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A side note:  Over the course of building this website, I’ve managed to collect quite a few (over 100) photographs I have taken over the years and have put on the home page banner.  If you need some visual renewal, just refresh the home page (press F5) and they will randomly appear.  You can also view the month’s featured photo at “View From The End of Town.”    Hope you enjoy them.

January, 2023:

Happy New Year!  Time to move forward.

Welcome to 2023.  Admittedly I have to pinch myself, it seems like 1990 wasn’t that long ago, but dang – it’s over 30 years now.  But I digress….

The world has new challenges and much of the same old ones; and the worse thing about doing something about things is doing nothing about them.  (Now, that’s profound!) That being said, here’s a few things individuals, organizations, and government, in particular can do to help make this crazy world a little more sane and happy.

On a personal level; resolutions for the New Year will include playing more music, drawing more cartoons, eating better, hiking and walking more, and trying to remain confident and happy.  We’ll see how it goes.

At the start of the New Year, I publish what I call a “Civic Agenda” with suggested legislation or remedies to help make life better locally, state-wide and nationally.  Here goes:

Pierce County:

Establish a tree canopy ordinance to reduce and mitigate the removal of tree canopy and establish an overall goal for it’s retention within the Urban Growth Area and a similar goal for outside of it;

Squash the idea of a commercial, Sea-Tac-sized airport in Graham and Roy (See state goals).

Establish an ordinance (or at least put some teeth in it) to prohibit signage on rights of way; county roads are littered with signs nailed to poles, traffic signs and stakes. It’s visually unsightly.  Allow for non-profits and utilities to bill the people who place them for removal – our roads belong to the public and shouldn’t be subsidizing commercial ventures.

Similarly, put some teeth in the monitoring of utilities that occupy our rights of way for no cost (in exchange for providing a service) with the upkeep of their accessories and plant (especially telecom pedestals, temporary ground-laid wires and pole transfers).  Anecdote:  there are two pedestals with wire “free-floating” up to a cable attachment as a temporary measure (200 E 159th) – but has been there for two years – in front of an elementary school.

Accelerate an alternative to sidewalks, which are needed, but expensive, and establish a pedestrian trail system within unincorporated Pierce County so pedestrians and kids have a safe place to walk and bicycle.

Strongly consider a charter amendment making the Sheriff an appointed position again, subject to a super-majority vote of the Council – with a super-majority vote for removal as well.   I really appreciate our front-line deputies, but the last two years have been nothing short of an embarrassment from their leadership.

The “Villages” proposal, to house homeless folks by building a mobile-home park in the style of one that is in Austin, Texas, is an admirable effort; but it’s costly ($52M, $245k per unit in capital costs), will degrade acres of wetland, isn’t close enough to public transit, and the money trail smells of political, not practical considerations.  It’s tough to say “no” to helping the homeless, but the price tag – gasp – would this be at the expense of other more cost-efficient programs to help them?  (Initially it will serve 250, there are an estimated 4,300 in Pierce County alone).

Washington State:

The process of establishing the CACC (SSB5370) that was charged with siting a new airport has been fraught with delay due to the pandemic, lacking in public notice, steeped in provincial politics (giving King County an exemption from consideration) and too narrowly focused on placing an airport when other transportation modes, future and present, need to be considered.   The CACC may not reach a 60% vote to approve any of their recommendations, but if they do, the legislature should tip their hat, say thank you, then establish a comprehensive, holistic transportation system and plan that considers growth management impacts instead of throwing rural areas under the bus.

I’m not as big of a fan of police pursuits as the police seem to be (the Facebook page of PCSD just seems to throw up their hands and blame the legislature without a lot of context as to the encounter, but that’s their political statement); they do little except endanger the public.   So the focus should be on “boxing”; and if the vehicle is used to ram or batter vehicles to escape, then the “vehicular assault” should result in a pursuit.

Legislators should consider allowing what the Japanese do; a car listed as stolen or involved in criminal activity is “tagged” with orange paint, fired by a pistol, upon fleeing so everybody on the street (including other law enforcement) knows it’s the car and use consequent techniques to identify and apprehend it.

As in other states, establish a bi-annual vehicle-inspection program as a precondition to get tabs and plates; boot and impound vehicles that lack proper licensing (most are stolen anyway).

PLEASE consider a deposit of 10 cents on every plastic, glass and aluminum bottle like they do in Oregon.  We’re drowning in our own crap and our streets and vacant lots are suffering.  Monetize solid waste so the incentive is to return and reuse and punish scofflaws; sorry, but the 8 cent plastic bag surcharge is not working out as planned.  Just eliminate them and use paper or force a societal change to use durable totes.  Surcharge “to go” orders at fast food as well and use the funds for litter cleanup.

Federal:

Frankly, not much here as the agenda is too broad and big; except for one thing:  stop spitting on each other.   Drama and theater that accommodates grievance and angst does nothing to further our governance as a nation; I don’t hold out much hope with a split government.  But I do appreciate Joe Biden’s work and agenda – and especially attitude.

There is one thing, but it’s minor:  for those who hold a CDL, a physical exam is required every one or two years, depending on health.  Consider amending the FMCSA rule that the CDL certificate, which expires on the calendar date (one or two years) hence to an anniversary date on the end of the next month.  What the system does now is “date creep”; to get a CDL exam (if you’re lucky enough to get one scheduled) means scheduling it before the certificate expires; I started in December one year and after five years my card was expiring in August due to “date creep.”  A simple administrative rule that will help truckers as well as insuring driver safety to the public.

Here’s wishing a Happy New Year to everyone.  I’ll try to get my cartoons started again as well as a few more narratives here.  All the best!