An attitude of gratitude

An attitude of gratitude

Executive
It’s easy to focus on everything we have lost over the last two years or so.  There’s no question COVID has robbed us of many things - most terribly, people we love.  None of us will emerge from this time unscathed or unchanged. We’ve all learned the importance of being in the moment and having a greater appreciation for experiences we may have previously taken a little for granted. However, it’s useful and healthy to remember the many things we still have. Thankfully, that list is long for me this year, and I hope it is for you, too. First, we have amazing and heroic healthcare professionals. While many of us could work from home and socially distance, most of our healthcare team had to step into the teeth of…
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Equity works!

Equity works!

Executive
In last week’s blog I wrote about the important work we are doing to reform our criminal justice system to be more equitable for all members of our community. There are many other facets of our society that are ripe for reinvention and reinvestment to ensure fairness and opportunity.  Our educational system is an example of this.  Housing is another.  One more area where we have work to do is in our economy. In short, we must create and provide opportunities for everyone to succeed and thrive in our community. That’s why I am so proud of the new business accelerator program created by our Economic Development department in partnership with the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce. In response to the pandemic and the devastating impact on underserved communities in…
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A window into law enforcement and our community

A window into law enforcement and our community

Executive
  The people of Pierce County need our criminal justice system to ensure all our communities are safe and that the system is fair, just and equitable for every resident. A milestone in this effort, the County’s first-ever Use of Force report was presented to the Council’s Public Safety Committee this week.  The report is the second major research effort by our Criminal Justice Work Group (CJWG) – comprised of key leaders from the Executive’s Office, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Department of Assigned Council, and the Sheriff’s Department.  The CJWG’s first report was presented last year and, among other important findings, it documented that Black/African Americans were arrested at a rate disproportionate to their population, in every jurisdiction in Pierce County.  That finding was a key catalyst for this Use…
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Way to go!

Way to go!

Executive
I have two favorite work events each year.  One is when we celebrate our incredible volunteers!  The second occurred this week – our annual Employee Incentive & Recognition event where we recognize outstanding employee accomplishments and thank long-time employees for their years of service. Because of COVID we were not able to gather in person, but we did host a fun live event from the PCTV studios.  With Chair Young and the indomitable Maura Maye, I had a great time highlighting many of our talented County colleagues. The links below will take you to the individual videos PCTV created to honor each Standing Ovation Award winner and several dedicated long-time employees. While COVID kept us apart, it did not stop us from holding an amazing gift basket drawing to support…
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Dead men do tell tales

Dead men do tell tales

Executive
I recently spent a few hours with Dr. Karen Cline-Parhamovich and the Medical Examiner Team.  I learned that there is quite a bit you can learn from a decedent.  She considers herself a “family practice doctor to the dead,” and with her team of professionals, they diagnose the manner and cause of death.  Unlike most medical professionals, they can’t ask their patients questions to help in the diagnosis.  They must examine the decedent to solve the mystery of why and how they died.  And these answers are critical to bringing closure to families and sometimes helping solve crimes. It seems fitting to take you on a tour of the Medical Examiner’s Office during “spooky season,” so take a look at this latest installment of “Inside Pierce County!” [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI9syvdtgTM[/embedyt] My…
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Learning from the past

Learning from the past

Executive
Back in February I decided to dive into a well-regarded series on the U.S. Navy in World War II - Ian W. Toll’s “The Pacific War Trilogy.” Toll goes beyond the traditional look at the people, strategy and tactics of the battles.  He gives important context by delving into what was happening on the home front, including the politics, war production, and the stresses on a wartime society.  I am nearly halfway through the final book (“Twilight of the Gods: War in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945) and the combined 2,200+ pages have been well worth it. In the Fall of 1944, with nearly a year of brutal war still ahead, the end result was not really in doubt.  The U.S. industrial output, by every measure, was dominating our enemies -…
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Harvest time

Harvest time

Executive
I have always loved Fall – the change in the weather, fall leaves, and visits to Spooner Farms with my granddaughters! Seeing pumpkins reminds me of all the work that farmers put into them before they end up decorating our porches.  Planting the seeds in the field, weeding, and watering them for months before they are ready for harvest.  Then we take over – carving, painting, stickering, or making them into pie! Another important effort in our community that has been planted and tended for a long time is ready for harvest. Next week we will see a very significant milestone for a critically important effort for our community. Three years ago, Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards, former Councilmember Connie Ladenburg and I invited all the cities and towns in Pierce…
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Not invisible anymore

Not invisible anymore

Executive
Next Monday is Indigenous People’s Day around the nation. It is an opportune time to raise awareness of a nationwide crisis tribes face - Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). It’s tragic, it’s unbelievable and it needs to be addressed now. We need to acknowledge the truth and work with the tribes to find solutions. I have hope we can all come together and do our part. This issue continues a legacy of violence against tribal members and has led to generations of trauma that exist to this day. For example, September 30 was recently declared a Day of Remembrance in Canada for Native children who were taken from their homes in the late 1800s and sent to government and church sponsored boarding schools where they were stripped of their culture, language…
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A place to remember

A place to remember

Executive
Sadly, there are too many news stories that remind us of the dangerous jobs our first responders have.  Earlier this month, a Fircrest police officer was sprayed in the face with bear mace during a traffic stop.  Last month, Central Pierce Fire & Rescue led the response to a dramatic fire at a Puyallup cold storage facility that required a one-mile radius shelter in place order – while our firefighters were onsite. And tragically, sometimes our heroes lose their lives in the service of our community.  Our responsibility is to never forget their loss…their stories…their families… their colleagues.  Now we have a appropriate place to honor and remember them. Our new First Responders Memorial is positioned just off the Nollmeyer Lane entrance to the County-City Building (named for Tacoma Police Officer…
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Dollars and sense

Dollars and sense

Executive
It’s been said that how you spend your money reflects your values.  That’s certainly true of the proposed biennial budget I presented to the Council earlier this week. I’m very proud of how all of you have responded to and cared for our residents over the last 18 tumultuous months, and that important work will continue. At the same time, we have significant needs in our community, made even more critical due to the devastating effects of the pandemic.   We are building on the innovation and partnerships that were key to our success in supporting our community. As I mentioned to the Council, we have focused on three important priorities: public safety, housing and homelessness, and behavioral health. The proposed $3 billion budget makes unprecedented investments in creating new…
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It’s a sign

It’s a sign

Executive
I really enjoy sharing some of the amazing things our colleagues do through the Inside Pierce County video series. We paused some of those videos during the pandemic while we shifted to helping our community get though COVID. While the pandemic isn’t behind us yet, I did just dust off a video we created right before  COVID changed our world. In early 2020 I visited the Sewer & Traffic Operations (STOP) facility to see how we make the myriad of signs that help our residents stay safe on our streets and trails. That’s why you won’t see any masks in the video - what a marker in time! Anyway, my thanks to Steve Martin, a maintenance supervisor in PPW. He gave me a great tour and even let me help…
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Never forget

Never forget

Executive
Tomorrow we will mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Looking back, it’s almost impossible to imagine the devastation of that day, and the effects that reverberate to this day. I remember the shocking images of planes colliding into the World Trade Center and stunned survivors emerging from the buildings.  At the same time, I recall the concern and pride I felt seeing brave first responders rush into the burning towers to save anyone they could. The courage they displayed was humbling and inspiring.  And then the towers collapsed. The stories of bravery of the airline passengers on Flight 93 became legends.  We all tragically learned some of their last words were “Let’s roll!” as they gamely attempted to take control of the doomed plane. …
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The power of a name

The power of a name

Executive
I was blessed to have a third granddaughter born last month.  Her parents considered many potential names – and her sisters had their own favorites too.  I was in the hospital room holding her for the first time when they made it official – Maggie Joy Dammeier.  As I looked down at Maggie, I was struck by the miracle of her birth – and wondered about the life she had before her. That memory came rolling back, as I sat and heard the names of nearly 170 people read aloud as they were buried in a communal plot in Gig Harbor.  I could not help but think about the miracle of each of their births and how their parents came up with their names.  Hearing their names spoken aloud acknowledged…
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Engineering success

Engineering success

Executive
Women’s Equality Day commemorates the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote.  Additionally, it is a day to recognize women’s achievements, specifically in the efforts to gain equality with men. At Pierce County, we have many women leaders who are serving our residents extremely well in some of our most demanding roles! Without question, COVID has been one of the most significant challenges we have ever faced, and the three leaders at the forefront of our response are Heather Moss, Jody Ferguson and Betty Capestany (Directors of Human Services, DEM and Economic Development, respectively). Their teams’ pandemic responses and recovery work have been recognized at the state and national level! But our group of strong women department leaders doesn’t stop there! Dr. Karen Cline-Parhamovich…
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Take a walk

Take a walk

Executive
You may have heard that the month of August is “Walk Everywhere Month” in Pierce County.  I’ve used that declaration as inspiration to walk more myself. I don’t know that I’ll win any prizes from the Pierce Trips Walk Everywhere Challenge, but it couldn’t hurt!  And, to be honest, walking more will help me a lot. Replacing some of the places I drive with a walk will help manage stress, improve my fitness, and even save money.  This week I walked to meetings I would have previously driven to, and even strolled to the site where I regularly donate blood. Walking is a great way to really see a community and this summer’s weather in another incentive to get outside. And if we’ve learned anything over the last year and a…
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A gold medal team

A gold medal team

Executive
It’s been said that “teamwork makes the dream work.”  Unless you are Bruce Wagner, you probably never dream about roads, but I wouldn’t blame him if he did! Summertime means lots of things - kids out of school, time spent relaxing at beaches and in the water, and ... road work! That’s right.  While you are hopefully getting some time away for much needed R and R, our Roads maintenance crew springs into action to take advantage of drier weather. I must admit watching the Roads crew in action as they apply chip seal is inspiring!  It’s hard work that requires remarkable attention to detail, nonstop movement, and great skill. Thanks to Bruce W. and crew I recently had the chance to watch as a couple dozen of our colleagues…
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Please stop the ride….

Please stop the ride….

Executive
As a kid growing up in University Place, I loved going to the Puyallup Fair.  Hobby Town, the Dairy Barn, the Pig Palace, scones, and exhibits – I loved all of it.  I also liked the rides – at least most of them.  Once, after visiting one too many food booths, I boarded the “Zipper” with my friends.  If you are unfamiliar with this ride, it had three different rotation movements – all simultaneously!  Not long after our ride started, I knew I was in trouble.  I felt dizzy, disoriented, and queasy.  I wanted to shout, “please stop the ride, I want to get off!”  I didn’t panic, but closed my eyes, focused on breathing, and soon the ride came to an end – without me embarrassing myself! As I watch…
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Worth waiting for

Worth waiting for

Executive
  Last Saturday morning I arrived at the new Stan & Joan Cross Park in Frederickson well before the ribbon cutting was scheduled. That was when I was reminded just how special this place is. I bumped into Ben Heeb, who I have known for over 20 years but had not recently seen.  He was wearing a “Friends of Stan & Joan Cross Park” (“The Friends”) green t-shirt.  Sadly, Ben shared that his wife had recently passed away and showed me a bench just outside the walking path near the playground that was named in her honor.  Ben told me she wanted her memory to be tied to the park and what it has become for the community. I have talked about “the Pierce County Way” before - that WHAT we…
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A very good – and important – summer read!

A very good – and important – summer read!

Executive
As most of you already know, I love reading.  A good story can take me back in time and educate me.  A great story can also broaden my understanding and change my perspective.  Bestselling author Daniel James Brown is a gifted storyteller who can bring people of the past to life – sharing their experiences, challenges, and reactions in incredible detail and complexity – yet keep you riveted throughout.  His book about the UW crew team that won the 1936 Olympic Gold Medal at the Berlin Games in Nazi Germany  was masterful. So, when Brown released “Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II,”  it became my summer vacation book to read! And it exceeded my expectations! Brown follows several young Japanese American men…
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My “why”

My “why”

Executive
I’m right back where I started. Well, kinda. When many people think of working for local government, job security and good benefits come to mind. To be honest, that’s why I initially applied to Pierce County over 22 years ago. I first joined the Pierce County Executive’s Office in March 1999. I had little-to-no knowledge about local government (I learned the staff were motivated by the fact that I had experience with Microsoft Word as they were switching over from WordPerfect) but I quickly learned with the bird’s eye view working at the front desk as an office assistant. More than 22 years, two departments and six titles later, I’m back working in the Executive’s Office as an executive assistant.  And, my “why” has changed. I’m invested in my community.…
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