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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Across the aisle

Across the aisle

Executive
A fantastic thing occurred this week when people who can often be at odds with one another joined together to achieve a common goal. An assemblage of local and federal elected officials from both sides of the aisle, environmentalists, tribal leaders, and others gathered at the site of the 100-year-old Chambers Creek dam to announce plans to remove the dam, restore the salmon run and renovate the bridge that connects two cities. The agreement was years in the making, in part due to the many stakeholders and varied objectives that needed to be considered. [caption id="attachment_3463" align="aligncenter" width="6088"] Many stakeholders came together to reach an agreement[/caption] I wish I could have attended the press conference to enjoy the celebration of collaboration and compromise.  But the County was well-represented by Don…
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Return to sender

Return to sender

Executive
In 1980, 62% of Pierce County voters chose to eliminate our county commission and replace it with a seven-member county council and elected county executive. When the council and executive disagree, things can get a little messy. Two cases in point: this week’s disagreement over who gets to choose which flags are flown at County buildings, and my veto today of an ordinance permitting homeless parking at civic sites. First some background and context. I represent everyone in Pierce County. A council district might not be very ideologically diverse, but across the county we have a whole spectrum of ideas, opinions, values, and attitudes. It’s my job to ensure that everyone is included, and no one is excluded. That’s not always possible, of course, but I do my best to…
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Two challenges and an opportunity

Two challenges and an opportunity

Executive
Earlier this week I presented our annual State of the County address to a small group of colleagues, community partners and the community (virtually). If you didn’t have a chance to watch the address live, I invite you to view the replay here: [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwnsKItTki0[/embedyt] From my arrival as County Executive, I have talked about the importance and power of partnerships.  In fact, many of you may recall it is one of our five values.  I knew our ability to address the critical challenges facing our community would require partnerships at many levels. Little did I realize that our early work in partnering with our community would be so essential to combating the effects of the pandemic on the people of Pierce County.  The work that our County team did…
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New growth

New growth

Executive
Springtime in my yard is always exciting for me.  I love the energy and freshness as my yard comes back alive from its long winter break.   The birds are chirping when I take Kanga out for a walk in the morning and we seem to have more bunnies than ever! Spring also means work – but satisfying work.  A fresh-cut lawn always looks great.  And of course, there are always new plants or flowers to be planted.  I enjoy bringing a new pop of color to the yard or filling in a gap with a new shrub. Did you know some of our colleagues at the County take “recycling” to a whole new level – and can help bring new growth to your yard or planter box?  Learn more about the…
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Final chapters

Final chapters

Executive
The final play of the game, the last episode of a television series or the final book in a trilogy.  Those are milestones that both mark an end and signal the time to move on to what’s next. This week I de-briefed the results of the State Auditor Office’s extensive 2020 audit with our Finance Team.  This most recent audit included an in-depth review of how Pierce County managed, spent, and accounted for the $158 million in CARES federal funding received to help our community with the impacts of the COVID pandemic. As I have said before, I’m beyond proud of the way we invested those funds into our community during this devastating time. Our teams were quick, innovative and flexible.  They provided PPE, tested and vaccinated our residents, helped…
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Hacked!

Hacked!

Executive
Everyone knows that information security is up to all of us. But the Executive is out of the office and left his laptop vulnerable to being hacked. His mistake means fun for you!  Enjoy this montage of some of his less-than-stellar moments. [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lc3BgRZpRU8[/embedyt] Happy April Fools’ Day!
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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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