Weekly Update: 02/16/2020

This Week

Wednesday is the next Reach Out Des Moines (RODM) meeting. The stated purpose of the group is to reduce ‘juvenile violence’ but the stuff that gets talked about are some pretty basic stuff: activities for kids, finding out who needs a school uniform, making it easier for kids to get to school. Anything that keeps kids showing up is a big help.

Wednesday is also a Sound Cities Association (SCA) ‘networking’ event. I think I’m getting the Pork entree. Any chance I have to practice ‘mingling’ is worthwhile. 😀

Thursday I’m back in Olympia for yet another hearing on HB2315 (Port Package Updates). Why so many frickin’ trips? Because there are like eleven steps to getting a State bill passed. It starts in a Local Government committee, then goes to an Executive Session, then goes for a finance review, then… you get the idea. It’s the democratic process. And even though we got through the House unanimously, we’re now moving to the Senate where things might go completely differently. Or even if they don’t, someone may want to tack on an amendment–which sends it back to the Hosue for re-evaluation. And the session runs out and then you have to start all over again next session. In fact, that’s one very common technique for killing legislation–just innocently tack on a tiny little deely-bobber when you know there’s only a week left in session. Poof. It’s gone. And that’s also why it’s best to keep legislation simple. Because the more detailed you get, the more likely some guy from a far-away district will have a question and then… Poof. It’s gone. Anyhoo, you gotta show up for every stage because when you take it for granted bad things happen.

Somewhere in there are various sit-downs with various Councilmembers and, in my other ‘job’ with SeatacNoise.info, taking a look at people’s homes with Port Packages. As I shoulda expected, once HB2315 became vaguely possible, a gazillion people now want to know if they can get help.

Last Week

Last week ended getting dominated by (as has become the norm) ‘Port Packages’ and ‘political intrigue’. I’m waiting for things to calm down to boring mode. One note: I’ve put more miles on my car since the election than in most entire years.

Tuesday was a regular Port Of Seattle Meeting. Borrrrrrring. (More below.)

Wednesday was not my first Sound Cities Association (SCA) event by any means, but it was my first Public Issues Committee (PIC) 101 meeting.  As I said last time, SCA is sort of a ‘league’ of all us smaller cities to try to have more regional clout with the much larger Puget Sound Regional Council. There are all sorts of sub-committees involving transportation, flood control, human services, issues, public safety, etc. but PIC is sort of a clearinghouse for all issues of concern that we want to lobby the State on. Our representative on ‘the PIC’ is Traci Buxton.

One fascinating thing to me about SCA is that it is ultra-democratic. Almost nothing becomes an official position unless all 38 cities agree. (Maybe this is a response to how un-democratic the rest of regional governance can be where small cities almost always get voted down by larger cities like Seattle and Bellevue.) The only problem is that this means that a lot of issues (like airport stuff) don’t get taken up because they are not of concern to everyone. See the thing a lot of people don’t recognize is that King County is huge. It is the fourth largest county in the United States by area. So there are a lot of very small cities that have very different needs/wants/desires.

City Council Meeting Recap

Thursday was the 02/13/20 regular City Council Meeting (Agenda, Video) where Luisa Bangs was re-appointed. Here is a letter Mayor Pina and Deputy Mayor Mahoney wrote to the Waterland Blog. And here is my reply.

One little detail for you pros out there: there was a Consent Agenda Item (remember, we discussed those a while back?) to schedule a ‘routine clean-up’ of the Municipal Code. You may have noticed a little kerfuffle at the beginning of the meeting where I asked of that Item could be re-scheduled from 12 March to the following meeting (I’ll be in the other Washington meeting with a bunch of Councilmembers from nearby cities to lobby on airport issues.) The Mayor and City Attorney scrambled to tell me if moving that item were even possible. And acted all puzzled as to why I might want to do that for ‘routine clean-up’? Well, because there are some zoning changes in there that are important. Now you pros know that councilmembers get one ‘phone-in’ meeting per year. Can I do a phone-in? Sure I can. Are phone-ins totally useless for discussing detailed issues like zoning? Sure they are. So I sure hope they agree to re-schedule. 🙂

Re. the applications for the vacant Council position, I was extremely pleased that I got to speak at length with David Black, Tad Doviak, Dan Harrington, Semere Melake, Meiling Sproger and Harry Steinmetz. And the question I had when I was done was: WHERE THE HELL HAVE THESE PEOPLE BEEN HIDING? All these people would have made fine choices for the position and what I told all of them was: 2021 is just around the corner. There will be four spots open. Run hard for them. Traditionally, it’s been very tough to run against an incumbent so most people don’t even try. But the last election proved that the ice is breaking. And the actions of the current majority, captured on video during the first four meetings will give the right candidate a lot of ammunition.

Panning For Gold

Occasionally, someone will ask me to back up my policy ideas–especially compared to councilmembers who have had a lot more time on the job. And I just direct them to video archives of all sorts of boring meetings I’ve participated in over the years. Call it my unpaid internship if you will. City Council Meetings in six cities. PSRC Meetings. SCA Meetings. Port Of Seattle Meetings. Highline Forum Meetings. King County Council Meetings. Puget Sound Clean Air Meetings. SCATbd Meetings, State Legislature hearings. A gazillion ‘stakeholder’ get-togethers.  I started attending these meetings years before I joined the Des Moines City Council. I’ve logged over 300 of these in the past four years. Which is insane, right? I mean, think of all the episodes of Star Trek I’ve missed?

Why? When we started SeatacNoise.Info, we quickly realized that we had to learn what was going on, not only in each of the affected cities, but also in all the organizations that have influence over Sea-Tac Airport. Because so many of the decisions made by each City going back sixty years seemed to be so contrary to the interest of residents.

So I started attending all these affairs for the same reason beat reporters do. You’re panning for gold: hours and hours of boredom in order to get the occasional nugget you can’t obtain any other way. There isn’t a meeting I go to where I don’t meet someone or have some side-conversation or overhear something that actually matters. At least… if you want to understand the why.

So when I comment on various issues it’s usually because I’ve already  seen how people approach the same challenges in lots of other places. On a wide range of issues and processes I know what is and is not being done, or is at least possible. That’s the side-benefit of attending all these boring soirées: one gets to learn how people in far away lands with exotic names like Tukwila and Federal Way conduct their affairs. And then, like Marco Polo, if you make it back alive, you get to report back on this amazing thing called ‘spaghetti’. Of course, then you have to convince people to try it, but that’s a story for another day.