Saturday, January 07, 2006

Summary of January 5 meeting by Burt Talcott

Saturday, January 07, 2006
Dear CRC colleagues:

The “convening” session compels me to comment via e-mail – because it may not be possible during CRC meetings: time and “Robert’s Rules” constraints. E-mail has overrun the “public meetings act.” We should give “notice” that we are going to e-mail. Kelly Haughton has developed a “Blog” which is interesting, instructive and invites comments from CRCCs and the public. It might be useful for the Commission to develop its own official blog – for information and idea exchanges and to give a new, modern aspect to the “Public Meetings Act.”

Congratulations to Mrs. Enslow and Mr. Walton. Thought the “Convener’s” arrangements for the meeting (from scratch) were outstanding – no little task, requiring much energy, effort and foresight. The meeting guests were informative and instructive. I did not see a copy of the “Revised Agenda” until late during the meeting. I would have objected. Notice was totally inadequate, some newspapers had less than five days notice of the first agenda, less than 24 hours for the “Revised Agenda” and many media had none. We did more than “convene,” which may have been helpful in “moving along.” I had always favored ten days notice for public meetings, especially for a new Commission. There must be a law somewhere. The agendas were devised and published by the PC Council staff.

We should jealously guard our CRC independence and autonomy -- from the rest of the County government – in face of considerable importuning and insinuation of their authority.

I was pleased to hear, personally, a mutual pledge by Enslow and Walton to work cooperatively together – putting aside any personal or political divergent beliefs and backgrounds – for the benefit of Pierce County (PC) government and citizens. We all should take the same pledge.

I am pleased that we moved forward and elected a permanent Chair. We can’t afford to waste time. Anyone interested in an office on the CRC should have been prepared. The Voter Pamphlet and supporting comments for the candidates provided adequate personal information and background.

Whoever caused our convening session to meet at the sewer plant did us no favor – too remote and ostentatious for our tasks. Should be more central and closer to good transportation. A public library or the Annex would be better. Every recognized speaker should have a microphone – so that all CRCCs and the audience can hear. The “horse-shoe” seating arrangement should be reversed – so that no CRCC’s back is to the public. The Parliamentarian should be near the Chair – so instant communication is better. Name plates are more for the public than other CRCCs – larger. We need two podiums – for Chair and public. Details may seem petty, but they are important for efficiency and appearances. We experienced several parliamentary glitches. Perhaps one of our own should be commandeered to act as Parliamentarian while retaining the right to make motions, debate and vote – unless she/he is personally involved in the issue.

We should remember that we are not dealing with the Federal, State or City governments – each has its plate full. We have a different task and precious little time to accomplish it. The conduct of our meetings should be polite, civil, informal and focused. We must comply with all relevant laws, but not let ourselves get “bogged down” in technicalities or needless arguments designed to postpone, delay or filibuster – which will reflect badly on our work.

The Tacoma city scandals and bitter elections in some jurisdictions can be instructive for us but they are none of our business.

We must believe that PC is endowed with great undeveloped potential. Great scenery and environment (the Sound, Cascades, Olympics, trees and rivers), snow and water skiing within an hour, large permanent Navy, Army and Air Force bases nearby, large successful business nearby (Boeing, Intel, Microsoft, Russell, Paccar, etc.), the Port of Tacoma, many small businesses and tourist attractions, a nascent University of Washington, UPS, PLU, and mostly favorable living and working conditions. Unfortunately, traffic congestion, high taxes, excessive government spending and regulation impede a more robust business environment. Economic development is best left to the private sector. The County is primarily responsible for transportation, security, law and order and general livability. I urge us to focus on issues within our jurisdiction and that we not waste time and energy on extraneous issues and process debates.

The CRC is blessed with a nice diversity of experience and talent. We need only to convert our “splendid diversity” into a productive unity – to serve the best interests of the County government. Our credentials are insignificant. What we do in the next 5-1/2 months can be quite significant for our County. We need ideas, practical proposals, thorough civil discussions and then a strong consensus on any amendments or proposals which the voters or officials can willingly adopt. No use or sense to adopt something we can’t sell.

In our deliberations, we must consider history; but more importantly, we must anticipate the future. The next CRC won’t convene until 2015. The Charter intended, and we must believe, that the Charter should be periodically reviewed for modernization. Public officials like, and quickly adjust to, the status quo and bureaucracy. All vital institutions should improve their planning, organization, management, internal and external communications and public relations. Most political and governmental cliques and unions fail to modernize. They are most likely to gather and assume control to protect themselves rather than those they serve. Successful businesses modernize continuously. Wal-Mart does; GM didn’t. CRC needs to take the initiative for the County now. Otherwise, we will be burdened by a “pencil, carbon paper, Selective typewriter” perception and operation for another ten years. We need to be “collective Peter Druckers” for PC.

I believe we must address some arcane issues such as an effective Ethics Code and constitutional redistricting (which are foundational to government) as well as the common variety issues of electing the sheriff, reducing or increasing the number of legislative districts, odd-year elections, “non-partisan” elections, to change “fiscal year” to biennium, eliminate term limits, resign-to-run requirement, appoint Assessor-Treasurer, to limit county elective office to 12 years, to institute a “Grand Jury,” “ranked choice voting,” and others.

These are only thoughts and comments which can be wholly ignored, without any concern to me.

Selfless, sustained, sacrificial service will be required of all of us. Best wishes, Burt L. Talcott, District 7


At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again congratulations to the Chair and Vice Chair. To the point I agree with the emphasis on working toward consensus and establishing a "trust" of the working members of the CRC. We are there to represent our District's interests in what they feel are the important issues that need attention in the County.

It is a simple, yet complex effort to update the policies, procedures and structure of the County to fit the needs of the people who live in it. The Charter was well designed and there seemingly are no egregious and daunting fixes that are readily apparent. So we also have to be careful not to try and fix "what works".

Again, I am proud to have been elected, and proud to serve the people of the county with the members of the CRC. Your thoughts and insights are required to make this effort work. Thank you for your time.

Mike Venuto
District 7, Position 1


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