Weekly Update: 12/06/2020

Updated 12/8/20 @12:08PM. I forgot to send to email list. Oops!

Public Service Announcements

  1. Working Washington Small Business Grants (Round 3) If you have a small business of any kind do this now!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”

This Week

Tuesday: Port Of Seattle Meeting (Agenda). On Page 3 is the Port’s 2021 Legislative Agenda which has some very fine ideas about Federal legislation to reduce noise and pollution. The thing that I struggle with all the time in this blog is to speak ‘politician’ or speak ‘reporter’. The politician, which is 99.999999999999999999999999999999999% of my colleagues on planet earth, would say something like, “I’d like to thank the Port for their ongoing efforts to address… yada yada… Working together we can… yada yada…” The reporter in me has to be clear that the Port is supporting its own interests, which do not currently include anything that would reduce their revenues. They are not ready to take a hit financially in order to reduce noise, pollution or work substantively on climate change. That’s not being snippy, that’s just reality and the City Of Des Moines should use that to be clear-eyed in our relationship.

Wednesday: Rotary Club. I’ll be giving another speech on Sea-Tac Airport and new opportunities for mitigation.

Thursday: Puget Sound Regional Transportion Board.

Friday: Sound Cities Association Board Elections. I will be running to represent the City Of Des Moines on the South Board. I am not super-optimistic about my chances–considering that one of my opponents is our own Traci Buxton 😀 It is very unusual for two Councilmembers from the same City to vie for the same seat. But with the current polarization on our Council there’s no other way to get one’s foot in the door. And I’m committed to helping Des Moines become a bigger part of that wider regional conversation.

Last Week

Monday: As I wrote, my other group SeatacNoise.Info has been really going to town on various interviews for a book on the history of Sea-Tac Airport. The reason we spend so much time on this is because the longer I work on this the more I understand how poorly all of us understood this story–I mean from Senators down to residents. But the story has it all. It’s one of the largest construction projects ever completed in the region. There’s serious corruption. 300% cost overruns. Amazing environmental impacts. Tremendous ongoing socio-economic issues for the entire area. It’s fair to say that our entire area would look entirely different had we not built the Third Runway. And the really odd thing (to me) is that it all happened less than twenty years ago–and yet, that controversy is largely forgotten now. Our goal is to provide much better information for decision makers, since, as our Mayor often says: We’re not going anywhere. And they’re not going anywhere. 🙂

Tuesday: Back to counting salmon at McSorley Creek with Trout Unlimited. So far? I’ve seen zip. Although, here’s some video from an earlier sighting at Des Moines Creek. In one sentence: It ain’t lookin’ good for our fish friends.

Thursday: There was a presentation by the State Auditor’s Office as to how things went in reviewing this year’s financials. State Auditor 2019 Exit Conference Packet. (Video). I suppose the headline should be “City gets certificate passes.” But I gotta point out two slightly irksome items:

  • For some reason, the City chose to put out as their press release, the one small portion of the report which concerned the never-ending Des Moines Legacy kerfuffle. Look, if yer gonna put out one takeaway, it should be that the City passed the audit, not keep focusing on an issue almost two years after the fact.
  • Council received that information packet five minutes after the meeting began. We had no time to review the information and thus had no way to prepare and ask any serious questions. For an ‘audit’ I find this outrageous and if you’ve been reading along this year, this is a pattern whereby presenters do not provide Council with adequate information until after a vote is taken.

Thursday: Public Safety Committee Meeting (Agenda). The discussion item was the current drone program. And it actually was very interesting.  Presentation.

Thursday: Regular City Council Meeting. (Agenda). Recap below.

Saturday: Beacon Hill Air & Noise Pollution Community Meeting. Boy I wish I had the presentation to share. For the past three years, this group has been hitting it out of the park, with great community organizing, by obtaining EPA grants to do real science and then working with UW to quantify the health impacts of the airport. They’re doing work we can and should be doing here.

City Council Recap

(Agenda) (Video)

I pledge allegiance to the star spangled banner…

The highlight of the year (for me) was the complete mess I made of the Pledge Of Allegiance. If you need a cringey laugh today, I urge you to watch just the first two minutes of me butchering that little poem. 😀

In my defense, I was watching a musical with the grand kids on The Declaration Of Independence’ and for some reason, all sorts patriotic prose ranging from Four Score And Seven Years Ago to This Land Is Your land just sort of floated into my noggin all at once. 😀

Expanding Midway Park

We made a modification to the 2035 Comprehensive Plan. The nugget is that the City is buying some rundown houses along the perimeter using the same type of conservation grants used to buy/renovate the Van Gasken House. And as you know, those types of grants require using the land strictly for parks. Which is OK, but would not have been my first choice. Everyone knows how much I value the park, but I’m also concerned that we should be working to add quality housing for the surrounding neighborhood.

Body Cameras

I was the lone vote against the motion on body cameras. I’ll just add in reply to a comment made by a colleague that this is not just being ‘different to be different’. I’ve testified publicly on real police reform. But this vote was actually about holding back $140,000 of public safety money we could be utilizing now; not about ‘body cameras’ per se. And it was the wrong decision. Here’s why.

My End Of Year Comments

This is a bit more organized version of my ramblings from the dais. When I was eight or nine I begged my uncle for months to let me go out with his professional fishing crew. And after I got it? It was kinda miserable. 😀 At least at first. But I asked for it! I think there’s a lesson there. Somewhere.

I want to thank the voters, who gave me the opportunity to work my tail off to get elected… so I could then get thrown into this. Because I asked for it. 😀

The thing about this job is that you decide how much work to put into it. It’s up to each CM to determine how much they want to learn about the nuts and bolts. Some Councilmembers, like me, really like the details. Others, not so much. Either approach can be very effective. But for what I am trying to accomplish, it is necessary for me to learn a lot about the mechanics. It would not be appropriate to come into this situation with a change agenda without having a baseline of knowledge about the City’s inner workings.

It’s complicated

A city government is very complicated. But it’s not so complicated that you can’t understand it. It’s sort of like how complicated cars used to be before they got onboard computers. You can understand all the various systems if you are willing to work at it, while also gaining a full appreciation for just how much stuff there is to do. And how much skill and commitment it takes to do it all well. And the more I learn about our City the greater my appreciation for all the people who work every day to make it work.

So I want to thank the entire Staff of the City Of Des Moines, which does such a great job–especially during COVID-19.

Direction

It’s no secret that I have differences with my colleagues. But never think that it has to do with how that ‘car’ is functioning. You can have a car that runs great. But still not get where you really want to go.

Most people who run for City Council simply want to serve. They’re not trying to  change things all that much. And that’s fine. But everyone I’ve known since I first sailed down here 25 years ago has said the same thing, “Why isn’t Des Moines living up to its potential?” And after a couple of decades, I decided that we have to move in a different direction if we’re ever going to live up to that “destination” ideal.

And I also recognized that it was going to take an absolute ton of work, because we have invested so heavily in the current direction we’ve been going.

Obviously, my colleagues see it differently. And that’s fine. They think ‘the car’ is going in exactly the right direction at exactly the right speed. I didn’t expect to win any votes this year. (If you recall from my campaign, the current majority would get so testy that I constantly brought up their 7-0 votes. Guess what? In 2020 those five people again voted 100% of the time together. I wasn’t exaggerating.)

<This is the place where I intended to thank my colleagues for welcoming me onto the Council for 2020. Although we often view policy very differently, I appreciate the fact that we have been able to disagree without being disagreeable.>

Playing fair

Sure glad I didn’t tack on that last bit! 😀 Because right after I finished my remarks, the Deputy Mayor (once again) decided it was a good idea to respond to me with a personal attack (in the form of helpful advice, of course.)

This is the only thing that ever annoys me in any way–when my colleagues and the administration do stuff like this.  This year, our Mayor, Deputy Mayor and City Manager have said things to disparage me that are simply not true; some have repeatedly tried to ‘shame’ and ‘scold’ me from the dais as if I were some wayward child. And the rest of the majority have enabled that bad behavior by never objecting in any way. Worst of all, they have colluded with our City Manager to enable an almost complete lack of cooperation for even routine requests–which has prevented me from doing my job and robbing the public of their essential right to know.

This treatment has been disrespectful and contemptuous, not only of me but of the office you voted for me to hold on your behalf. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was really only one 100% sincere form of reply to his remarks. This Four Horseman is the best ‘life advice’ I have ever come across:

He gave me his unasked for advice on personal growth and there is mine. I leave it to the public to decide which approach is more constructive.

*

Now being part of an elected body is not exactly like being married; in fact, constructive criticism (oversight) is literally the main statutory purpose of the office. You gotta be constructive and sincere and kind and you also gotta be willing to take it as well as dish it out, but you gotta be able to find flaws or yer just not doing the job.

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