One library reopens, but another closes

May 14th, 2010 by Fed

(The following was also posted as a comment on the Mirror website.)

It’s great that the Federal Way Regional Library will reopen soon. My hope is that libraries are still relevant enough that the expansion will be worthwhile.

The real sad downside of the reopening of the regional library, in my opinion, is that at the end of this month we will lose the temporary location at the Commons. I don’t know why the KCLS feels the Commons is only good for a temporary location while Bellevue Crossings is good enough for a permanent “Library Connection” location. Federal Way has a real shortage of downtown services, and a library location at the mall was a welcome break from that trend. I am very curious what the activity was like at the temporary location, considering the mall is still by far the city’s top attraction for youth. With the return of the Regional Library, no matter how improved, visits to the library — like City Hall and too many other local services — will once again require a tedious car trip through Federal Way’s slow arterials to a semi-hidden wooded grove. What will it take for us to ever see a multi-use, service-rich, unsprawled downtown in Federal Way?

End of year musings

January 1st, 2010 by Fed

2009 hasn’t been the kindest of years to FederalWayan.

One upshot was the passage of Proposition 1, the bitterly contested power-struggle between the entrenched, corporatist city council and a new paradigm of strong leadership. We have yet another year, however, to wait for that to come to fruition. The City Council is not interested in using the people’s money to reduce their own power by spending it on something that 52% of the people want. Curious, too, is the council’s camp’s insistence that they canceled a search for a new city manager because the switch to a new form of government would obviate the need for one, despite their insistence during the campaign that one would still be necessary even with a strong mayor, and even more confusing in light of the year they have now added to that transition.

One big downshot in our opinion is the city’s impending loss of Metropolitan Market, which will close their doors for the last time on January 6. The store has been named Federal Way’s Best Grocery Store by the Mirror’s polls for five years in a row, which is also the entire time the Dash Point branch has been open. Apparently, being Federal Way’s best is not good enough for Metropolitan, which has been packed on a daily basis ever since the word of its closure went out. Given that the city government and business community has said or done nothing about this, perhaps they are right. Locals fear that the Metro location will be snatched up by a jilted LA Fitness which was denied permission to open in Twin Lakes by the city government, who apparently thinks that it’s better to have a huge vacant building than a new business — as evidenced by the growing number of large vacant buildings in town. For FederalWayan’s part, we’ll be writing to the regional manager of Whole Foods telling them about a great newly available location with an existing customer base.

The esteemed city government also denied Federal Way commuters and visitors a better driving experience in and out of Federal Way from the interstate when it killed the City Center Access Project, deciding that it’s best to kowtow to two tiny neighborhoods rather than work towards the benefit of the city at large. Lakewood, population 58,000, has 6 exits on I-5; Federal Way, population 89,000, has half that. The preferred solution for the City Council is to tear up the downtown sidewalks to expand busy 320th; yet another example of the failed, nice-to-look-at-but-wouldn’t-want-to-live 50s-era suburban folly which guides every decision of the city government.

A confusing series of events occurred in the realm of the city municipal court this past election. Embattled presiding judge Michael Morgan lost his position to Rebecca Walls, who overcame a serious lack of experience by challenging Morgan’s unpopular management style. But Walls won’t be taking over the reins — that will go to former school board president Dave Larson, who had dismissed the attacks on Morgan when they were first challenged and continued to support his fellow judge all along. Those who voted to clear out the Morgan administration by replacing him with Walls will likely end up not getting what they expected.

In February the Regional Library closed for remodeling, cutting off the city’s largest public research and study center in an age when libraries are falling out of fashion via competition from a growing wealth of easily available online material. The KCLS placed a small library in the Commons Mall, adding a small spot of quiet and studiousness to one of the city’s biggest youth attractions. FederalWayan’s only complaint about this location is the word “Temporary” on it’s signage. We think the Commons Library location should join similar locations at Southcenter and Crossroads and become a permanent LibraryConnection location.

The recent month’s distraction from the city’s ills, post-election, has been the much ado about nothing regarding the Twin Lakes Country Club. Few Federal Wayans have likely ever set foot on Twin Lakes’ property, outside of perhaps a wedding reception or office party; but the fear of losing the elite status symbol has sent the Twin Lakes neighborhood, as well as the Mirror, into a frantic tizzy — which fizzled predictably when the big meeting to Do Something About It failed to attract a sufficient number of actually concerned residents.

On the topic of local politics, both local political parties showed themselves to be out of touch with the city’s residents when they both chose to oppose Proposition 1. Whether this was the result of the influence that the backwards-looking city boosters has on these groups, or whether it was the work of a well orchestrated and ferocious pro-council coffee klatch, the upswing is that both parties ended up on the side of the minority of Federal Way’s voters.

In 2010, we look forward to RapidRide Line A, which will run from Federal Way to Tukwila to link our city up to the Central Link Light Rail line. We look forward, hopefully, to the beginning of construction at Symphony. We look forward to the opening of a presumably improved Regional Library. But most importantly, we look forward to a popularly elected strong mayor who will provide a coherent face, voice, and vision for Federal Way, and an end to the lagging, stagnant, living-in-the-past city government our city has endured for far too long.

More, and again

August 17th, 2009 by Fed

Update. A few weeks after the article below was written, Morgan was accused of using his office computer to post a comment to the Tacoma News-Tribune’s elections section using the name of a court employee. When this employee found out, and accused Morgan of it, Morgan’s response was considerably less than exonerating. Additionally, the records released by the city of door and network accesses, while unorthodox, was fairly damning. FederalWayan stopped actively supporting Morgan thereafter.

Seems like everyone’s out to get Federal Way’s top judge these days.

The Mirror and the News-Tribune have only served to amplify a segment of people who are ravenously outraged that the head of the Municipal Court would swear and yell at some insubordinate court employees. The mere suggestion that court staff can be wrong seems to have flipped the lids of a few people who post comments regularly to every Mirror story about Morgan (some of whom have accused yours truly of being Michael Morgan himself).

Ironically, despite caterwauling over the “tormented” court employees, many of the same anti-Morgan voices were also loudly in favor of outgoing Councilmember Eric Faison’s proposal to relinquish control over city judiciary to King County. This would, of course, have resulted in the court employees going from “tormented” to “unemployed”. Others have also called for the heads of fellow Municipal Court Judge David Larson (yes, that David Larson) and court administrator Rae Iwamoto. One letter-writer went so far as to suggest that the City should close the court only if the voters pick the “wrong” candidate — not exactly a ringing endorsement of the democratic process.

For all its length, the much-touted Stephson Report [PDF], the work product of attorney Amy Stephson who was hired by the City to investigate Judge Morgan in early 2008, deals with two main incidents — Morgan’s attitude towards disgraced former judge Colleen Hartl (whom Larson replaced, via appointment) and his treatment of former court administrator Cindy Roque — and his style of managing the back office, which includes yelling at insubordinate staff, expecting staff to obey him (their manager) and sometimes being too candid.

But the wide majority of the 88,000 citizens of Federal Way over whom the Municipal Court has jurisdiction do not work in the back office of the Court. For 99% of these people, the most personal and harrowing interaction they are likely to have with the functions of the Municipal Court is to sit in the defendant’s seat in the courtroom. This is, without argument, the most important part of a judge’s job — the fair and legal dispensation of justice to those who come into their courtroom. And in this department, Michael Morgan has zero strikes against him.

Even Amy Stephson, the adopted hero of the anti-Morgan crusade, recognizes on page 1 of her report that “Judge Morgan apparently runs his courtroom well.” Likewise, Councilmember Faison prefaced his proposal to dump the Court by praising it’s front-room operation. “We have had a court that has been very good on the bench,” he said. “There have been no allegations that the actual judgments being made by our judges in the court were improper or anything other than in compliance with the law.”

To the latter point, in his own defense, Morgan asserts that the court he took over (from former presiding Judge David Tracy, who failed to keep his appointed position against Morgan’s challenge when it went up for election in 2005, and had his own slew of problems) was out of control, and doing a number of things wrong and even unconstitutional. Morgan says 80% of court forms were fundamentally flawed — and as court manager, he had them fixed.

Likewise, under Morgan, the court has gone from being over budget to under budget, won state grants, and has expanded its services, being able to handle more categories of court cases, and is slated to go further next year. For his own part, Morgan has a spotless appeal record — none of his judgments from the Federal Way bench have yet to be overturned.

After the Stephson report was released, and well after Morgan filed for his own candidacy for re-election, a crop of carpetbaggers swooped down onto the steam of scandal rising from the Municipal Court to run against him. Few actually live in Federal Way, fewer have ever been a judge before, and none have ever run an entire Court.

Will the potent gas of demagoguery fueling the anti-Morgan movement knock out Morgan from the race this week? I’d say the race is probably down to Morgan, the incumbent; Roberston, who at least has sat on a bench before; and York, who has at least managed a staff before, and who so far is the only other candidate in the race to be remotely dinged, albeit without visible bruising, by the Mirror.

But as for FederalWayan.com, we prefer the experienced judge with a track record of improving court services and making good courtroom judgments. We endorse Judge Michael Morgan for Federal Way Municipal Court Judge Position 1.

Redefining class

July 17th, 2009 by Fed

City council candidate David St. John, and his upscale barbershop Gents, has shown us the tasteful, classy way to refer to women’s breasts.


“Tatas” is categorized by Dictonary.com as “vulgar slang”, and is apparently a minced oath version of the more common (but perhaps more vulgar) T-word. Few dictionaries define “tata” as to mean “breast” at all, but usually as Cockney English baby-talk slang for “goodbye”.

So, David St. John’s idea of tastefulness is to put a huge banner with a baby-talk word for women’s breasts in front of his store. This would be like the Ritz Carlton putting up a banner that said “Kick Ass Weekly Rates”. I imagine if Gents were to hold a fundraiser for prostate or testicular cancer (which, considering the store’s target market, might make more sense) the banner would say “Save The Wee-Wees.”

You stay classy, Federal Way.

FWN on Twitter

May 3rd, 2009 by Fed

FederalWayan is now on Twitter. Follow our irregularly unscheduled musings here: http://twitter.com/federalwayan

Somethings building

January 12th, 2009 by Fed

The grass field on the east side of the Federal Way Transit Center, which was once the candidate location to replace the 320th Library, is now dug up for construction. Unfortunately, neither the city nor Sound Transit websites had any information on what’s going there.

An email to Sound Transit’s Capital Projects department revealed that the construction is for Senior City, a low-income senior housing project undertaken by the Korean Women’s Association. According to the KWA’s fall newsletter (pdf), the project will house 122 low-income seniors, plus provide office space for senior services and meeting space.

There’s not a lot more information out there on the project, such as what it will look like, but I did manage to dig up this landscaping chart:

Elsewhere… The Fred Meyer in Twin Lakes is building a gas station, and construction is well underway. (Maybe one of the Safeways in town will get the hint and follow suit. The 320th store has plenty of room.)

In other news: FW on Google

November 4th, 2008 by Fed

Google’s street-view feature has finally hit Seattle, and their traveling cameras went from Everett to Spanaway (and even a little bit of Bremerton).

Which includes a certain SKC town.

This time.

November 3rd, 2008 by Fed

It’s a bit of tradition for FederalWayan to indicate how we intend to vote in upcoming elections. This one should come as little surprise, but for completeness’ sake, here goes.

CANDIDATES

FederalWayan supports a straight Democratic ticket. The top candidates of our concern:

Barack Obama

Like no one else that has run in this election cycle, Obama is the first and only 21st Century candidate. Unfettered by outmoded ideas, not pressed into a mold of a previous presidency, not tied to a failed system of policies, and with a forward-looking perspective that sees to an America beyond racial, class, and even political lines. While his opponent tacitly harvests the vote of the ever-divisive, Obama engenders not just hope, but unity; and inspires people to take ownership of their country. The greatest presidents are defined by those that inspired and unified; not by those that divided and conquered.

Chris(tine) Gregoire

Even before being governor, as state attorney general, Gregoire placed Regular Joe far ahead of big business. As governor, she kept the state’s economy strong after being injured by an early teaser of a national recession and bust, without resulting in devastating cuts to government services. While that recession may seem pale in respect to what might be forthcoming, that fact makes it even more critical to retain such governing going forward. Gregoire places individual social freedoms and needs ahead of the interests of padded pockets, and to eliminate that for the alternative is to pretend that “change” doesn’t mean anything.

Randy Dorn

To repair our state’s schools (and Federal Way’s) will need a non-entrenched, non-complacent leader to focus the state’s education efforts and standards. Passive acknowledgement of an imperfect system won’t do anymore. Far from passive, Dorn is an enthusiastic voice for reform in the state’s education system, but not only that, he’s a knowledgeable everyman who has been on the ground in that system as well.

Carol Gregory

Skip Priest converted an early mayorship of Federal Way — during the years of a miniature city Republican Revolution that saw most city founders quickly unseated and now mostly long forgotten — into a state representative seat. This year, joining fellow Republicans like Dino Rossi, he wants people to think of him as a nice friendly local guy who transcends politics — and ignore his actual record of voting like nearly every other Republican congressman in the state legislature. With little else to run on except for name recognition in a city where it is excruiciatingly hard to unseat an incumbent, we have an alternative in rising star Gregory, who has stirred up the local Democrats into an eager bunch behind her campaign, running on a credentialed platform of education reform and job development, instead of photo ops of a too-well-known face.

INITIATIVES AND PROPOSALS
Sound Transit Proposition 1: YES

Light rail now, light rail forever, light rail yesterday would be even better. Roads — even roads packed with more and more magical silver-bullet buses — won’t solve any transportation problems. Light rail is always popular wherever it has been placed; no opponent of Seattle metro light rail can name one instance in the past 60 years where a light rail system has fallen out of widespread use. Forecasts will tell you no one will want to use it; but faced with dealing with difficult traffic and unpredictable buses, a dedicated transit system will become increasingly popular. Once it’s built, and becomes a regular part of transit options, you’ll find that instead of being reviled; it’ll be in demand throughout the region. And Federal Way should be part of that system. Prop 1 doesn’t go nearly far enough nearly quickly enough in doing that; but saying no to light rail expansion — again — won’t make it come any faster.

Initiative 985: NO

The name “Eyman” associated with any initiative will immediately lower my expectations. Overall, I have no love of red light cameras, but if they do serve as a valuable deterrent, Eyman’s latest travesty will lead to their decline and probable removal. Beyond that, an illogical and unresearched mandate on HOV hour limits has no effective purpose (opening carpool lanes to traffic during times they are theoretically not even necessary) other than thumbing his nose at state transportation. While some may applaud the idea of making sure that highway incomes only go to highway expenses, a holistic metropolitan transportation approach does not make such rigid limitations, as there is more than one way to skin a congestion cat.

Initiative 1000: YES

People who have limited time left in their life should not be forced by law to spend their last days of life either in severe pain, or in a debilitating helpless condition. Those who read the actual text of the initiative — as I did — will note the explicit language and careful rules of the proposed program takes it miles away from the nightmare scenarios presented by those who wish to selfishly and autocratically enforce their individual morals (more strongly held among the perfectly healthy) on the terminally ill.

Initiative 1029: NO

Proponents of the bill make the sensible point that, taken in comparison to regulations for hairdressers and dog groomers, the requirements for a home care provider are much smaller — but not, mind you, nonexistent. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the requirements for home care providers need to be jacked up to be in line with them. We can live with less hairdressers, manicurists, and dog groomers; but not everyone can live without a home care provider. Certainly the regulations we have among these trades is a little out of whack — but if so, I’d be more willing to advocate lowering those other standards rather than jacking up those for (and thereby limiting the availability of) home care providers. There will always be isolated incidents of horror stories of untrustworthy home care providers, but we do not have an epidemic of irresponsible home care providers torturing our old people. Better that our seniors have easy access home care rather than be forced to live alone without assistance, or in expensive facilities.

King County Amendment 1: NO

It would be conflict of interest, I think, for the director of elections to be directly elected. Better that the person in charge of making sure our elections are run well, fairly, and securely not have to also be part of the system. Perhaps with a single term limit, this would be more reasonable. But unlike, say, a city mayor, the elections director doesn’t represent anyone or anything, or make decisions that affect the public sphere, but is simply an administrator who needs to run a serious and focused operation of an important democratic engine.

King County Amendment 2: YES

You should not be allowed to fire someone because they are gay (or not gay) or because they act in a manner not typical for their biology. This proposal makes the county follow that principle.

King County Amendment 4: NO

Making it more difficult for citizens to enter government is not a democratic principle, any more than poll taxes or reading tests to vote are. I don’t approve of requiring any sort of arbitrary set of credentials to hold public office. If the people can’t be trusted to make good decisions, then democracy is a failure. Assuming that it is not, then the people do not need to have their candidates pre-filtered by the government they are trying to get them into. Often, those who are not entrenched in established circles do a far better job in government than do those who have been vetted by a self-important professional old boy’s club.

King County Amendment 7: NO

Again, we do not need higher arbitrary hurdles to climb for entering the democratic process. Washington has a proud citizen initiative tradition; it should be maintained and made more open rather than more prohibitive.

King County Amendment 8: NO

I am opposed to nonpartisan elections. I think we need less nonpartisan elections, not more. Some are convinced of the notion that they can determine who will govern best based on what character they can pretend to glean from a political campaign. As a result, instead of being able to vote for values you support, campaigns are run based on who is (or appears to be) the nicer guy rather than who has the best ideas and who is best likely to support your principles in the decision making role of governing. Charismatic people do not necessarily lead to good government or good policies; charisma alone is not enough. Party identification (and endorsement) is a generally reliable gauge of whether they will govern in way that you likely to approve of; even when it isn’t, it is a good gauge of who is more likely to.

Closing our Circuit

November 3rd, 2008 by Fed

The only Circuit City in Washington to close as part of the company’s downsizing is the “Outlet store” in Campus Square (348th and 16th S).

Has anyone shopped there since it became an “Outlet”? Seemed like they had pared down to a very small display focusing on status-symbol audio-video appliances (plasma TVs, etc). Not surprised such a store would close now.

Heh. Circuit City. Outlet. I get it.

Fearmarketing

November 3rd, 2008 by Fed

Maybe I’m overreacting, but I think this post is a little sick. Capitalizing on the I-5 wrong-way accident to pimp increased car insurance?

Well, the site doesn’t apparently sell insurance in fact. But it does sell personal injury legal help. And as the post slyly hints at in the last paragraph: without that increased insurance, personal injury lawyers might not get paid.