Weekly Update: 02/02/2020

If yer looking for my post on our the upcoming City Council appointment, it’s here.

This Week

This week I’ll be meeting with Police Guild President Justin Cripe. As a corporation the City Of Des Moines takes policing seriously. 46% of our budget goes to the Police Department. But way more than that, policing is the number one issue for about half of residents. It’s really important to me that all of us (Council and the public) have a great relationship with the police. I keep harping on the idea of public relations and the Police Department is no exception: the Police Department has made a tremendous amount of progress over the past few years but the public often doesn’t believe it. We have to do a better job of giving residents the full picture–which includes big reductions in many types of crime.

I’ll also be meeting with City Attorney Tim George to get a tutorial on how to write a Resolution. This is a big deal to me because it is something that a lot of new councilmembers have avoided, sometimes waiting literally years before tackling. Frankly, we’re a divided Council now and it’s tough to get anything on the Agenda. But regardless, my job is to get my ideas on the record. Hopefully, I can get my peers to

But the majority of the week is pretty well consumed with Thursday’s Study Session to appoint a new City to replace Vic Pennington on Thursday.  (By the way, a ‘Study Session’ is simply a City Council Meeting that is confined to a single issue.) I really want y’all to attend this one. I mean I really want you to attend this meeting. So much so that I have a separate post on this extremely important meeting. It’s here.

Last Week

I was Olympia three days last week. On Monday there we had a Stakeholders meeting with Tina Orwall on the whole Port Package Update bill. I’ve gotten a bunch of messages on this: some are upset that I’m ‘selling out’ (I get that a lot) and some that I’m too ‘angry’ (I get that even more). The original bill is so bare bones as to be meaningless. That was just to get the process rolling, whip support in the Legislature and get the Port on board. But that right there is a big accomplishment!

Now the real language will be fleshed out in two ways: the basic principles will be in the bill and the gritty details of implementation (who gets what, when) will be in a separate ‘Proviso Study’. This process actually makes me very happy because I was concerned that the bill was moving too fast; that it might be passed without giving real thought to the details. One big reason we have all these bad Port Packages is because the original program was crap. The last thing we want is a Rev 2.0 that has the same flaws. We need time to develop a system. Keep in mind that the Port no longer has the infrastructure to redo hundreds and hundreds of homes. We need that in place first.

Tuesday and Wednesday I was also in Olympia for the Association Of Washington Cities (AWC) events. I am now a huge believer in ‘the power of schmoozing’. Anyone who has met me knows that I was born without the ‘networking’ gene. But you get in a place where there are so many councilmembers and legislators from all over WA? You can’t help but learn a ton, share a ton and get things accomplished you could never do on yer own. In addition to talking about several bills I don’t have time to talk about today, I got a chance to lobby for Tina Orwall’s HB1775, a law to try to reduce human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. It sounds like a no-brainer, but the thing about politics is that there are a zillion ‘no-brainers’ and the way we have these cockamamie ‘short sessions’, not enough time to get all the legislation passed that needs doing. So you need nobodies like you and me to lobby your Reps. to get them to pay attention to your bill over somebody else’s bill.

Thursday was Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) orientation session. The PSRC creates many of the regional planning rules we all have to live by (transportation, airports, housing, environment, etc.) One really good thing Des Moines has done in the last few years is to re-join after many years in absence. We felt that we were getting run over by larger cities and the Port Of Seattle so we quit. That was a mistake. You can’t change the situation if you’re not at the table. Our challenge now is how to get a bigger voice. Because PSRC is not all that ‘democratic’. Voting is based on size. Big cities like Seattle get 99 votes on any issue. The Port Of Seattle gets 52. Des Moines? We get one. Uno. So the trick is for us is to find other ways to gain larger influence. Right now some cities are doing well at that (Burien comes to mind.) We need to do the same. Traci Buxton is currently our only councilmember on the PSRC, but hopefully that will change. Soon.

I also met with several residents with bad Port Packages. Now that HB2315 is getting some press, more people are speaking up and that’s great. The recent people reporting don’t have the awful structural damage that originally got me started on this, but their issues are still real. Almost every home with issues has problems because of a slap-dash approach. It was just poor windows and doors. It’s usually that there’s only one vent when there should be two. Or no proper insulation when the plan clearly indicated that an attic or walls be filled. Fireplaces not mitigated. Windows left untreated. It’s so blatant it would be comic if it weren’t so frustrating. Anyhoo, if your home has problems like this, please contact https://seatacnoise.info. As I wrote above a whole lot of people are going to be in line for the program when it passes. My commitment is to do my best to make sure that people who have documented their problems with SeatacNoise.Info now will be given first look.