Devastating

Devastating

Executive
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department SWAT Team is really more like a family.  They represent “the best of the best” of our deputies and train extensively as a team.  Like a family, they have each other's backs.  They also have special equipment, tactics and personnel - including negotiators, a K-9 and a doctor. I have seen them in action firsthand - both in training and on a callout. Some of you may be surprised to know that one of the benefits of all that training, teamwork and preparation is that they rarely fire their weapons on a call - despite what you see on the TV show SWAT.  Most of the time, the team’s presence and approach convinces the “bad guy” to surrender without a fight - and that is…
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Moving on

Executive
[caption id="attachment_3388" align="aligncenter" width="624"] Photo credit: Seattle Times[/caption] Despite the increased conjecture over the last couple of years, I was not ready for the announcement that Russell Wilson had been traded to Denver.  And the reactions of people I talked with were across the board. Some frustrated Seahawks fans wished him good riddance, while others thought it was the worst possible move the team leadership could make – and everything in between (Die-hard Broncos fan, Mary Ransier, was especially thrilled with the trade.). For me, the 2014 Super Bowl win over the Broncos was so sweet (Remember that, Mary?) – and I yearned to return to that Seahawks team – young, brash, world-beaters.  Wilson was an incredibly talented quarterback and team leader.  He was a man of character who visited…
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A ray of hope

A ray of hope

Executive
Let’s face it.  It’s been a hard week.  Like many of you, I have been closely watching the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Certainly, Putin vastly underestimated the spirit of independence of the Ukrainian people.  Sadly, he is not backing down, and we are seeing the war escalate – with civilians now in the crosshairs. At some level, it feels like we are reliving the Nazi invasions of their neighbors in 1939 as we hear about the brutality that is happening. It’s difficult to watch the latest developments without feeling helpless and depressed. I expect you feel some of this, too, and I want to remind you that we provide the Employee Assistance Program to help you work through difficult times. However, I had one of my favorite and inspiring…
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Redemption

Redemption

Executive
Sometimes all a person needs to turn their life around is for someone to believe in them. That’s where Dominique Hardeman comes in. Dom oversees the probation program for District Court.  He also manages the Court Resource Center that provides those exiting incarceration the services they need for a hopeful and positive transition to the community. His work to give people a chance for redemption is inspiring and lifechanging. His belief in the power of encouraging support and action gives us all reason to be proud.  I find him to be one of the most positive and innovative leaders in Pierce County – and that is saying something! I invite you learn more about Dom and his passion to foster redemption and renewal for court-involved individuals in District Court –…
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Progress

Progress

Executive
Many people and departments across the County are doing the critically important work to create both safe AND just communities for all our residents. As you may remember, our Criminal Justice Workgroup (made up of leaders from the Prosecutor’s Office, the Sheriff’s Department, the Department of Assigned Council, and the Executive’s Office) has been providing both transparency and reform recommendations to promote a more just system.   Previously, they have issued two important reports that provide crucial insight into the criminal justice system.  The first report reviewed key policies and procedures as well as an analysis of arrest data Countywide, and the second report was a comprehensive review of the use of force by the Sheriff’s Department.  I wrote about this work in a recent blog. These are important first steps…
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Going for the gold

Going for the gold

Executive
Every four years, many of us settle into our favorite comfy chair and watch amazing athletes from around the world pull off stunning physical achievements, under the banner of their home country. The strength, agility and stamina on display are truly inspiring.  Although there is often some controversy attached to the Olympic Games, it is impossible to not be captivated by the stories of the competitors.  You can’t watch the competition without respect for the unseen years of practice, repetition and sacrifice that make their Olympics dreams possible – and a healthy dose of national pride. This year's Games in Beijing had very special meaning for me, as my nephew, Ben Ogden, is competing as a cross-country skier for Team USA! Like athletes’ families from across the globe, due to the pandemic…
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Looking back to move forward

Looking back to move forward

Executive
We are publishing our second annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) report today. While it may seem as if we still have a long road ahead of us in our goal to ensure everyone has “a seat at the table,” it is reassuring to see how far we’ve come. You’ll see in the report – linked below – that decisions we’ve made have helped us move forward in our goal to have the racial makeup of our County workforce reflect that of our County residents. For example, we instituted a change to how we bring on “extra hire” employees so that we now have an open, competitive process instead of the old practice of hiring based on “who you know.”  As a result, we’ve broadened the potential pool of candidates…
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Reclaimed

Reclaimed

Executive
There are many ways a piece of private property can fall into a terrible condition.  A family medical issue may distract a homeowner.  The loss of a job may delay home repairs or maintenance.  Or advancing age may prevent an older person from caring for their home as they had for years.  Many times a neighbor may come over to help out, or a church youth group or service club. But, too many times the property goes unaddressed – accumulating junk cars or solid waste – to the point where it impacts the community. That’s when our Code Enforcement Team goes to work.  Their job is helping maintain our community standards (as represented by our Pierce County Code).  Most of the time, they can work with the property owner to…
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Trapped

Trapped

Executive
Did you know that we live in one of the worst places in the nation for human trafficking?  Due to our proximity to an international airport, JBLM, I-5, and the Port, the state of Washington is the second worst state and Tacoma is seventh worst city on the list of where traffickers find and exploit victims. On any given day, between 300 and 500 people - some as young as 11 years old - are trafficked in the Puget Sound area for labor or sex.  I admit I was shocked and disgusted to learn the details of how trafficking is devastating people in Pierce County. January is Anti-Human Trafficking Month and we’ve created a series of social posts and ads to raise awareness for young people, provide resources for help,…
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Umoja

Umoja

Executive
    I learned a new word – from a different culture – reflecting an important value that is critically needed in our community, country and world. Everywhere I go, I talk with people who are tired, frustrated and, frankly, cranky.  Two years of COVID and the associated loss, uncertainty and stress, have many in our community on edge. So, as I was looking forward to the holiday honoring Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I found myself looking back at the winter holiday season just concluded.  Part of the Kwanzaa tradition focuses on umoja, or unity.  Umoja is a Swahili word and represents the first of the Seven Principles that are celebrated during Kwanzaa each December. I mention this because as I look at our nation, and even our…
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Let’s chat

Let’s chat

Executive
It has been a wild two weeks for many of our County colleagues.  Getting snow off miles of our county roads and protecting our unhoused community from subfreezing temperatures took the urgent efforts of many in our Planning & Public Works, Emergency Management and Human Services Departments. And just as the snow was clearing, Omicron and other factors caused a spike in demand of COVID tests.  Our Department of Emergency Management (DEM) team pivoted, expanding and opening new testing sites to serve our community. Despite continuous rain yesterday and high winds today, our DEM staff, augmented by volunteers from other County departments, will have tested over 10,000 people at our mass testing sites this week.  And now the warming temperatures and rain have us watching our rivers carefully and responding…
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Oh, the weather outside is frightful

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

Executive
It is the season for holiday songs on the radio, Pandora, and Spotify.  I can’t imagine you haven’t heard “Let is Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow” at least once.  This iconic song starts out with these lyrics: “Oh, the weather outside is frightful But the fire is so delightful And since we've no place to go Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” I hope that was the case for you and your family this week.  With few power outages, school out, and remote work possible for some, I hope the snow was a beautiful change to our normally wet winter weather routine. The snow also was a huge barrier and potentially dangerous to some of our residents that had “places to go” (like essential workers,…
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What we’ve learned

What we’ve learned

Executive
We all know that 2020 was a difficult, exhausting year.  I know I expected 2021 to be a bit easier, with us well on our way to recovery.  As I wrote in last week’s blog, I was wrong! The past 12 months have taught or reinforced important lessons - about ourselves, our community and our world. 2021 taught us the importance and power of connection.  We went months without seeing people we love, without a hug or handshake, and without meaningful human interactions. That loss is not quickly filled but it has been wonderful to safely gather, again.  Two weeks ago, our church held the Christmas Concert – with both the children and adult choirs.  Even with everyone masked, it was reinvigorating to see people I hadn’t seen in person…
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Not quite what I was expecting, but….

Not quite what I was expecting, but….

Executive
At the end of the year, I always take the time to reflect back on the challenges we faced and what we accomplished.  For 2021, I thought back to where I was a year ago, with 2020 finally wrapping up and looking forward to the new year.  Here are three things I did not see coming that we had to confront in 2021: Vaccine Boosters. I was eager for the vaccines to be widely available and COVID to fade away by early summer.  I did not expect the Delta Wave in September and the need for booster shots!  I am “boosted” and hope you are too! The Great Supply Chain Disruption. So many things we need at work or at home are being delayed! The Great Resignation. A variety of…
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Holly, jolly

Holly, jolly

Executive
One of the old classic holiday songs made memorable by Andy Williams describes this month as “the most wonderful time of the year.”  (If you have no idea who Andy Williams is, you can Google him!) And, it is a wonderful time of the year, thanks to our hard-working Parks department. With delightful activities like the beloved Fantasy Lights or the new Ice Lights at Sprinker, there’s something for everyone who wants to get out of their house and enjoy some wonderful moments with family and friends. Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park is the largest holiday drive-through display in the Northwest, featuring nearly 300 elaborate displays and thousands of sparkling lights. The beautiful two-mile drive along Spanaway Lake has become a memorable tradition for the entire family. Be sure to…
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Investing in yourself

Investing in yourself

Executive
On Tuesday, I joined a group of our County colleagues who are investing in themselves and our ability to better serve our community - at the latest “graduation” from our Leadership Certification program.  This talented group of employees included veteran leaders, new leaders, and aspiring leaders.  It ranged from people in formal leadership positions, like department directors, to informal leaders.  The class included people from 15 departments throughout our County team.  What they had in common was their belief in themselves and the importance of leadership as a skill to be developed.  And they knew becoming a better leader would help them in both their professional and their personal lives. More than 160 people have earned the Bronze, Silver, or Instructor leadership certifications in this year alone.  I can’t thank Mary Ransier…
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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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