The best part of my week

The best part of my week

Executive
I am very proud of how our community has responded to the Coronavirus outbreak.  It brings us challenge after challenge, yet our teams work to find solutions time and time again.  Our Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and Emergency Management unified command team has been exceptional - and the leadership coming out of the Emergency Operations Center has been rock solid. One of the biggest challenges facing our community is feeding the children who normally have been fed up to two meals a day at school.  When the schools were closed, children lost their access to those healthy meals - and the connection to the caring adults at their local schools.  Many of these children come from families on the margin to begin with – with parents or caregivers most likely…
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Uncharted waters

Uncharted waters

Executive
I love nautical charts.  They give me a sense of confidence, imply adventure, and are packed with information describing the environment both above and below the water.  Wrecks, rocks, currents, tides, harbors, channels – even magnetic deviation – it is all there to help a sailor get safely from one port to another.   I even have some as artwork! As I boat on the Sound (with both charts AND GPS), I often think about what it would be like to sail in uncharted waters.  To have been with the first native people or early explorers venturing into and around the Salish Sea for the first time. How do you proceed into waters that are unknown and uncertain? I think all of us can relate much more closely these days with…
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By the numbers until…

By the numbers until…

Executive
As we all try to process the COVID-19 outbreak, we are being inundated with numbers. One of the most impressive websites is the interactive map made provided by Johns Hopkins University (https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html). I watch the number of our residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 very closely (as of today, 83 positive cases out of 1,695 tested).  Less than 5% of those tested in Pierce County are currently returning positive results.  Yet the number of residents being tested is increasing – including a new drive-up testing site at the Tacoma Dome opening this weekend – so the number of positives will continue to move up. These numbers are important for us to understand the outbreak and help give our Pierce County team and our community perspective.  But, we must remember…
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Census lauches today and Pierce County is ready!

Executive
  I know we are all focused on COVID-19 (Coronavirus). It has dominated our work and disrupted our family life. I appreciate everyone's dedication and commitment to serving the residents of Pierce County - they need us now more than ever! You can view my latest video update below: [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZ2Hls0h0MQ[/embedyt] But, there are important initiatives happening in our country. And, one of the most significant is the 2020 Census. I've asked our Auditor, Julie Anderson, to take over this week's blog to tell us more.     In like a lion and out like a lamb? No such luck. March is jam-packed with national news playing out on Pierce County’s doorstep. March 9, 2020             Pierce County confirms seven COVID-19 cases March 10, 2020           Presidential…
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Keep calm and wash your hands!

Keep calm and wash your hands!

Executive
You may have heard that Vice President Pence stopped by Camp Murray on Thursday. I was very thankful for the opportunity last night to meet with the Vice President and CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield directly about our situation, our needs and our concerns regarding COVID-19.  I’m grateful the Vice President came not bearing gifts but thousands of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) supplies - our first responders need it. In preparation for my meeting with the Vice President, I connected with local fire, police, healthcare, public health officials, and our DEM team.  My comments to both Vice President Pence and Dr. Redfield were based on those frontline needs and concerns. Specifically, I shared the need to update the protocols for ensuring first responders and medical staff are safe to continue…
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In charge of a city

In charge of a city

Executive
Happy Leap Day! When you spend time with the Corrections deputies in the Jail, you hear them use the word “family” quite a bit.  During my recent visit it was obvious they mean it. You know that feeling in your family that you are happy to pick on each other, but heaven help the person that messes with your sister or brother?  That was definitely the feeling I got as I toured the Main and Old jails this week.  And, you can imagine why.  It’s critical in their unique work environment that the Corrections “family” have the back of their fellow deputies. I met many amazing people on my tour.  Two deputies at opposite ends of their tenure with the team stood out to me. Nathan Cote is a new…
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Local author and local history

Local author and local history

Executive
I first met Judge Frank Cuthbertson in a year-long leadership class nearly nearly 20 years ago.  I was (and still am!) impressed by Judge Cuthbertson from the start.  Yes, by his intellect, but more by his heart.  His compassion for his community stood out strongly.  As well as his commitment to his family AND his sense of justice for our community. [caption id="attachment_2265" align="aligncenter" width="2315"] Judge Frank Cuthbertson[/caption] Frank shared recently an article he wrote and I wanted to share it with you, as well.  I found it very powerful.  Think of how challenging it was to be an early pioneer in our state and then to add these exclusionary laws that attack you for being who you are. How Black Exclusion Laws Led the Earliest African-American Settlers to Washington State February is…
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Water, water everywhere

Water, water everywhere

Executive
Record-setting rain has wreaked havoc on the Puget Sound region. Last Friday I spent the day with Emergency Management/Roads/Surface Water Management to see their planning and recovery work first-hand. We started our day at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) where a strong team came from multiple departments and disciplines to gather information and respond with solutions. The coordination and teamwork were fantastic to see in action. [caption id="attachment_2245" align="aligncenter" width="4032"] The team at the EOC was ready for anything[/caption] It gave me great confidence that this team was prepared and ready to handle what happened – and what could have happened. Because some things can only be appreciated first-hand, we hopped in a 4-wheel drive vehicle and headed up to see the flooding and landslides that affected our rivers and…
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The same and different

The same and different

Executive
The annual Point-in-Time count has been completed and the results are being reviewed and analyzed.  While very important and key to helping us develop solutions, they are still just numbers. I go out with the overnight team to help ensure those numbers are the most accurate they can be, but also to see the human side of homelessness – face to face.  As I have said many times, there is no substitute to seeing the people and the challenges first-hand. On a cold and rainy January night two weeks ago, we gathered at 9 p.m. at the Soundview Building.  We received our assignments and set out in cars filled with the coats, blankets and other donated items that many of you contributed.  In the photo below you will see Valeri…
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In sickness and health

In sickness and health

Executive
As I mentioned in last week’s blog, today’s edition was going to be about the Point-in-Time count of individuals experiencing homelessness.  And, that was the plan, until this morning I heard a story so powerful that I decided to “stop the presses” to share it with you as soon as possible. Every three months I meet with directors and their leadership teams to review and discuss their performance to the goals we’ve laid out in Open Pierce County.  As I hope you already know, we provide the details on each department’s performance online and these quarterly meetings give me a chance to discuss accomplishments and identify areas for improvement.  This is part of our commitment to being accountable to our residents. I was in the middle of one of these…
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The power of a story

The power of a story

Executive
If you have followed my blog for any period of time, you know I love to read.  I love to travel to new places and times and learn about the challenges people have confronted.  I have recently “heard” some powerful stories and wanted to share them with you. The first is “Togo” – it’s not a book but a recently released movie about the diphtheria outbreak that threatened to devastate Nome, Alaska in 1925 – especially the children. Many may remember hearing that a team of dog sleds combined to bring an antitoxin serum to the remote community - a run of over 700 miles in the harshest possible conditions.  (This feat spawned the annual Iditarod dog sled race.) The main characters are Leonhard Seppala, a Norwegian immigrant and renowned…
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A day to remember

A day to remember

Executive
One day is certainly not enough to consider and advance the work and mission of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But this Monday does give us the time and opportunity to remember, reflect and challenge ourselves. The holiday provides us with the chance to step back and ask ourselves some hard questions.  How are we doing? What more can we do to create a more just and equitable Pierce County?  I invite you to send your thoughts to me. For about a year we have been focused on our internal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative.  I appreciate the many County leaders who have taken on the challenge to seek ways to recruit and hire a more diverse workforce and provide ways for every employee to be included and respected.  While…
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Thankful for the holidays, but…

Thankful for the holidays, but…

Executive
We’ve begun a new year and Thanksgiving is a distant memory. But I still have an overwhelming sense of gratitude and a strong need to offer some special thanks. I wrote about Cooper Dyson, the deputy we tragically lost, in last week’s blog. Those of us who attended or watched his memorial service owe a debt of gratitude to those who made the powerful ceremony possible. Our Sheriff’s department stepped up strongly to ensure Deputy Dyson was honored in an appropriate and loving manner.  I’m grateful to Sheriff Pastor, Chief Blair and the many others who gave our community the honor of sharing their grief. You may not realize it but behind the department were hundreds of people working around the clock, giving up their holidays, vacations, and family gatherings…
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A look back

A look back

Executive
Did you make a new year’s resolution?  Are you planning ahead for a dream vacation or a big purchase in 2020? At this time of year, we tend to look to the future with excitement and anticipation of what the next 12 months will hold for us. But, in this week’s blog I want to take one last look at 2019.  Together, we accomplished a great deal for the people we serve.  I invite you to take a look at the video below to see some of the highlights.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeWTzfuqfJw&showinfo=0?modestbranding=1?rel=0 Thanks, again, for your work in 2019 to make Pierce County a place where people choose to live, work and raise a family.  I’m excited to see what we will make happen in the year ahead!     Bruce…
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In the dark of the night

In the dark of the night

Executive
Domestic violence calls are some of the most dangerous calls our deputies face.  High emotions frequently fueled with drugs or alcohol can be an unpredictable and deadly combination. Two of our deputies recently responded to a domestic violence call involving a 22-year-old man, energized by drugs.  He was threatening his mother and six-year-old sister with a shotgun reported on the premises and our deputies were on high alert.  But when they had trouble subduing the assailant, the call went out for help. Deputy Cooper Dyson rushed to assist his fellow deputies.  Tragically, on that dark and rainy early morning, Deputy Dyson lost control of his patrol vehicle and crashed on 112th near Golden Given Road.  He passed away at the scene. According to those who knew him, Deputy Dyson loved being…
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Comfort and joy

Comfort and joy

Executive
There is something about the holiday season that brings out the best in people.  One of the great aspects of my role with the County is that I get glimpses of what is happening all across the County.  Over the last week alone I’ve seen many examples of Pierce County people taking care of each other. While the acts of caring and service vary greatly, the common thread is that folks are looking beyond themselves to bring a bit a joy or a moment of kindness to someone else. For example, last Saturday a local church in University Place hosted a holiday gathering for 56 families that would not otherwise have much to celebrate.  Thanks to some amazing people – including our own Judge Jack Nevin – 250 children were…
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Simply the best

Simply the best

Executive
A group of Pierce County partners has been working for some time to ensure court-involved people who are dealing with a mental illness can receive the care and treatment they need. This week, that work was recognized by the Washington state chapter of NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) with their 2019 Criminal Justice Award.    NAMI, a national advocacy group founded by family members of people diagnosed with mental illness, identifies its mission as being "dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.” [caption id="attachment_2127" align="aligncenter" width="4032"] Pierce County representatives receive the 2019 Criminal Justice Award from NAMI[/caption] This award recognizes the Sheriff’s Department’s operations and jail division, Superior Court, District Court, Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Department of Assigned Counsel, Human Services, and their…
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Light in the darkness

Light in the darkness

Executive
This time of year can be gloomy, dark and rather dreary.  The days are short – we wake up to darkness and go home at the end of the work day the same way. As we head into the holiday season, I am struck by some of the conflicts and divisions in our larger world.  Finding paths forward and places of commonality can seem remote. These two topics come together for me when I consider the various holiday and faith traditions of the people of Pierce County - and how light is common to many of them. Whether it’s the candle headdress of the St. Lucia’s Day celebration in Scandinavia or the fireworks of the Chinese New Year a month later, our community has many ways to bring light into…
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Gratitude

Gratitude

Executive
It’s a short week so I’m treating you to a short blog! For those of you old enough to remember David Letterman and his Top Ten lists, I’ve compiled my own list of things I’m thankful for. In no particular order… 10. National Adoption Day - Last week at Juvenile Court,  14 children were placed in their forever homes!  It was an amazingly touching event for these children and their new families – and extended families and even neighborhoods coming to support and celebrate.  That brings the total number of children connected with permanent families at 354 in 2019! 9. Ice Bumper Cars – We are one of only 13 places in the U.S. where you can have this kind of fun on the ice! Check out what Evening Magazine had…
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The power to choose

The power to choose

Executive
Having the ability to make choices is a foundation of freedom and dignity.  It is a powerful principle that drives us – and as I look at Pierce County, it both motivates and challenges me. You can even see the word “choose” in our mission statement: “A vibrant Pierce County where people choose to live, work and raise a family.” Recognizing that people have choices - investors, employers, employees, residents – means we need to always challenge ourselves to be the best for our community. I spoke at the South Sound Summit hosted by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber last week and talked about the power of “choices.” I hope everyone is aware that I am working hard to recruit new investment in Pierce County to bring family wage jobs.  Simply put, if…
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