Weekly Update: 03/02/2020

This Week

Monday I’ll be meeting with everyone heading to Washington D.C. on March 12th to lobby for various pieces of airport-related legislation (including Adam Smith’s recent bill.)

Tuesday it’s back to Olympia for (hopefully) the last Stakeholders Meeting to finalize language for HB2315 (Port Package Updates).

Thursday I’ll be meeting with leaders of the Beacon Hill Quieter Skies Coalition (see ‘Last Week’ below) to gather their requests I can pass onto various bigwigs in D.C. 😀

Saturday morning I’ll be at the Beach Park to say thanks to the recent City Of Des Moines employees who are completing their  Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.

Sunday I’ll be at Marine View Espresso from 10:00-11:00AM to talk with residents. Come on over and let’s talk!

Last Week

Tuesday was a very important Port Of Seattle Meeting–especially if you have a Port Package. The Port did indeed decide to scale up their Noise Program big time, not just to address HB2315 but to finally get done all the residences that they’ve slow walked for so long. This is potentially huge as they are committing to do the work before getting Federal money and they are asking the airlines to chip in.

Wednesday, I gave a talk on the status of various airport issues at the Rotary Club at Anthony’s.

Wednesday night I attended the Burien Airport Committee (BAC) at their Community Center (the old Library on Sixth). The BAC has been doing great things over the past few years and I highly recommend that you attend if you want to get a sense of how local communities are working on these issues.

Thursday I attended a Puget Sound Clean Air Agency meeting in Seattle. I was there to lobby for something pretty basic: a pollution monitor. One thing almost no one realizes is that there are currently no air quality monitors anywhere near Sea-Tac Airport. This is something we should be fighting for because as I keep saying, “If there’s no data, the government thinks the problem doesn’t exist.”

Thursday was our City Council Meeting (Agenda, Video ).  The Mayor did not discuss committee assignments, however I did receive an e-mail with that info. More below. The highlight was a presentation on the construction of the new Link Light Rail Station near 240th and Pac Highway. I expressed my serious concerns about the parking (or rather lack thereof.) The parking garage is set for only 500 spaces–less than half of Angle Lake (which is seriously under-capacity.) The fact is that there is almost no chance of increasing that. But I am angry. I know there is a lot of controversy over parking capacity. Planners in Seattle like to provide as little parking as possible, but my feeling is that people here need as many spaces as possible–otherwise we simply won’t utilize transit as much as we should. If it ain’t convenient? People won’t do it.

Friday I talked with our King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. We did indeed talk about air quality monitors–and he allowed me to vent about parking at the Light Rail. One of my long-term goals is to have several of those Commuter Shuttles like we currently have on 216th.

Saturday morning, I missed the Hillgrove Cemetery clean up (sorry, Pete). If you’re interested in helping out with this essential piece of Des Moines history, please contact Pete Loke on Facebook. Instead, I was at Beacon Hill Centro De La Raza with Normandy Park Councilmember Earnest Thompson to see a presentation by Dr. Edmund Seto of the MOV-UP Study on the airport impacts they experience from Sea-Tac Airport (we tend to forget that people to the North also get slammed.) Yo

The Beacon Hill community has done a fantastic job of community organizing and the room was packed with residents who are interested in finding ways to fight back.  Bonus: they provided an amazing lunch. (Pro community organizer tip–home-made tamales are how you get people to show up! 😀 )

Seniority and Committees

So, it looks like I’ll be on the Environment and Transportation Committees. These are choices I definitely wanted (thank you, Mayor Pina!) as they are the committees directly connected with airport and water quality–issues that I consider to be intrinsic to the future of Des Moines. The only major disappointment was not being assigned to the Seniors & Human Services Committee. Seniors supported me big time during my campaign and I want to keep my promise to advocate for them. My hope is to attend as many of those committee meetings as well and compla… er… ‘contribute’ as much as possible. 😀

FYI: As you might guess, almost everyone wants to be on the Economic Development Committee, but when one joins the Council one is told that it just ain’t happening for us noobs.

Now when I said ‘Thank you, Mayor Pina!’ I was being totally sincere; I am grateful. However, that is another one of those ‘traditional roles’ that the Mayoralty has assumed in Des Moines that is not necessarily the case in other Cities. Currently there is kind of a ‘seniority system’ on City Council. Now it makes sense to assign a particular Councilmember to a position–for example in situations where a specific technical expertise is required. But for a lot of positions the only real requirement is  a strong commitment to the subject. However, I’ve heard various Councilmembers over the years describe feeling not really ‘full members’ until they had been on Council for a couple of years. That strikes me as wrong.

Another issue with our system is that it encourages politicking between Councilmembers to become Mayor or obtain other high-status privilege (like committee assignments.) So you have jockeying for position even after the election, rather than focusing on helping residents.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not just singling out Des Moines or our current Mayor. This has been going on in lots of cities (including Des Moines) for a looong time and it’s kinda become normative in the same way that ‘seniority’ has become so much a part of State and Federal politics. It’s not built into the law, it’s just become tradition. A lot of times, noobs will rail against the practices, but then become a lot more enthusiastic once they obtain seniority. That’s human nature, of course.

Assuming I’m around for a while, I hope to change this. In my opinion, the moment one is sworn in, every Councilmember should have an equal voice. Suggested changes? I’ve already talked about a few–basically reducing the current power of the position of Mayor back to the defaults under State law for our ‘weak mayor’ form of government. Another suggestion I’ve seen successfully implemented in other cities is to rotate the office every two years. That alone would help to focus every Councilmember’s attention on the group as a whole, rather than doing politics inside the Council.