The 300

The 300

Executive
With apologies to Gerard Butler and his gladiators, a different kind of 300 has created a bit of history here in Pierce County. Almost six years ago, I was newly elected as the Pierce County Executive - coming from my work in the State Legislature.  I knew it would take some time for us to get to know each other, and that many of you were both curious and potentially nervous about the new Executive.  That was the catalyst for this blog! My goal was to give you a window into the many facets of the County that I see each week. Along the way, I wanted to be transparent and candid. The tone and content often reflect what I experienced. I’ve shared my emotions when we lost colleagues or…
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Witnessing history

Witnessing history

Executive
I’ve mentioned before in this blog that I love history.  I find it fascinating and instructive to learn from noteworthy people from all facets of our world. Much of the way I enjoy those lessons is through reading. I typically have 2 or 3 books that I’m reading at any given time. You can imagine my excitement when I recently had the opportunity to learn about history in-person from the actual people who made it! It was a gift to be able to hear first-hand about the groundbreaking Centennial Accord that formalized the relationship between the 26 federally recognized Indigenous tribes and the state of Washington. The Accord was entered into on August 4, 1989, and was timed to coincide with the centennial celebration of Washington statehood in June of…
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Falling for fall

Falling for fall

Executive
It’s here! My favorite time of year. I love everything about fall. The weather cools off and the risk of wildfires diminishes. The chilly nights and crisp mornings just dare you not to get cozy with a warm mug of something tasty, a dog and a good book. Some of my favorite sports teams I follow play in the fall.  There is nothing like Friday night lights at Sparks Stadium, cheering for Navy, and watching the Huskies (I will be in the stands this Saturday against Michigan State!).  Then there’s the Seahawks - I am still relishing the win over Denver!  And how about those Mariners?  I am following each game.  They are an exciting young team - reminiscent of the 1995 roster - and look to make the playoffs!…
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Oh poop!

Oh poop!

Executive
While it’s a rather indelicate topic, properly disposing of human waste while on a boat is no laughing matter.  Okay, you can giggle a little bit. Back when I was a boy on our sailboat, the marine toilet discharged directly overboard – gross and bad for the Sound!  Today, we are much smarter and better at protecting our marine environment.  All of Puget Sound is now a “no discharge zone,” so marine toilets flush their “black water” into an onboard holding tank. But when the tank is full, how do you empty it?  Many big urban marinas have “pumpout” facilities on a dock that suck the contents of the blackwater tank and pump it into the local sewer system.  Other large marinas have small pumpout boats that come directly to…
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From over there to here

From over there to here

Executive
When we talk about diversifying our workforce, promoting equity, and including all voices in our work (DEI), people might assume it is just about increasing the numbers of people of color, or the percentage of women in leadership positions, or respectfully reflecting a person’s gender.  Those are important elements of our work to strengthen our team and better serve our community. However, there’s another aspect to diversity you may not always associate with our DEI work – our employees with prior military service. With Joint Base Lewis-McChord in our backyard, and naval bases throughout Puget Sound, we also strive to benefit from the ready supply of skilled veterans.  These veterans are leaders who have worked in teams to accomplish their mission and are committed to public service. Additionally, they frequently…
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Can you figure it out?

Can you figure it out?

Executive
All, I found a cryptic note in Bruce’s office. I think he has been hiding clues in his blog posts this whole time. Can you help me crack this code before he returns? Here’s what I’ve figured out so far: This goes all the way back to the beginning. Start by opening Bruce’s first blog post from January 13, 2017. Apply Clue #1 to that blog post to find a year, month, and date of another blog post. I repeat: you are looking for a year, a month, and a date. You then navigate to the next post by typing in this web address: https://blog.co.pierce.wa.us/executive/yyyy/mm/dd with the correct year, month, and date substituted in. For example, if the clue leads you to January 13, 2017, you will enter https://blog.co.pierce.wa.us/executive/2017/01/13 into…
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How we doin’?

How we doin’?

Executive
Former New York mayor Ed Koch was famous for his impromptu walking tours of the city. He asked everyone he came across the same question: “How am I doin’?” Our version of “How am I doin’?” is an Internal Services Survey, an opportunity for employees to evaluate the performance of departments we all rely on: Communications; Facilities; Finance; and Human Resources. Of about 3100 employees, 566 responded -- about 18%. Complete results will be available in the next week or so. Most of the ratings are positive or very positive, but the survey raises questions similar to what I hear at meetings and in conversations. They deserve answers. Predictably, they’re all related to wanting faster service. FACILITIES. Despite high ratings for the quality of their work, I’m occasionally asked about…
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Tying the knot

Tying the knot

Executive
By the end of this summer, I will have attended 5 weddings. But the one I’m attending this weekend has a twist – I’m the officiant! My niece and her fiancé asked me to officiate at their outdoor wedding on Saturday.  It will be the fourth wedding I’ve conducted.  I’ve also served at four funerals, but that’s another story (and not a movie!) The first wedding I did was for my sister 30 years ago. She’s still married so I think I did a pretty good job! The other weddings were also for family members so I’m kind of a “niche” service provider. Serving at a wedding is sort of like speaking at a graduation – which I’ve also done. You have a spotlight, but no one really comes to…
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As good as it gets

As good as it gets

Executive
This past Tuesday our Executive Team had a farewell luncheon for Patty Harper who has served as the “first impression” for our office.  While we will miss her on the 7th Floor, we are excited for her new opportunity with the Finance Department! At the lunch, I asked a question of the group: “What is your favorite thing to do in Pierce County on a sunny 90-degree day?”  Not surprisingly, their answers involved getting outdoors!  They included: biking on the Foothills Trail (early or late in the day); hiking in the hills; picnicking in a park; floating on a lake; and my favorite - boating with a refreshing dunk in Puget Sound!  We also had a spirited debate between swimming in fresh or saltwater! There is no better time of…
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In the matrix

Executive
In the popular “Matrix” movies, the main character is named Neo.  His name reflects the Greek prefix for “new” since he gets a new identity during the film. At Pierce County we also have a “Neo” that reflects new people but ours is an acronym: NEO.  It stands for New Employee Orientation. I spend time each Monday morning welcoming the newest employees to our County Team - including our “extra hires.”  It is a great way to start my week. My favorite part is listening to their answers to three questions I ask each of our new “regular” colleagues: Where are you from? What were you doing before you came to Pierce County? Why did you decide to join Pierce County? Their answers help me learn more about who is…
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What’s in a name?

Executive
Someone’s name is core to who they are and their identity.  It likely reflects both their family and their heritage.  Some people change their names - focusing more on their future than their past. My last name is somewhat unique and has been subject to many mispronunciations and misspellings over the years.  I can still vividly remember when “Dummeier” was on a certificate I received in 2nd grade! I work very hard to show respect to everyone I meet by pronouncing their name correctly - the way they choose to pronounce it.  I meet many people, so living up to this standard can be challenging - especially as our community and County workforce has become more diverse.  We have many colleagues from different nations, backgrounds, and experiences, and their names…
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It’s cold!

It’s cold!

Executive
At the start of a recent meeting, each participant was asked “What is one of your favorite summer activities?”  I told the group one of my favorites is hearing my granddaughters squeal with delight when riding on a tube being pulled behind our boat!  Even at their young age, they enjoy the bouncing and thrill of going fast – well, not too fast.  However, their dad knows what could happen.  He is on the tube with them - and everyone is wearing life jackets.  So, they get the thrill, and he keeps them safe. Our waters are one of the things that make our home so special. And enjoying them on a paddle board, in a kayak, on a tube, or in a boat is the best part of the…
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Tick…tick…tick

Tick…tick…tick

Executive
This Independence Day weekend, many of us will celebrate our nation’s birth with family and friends.  Many of our local communities really get into the spirit, like DuPont’s “Hometown Celebration;” Steilacoom’s 33rd Annual “Four on the Fourth” cross country run; and Tacoma’s “Summer Blast.” However, for our first responders this is also one of the busiest weekends of the year as some celebrations go awry and common sense becomes in short supply.  And one of our Sheriff Department’s specialized teams is guaranteed to be busy – the Bomb Squad! I had the chance to spend some time with our Bomb Squad during their training day at the Orting Quarry – a very safe place for them to practice their skills – which, of course, includes actually blowing things up! Like…
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Love makes the world go ’round

Love makes the world go ’round

Executive
After two long and frustrating years, wedding celebrations have returned! Despite the need to be thoughtful about how we gather, it is great to see families and friends coming together to cheer on newlyweds. I just got back from witnessing the marriage of a close family friend. It was a remarkable ceremony in a very special place, and I want to share some highlights with you. Granted, it’s not every day you are invited to a wedding half a world away but when the bride is from Zambia, of course I RSVP’d “yes!” The adventure began long before my wife, Lauren, and I got on the plane. It started with a trip to the “travel clinic” where we received immunizations, prescriptions for malaria pills and other “travelers’” medications. Three airline…
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Why Juneteenth?

Why Juneteenth?

Executive
My name is Lyle Quasim. I have lived in Pierce County since 1967. I worked for Pierce County as the Chief of Staff for the Pierce County Executive from 2001-2009. I appreciate the opportunity to be this week’s guest blogger providing my comments about Juneteenth. On June 19, 1865, the enslavement of Black African Americans officially ended in Galveston, Texas, two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. In recognition of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the official end of slavery, Juneteenth became a holiday established by the Federal Government, the State of Washington and Pierce County in 2021. Juneteenth commemorates the end of the enslavement of  Black African Americans in the United States. Juneteenth is also referred to as Emancipation Day and Juneteenth Independence Day. The…
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Fewer assumptions, more kindness

Fewer assumptions, more kindness

Executive
With the Executive out of town on an adventure I am sure we will all hear about, I have been asked to be this week’s guest blogger!  And if you know anything about me, I am my least favorite subject, but I am also a rule follower who drew the short straw. To my knowledge, I’m the only Pierce County employee to ever serve at the leadership level in the Legislative and Executive branches. I was former Chair Richardson’s Council Assistant for 7 years, Executive Dammeier’s Executive Assistant for 2 years and now sit on his team as the Legislative Affairs Advisor. In these roles, I’ve seen policy development, strategic planning, budgeting, and public engagement from an initial idea to implementation. What I get asked the most is, “how do…
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On fire

On fire

Executive
One of the best parts of my job as County Executive is getting out and about to learn more about what you do in service to our residents. I’ve watched you and your colleagues chip-seal our roads, make Sound Gro, conduct autopsies, open new parks, operate ferries, repair vehicles, arrest bad guys and much more. Last month, I had an opportunity to spend time with another co-worker doing especially fascinating and critically important work on behalf of our residents. Cole Roberts is the County’s Deputy Fire Marshal, and his work takes him all over the region investigating and determining the causes of fires. It is highly technical work and draws upon his extensive training and years of experience. As we approached the scene of a recent fire, I was amazed…
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A rich tapestry

A rich tapestry

Executive
We have a beautiful gem in our backyard – the Asia Pacific Cultural Center – founded by Patsy Surh O’Connell and led by the incomparable Lua Pritchard. Known as APCC, the center celebrates 47 cultures and countries all under the banner of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage – which reflects the rich tapestry of our community. I look forward to their annual New Year’s celebration which highlights a particular country. It’s an opportunity to reflect on our strong connections to both the local communities and trans-Pacific partners. The food, dancing and music, and colorful dress are incredible! The month of May recognizes Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) countries and culture. Having spent time in many of these countries, one month is hardly enough to celebrate so many…
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Listening

Listening

Executive
This past Wednesday, I joined many of you in a virtual employee Town Hall. I especially appreciate those who submitted questions in advance and participated in the lunchtime get together.  While I was doing a lot of talking - responding to the questions – I was also “listening” carefully to 75+ questions, comments and concerns that were raised – and I read each one. We have all been through so much in the last few years.  It seems like the only certainty is uncertainty.  COVID, social unrest, and supply chain driven shortages of 2020 and 2021 have been compounded by inflation and an epidemic of lawlessness in 2022.  Everyone is struggling with $5 per gallon gas and some are searching frantically for baby formula – against a backdrop of the…
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The promise of play

The promise of play

Executive
Kids need to play.  We all instinctively know it.  If you Google the importance of play you will find many studies validating it, saying things like “Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, cognitive dexterity, and emotional strength.” “Kids Need to Play” was the aptly named Parks program funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) last summer.  In partnership with other parks systems, we deeply discounted access to activities throughout the County to help all our kids get outside and play after being cooped up by COVID. Yesterday, I was invited to make some opening comments at the annual Promise of Play Symposium sponsored by Greentrike (formerly the Children’s Museum).  The Greentrike team, led by Executive Director Tanya Durand, is challenging us to take…
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