Déjà vu?

Déjà vu?

Executive
The ink is barely dry on the 2017 supplemental budget, but it is already budget season again! A special thanks to Gary Robinson, Jim Dickman, Julie Demuth, and the rest of the Finance team for their great work and amazing commitment to getting this budget proposal put together. (more…)
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Vox populi

Vox populi

Executive
This week’s blog is titled “Vox populi.”  For those of you who don’t know Latin, it means “the voice of the people.” Our community and our government depend on the active involvement of “the people” for support and vitality.  They are volunteers, committee members, coaches, mentors and voters. Two gatherings this week were great examples of the importance of actively engaging with the people we serve. The first meeting was held last Sunday night at the Greenwater Fire Department. About 150 local residents gathered to hear the latest information about the Sawmill Creek and Norse Peak fires that threatened their homes. The Incident Command team did a great job explaining the steps the firefighters had taken to protect the region and what they could expect in the hours and days…
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Fire and flood – what’s next?

Fire and flood – what’s next?

Executive
  Our Department of Emergency Management (DEM) could not have asked for a better setup for Emergency Preparedness Month.  Flooding in Texas, fires near Crystal Mountain with the ever-present smoke in the air, an 8.0 earthquake in Mexico and now Irma is bearing down on Florida! I was up in Greenwater and at Crystal Mountain this morning checking on the efforts of the more than 400 people fighting that fire in extremely rugged terrain. Incredibly, the Norse Peak Fire has now burned more than 70 square miles of forest. Checking out the fire with Buckley Chief Alan Predmore Getting briefed by fire officials While wildfires, hurricanes and flooding are in the news today, the odds of a serious earthquake hitting our region are high. We are perched on an active…
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Professionalism – Respect – Compassion

Professionalism – Respect – Compassion

Executive
There are some who equate being professional with dispassionate detachment. Furthermore, there are more who characterize government as uncaring and without regard for individuals. On Wednesday, I witnessed two occasions where our employees’ actions countered both of these assertions. In fact, they demonstrated this highest professionalism, with respect and compassion for our citizens – both living and dead. Have you ever met Deputy Ed Roberts? If you have, you would not soon forget him. First, he is huge (he barely fits into our Ford Explorer patrol vehicles) – and speaks with a distinct Boston accent. He served in the Marine Corps and then with the Special Forces in the Army, before joining the Sheriff’s Department 14 years ago. Ed is well respected by his fellow deputies and officers alike. Needless…
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Total eclipse – and more!

Total eclipse – and more!

Executive
Where were you when the sky turned dark?  Okay, let’s be honest.  Around here, the sky didn’t look dramatically different but the eclipse was still a cool rarity to witness. I was at the STOP facility filming a video on emergency preparedness for DEM when the eclipse occurred.  It was fun to step outside with the staff and look to the sky.  I borrowed a pair of official glasses and was amazed at the sight – also by the strange shadows from the trees. In contrast to some of the issues from last week’s blog, the eclipse seemed to transcend our differences and allow our country to share a moment of unity.   Nice! As part of the DEM video I was also over at the Spanaway/Parkland precinct this week. I…
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Seeing a brighter future

Seeing a brighter future

Executive
I’ve been offended and disgusted by the racist language and horrible imagery on display in Virginia.  When you add to it North Korea developing nuclear missile capability and another horrific vehicle attack in Europe, it’s no wonder that folks on social media are asking to see cat videos and photos of babies.  It is easy to get depressed and discouraged. As I struggled with the ugliness, violence and hatred experienced in Charlottesville, two gatherings this week have given me cause for hope for our future here in Pierce County. On Wednesday I attended a celebration to recognize the 100-Day Challenge to End Youth Homelessness.  If you haven’t heard of it, some of our colleagues in Human Services partnered with a number of service agencies, nonprofits and the City of Tacoma…
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Thinking about the unthinkable

Thinking about the unthinkable

Executive
I have just returned from vacation, rested from a peaceful few days on the waters of Puget Sound and parts north. Despite the smoke from the B.C. fires, I can assure you that a terrorist attack was not in the forefront of my mind as we anchored at some pristine inlets.  That is, until I walked into a counterterrorism exercise last Tuesday morning. I had been asked to welcome the Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop this week.  As I prepared for the remarks and reviewed the agenda, exercise pre-reads and attendance list, the importance of the gathering was magnified. Thanks to the leadership and foresight of Lowell Porter and Scott Heinze in DEM, we hosted, along with Tacoma, Puyallup and Lakewood, an amazing assembly of first responders, law enforcement, medical professionals,…
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Making a difference

Making a difference

Executive
While the Executive is out on vacation, it gives me a chance to step in and share my perspective on Pierce County. When Bruce returns next Monday, he will be devoting much of his time to putting together a budget proposal for 2018. It will be a lot of numbers but behind those numbers are real people. Two personal experiences I’ve had over the last few days illustrate the problems real people face every day and the very real difference people like you make to improve their quality of life. Last week I went grocery shopping at the Safeway store on South Hill. When I got out of the car, I heard a woman screaming. I turned to see an enraged man beating her with his fists. A second man…
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Gone fishin’

Gone fishin’

Executive
To be clear, I am not a fisherman.  My grandfather was a legend out of Horsehead Bay in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  Many folks would see his boat heading out and see it as a sign that fish were running.  I chose this week’s blog title because of the image it conveys to me – time out on the water, away from the cares and pressures of work. While I won’t be fishing while I'm on vacation, I will be joining friends on their boat and cruising the San Juan Islands.  If you have never been there in the summer, I would encourage you to add it to your bucket list.  The San Juan Islands are a very special place of natural beauty, great for boating, biking and…
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Happy new year!

Happy new year!

Executive
  Although we’re only seven months through the year with a recently approved Supplemental Budget for 2017, we are already keenly focused on the 2018 budget. For 6 to 8 hours each week, members of our Executive and Finance teams are meeting with department directors to review their budgets, discuss proposed new initiatives and evaluate process improvements.  We’re asking lots of questions and having great conversations about ways to enhance the services we provide our residents.  At the same time, we are looking hard at the resources – prioritizing expenditures so that we can make new investments in key priority areas for our citizens and our employees. These reviews are in the window-less conference room on the 7th Floor, so it keeps us focused on the budget and not distracted…
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Oh, baby!

Oh, baby!

Executive
This week’s blog is warm and sunny – just like the amazing weather we’ve been enjoying recently. It was inspired by the recent baby bonanza we’ve been experiencing on the 7th floor of the County City Building.  I’d swear there is something in the water around here.  We’ve had six babies born in recent months – three in the last week, alone! Baby Blair Although she was born in March, I wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to talk about my first grandchild, Blair.  She is pictured here (in the stroller) with her new BFF, Evie (in the front pack), as well as our dog, Bosco.  Lauren and I were fortunate enough to draw babysitting duty while all the parents took a break.  We happily took them for a walk…
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Lessons learned from Deputy Wiggins

Lessons learned from Deputy Wiggins

Executive
You can learn a lot from a person, when you spend 7 hours on a Friday night riding in a patrol Tahoe. The lessons I learned from Deputy Fred Wiggins will linger -- long past the time we recently spent together on the swing shift. For those of you who have not met him, Deputy Wiggins is a 4-year veteran of our Pierce County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD).  Previously, he spent 10 years with the Department of Corrections and is a proud WSU grad – are there any other kind of WSU grads? Teamwork The importance of teamwork was made crystal clear when Deputy Wiggins received a call to do a welfare check on a 1-year-old in a home known to have multiple felons connected to it.  Deputy Wiggins knew the…
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Cutting red tape!

Cutting red tape!

Executive
One of the priorities I set out in the State of the County address is fueling economic development and creating family-wage jobs for those who live in Pierce County.  The Council also identified this as one of its four focus areas this year. Driving more economic investment in Pierce County depends on many things, including a predictable permitting process.  Like you, I’ve seen promising projects stall or even get cancelled due to permitting delays and confusing processes. Some time ago Dennis Hanberg and his team in the former PALS set out an ambitious goal: to be the Best Permitting Agency in the state.  They have made tremendous strides and I applaud their commitment to continuous improvement without lowering standards. The Red Tape Reduction Taskforce was convened in January to assist…
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A balancing act

A balancing act

Executive
It’s easy to get caught up in our professional lives and lose sight of our lives outside of our work at the County – especially if you are working “12 on, 12 off” de-icing our roads for days at a time! However, ultimately, I encourage you to maintain a healthy balance in your life – making time with friends, family, fitness and other things that are important to you like faith and hobbies. [caption id="attachment_255" align="alignright" width="211"] A bicyclist (not me) on the trail.[/caption]We all have different ideas of what it means to be fit.  For me, it’s being able to go on my favorite 65-mile bike ride from my house to the Carbon River entrance to Mount Rainier and back again, including the Foothills Trail.  When I met with the Parks…
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Key partners

Key partners

Executive
Some of the most critical challenges facing our County and our citizens can't be addressed by our staff alone.  Mental health, homelessness, growing family wage jobs and preserving our natural environment - while we play a key role, it takes the collaboration of other strong partners to successfully confront these and other important issues. One series of critical partners that may not have been top of mind for you is our many labor unions. However, as we work to be innovative in the delivery of services, to increase effectiveness and have a professional workforce now and into the future, strong collaboration with our 21 bargaining units is crucial. That's why I have been hosting the leaders of our many labor unions in my office. Our conversations have been candid and…
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