Remembering a President – and much more

Remembering a President – and much more

Executive
Wednesday was a national day of mourning for our former President George H. W. Bush, who passed away Nov. 30, 2018 at the age of 94. The 41st president was the last World War II veteran to serve as Commander in Chief.  In 1942, then 18-year-old George enlisted, becoming one of the youngest pilots in the Navy, flying a total of 58 combat missions.   His decades of service were only just beginning after the war. After graduating from Yale, he went on to become a U.S. representative, a diplomat, our chief spy, vice president, before occupying the Oval Office.  A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and generous humanitarian, his favorite position was always that of a family man.   President and eldest son, George W. Bush said…
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Planning for the Future and Remembering the Past

Planning for the Future and Remembering the Past

Executive
New Year’s Day will be upon us before we know it, and after a lot of important work by our departments and the Council, we are ready to both close out our 2018 financial year and start on 2019.  I am very thankful for all the folks who work very hard to make sure we have a financial plan that guides our work.  Gary Robinson, Jim Dickman, Julie Demuth and the whole Finance team have been working this process since early summer. The Council balanced many competing priorities and the result – a strong plan for 2019 and beyond Also, thanks to the voters of Pierce County who approved the charter amendment for a biennial budget, 2019 will be our last one-year budget! Believe it or not, we are already…
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A grateful nation extends across the Pacific

A grateful nation extends across the Pacific

Executive
I have always felt a powerful personal connection to the people of the Philippines, stemming from my time in the Navy. Tens of thousands of Filipinos have become US citizens through service in our Navy, and Filipino-Americans have a strong history of naval service as well.  One such leader was my Naval Academy roommate, Rear Admiral Victorino Mercado.  Vic retired yesterday, after three years as a key leader in the Pacific. During my service, I was stationed in Philippines -seeing this amazing country, people and culture first-hand. So, it will come as no surprise that I jumped at the chance to honor World War II Filipino veterans with Congressional Gold Medals at the Asia Pacific Cultural Center last weekend. [caption id="attachment_1405" align="aligncenter" width="546"] Medals for so many heroes![/caption]   [caption…
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Bravo

Bravo

Executive
One of my favorite days of the year happened this week. No, it wasn’t my birthday or anniversary. It was the day we recognize our Standing Ovation Award winners! There were many deserving nominations received this year and I’m confident the selection committee had a difficult task in selecting the winners. I’m delighted to introduce the accomplishments of our outstanding colleagues to you: (more…)
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Albert Einstein and my Week

Albert Einstein and my Week

Executive
One of my favorite quotes is from the renowned physicist, Albert Einstein: “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”  I could not agree more and work hard to reflect this in my life.  I am naturally curious, which is why my visits with County employees often take much longer than scheduled.  I like to learn what our people do and how they do it! However, I am always intentionally trying to learn new things and challenge my current perspectives – basically to grow personally.  It shows up in the books I read (currently “The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945”), the classes I take (completed the Coast Guard Captain’s Course last December), and podcasts I listen to daily (“The Bible in One Year” and yesterday…
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Lost

Lost

Executive
This week, Pierce County lost an amazing father, husband, friend and protector, Deputy Daniel A. McCartney. To his family, friends, and co-workers, I am deeply saddened by your loss. You are in my prayers. This loss reaches out and impacts everyone in our community – and beyond. Deputy Daniel A. McCartney lost his life responding to a home invasion call. We now know that the call was to a well-known drug house often visited by sheriff’s deputies. We have also learned that two young children were living in the home in deplorable conditions. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that in the past month our county has been faced with two significant tragedies; the Amtrak Train #501 derailment and now the horrible death of Deputy McCartney, both events…
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Christmas could have ended far differently

Christmas could have ended far differently

Executive
I have had way too many close calls with drunk drivers and have experienced the havoc they inflict on our community.  I have been hit twice previously by drunk/drugged drivers.  Both occurred in the morning, neither had a valid license, and both were driving borrowed cars.  Most shockingly, one had been driving under the influence the night before and decided to use PCP while on the way to get the car out of the impound lot.  However, in both cases, I was not seriously hurt.  I have also spent time with local families who have been devastated by the loss of a loved one to the scourge of DUI.  On Christmas night, my family nearly joined their ranks. (more…)
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Coming Soon: The Pierce County Pizza Tracker

Coming Soon: The Pierce County Pizza Tracker

Executive
In 2008, Domino’s Pizza unveiled a new feature that enabled customers to order pizza and track the status of their order online. It was revolutionary for its time. Eventually, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s got in on the game and began offering their customers the ability to track their orders. Well, now Pierce County is going to do the same! Except instead of allowing customers to track their pizza orders, we’re going to enable our citizens to track their public records requests online. Both are equally life changing. In Executive Dammeier’s 2017 State of the County Address, he said “We are committed to increasing the transparency of county government and making it more accessible and accountable to our citizens…It’s their government, and they should know what we’re doing.” Since that…
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Validating the victorious and vanquished

Validating the victorious and vanquished

Executive
Election Day has come and gone and nearly all the races are decided (Even as I write this, two contests are still too close too call!).  As a community, we just finished one of the most important things we do as citizens of the U.S. – we selected individuals to lead our communities.  Disappointingly, only about 28% of Pierce County registered voters did cast ballots. While the yard signs are coming down and concession speeches have been given, the election isn’t quite finished for Auditor Julie Anderson and her team.  That will happen after the election results are certified on November 28. In the meantime, I want to offer my congratulations to the crew for successfully administering the November 7 election! This year was a period of great change for…
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The past, present and future of Pierce County

The past, present and future of Pierce County

Executive
During the time I served on the Puyallup School Board we celebrated the District's 150th anniversary.  I was struck by the fact that I was a steward of Puyallup's community schools – I had been preceded by hundreds of board member before me and likely hundreds will follow in the future.  I felt that same sense of stewardship and responsibility while sitting at my desk on the Floor of the State Senate, and I feel it today as the County Executive.  This week, I had three experiences that reinforced my appreciation for those who have served Pierce County before me. The Boeing plant in Frederickson celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.  A lot of exceptional work by our neighbors has been flying around in planes throughout the world!  For example,…
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Flush with Success

Flush with Success

Executive
Wednesday we celebrated the completion of the 11-year $300 million upgrade to Pierce County's wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). This incredibly complex project has positioned Pierce County to meet both our technical standards and growth demands out to 2030 and beyond. Although few citizens even know where the wastewater treatment plant is, let alone what happens there, it still performs an incredibly vital function to protect our environment. As I reflected upon this milestone, some key lessons came to mind. Vision & Planning - Both the siting of the WWTP and its more recent upgrade required a tremendous vision by leaders in Pierce County. They had to anticipate the needs of our citizens decades in the future.  Then, that vision had to be translated into a detailed funding plan and project design to…
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Undercover Boss

Undercover Boss

Executive
I can’t count the times I have approached an intersection and averted my eyes from panhandlers and their signs stating “will work” or “I’ll take any job.”  Waiting for the light to change, conflicting thoughts pass through my mind, “He looks like he could work. I wonder if he would take a job if he was offered a chance.  It certainly won’t help him if I gave him money to feed his habits.” Those same type of thoughts occurred to Mayor Richard Berry of Albuquerque, NM, as he created his city’s successful day labor program “There’s a Better Way!” in 2015.   Albuquerque’s nationally recognized program offers panhandlers jobs picking up litter and clearing vegetation.  You can read about it online, but I wanted to see for myself how it really…
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Learning about family

Learning about family

Executive
As you probably know by now, I love getting out to meet and talk with our employees.  So, naturally I jumped at the chance to visit with the Road Operations division at their All Hands meeting last Thursday morning.  They were gathering for their annual meeting, including updates, training, food and even some games. In true Road Ops fashion – they “raced” putting up traffic warning signs! This was my third visit to the Central Maintenance Facility.  As a former Seabee, I have always had a thing for big trucks and equipment, and the skill it takes to operate and maintain them.  At the All Hands, I shared how much I appreciated the great work they have been doing - our roads are in outstanding shape, they have a strong…
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And justice for all

And justice for all

Executive
People often ask me what the Director of Justice Services and Special Projects actually does all day – besides go to meetings, that is.  After I chuckle, I tell them I provide oversight to five County departments (Court Clerk, Assigned Counsel, Medical Examiner, Human Services and Human Resources), and I am the liaison to the judiciary and courts, the Sheriff, the Law Library Board, and the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center Board.  In addition, I am leading a number of countywide special projects.  It’s a complex job, but it has tremendous rewards – we are doing transformational work that matters.  This week I had my special projects hat on when Peter Ansara, director of Human Services, and I met with Julian Bray from the Washington Attorney General’s Office, Curtis Huff…
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Service

Service

Executive
On Thursday I attended two events that prompted me to reflect on the service our employees deliver to our citizens.  I thought about how important that service is, and the potentially unseen costs to some. At the Assessor-Treasurer’s quarterly staff meeting, I watched Don Pettie and James Parris take their oath of office as new assessors.  Did you know that assessors have an oath of office?  I didn't.  But as I thought about it, I am very glad they do.  The recent controversy over Sound Transit 3’s motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) valuation schedule reminded me how important trust is in government, especially for those who influence how much tax we pay.  Many people believe Sound Transit unfairly and potentially deceptively used an outdated MVET schedule instead of the current…
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Moving forward

Moving forward

Executive
As you might recall, as part of the State of the County address on March 15, I introduced a supplemental budget to take advantage of some year-end surplus money and an improving economy.  We want to make meaningful progress on several key initiatives.  Among those priorities are behavioral health, homeless veterans and youth, public safety, and economic development. Executive team members during last week's 2018 budget retreat   Last week the Council’s Committee of the Whole (COW) met to consider our budget proposal, only to introduce a different budget that cut our proposal nearly in half. I will be working hard to convince Councilmembers to restore much of this important funding when they next meet on June 6. I want to provide you with some insight as to what happened…
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Leave it better than you found it!

Leave it better than you found it!

Executive
I’ve mentioned before how having a baby in your life changes everything.  That includes the choices we make in our daily lives.  I want to leave my granddaughter with a beautiful place to grow up, raise a family, have meaningful work – AND be able to enjoy our spectacular natural environment, drink clean water and breathe fresh air. One strategy to deliver that vision is Pierce County Sustainability 2020. The initiative, approved by the Council last year, is an ambitious plan with specific targets for energy use, waste reduction, commuting and other measurable goals.  We need to be the best possible stewards of Pierce County and the resources our citizens entrust to us.  It is about being smart and sustainable – not just “green for the sake of being green.”  Our citizens…
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A Matter of Life and Death

A Matter of Life and Death

Executive
How was your Monday morning?  Mine started with breakfast and a tour of the Medical Examiner’s office while their team reviewed the previous weekend’s deaths. I entered a world that few citizens see – at least while alive - and, let’s be honest, most of us never want to be a part of. I was impressed by the professionalism and care with which Dr. Tom Clark and his team do a very challenging job. Case in point: on the morning I visited, the group was discussing the death of an infant and two suicides that had recently occurred. I’m thankful that we have investigators with the skill, persistence, and, in some cases personal courage, to go to death scenes and do what needs to be done.  Can you imagine having to…
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Let it RAIN

Let it RAIN

Executive
After this incredibly wet winter and spring, I wonder whether a local group is re-thinking naming their new organization RAIN?  In this case, RAIN stands for the Readiness Acceleration & Innovation Network. RAIN is a non-profit organization near the UW Tacoma that serves as an “incubator” for medical and biotech startups. It is the result of a partnership between the UWT, Madigan Army Medical Center and MultiCare Hospital.  I had the chance to meet with the RAIN team this week and I came away excited about our ability to grow new businesses and employ the thousands of new people moving to Pierce County. [embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evt_85HJLD4[/embedyt] RAIN’s mission is to spur and “incubate” the development of innovative med/biotech companies that generate sustainable, high-paying jobs in our area. It’s location near UWT is…
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