Weekly Update: 02/01/2021

Public Service Announcements

  1. The new round of Federal PPP loan program just opened up. And it is much better than the first round last year. If you need more information, here is a presentation from the Small Business Administration with lots of links to more information.
  2. There are new State Unemployment Benefits. But you gotta read and follow the instructions!
  3. Last month’s 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. 🙂
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.”
  7. If you wish to sign up for future City Clean Ups Michelle Johansson Fawcett: cleanuri.com/pj4RQ5
  8. And last, but not least: If you have a Port Package that is having issues, please email SeatacNoise.Info with your address!

This Week

This week I’m doing a ton of site visits for SeatacNoise.Info. If you have a Port Package and it’s got problems, please contact us and follow the instructions.

Tuesday: Meeting with UW DEOHS, Senator Karen Keiser and Rep. Tina Orwall on harmonizing State funding for her indoor air quality proposal with SeatacNoise.Info’s outdoor air quality monitoring proposal.

Last Week

  1. Monday: SCA Meeting with King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci. This was very useful.
  2. Wednesday: PSRC Operations Meeting
  3. Thursday: I had a good phone call with our Police Guild President Justin Cripe. I rarely talk about these sorts of things because the discussion is private, but they are a part of my weekly ‘diet’. Officer Cripe is studying for the Sergeant’s exam and I have no doubt he’ll nail it. And in the ‘small world’ category, he is the son of Quiet Skies Coalition activist Larry Cripe–someone many of you know as spearheading Burien’s successful lawsuit against the FAA last year.
    One thing we discussed was what it means to be ‘fully staffed’. This is from a 2017 FAQ on the Des Moines web site:

My colleagues often tout ‘fully staffed’ as meaning ‘we have all the polcie we need.’ I think the graph speaks for itself. We had less police officers during the Great Recession and as times have improved, we’ve re-hired. Good. But we’re still ten officers less than 2007. So while we may have enough officers to cover each shift, I do not think we have the number of officers that we actually need. And I think the increases in property crime over the past few years bear this out.

  1. Thursday: 3:00PM Municipal Facilities Committee Meeting (Agenda) This meeting was action-packed. It mainly set out the yearly calendar, but the amount of stuff. I’ve groused since forever that these meetings are simply too short. Just as Chairman Nutting was preparing to end the meeting, I was pleased to see COO Dan Brewer interrupt and suggest that either more meetings be added or meetings be lengthened. Good idea. The other thing: The City is attempting (not a sure thing) but attempting to get a grant from Puget Sound Electric for a charging station at the Marina. I know this is something many of you ask me about all the time. And I know this is a baby step. But as was pointed out, the City has no experience with this stuff yet. So doing a single site on someone else’s dime makes sense. Once we have a win under our belt, my hope is that the City will be quite aggressive in siting charging stations in appropriate places all over Des Moines.
  2. Thursday: 4:00PM Economic Development Committee Meeting (Agenda). Chairman Nutting asked that the City make the mall at Kent Des Moines Road and Pac Highway a higher priority for re-development. Good idea. However, my feeling is that until we deal with the fact that the City boundary with Kent goes right through the middle of that mall we’ll never get where we want to be there–or with the homeless camp issues to the west. Bottom line: you can’t fix what you don’t own.

    Councilmember Buxton also brought up the fact that we require all landlords (even people just renting a single home) to have a business license. I think I should take some blame (or credit) for that. I was pleased to see that the Mayor and City Manager spoke up in favor of maintaining that requirement which I fully endorse. And here’s why. I loooooooooooove Code Enforcement. 🙂

A couple of updates

I got a number of scoffs to last week’s article talking about the 47 times I’ve received no response to requests for basic information. People seem to think I’m exaggerating the problem. A couple of points.

  1. Our Mayor re-scheduled our next City Council Meeting. When I asked ‘why?’ I got no response. So let’s call that #48. 😀 According to Robert’s Rules Of Order, whenever a meeting is to be re-scheduled, it is customary to provide a reason. (By the way that also goes for when Councilmembers are absent. The body deserves an explanation for that as well.)
  2. And to the thing I was writing about. Two quick things. They say ‘one piccie is worth a thousand bucks.’ I dunno about that, but here is what I was asking our IT guy to do:
    • Add a link to the bottom of the home page for our Community Services Directory. That’s literally a two minute job.
    • Change the Community Services Directory to be a web page instead of a PDF. I guessed it would take under an hour. Well, I did it. It took me about 15 minutes. (I know it’s got a lot of mistakes. I’ll take another 15 and fix them at the weekend. It was just to show that this ain’t rocket surgery.)

Now why do I grouse about these details? In my former life, my company used to consult on what is called Section 508 Compliance. It’s sort of like the Americans with Disabilities Act for web sites. We would make sure that everything at a company (including the web sites) were usable by people with disabilities–which as you know is a lot of Des Moines. When the City web site doesn’t properly serve people with disabilities it literally shuts out thousands of people. And PDFs are big offenders. For example, PDFs are pretty hard to use on a mobile phone (try to read or search through a PDF on yer phone, you’ll see.) And they don’t work for people with really bad vision or people who need to use screen readers (the reader can’t ‘read’ the text aloud.) And worst of all: the content of PDFs is generally not part of the web site’s Search function. So if you search for something like “School programs” (something that’s in the Community Services Directory) it won’t be found by the Search. That’s ridiculous. No City our size, with our number of seniors and disabled should have a web site like this.

Again: the Community Services Directory is one of the most used documents on the site. So if it only take a few minutes to fix a problem like this and it benefits a large number of residents, why wouldn’t you do it?

And while I’m on a roll, number 123 on my list of web site gripes that would take 30 seconds to fix: The various Committee Meetings now show up on the City web site calendar. But of course, the link takes you absolutely nowhere. So a visitor still has no idea how to find out what things are being discussed, how to participate or even when they occur. People ask me all the time how to get involved with the City. But if the City can’t even be bothered to make it easy for people to attend the meetings, why should anyone attend? And perhaps that’s the point.


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