April 18, 2019

The Seattle Times Editorial Board: “GOP must check Trump’s purge of Homeland Security”

M. Ryder / Op-Art
Photo credit:
M. Ryder / Op-Art
  • Editor’s note: With the Mueller Report now out, this April 12th opinion by The Seattle Times editorial board is more important than ever for Congressional oversight functions of the Executive Branch to be performed on this topic.

By The Seattle Times editorial board

“Only one word applies to what President Donald Trump has been doing to the Department of Homeland Security: Purge.

“DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen: Asked to resign. Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady: Resigned. Secret Service Director Randolph D. Alles: Gone. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting chief Ronald Vitiello: Nomination withdrawn.

“Rumors swirl that more departures are imminent — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services chief L. Francis Cissna and Homeland Security General Counsel John M. Mitnick are reportedly on borrowed time.

“Even normally steadfast allies of the president are sounding the alarm about the unprecedented upheaval at the massive department that oversees nearly every aspect of domestic security and emergency response, from the Transportation Security Administration and Coast Guard to the U.S. Secret Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“The purge appears to be one more Trumpian temper tantrum over a spike in the number of illegal border crossings and asylum-seekers to levels not seen in more than a decade.” Read more

April 17, 2019

Yelm on precipice for explosive growth – yet again! The Olympian Editorial Board exposed those ramifications.

  • Editor’s note: I sounded the alarm here 15 years ago in 2004-2005, along with Ed Wiltsie, PE, and Bill Hashim, that the City of Yelm’s Community Development Department was using home building permits as the single largest source of revenue for this city, without diversification of this city’s economy, which would create untold problems in the future. Back then, the city had a population of 4,500, or half of what we have here today. Now, under the tutelage of the same Community Development Director, Yelm leaders are on the same old mind-set of using building permits to grow this town to support their ever-burgeoning budget! The music is going to stop some day soon, as happened in 2008-2009, and the folly of this mind-set will then be seen from a future perspective looking back. The Olympian Editorial Board “gets it” and focused on exposing this Yelm issue in their Op-Ed last week. Let me reiterate my response to officials’ accusations in 2005 – I support growth here, though balanced Smart Growth, which has been anathema to most of this city’s leaders.

“How will Yelm preserve its heritage when growth again picks up in the area?”

“In 2000, the city of Yelm was home to 3,289 people. Today it’s population is just under 10,000. That’s a remarkable amount of growth for what used to be a small farm town far from I-5.

“Now it’s sprouting big new subdivisions of tightly packed single-family houses with perfectly manicured lawns. These perfect developments rise cheek by jowl with areas of much older, smaller, more modest homes – homes on much bigger lots, with yards one might politely describe as more informal.

“All over Yelm the contrast between old and new is acute.”

“But there is pressure for growth and change – and, not surprisingly, resistance to growth and change.

“The most significant act of resistance was an appeal of a municipal water permit that would accommodate growth. That appeal wound its way to the state Supreme Court, and then to the Legislature. The Legislature created a path to resolving it, which is now being followed. But today, Yelm has the capacity for just 267 additional water connections.”

“Right now, its city government is preparing for [new waster rights], and for the surge of growth that is likely to follow. Mayor J. W. Foster, the city council, and city administrator Michael Grayum are working on an economic development plan.”

“But the most difficult challenge will be for Yelm to preserve its farm town heritage – its old soul – as new subdivisions and fast food franchises spring up like mushrooms,” quoting The Olympian Editorial Board.
Read more

April 7, 2019

I am not making this up, folks! Congressional budget deadlines approach causing concern on Capitol Hill.

© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images “Administration officials, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, are pushing for a “clean” debt ceiling hike that extends the federal borrowing limit without making other policy changes.”

“‘It could all go terribly wrong’: Congress braces for next fiscal cliff “

“A looming battle between President Donald Trump and Democrats over government spending and the debt limit could make the 35-day government shutdown look like a blip.

“A series of budget deadlines converge in the coming months that could leave Washington on the precipice of another shutdown, $100 billion in automatic spending cuts and a full-scale credit crisis. And lawmakers are openly worried about stumbling over the edge.

“‘It could all go terribly wrong,’ House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said, [In full disclosure, Blogger Klein and Rep. Yarmuth are cousins.].

The fiscal fights will reach a boiling point this fall — around the same time that Congress must pass its annual funding bills, which is guaranteed to dredge up the same border wall fight between Trump and Democrats that sent the government sputtering into a five-week shutdown , by Sarah Ferris, Politico. Read more

April 3, 2019

Despite city’s spin about Cochrane Park revamp study, Yelm was REQUIRED to finally update reclaimed aquifer recharge system!

Cochrane Park
Credit: City of Yelm
  • Editor’s note: I have noticed recently that the City of Yelm has advertised in several issues of Thurston Talk with “spin” where they omit key facts from the public. One was the March 29th story about Cochrane Park’s engineering study. “The project is a new requirement under Department of Ecology and is required because the city is seeking to change the way it processes reclaimed water and needs an amendment to its facilities plan,” quoting the NVN.

“Engineering Study Looks to Revamp Cochrane Park”

“Cochrane Memorial Park is set to receive an engineering study to enhance the aesthetics and functionality of the iconic public resource.

“Cochrane Park serves as one Yelm’s most popular parks, offering multiple ponds, waterfalls, and walking paths, making it a beautiful spot for pictures, and weddings. The park also serves an essential public purpose by taking clean water from the reclamation facility, which processes human waste to a level cleaner than California drinking water standards, and recharges the aquifer as part of the City’s water mitigation strategy.”

“Cattails and other invasive species have historically made their way into the park, and water in the fish pond and wetlands frequently backs-up due to clogging of the natural filtration system. A recent study determined the wetlands are not leaking, but need to be reconstructed to restore the original performance of this innovative system,” quoting Thurston Talk. Read more

  • Editor’s note: The city council had been informed previously about this Cochrane Park expense ($250,000) needing to be budgeted. While the city glossed over key facts about this project in their Thurston Talk ad, I acknowledge NVN Editor Megan Hansen for listing the facts accurately.

“New Water Rules Add Unexpected Costs For City”

“The project is a new requirement under Department of Ecology and is required because the city is seeking to change the way it processes reclaimed water and needs an amendment to its facilities plan,” by Megan Hansen, Nisqually Valley News (NVN). Read more

April 2, 2019

Yelm Finance Director Wolfe earns AGA certification to abide by their Code of Ethics. Yelm needs an aggressive leader to balance massive spending on the cusp of an economic slowdown. The city would not want to repeat their 2008-2009 financial mess!


“Yelm Finance Director Earns Certified Government Financial Manager Designation”

  • Editor’s note: Congratulations to Finance Director Joe Wolfe for being designated a Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). The City of Yelm has finally hired and invested in someone that will adhere to a Code of Ethics in financial reporting. Yelm’s unsavory state audits for almost a decade have required someone of Joe’s caliber to bring the city up-to-speed with proper internal controls and ethical oversight, where some of his predecessors were milquetoast to their mayors’ demands. Dir. Wolfe’s expertise in fiscal responsibility is going to be put to the test as this city has the “petal to the metal” on spending, as one councilor’s concerns were recently expressed. And Councilor DePinto was the lone “nay” vote authorizing the splash park because of a lack of knowledge regarding overall costs to the city. To authorize this project without having a full expense estimate is not responsible, as the council should have learned from the same scenario in building the Community Center. Yet the city’s spending binge is occurring as the nation’s economy is slowing faster than expected. Not wise! My hope is that Director Wolfe’s certification brings much needed fiscal responsibility.

“The City of Yelm is proud to announce that City Finance Director, Joe Wolfe has been granted the designation of Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) by the Association of Government Accounts (sic) (AGA).

“‘It’s important for the City to demonstrate competence and assure that our public funds are used efficiently and effectively,’ Wolfe said. ‘The CGFM certification displays the City’s commitment to stewardship of public funds.’

“The CGFM certification was specifically designed to meet the critical need for an increased emphasis on the professional qualifications and stature of government financial managers. This acknowledges Wolfe’s unique skills and special knowledge of accounting, auditing, financial reporting, internal controls and budgeting at the federal, state and local levels which is required of today’s government financial managers.

“In addition to meeting the program’s education, examination and experience requirements, those awarded the designation agree to abide by AGA’s Code of Ethics and complete at least 80 hours of continuing professional education in government financial management topics or related technical subjects every two years.

“‘This is another example of our culture of ongoing training and improvement at City Hall,’ City Administrator Michael Grayum said. ‘This award validates and recognizes the hard work and commitment we, as a municipality, have made to ensure that the City is running efficiently and effectively,'” quoting the City of Yelm.

April 1, 2019

NOT an April Fool’s joke – Thurston’s & Yelm’s sales tax rise to 9.1% today!

“Local sales taxes going up in several Washington cities, counties”

“According to a news release from the state Department of Revenue, the increases will fund various services, including criminal justice, emergency communications, facilities, public safety services and cultural access programs.

“Here’s a list of places in western Washington where the sales tax rate is increasing:

Cities and unincorporated areas in Thurston County within the Thurston County Public Transportation Benefit Area: four-tenths of one percent; unincorporated areas, 9.1 percent

Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater: 9.3 percent

Yelm: 9.1 percent, transportation services.

By KCPQ, TV-13, FOX News, Seattle. Read more

March 31, 2019

Promises NOT kept: Trump’s budget deficit surpasses Obama’s record-breaker, amassing $2 trillion in debt in 2 years. Trump’s economy slowing faster than expected.

Photo credit:
Intellectual / Pixabay via Inquisitor

“Barack Obama Had The Record For Largest U.S. Budget Deficit. Donald Trump Just Broke It.”

“The United States federal budget deficit in February was the largest in history according to the Treasury Department, HuffPost reports. Despite Donald Trump’s promise to balance the budget within eight years, in the two years since he took office, the country’s total debt has increased by $2 trillion, with a $234 billion budget shortfall in February alone.

“Analysts attribute the record-setting gap between spending and revenue with a combination of a dramatic drop in corporate tax revenue coupled with an increase in federal spending. The 2017 tax cuts championed by the president lowered corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 21 percent for a total tax package projected to cost an estimated $1.5 trillion,” by Josh West, Inquisitor. Read more

“Economy slumping faster than expected, with fourth-quarter GDP revised down”

“The economy is facing headwinds from the fading stimulus, slowing global growth, a trade war with China and uncertainty over Brexit.”

“The U.S. economy slowed more than initially thought in the fourth quarter, keeping growth in 2018 below the Trump administration’s 3 percent annual target, and corporate profits failed to rise for the first time in more than two years,” by Reuters. Read more

March 31, 2019

“Massive incompetence” and top-level vacancies hamper Trump Administration

“Trump Administration Losing 94 Percent of Lawsuits Over Illegal Policy Changes”

“Federal agencies under Trump are losing suits at a record rate, largely because of massive incompetence”

  • Editor’s note: The public is well aware of the turn-over from incompetence and greed of Trump cabinet members and other appointees. So with such massive incompetence, how are Trump and his appointees expected by his base to eliminate the Federal Reserve and have a suitable plan in-place to put the U. S. on the gold standard in the aftermath?

“The Trump administration is losing court battles at an unprecedented rate, with many losses coming because officials failed to follow basic rules in changing policy.

“Federal judges have ruled against the administration at least 63 times since Trump took office, The Washington Post reported. Two-thirds of those cases involved complaints that the administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a 1946 law that set procedural requirements that federal agencies must follow when unilaterally changing policies or regulations.

“The normal “win rate” for the government in such cases is about 70 percent, the Post reported, but according to the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law, the Trump administration’s win rate in these cases in just 6 percent,” by Igor Derysh, Salon Magazine. Read more

“Help Wanted: Trump administration riddled with vacancies”

“The president has yet to nominate people for nearly 140 top-level positions, which experts say is hampering his long-term goals.”

“More than two years after then-President-elect Donald Trump said he wanted his Cabinet officials to look the part, his administration is filled with actors — but probably not in the way he intended.

“A large ensemble of acting agency heads have been cast in temporary roles across the administration, and that can hamper how the agencies do their jobs, government experts tell NBC news.

“In the Cabinet alone, there is an acting secretary of defense, an acting interior secretary and an acting chief of staff.

“There’s also an acting United Nations ambassador (a position the administration is downgrading to sub-Cabinet level), an acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and an acting Drug Enforcement Agency administrator.

“As the Trump administration grappled earlier this month with whether to ground a Boeing airliner involved in two deadly crashes, acting Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Daniel Elwell was in charge. The agency, which has a budget of over $16 billion, more than 47,000 employees and oversees nearly 50,000 flights a day, has been without a permanent administrator since Michael Huerta ended his five-year term in January 2018,” quoiting Dereh Gregorian, NBC News. Read more

March 31, 2019

FINALLY, someone “gets” President Trump!

“Now Team Trump is out for vengeance: It’s crucial that Democrats push back, hard”

“It’s not just Lindsey Graham: Trump’s flunkeys are trying to flip the script on “treasonous” Obama administration”

By Heather Digby Parton, Salon Magazine.

“It seems clear that Trump’s philosophy of life is zero-sum primitive domination and not much else. And there is one credo in “The Art of the Deal” he does live by: “I fight when I feel I’m getting screwed, even if it’s costly and difficult and highly risky.” Over the years that’s evolved into something a little bit more elemental. It’s no longer about just fighting. It’s about vengeance.”

“Back in 2005, he told a Colorado audience, ‘If someone screws you, screw them back 10 times harder. At least they’re going to leave you alone, and at least you’ll feel good. I believe in screwing people when they screw you.'”

“Trump has spent his life on the edge of being discovered as a fraud. Character assassination and revenge, or the threat of it anyway, is how he dances his way out of trouble. It’s like a magician’s misdirection, done with the impact of shock and awe. Whether it’s siccing his lawyers on people he believes have wronged him, siccing his “fixer” on reporters who write things he doesn’t like, or publicly humiliating a subordinate he feels has disrespected him, this is how Trump believes he has become the most powerful man on earth.

“When a politician sees some daylight after having been under a cloud for a long time, the usual response is to tell the country that it’s time to pull together and get back to doing the work they were sent to Washington to do. They don’t want to wallow in the scandal because all it does is remind people it was there. They want to be positive and optimistic and put the whole thing behind them. Not Donald Trump.”

“By “never let it happen again,” he is saying, “get even so they’ll never mess with you again.” By “evil people,” he of course means the Obama administration.

“It’s tempting to say that this is just Trump being Trump, but his family and his henchmen in the Congress are taking him seriously and they are running with it.”

“This isn’t just the president sounding off. So far, the Democrats don’t seem to be too spooked by the Republican threats. They are too busy fending off the high-velocity spin about the Barr letter that Salon’s Amanda Marcotte aptly compares to the Iraq WMD propaganda. But the mere fact that the president and high-ranking members of Congress are pushing this ugly idea of wreaking vengeance should sharpen the Democrats’ own survival instincts and allay any inclination to ease off on oversight. They cannot allow the country to be held hostage by this authoritarian “lock her up” mentality.” Read more

March 30, 2019

Yelm receives another annual $10,000 Port of Olympia grant

“Port of Olympia Invests in Thurston County’s Small Cities”

“Bucoda, Rainier, Tenino and Yelm projects get a financial boost”

“At its March 25 meeting, the Commission awarded Bucoda, Rainier, Tenino, and Yelm $10,000 each, for community and economic development investments, as part of the Port’s Small Cities Program.

“Launched in 2010, the Small Cities Program provides gap funding for community and economic development initiatives in incorporated Thurston County cities with fewer than 15,000 residents. The four cities will use the funding to help implement the following projects:

  • Bucoda will purchase event equipment to support and expand both the popular Annual Haunted House as well an outdoor event space.
  • Rainier will continue to renovate and preserve the historic Rainier School and Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church for event and activity space rentals.
  • Tenino will continue with construction of a shaded pavilion dedicated to the needs of bicyclists. The pavilion will feature water-bottle filling stations, seating, bike racks and minor repair facilities.
  • Yelm will purchase emergency notification message boards that will be used to residents, as well as passing motorists, of an emergency or planned event that will impact the community.

Read more