Blog

Pierce County CARES

Pierce County CARES

Executive
Pierce County received $158 million in federal funds via the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act).  The law allocated the funds to local governments over 500,000 population, so we were one of only five in Washington State (others were King, Snohomish, Spokane counties and Seattle).   This funding came with three significant restrictions: Must be spent on COVID-related expenses. Must not be spent on currently budgeted items – can’t replace projected decreases in sales tax. Must be spent by December 31, 2020. Beyond that we have significant flexibility. The challenge is how best to use those funds, very quickly, to respond to the current emergency, prepare for a potential “second wave,” and help our community recover.  This presents a critical opportunity and challenge for us – in a…
Read More
Generous people

Generous people

Executive
[caption id="attachment_2369" align="aligncenter" width="5000"] Caregiver, carer hand holding elder hand in hospice care. Philanthropy kindness to disabled concept.[/caption] The name Puyallup can mean “generous people” and the phrase definitely reflects the history and character of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians.  It is also a quality I see in many of my neighbors in my hometown of Puyallup. But that quality of generosity extends throughout Pierce County, as I was reminded poignantly this week. This letter showed up on my desk recently with a check for $200. I appreciated Mr. Foster’s act of generosity, so I decided to call and thank him personally. I learned that Pierce County was not the only recipient of his kindness. He decided to give away the entire $1200 he received from his federal relief check.…
Read More
A bigger donor

A bigger donor

Executive
I am a pretty healthy guy – something I take less for granted in our current coronavirus outbreak.  And I have some very good veins and am O+, which means my blood can help a lot of different people.   So, I take nearly every chance I can to donate blood. The coronavirus outbreak caused a shortage of donors, so I donated a pint back on March 14th. Additionally, I talked my wife, Lauren, into donating and she stepped up on March 27th. I felt pretty good about our efforts. Little did I know that one of our Pierce County co-worker’s donations was bigger – and by a lot. Some of you may know Scott Roth, a program manager in Planning & Public Works.  Scott served proudly in the U.S. Marine Corps,…
Read More
Not enough words

Not enough words

Executive
The words “thank you” are inadequate to express my appreciation and gratitude to those of you working long days and nights and through the weekends to make sure our residents are taken care of and that the work of the County continues on as best as possible. The demands of the last few weeks have taken you away from your families and added a tremendous amount of stress to an already challenging time. Day after day you have been creative, innovative and dedicated in your efforts to provide care, concern and support to our residents.  And, they are grateful! Here’s a note I couldn’t wait to share with you: Well done, PPW!  I’m grateful for the hard work you are doing, exceeding the expectations of our residents! This next note…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More

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 Primary…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More
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…
Read More