Blog

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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Driving to a solution

Driving to a solution

Executive
When the public speaks, all of us in government should listen carefully. We are public servants who owe our greatest respect to our fellow citizens and taxpayers. Last Tuesday the public we serve spoke loudly and clearly when they voted to approve Initiative 976, which reduces the cost of car tabs. In Pierce County, it was approved by nearly two-thirds of the voters and, remarkably, was passing in the vast majority of precincts in Pierce County (see below). The statewide measure also passed in nearly every county in Washington, except for King, Thurston, and four other counties. [caption id="attachment_2082" align="aligncenter" width="762"] Credit: Joe Izenman[/caption] Before the election, King 5 reporter Drew Mikkelsen asked me if I was going to vote for the initiative. I said “yes” because I’m frustrated that…
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Breaking good

Breaking good

Executive
On Wednesday, we gathered as a community to symbolically break the ground that will form the foundation of the new Crisis Recovery Center (or CRC) that will be built in Parkland. It’s been estimated that 1 in every 5 people will experience a behavioral health challenge at some point in their life. That’s why I’m so grateful to know that help is on the way for our friends, neighbors and family members in crisis. The video below will tell you more, but I want to take a moment to recognize the many groups and individuals who came together to create a place of healing and wellness for our community. [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rC3tzg5BYnQ[/embedyt] Steve O’Ban on the Executive team headed up the effort to secure funding and get the project off the…
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Be prepared

Be prepared

Executive
Most of you know that I am inherently optimistic. I look for and hope for the best in people and situations.  However, in this job I have had to adjust my approach slightly to “hope for the best but prepare for the worst!” For example, I am very excited that our local wildland fire season has ended with the fall rains and cooler weather.  It was a very mild fire season and we did not have either the fires or smoke in Pierce County like last year.  (Please keep our friends in California in your thoughts as they are battling several serious fires and related power outages.) But as the fire season fades into the background, floods and winter storms step up to take its place! That’s why I’m especially…
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Night stars

Night stars

Executive
One of my favorite events of the year took place this week. I love going to the Employee Recognition Reception each year.  It’s great fun to co-host with Chair Doug Richardson and Maura Maye – both of whom are quick-witted and have a great sense of humor! But, my favorite part of the night is recognizing the people and teams that really exemplify our values and culture at Pierce County. This year’s honorees are no exception. I know that I previously blogged about the award recipients, but the videos shared at the reception were so powerful that I knew you would want to see them, too. So, for those of you who weren’t able to join us at the reception, here are the videos with five great reasons to be…
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Eye in the sky

Eye in the sky

Executive
  Our Sheriff’s department has an amazing set of “tools” to help keep us safe – and help us when we need it most. In a previous blog I introduced you to their swiftwater team and Councilmember Dave Morell did a great profile of the marine services patrol unit:   [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5phZmFoa9k[/embedyt]   [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqX0wmNy-10[/embedyt]   I recently had the great opportunity to take a flight on a beautiful sunny day with Deputies Robert Malloy and Emily Holznagel of the Sheriff’s aviation team to learn more about what they do from their perch in the sky. Come take a ride via this video: [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E71X_v5DVzo[/embedyt] Here are a few other interesting facts about our aviation team: They have two Cessna 206 aircraft, which are very cost-effective and allow a long…
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This ability!

This ability!

Executive
The month of October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.  You may not have heard of that recognition before, but it has been celebrated for 70 years! Dictionary.com defines the word "ability" as: “competence in an activity or occupation because of one's skill, training, or other qualification.”  You’ll notice there was no mention made of one’s physical mobility or sensory capability. As you are likely aware, we have made Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) a priority at Pierce County.  This week’s blog focuses on the inclusive part of that initiative. Being an inclusive employer means people get to belong and contribute – regardless of physical capability or perceived limitation. Having a more inclusive work environment gives us the opportunity to benefit from the contributions of all of us. Having said that,…
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