Of Seattle presented several items where they say they are trying to be more helpful on airport issues. I am (as always) skeptical due to decades of bad faith on their part. However, I must admit that the newer Commissioners have made more of an effort at communication. Is it enough? HELL NO! But compared to the way it was back ten years ago where Commissioners did not even pretend to care about the community, it represents at least some progress. So I try to tell activists: you’re not going all ‘Uncle Tom’ by trying to talk.

Thursday I met with our King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. He isΒ big on transit and we discussed ways to expand the Commuter Shuttle program to the entire City and to improve routes in the South end of town (Highline college to 272nd.) He fully acknowledges that current bus service is pretty out of whack: most of the routes are in the North end of town while most of the people who want to ride are in the South. This is another of those ‘gravity’ issues I often speak about. We mustΒ move the focus of key City programs southward–to where the people who need them are.

And then there was our City Council Meeting at 7pm. Video here.

That was so much fun I even made a separate post on it. πŸ˜€ By the way, I’m starting to notice now that a certain percentage of residents either don’t seem to get or fully appreciate my world-class sense of humour. So where I just wrote, “so much fun” what I was really saying is, “bloody fuckin’ horrible, mate.” πŸ˜€ But I don’t say that out loud because, you know, I’m a very polite guy. πŸ™‚

Friday I met with Mayor Jim Ferrell of Federal Way and his (kinda) new Strategic Advisor, Bill Vadino. Speaking candidly (is there any other way?) Federal Way had not been getting great reviews from activists on its efforts to improve the noise and pollution from Sea-Tac Airport. All I can tell you is that Mayor Ferrell seemed engaged in the situation and clearly frustrated with the lack of progress. In other words, he is not happy with the status quo. He fully recognises that we’ve been spinning our wheels and says that he is willing to think about a new approach. We’ll see!

I’m not special, but the Staff certainly is!

I want to make a general comment on civic engagement. Last week, I got big ‘Thank you!’ moments from three residents that really I did not deserve. They had some really annoying complaints and reached out to me. A couple of days later? PRESTO! Problem solved. I’m a magician. Apparently, I run this town.

EHHHHHH (that’s my, “sorry you’re incorrect, Alex”, buzzer sound effect.)

All I do is write down their complaint, then I go home and do what you (or they) could do: I call the City (206-878-4595), or fill out the on-line form and… A couple of days later? PRESTO! Problem solved.

See, I have no ‘pull’ with the City on day to day affairs. No councilmember does. Again, all I do is do what you can do.

I bring this up because I think there is a sense sometimes that nothing in government works well and you have to ‘know a guy’ to get anything done. Not true in Des Moines. In fact, a lot of routine issues get resolved very efficiently by our staff. You just have to know the City phone number (Again, that’s 206-878-4595 πŸ™‚ )

I think one thing that makes some people think that nothing works in government is because there are often lots of kerfuffles involving politics (see below). But the City staff who help our residents is not involved in any of that junk.Β  Whatever shenanigans are going wrong with ‘big’ issues, you can count on the day to day stuff to be handled pretty well. (And in the unlikely event it isn’t I do want to hear about it.)

That said, I am happy to hear your concerns and make a call or fill out a form for you. In fact, I am glad to do it because it helps me know what’s going on in Des Moines! But I just want to make it clear that I have no special superpower. You get exactly the same service and I encourage you to give it a shot, then tell your neighbours. My goal is to build confidence in our City’s customer service and its great staff.