As Chuck Parrish Sees It
Talking about politics, government and the Tukwila community.
Let’s talk employment projections, population projections, facilities assessment needs and the relationships between them.
The projections for the number of new jobs in Tukwila, and in particular, Tukwila South are important mainly to make sure that the infrastructure is sufficient to accommodate that number of people. We are talking potential vehicle trips per day, potable water and waste handling capabilities, etc. This is growth management. Departments such as police and fire will also be affected by these numbers. Other departments, not so much.
Facilities assessment needs has to do with population growth and which departments need to grow to serve that population and which do not.
The work done by Berk Consulting has been good. Go to Tukwilawa.gov. In the center, click “view the Tukwila facilities study page.” Then go down to January 13, 2014 “Phase 1 Space Needs Summary”. Click this to open a pdf. It is very interesting read. After all, if we really want to understand something, we know that details and context are important. Having said that, I will point out a couple of things. Go to page 7 and look at the exhibit. You will see two charts. One on population projections and one on employment projections. You will see projections by PSRC (Puget Sound Regional Council) for both. It has been the city of Tukwila experience that these projections are almost always too high. Berk Consulting recommends and it seems to make sense to take a more conservative approach by looking at actual growth in the past and creating a trend line based on history. Understand that the context here is facilities assessment to accommodate the number of employees that we may need to hire.
Now look at page 9 and exhibit 9. This has to do with the projections of staffing needs. It lists the current staffing in each department, growth factor and elasticity factor, the factors that drive the growth of each department and the projected staff needs based on all that. Multiply growth factor by elasticity factor. Whatever that number is, put a 1 to the left of the decimal point and multiply times the current staffing. That is how they come up with projected staffing needs in 2040.
Now look at the next page and exhibit 10. This shows the projected square footage needed to accommodate employees depending on the department that they work in. Someone working on a computer does not need as much room as someone working on trucks and other vehicles.
Now it is true that one can debate till the cows come home about figures like this. My hope is that when projections are being made, that historical and current patterns are collected as data points. Using data points like this and coming up with projections (not guarantees!) that most reasonable people could agree as a responsible approach is about all that I as a resident might ask for.
Back to Tukwila South for a moment. We now understand that the concerns about jobs and employees in that area are primarily infrastructure related. It is my hope that the optimistic projections of the Segale Corp and the hope of a campus type development comes to fruition and that the infrastructure plans account for that possibility. At the same time, it would be wise to read the final EIS report on Tukwila South. It recognizes not one but three alternatives. The Segale Corporaton cannot predict what direction the market might take in the next 25 years and whether or not Tukwila and its’ public policies are desirable to those market interests. It appears that Segale Corp along with the city of Tukwila are doing their best to optimize the situation. Kudos.
Today I visited a national chain to pick up some office supplies. I chatted with the supervisor and, somehow, we started talking about what he called “LCM” or low cost model. He said that most national retail chains are doing it. It seems that they are reducing employee hours to 30 hrs in order to avoid having to provide healthcare insurance. He said that the consequence is that they have been losing their better employees who need full time work.
I am a supporter of the Affordable Healthcare law. I had heard that the LCM was a possibility but had hoped that major companies would not do this. I guess that one can understand the economics of it. If competitors do it, then you have to do it so that costs remain competitive. I hope that the regulations can be tweaked in such a manner that there is no economic incentive to reducing employee hours.
I am very enthusiastic about the number of healthcare sign-ups, the number of low income individuals that have become eligible for Medicaid, the elimination of the pre-existing condition eligibility concern and the elimination of lifetime caps. The phase-out out of the donut hole in medication coverage is a very positive development too.
I expect that things will get better and better over time.
Recently I met with the store director (manager) Patrick Senn. Pat has been with the Saar organization 19 years. The owner is Greg Saar. The phone number is 206-737-9540. The grand opening is next Wednesday, December 4. More events are scheduled for the following Saturday. They will have prize wheels, etc. I am interested in hearing about the lease arrangement. Long term, month to month, all or just part of the total square footage of the facility. Hopefully more on that at a later date.
Patrick said that Saar stores do not take a cookie cutter approach but, instead, adapt to the communities they serve. They specialize in the international market as well as the traditional market. You will find very familiar brands common to most grocery stores. Most products are purchased through wholesale Unified Grocers in Tukwila. One of the most common brand names from the Unified product line is Western Family. You will see Western Family throughout the store. Saars also purchases from wholesale importers that specialize in Asian and other markets.
Patrick said that he would be happy to work with Tukwila Pantry. This is a big positive in my book. Pantry representatives will be contacting him soon.
I am not the shopper in the family. I don’t have a feel for price points. However, the inventory looks very diverse and should serve most customers whatever their preferences. Checkout the photos at Tukwila Talk.
Vegetables and fruits – huge inventory of the vegetables that we would expect to see at any grocery store and some that one might not expect.
Sodas, candies, chips, beers, wines, alcohols, milk, half and half, cheeses, deli items, soaps, pet foods, canned goods, salsas, laundry detergents, baby and other paper products – all familiar brands that you will find at any other store.
Frozen goods – familiar brands for the most part. Pizza, ice creams, frozen entrees…
Many of the pastas, sauces, drinks, and packaged carbohydrates are unfamiliar to me. I imagine that these products make many of our friends and neighbors in Tukwila feel happy and supported. I am all for that.
The meat and seafood sections are fascinating. There are products with which I am totally unfamiliar and have to no desire to try. However, the typical steaks, chops, hot dogs and others too many to name are there. Something for everyone.
You will see large bags of rice, flour and laundry detergent. Evidently this is a popular way to purchase these items for some families.
It is a bit unusual to see items under lock and key. It appears to be mostly cosmetic and medicinal products.
We did not shop at Tukwila Trading Company. Anecdotally, I know that we were not alone in choosing Safeway in Sea Tac or Fred Meyer in Burien. I think Tukwila residents should give it a try. Make your next shopping trip to Saars. It will take a little longer because the layout will be different. Who knows? One might want to get adventurous and experiment which some unfamiliar products. Say hello to Patrick.
The Sunday Seattle Times has a feature entitled “How Your US Lawmaker Voted”. It highlights certain votes in which citizens may have particular interest.
Natural Gas Pipeline Permits – HR 1900. This Republican bill was passed in the House and is now before the Senate. This bill requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other agencies to approve or deny applications within one year or face legal consequences. The Bureau of Land Management and Corps of Engineers would have ninety days to complete environmental reviews.
Voting yes: Doc Hastings, R; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R; Dave Reichert, R
Voting no: Suzan Del-Bene, D; Ric Larson, D; Derek Kilmer, D; Jim McDermott, D; Adam Smith, D
Now consider that Democrats offered an amendment to this bill that was voted down by Republicans.
This amendment delayed implementation of the above HR 1900 until FERC certifies that the bill will not result in the construction of unsafe pipelines or (very importantly) deny communities a voice in determining the location of pipelines within their boundaries.
Voting no: Doc Hastings, R; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R; Dave Reichert, R
Voting yes: Suzan Del-Bene, D; Ric Larson, D; Derek Kilmer, D; Jim McDermott, D; Adam Smith, D
Let’s see: Republicans want to fast track applications for the pipelines without considering whether or not FERC thinks that it compromises public safety and community input. Does this make sense to you?
Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing HB 2728:
This Republican bill was passed in the House and is now before the Senate. This bill prohibits federal regulation of fracking on federal and tribal lands; instead, that regulation authority is given to the states. This process includes injecting chemical fluids deep into the earth. Anyone concerned about drinking water?
Current law includes this from the EPA website:
“While the Safe Water Drinking Act” (SDWA) specifically excludes hydraulic fracturing from UIC regulation under SDWA § 1421 (d)(1), the use of diesel fuel during hydraulic fracturing is still regulated by the UIC program. Any service company that performs hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuel must receive prior authorization through the applicable UIC program. For more information on how the UIC regulations apply to hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuels please see EPA’s Guidance issued for public comment. The UIC regulations can be found in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations Parts 144-148.
State oil and gas agencies may have additional regulations for hydraulic fracturing. In addition, states or EPA have authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate discharge of produced waters from hydraulic fracturing operations. “
Same vote as last time: Voting yes: Doc Hastings, R; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R; Dave Reichert, RVoting no: Suzan Del-Bene, D; Ric Larson, D; Derek Kilmer, D; Jim McDermott, D; Adam Smith, D
On the same HB 2728, the Republicans defeated a motion by the Democrats to require public disclosures about fracking operations including listing the chemicals being used in the process, disposal of chemicals returning to the surface and other details.
Anyone see a problem with this?
The Nov 22 issue of the Westside Weekly includes a piece by Shakira Ericksen that reports on the new marijuana rules for Des Moines. What caught my attention was that Des Moines Mayor Dave Kaplan was quoted:
“The voters have spoken, the State has set the regulations, and what we want to do is to make sure that we’re minimizing the impact on the surrounding communities. We obviously didn’t want it in the residential neighborhoods” said Mayor Dave Kaplan. “We are doing our best to comply with the will of the voters as well as public safety.”
A quick review of their packet on the allowed locations revealed that Des Moines policy is much more in line with the initiative and the vote of the people than the Tukwila ordinance. When I spoke before the Tukwila council, I made this very point that Mayor Dave Kaplan of Des Moines spoke about. The people of Tukwila have spoken. While I agree with the desire to keep producers, processors and retailers out of residential neighborhoods, there is no evidence that our voters wanted the council to go much beyond what the initiative and the state law indicates. Council member Ekberg seemed to understand this point. The other council members did not really take it to heart. The council voted for a very restrictive ordinance understanding that state rules will change. They know that they will have to revisit the ordinance and open up other areas for the production, processing and retailing of marijuana.
When the time comes to reconsider the existing ordinance, I say to the council once again: The people have spoken on this issue. Do not allow your own preferences or beliefs to supercede that of those who elected you.
This past Thursday night, Marie and I attended the Board of Architectural Review or BAR in the city council chambers. Tom McLeod chaired the meeting which consumed almost 4 1/2 hours. Tukwila Village plans were on the agenda as well as the KCLS Tukwila library to be built at the same location.
The library project is extraordinarly exciting in design and very much reflective of community input. In my eyes, it may be an award winning design for a small library of 10,000 square feet. The one issue that really required some discussion was over the fact that staff recommended that the building permit be subject to agreement on a process to determine what the art project will be. This art piece will be at the very southwest corner of the parcel or, put another way, the northeast corner of S 144th St and TIB. The KCLS resisted this recommendation because they have a very robust process of their own which has been very successful in their libraries. Their process already includes input from local players. The BAR wisely decided not to condition the permit on the agreement to a process. In other words, they accepted the KCLS process as sufficient. I agree with their decision. So the library project will move along.
The Tukwila Village project was fascinating and took up the bulk of the evening. Many, many details are discussed in these kinds of applications. Most are not of particular interest to the average citizen who place their trust in elected or appointed officials to review the plans. Things like signage, location of garbage bins and covering, landscaping and vegetation, ingress and egress, modulation, lighting during the evening, security, public bathrooms, parking, on and on. However, there were a substantial number of details to deliberate over and time was running short. The BAR decided to reconvene in the very near future for the deliberations and a decision.
These kinds of decisions are not advisory to the council. They are actual decisions and considered quasi-judicial. They are important. I think that staff did a great job of presentation and the BAR commissioners did a really good job of asking questions and thinking out loud.
Initiative Measure No. 517 – no
Initiative Measure No. 522 – yes
Advisory Vote No. 3, Substitute Senate Bill 5444 – Maintained
Advisory Vote No. 4, Senate Bill 5627 – Maintained
Advisory Vote No. 5, Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1846 – Maintained
Advisory Vote No. 6, Second Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1971 – Maintained
Advisory Vote No. 7, Engrossed House Bill 2075 – Maintained
King County Charter Amendment No. 1 County Department of Public Defense – yes
King County Proposition No. 1, Medic One – Emergency Medical Services Renewal of Existing Levy – Approved
Executive – Dow Constantine
Port of Seattle Commissioner Position No. 1 – John Creighton
Port of Seattle Commissioner Position No. 2 – Courtney Gregoire
Port of Seattle Commissioner Position No. 3 – Michael Wolfe
Port of Seattle Commissioner Position No. 4 – Tom Albro
Tukwila School District No. 406 Director District No. 1 – Mary Fertakis
Tukwila School District No. 406 Director District No. 3 – Alicia Waterton
Did you notice? According to October 15 Seattle Times, about 25,000 Washington residents have enrolled in healthcare plans. They did this in the first two weeks of the state online insurance exchange. Another 37,000 have completed applications with first payment due in December. Coverage starts around the nation in January, 2014. Some applying for Medicaid will be eligible sooner.
So far then, about 62,000 Washington residents do not believe that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is socialism, tyranny, a government takeover, or the end of liberty and the beginning of tyranny.
I have changed my mind. I will vote for Mary Fertakis and Alicia Waterton as school board directors. Why the change? It is important that the school board reflects the diversity of our community and students. Currently, we have an all white school board. Not optimal.
This year we have moved a step forward towards that goal by having persons of color run as candidates. It is a good start. I admire anyone who subjects themselves to the scrutiny that the election process requires.
A challenger has to campaign vigorously to win. It is the nature of the process. Incumbents have the advantage. Campaign signs, mailers, support teams making phone calls, walking lists, pounding on doors, facebook / web pages, communication channels with immediate followup habits. Most of these things are required in successful small off-year or down-ballot election campaigns. Consistent presence at school board meetings during a campaign reflects the seriousness of purpose and the desire to be prepared when assuming office. The challengers have simply neglected to do what is necessary.
Both challengers are good people with positive intent. If the voters should turn them away this time, I hope that they will quickly begin their next campaign by showing up and discovering what needs to be learned.
Mary Fertakis has run an excellent campaign and deserves one more term. Assuming that Mary is successful, I hope that she will consider the anger and the resentment expressed last year in the push for her resignation. What can be learned from that?
The school board would do a service to the community by considering how a path to leadership (as a friend mentioned to me) could be designed to support people considering public service as a board member. For that matter, the city council might consider the same thing. Four council races this year…no challengers. Really? REALLY?
The other day, I watched a television interview of Pres Obama by President Clinton. This took place just a day or two ago as part of the Clinton Global Initiative. The focus was on the ACA (affordable care act). Here are some of my notes:
For the last three years, health care premiums have been increasing at 4% a year. This is the first time in 50 years that this has happened. Prior to this, premium increases have been averaging three times the rate of inflation.
What is in place now?
Patient’s Bill of Rights – You get a fair deal. Prohibited lifetime limits. Must apply at least 80% of premiums to health care costs. If they do not, the difference must be refunded to the consumer. Many have already received rebates. Any young person can stay on their parent’s insurance until 26 years old. This is really great right now when good jobs are tough to get and often do not have health care benefits. Additional discounts on medications for seniors have resulted on great savings. Remember the Medicare Part D donut hole?
Open enrollment starts Oct 1, 2013 and lasts six months. The actual policies begin in 2014. Health care exchanges are created and customers will be able to purchase from a variety of plans depending on their needs. Right now the pricing varies greatly from state to state. Insurers put in their bids. In New York state, the premiums are up to fifty per cent less than existing policies. In California, about 33% lower. Illinois, about 25% lower. On top of that, if you cannot afford it, tax credits are available. These new policies are required to include free preventive care and free contraceptive care.
When this effort was started, 80% of the states had one company which handled 80% of the their health care business and had no real price competition. Now, if evey one does not participate, we get what is called “adverse selection”. If the risks are not spread broadly enough across the population, then premiums go up. Only sick people are participating. This is why big companies get better rates than small companies.
Currently, the average family pays about $1000 extra in premiums to cover the costs of the uninsured.
Hospitals are required to provide service and they charge higher prices to the insured to cover the costs of the uninsured. Part of what will help reduce that increase in health care costs is making sure that the hidden subsidy no longer exists.
Businesses that have fifty or more employees are required to provide health insurance for employees that work 30 hours and more. Up to 35% subsidies in the form of tax credits will be available to these businesses. It has been suggested that employers would start hiring more part time employees…less than 30 hours a week. So far, that has not happened. The majority of hiring that has been going on has been, although at lower wages, full time. Employers who do not provide the required health care will have to pay a penalty because otherwise taxpayers are having to bear the costs of healthcare for the company employees.
The individual mandate is required for this reason. Suppose you don’t think that you need health care insurance. Then you get hit by a bus or a family member that you did not cover becomes ill. What happens? Taxpayers will have to pick up the costs and that is not fair. We cannot say, as a society, that an individual has no responsibility whatsoever but has guaranteed health care coverage. Everyone needs healthcare insurance. Starting in 2014, the new policies can no longer disqualify a client because of preexisting conditions. This is a big deal! The only way it works is if everyone is insured.
Note: According the the CBO (Congressional Budget Office), the ACA will reduce deficit by $210 billion in this decade and more than $1 trillion over the following 10 years.
The bottom line is….do we want to continue to live a society with the most inefficient healthcare system leaving millions exposed to the possibility of losing everything because they get sick; where families have to go to the emergency room for conditions that could be handled much less expensively through prevention and routine care; where the cost to businesses in the form of reduced productivity is high…is this what we aspire to?
Those who oppose this system would perpetuate the status quo and actually increase the deficit.
There will have to be adjustments along the way. No doubt about it. That is how programs get better.
Healthcare.gov – Check it out. You can sign up for email updates.