Weekly Update: 12/22/19

My first meeting on the City Council will be Thursday January 9th at 7PM at City Hall (21630 11th Avenue Des Moines, WA 98198). There will be a brief ‘swearing in’ ceremony at the beginning. So… you know… mark your calendar. 😀 By the way, Des Moines subscribers to Comcast can watch this (or any City Council Meeting) on Channel #21.

This Week

Slow Week. I think the only vaguely ‘City’ stuff I have planned are meetings with Councilmembers. (Is it ‘Council Members or Councilmembers? I’m never sure.)

One of the things that doesn’t thrill me about how our type of ‘Council-Manager’ government works is the fact that the first few meetings are super-action-packed. For example, at the first meeting, one votes for a new Mayor, who then immediately assigns Councilmembers to their Committees. His/her decision. And Committees matter because legislation is usually brought forward from Committees. So if you have a fantastic idea regarding ‘economic development’, but you’re not on the Economic Development Committee? You’ll have a tough time even getting your idea turned into a vote-able piece of paper. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes procedural jazz like this that gets decided in the first few weeks. So my job is to figure out who wants to do what and see what Committees I can get on to get make good on the tons of wonderful things I promised I would do for you.

Last Week

Monday I was sworn in for realz as City Council Member Position #2. I immediately lost fifteen pounds. My hair grew back. And so forth…

I attended the Burien City meeting re. shutting down their Annex for various non-profits. I showed up partly to see if there were any opportunities for Des Moines to provide some assistance, but mainly to see how the City and residents would handle a tense situation. All Cities have their share of crises and frankly Des Moines meetings have often not gone well. So this was a bit of ‘look and learn’ for me. And I have to say that all sides really did a great job. I think the residents were polite (without backing down one inch) and credit to Mayor Matta: he showed empathy and gave clear answers. I am not sure where this goes, but whenever something like that goes well, it makes me feel good about ‘democracy’.

B-Town Blog Article

Tuesday was the last  Salmon counting with Saltwater State Park and Trout Unlimited. This year was as terrible as it gets. I think the entire team only saw one specimen and… it was the wrong species for this time of year. So I’m doubly freaked out about what we can do about this. Many of you know that we have a hatchery at our Marina that releases tens of thousands of babies every year. But they obviously aren’t thriving.

Tuesday was also the the last meeting of the year for SCatBD (the County transportation board.) There were some good comments on making sure that the airport is near the top of the legislative agenda. There was also a lot of concern about I-976 and what it will do to local budgets. I made the following comment: If it was such a big deal for municipalities why weren’t Cities educating their residents about the importance of I-976? This is something you’ll hear me go on about a lot. If we want voters to engage we have to communicate a lot better what these State and Federal deals mean for us.

South County Area Transportation Board

Tuesday was also a meeting of the Burien Airport Committee. They have not decided what to do re. StART and there was no update on their FAA lawsuit. I encouraged them to re-join StART–even though I do not think it is functioning properly right now. Frankly, I don’t think they care much what I (or Des Moines) thinks about this right now. But we need very much for the other airport communities to care. No City can take on the Port on their own. More soon.

Friday I met with State Rep. Mike Pellicciotti of the 30th District. I asked him if he could help get a Dept. Of Ecology water quality monitor in place for Redondo and he agreed to try. We also talked about his legislation to expand the noise mitigation boundary out from its current, Federally mandated, limit, out to Federal Way. As sort of ‘the expert’ on Port Package stuff, I tried to explain that it’s not just a question of changing that boundary–or getting a bag of money to provide insulation for more homes. There is a whole process involved in evaluating homes, deciding on what to do for each home, choosing contractors, providing oversight. None of that was done particularly well back when the Port was doing it to scale back in the 1990’s. And none of the Cities providing decent oversight. So we have a real job figuring out how to do this right going forward. This is a frustrating message for lawmakers who really want to help, but the complexity must be addressed now otherwise we’ll just be throwing money at the problem (see ‘Salmon Recovery’ above.)

Sunday I visited Des Moines’ newest tourist destination: the road closures at Woodmont. 😀 I hung out for maybe an hour between both sites and I lost count of the people who pulled up to take selfies. I had no idea civil engineering was such a hobby here.  Putting my ‘engineer’ hat on what I see in our future dollar signs. Not just for these repairs; I mean long term. Make no mistake: this is a combo-platter of bad news. Frankly, a whole lot of the area was not engineered according to current best practice (eg. drainage). Plus the fact that a lot of this post-war infra-structure is reaching the end of its useful life (who knew that one has to actually replace sewers, drains, roads every fifty years or so, right?) And then there’s that pesky climate change: we have to expect much more severe rains like this and build tougher. Where will all the money come from? Hey don’t ask me… this is my first week on the job! But it’s definitely something I’m thinking about.

Merry Christmas

There, I said it. Feel free to translate to Hannukah Tov, Happy Kwanza, Festivus For The Restofus or whatever your thing is. My thing involves playing at one of the Masses at St. Phils. If I can wake up on time. 😀 Maybe I’ll see you there.

But whatever your thing is, I hope it’s happy and safe for you and your family. I’ll probably take next week off to fish, drink, gain a few (more) unnecessary pounds. All in preparation for starting my new job as a public servant of course.