August 25, 2015

Is Yelm City Hall in a management crisis?
Where is Yelm’s City Council on Mayor Harding’s handling of city affairs?


Mayor Ron Harding

With the resignation of two key longtime City of Yelm staff members within months of each other:
– Projects Manager Stephanie Ray last December and
– City Administrator Shelley Badger giving notice last June to be gone September 1st after a stellar 30 year career, the general consensus of many are asking,
“Is Yelm City Hall in a management crisis?”

Let’s examine the facts:
– Yelm City Administrator open position not posted for replacement
Yelm City Administrator Shelly Badger worked for the City of Yelm for 30 years having been appointed in 1993 to City Administrator, a post she has held for 22 years. She presided over Yelm becoming one of the fastest growing cities in the county and state while working for six mayors. She led the City’s economic development and water resource planning efforts, represented Yelm on the South Thurston Economic Development Initiative (STEDI) committee and participated in the South Sound Military & Communities Partnership Steering Committee.

The Nisqually Valley News reported on August 14, 2015:
“the city administrator position largely operates as support for the mayor, Harding said. Rather than fill the position immediately, he said he’s taking time to evaluate exactly what the city administrator’s responsibilities should be, as it’s been a long time since the city has had to hire someone for the position.”

Editor’s note:
For Mayor Harding to suggest the City Administrator was just someone who largely operated “as support for the mayor” is a degradation to the highest paid staff on Yelm’s payroll (over $130,000 a year). Anyone owning property or a business within the city limits should be concerned about this statement from Mr. Harding, yet even more than this, they should be concerned about a City Council that does not reign-in the mayor!
Mr. Harding should have posted the Yelm City Administrator position to be filled back in June!

– How is Mayor Harding handling the City Administrator functions?
Harding told the NVN:
“‘Technically, we don’t have to have that position filled,’ he said. ‘That position is there to help me manage the city. And so it’s just one of those things, just trying to get my arms around what to do, how much responsibility, where are the key functions that serve the city. … We don’t have any of it sorted out right now.'”

Editor’s note:
Excuse me, Mr. Harding?
You say, “That position is there to help me manage the city.”
This position of the City Administrator is the highest paid city employee and the one person managing the city’s daily affairs.
In this form of government, the mayor is the policy-maker leader, not the city’s admin. director.
Parceling out duties of the Projects Mgr. & City Administrator to other staff who have enough on their plates with the growth in this town is not wise nor fair to them, either.

– Mr. Harding does not have enough fingers to plug the holes in the dike!
Harding was quoted in the NVN, “We’re lacking the project manager’s position [and a City Administrator] in a time when we have as many or more projects as we’ve ever had going on in the city … Those are, I think, really crucial positions that we don’t necessarily have in-house expertise to cover,’ Harding said. ‘We’re covering, but we don’t necessarily have people who are subject matter experts, which is what you like to have as key personnel in those positions.”

– Is Mayor Harding taking any salary for his handling of City Administrator functions?
I put this question to Mr. Harding and he said, “I am currently not taking any additional salary to assume these duties, nor would I be able to take any additional compensation without an action of the City Council.” The Yelm City Council needs to immediately address the issue of the mayor assuming duties of a Project Manager and City Administrator on his annual Mayor’s salary of $30,000 and is he going to ask for more salary? Is he assuming these other functions gratis, which is also not proper? Does he have sights on the City Administrator’s $130,000+ annual salary?

– Mayor Harding is way beyond his expertise in handling City Hall functions –
Where is the Yelm City Council in reigning in Mayor Harding?
Mr. Harding does not have the training, background or managerial experience to be a Projects Manager and/or City Administrator. For Mayor Harding to not have posted the Yelm City Administrator and Projects Manager positions to begin seeking interviews for qualified replacements, while he is performing the UNPAID duties of City Administrator functions, is a travesty to the citizens of Yelm.

– Mayor Harding is on more-than-double committees than other City Council member –
Why? A truly trained/qualified manager delegates to other Council members

* Thurston County Economic Development Council
* Thurston County Mayor’s Forum
* TRPC Transportation Policy Board
* Yelm Finance Committee
* Yelm Emergency Operations Board
* Yelm Transportation Committee
* Yelm Economic Development Committee
* To be appointed as leader of the Yelm Lodging Tax Advisory Committee as of this evening

– Who is to take on the City Administrator’s duties on these committees – Harding?:
* Yelm Economic Development Committee (Harding is fulfilling his role on this committee and the City Administrator’s?)
* Yelm’s water resource planning efforts
* South Thurston Economic Development Initiative (STEDI) Committee
* South Sound Military & Communities Partnership Steering Committee.

– I call for Yelm’s City Council to reign-in Mr. Harding’s dictatorial rule here and post the City Administrator position immediately!


August 24, 2015

Yelm City Council’s Public Hearing Tuesday to allow –
chickens, ducks, rabbits in neighborhoods


Photo credit: Realtor®Mag, National Assn. of Realtors®

– “Yelm City Council Notice of Public Hearing Amendment to the Yelm Municipal Code
relating to animal control and the keeping of chickens, ducks, and rabbits.”

“The Yelm City Council has scheduled a public hearing to receive comments on a proposed amendment to the
Yelm Municipal Code. The hearing is scheduled for 6:00 PM on Tuesday, August 25, 2015, and will take place in the Council Chambers/Court Room at the Yelm Public Safety Building, 206 McKenzie Street SE.

Chapter 6.08 YMC establishes animal control regulations and violations and is being updated to reflect current practices and procedures of the City.

Section 18.30.010 YMC of the Unified Development Code establishes normal accessory
uses to a single family dwelling and is being updated to allow chickens, ducks, and
rabbits in residential neighborhoods, provided certain conditions are met,” quoting the City of Yelm Staff Report.
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC TO VOICE THEIR VIEWS!


– “The Rise of the Backyard Farm”
“Governments are beginning to see benefits to localizing food production. More than a dozen states have recently enacted legislation promoting small-scale agriculture, and a smaller number, including Hawaii, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Oklahoma, have looked into or introduced incentives to encourage people to pursue backyard food production on residential property, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Where municipalities and agencies do restrict or monitor agricultural activity on residential land, they are rarely out to squelch those practices with regulations, which are often created to protect home owners,” by Meg White, Realtor®Mag.
Read more


August 23, 2015

“Rainier melting unleashes ‘glacial outbursts’ of debris”

“One “glacial outburst” of churning meltwater and boulders damaged the Westside Road on Thursday [August 13]and terrifying two hikers, who at first mistook the sound for that of a train.

This year’s dry, hot conditions are likely to blame for a series of ‘glacial outbursts’ on Mount Rainier that sent blasts of muddy water, rock and boulders barreling down the volcano’s western flank beginning Thursday morning, says the geologist for the national park.

The powerful surges gouged out channels, swept away trees and shook the ground hard enough to register on seismometers, said Scott Beason,” quoting Sandi Doughton, Seattle Times.
Read more


August 22, 2015

Satellite image of our smoky skies


Photo credit: NWS Seattle


August 22, 2015

“Lawsuit: Salmonella-Infected Pork Sold at Stewart’s Meats” –
Why? Where is consumer responsibility?

EDITORIAL OPINION:
In a high profile, top headline, front page story by Steven Wyble in the Nisqually Valley News this week is the following headline:
“Lawsuit: Salmonella-Infected Pork Sold at Stewart’s Meats Sickens Lacey Infant”

I have to ask why is this lawsuit even happening!
Where is consumer responsibility?
The public has been well-informed with warnings on restaurant menus, in grocery store purchases and in Stewart’s Meats about consuming undercooked foods.
Why is a locally owned/operated company being maligned when a consumer needs to also be responsible for food borne illnesses prevention?


This information is clearly posted on the United States Department of Agriculture website
on what the consumer can do about Salmonella:

Q. How can consumers prevent salmonellosis?
A. Bacteria on raw foods of animal origin do not have to cause illness. The key to preventing illness at home, in a restaurant, at a church picnic, or anywhere else is to prevent the bacteria from growing to high levels and to destroy the bacteria through cooking to a safe minimum internal temperature. Follow these guidelines for safe food preparation:

CLEAN: Wash Hands and Surfaces Often
Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.
Wash utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item.
Consider using paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

SEPARATE: Don’t Cross-contaminate
Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in your grocery shopping cart and in your refrigerator.
If possible, use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
Always wash cutting boards, dishes, countertops, and utensils with hot soapy water after they come in contact with raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood.

COOK: Cook to Safe Temperatures
Use a clean food thermometer when measuring the internal temperature of meat, poultry, casseroles, and other foods to make sure they have reached a safe minimum internal temperature:

Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
Stuffed poultry is not recommended. Cook stuffing separately to 165 °F.
Egg dishes, casseroles to 160 °F.
Fish should reach 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
Bring sauces, soups, and gravy to a boil when reheating.
Reheat other leftovers thoroughly to at least 165 °F.

CHILL: Refrigerate Promptly
Keep food safe at home, refrigerate promptly and properly. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours (1 hour if temperatures are above 90 °F).
Freezers should register 0 °F or below and refrigerators 40 °F or below.
Thaw food in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Foods should not be thawed at room temperature. Foods thawed in the microwave or in cold water must be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature immediately after thawing.
Marinate foods in the refrigerator.
Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quick cooling in the refrigerator.

Reference:
CDC’s Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/


August 21, 2015

Commissioner Romero’s Coffee Mon., August 24 – in Yelm,
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!


Sandra Romero

FROM COUNTY COMMISSIONER ROMERO’S e-mailer:
Please join Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero, as she hosts her monthly informal coffee hours in Rainier and Yelm on Monday, August 24th, with guest Assessor Steven Drew and learn about the important work being done to ensure that valuations are equitable on residential and commercial properties throughout Thurston County.

The Thurston County Assessor is responsible for identifying, locating, and fairly valuing all real or personal property within the county for tax purposes. The “market” value of real property is based on the current real estate market. Finding the “market” value of a property means discovering the price most people would pay for it in its current condition.

Steven Drew was first elected as Assessor in 2010. At that time, the office was unable to meet important statutory deadlines and had several years of backlog in responses to appeals. By reorganizing the office and restoring a culture where customer service is universally valued by staff and management, the appeal processing backlog was eliminated. Now, all deadlines mandated in statute and by the Department of Revenue are met every year and the office has earned the coveted Certificate of Excellence in Assessment Administration from the International Association of Assessing Officers.


There is a lot happening in Thurston County and we want to hear from you!
Once a month, Commissioner Romero meets with community members for informal coffee chats. These meetings give you the opportunity to talk about issues of concern, ask her questions about the county, and share ideas. Commissioner Romero provides participants’ coffee. She is the representative of District 2, which includes Yelm, Lacey, and Rainier.

What:
Citizen meeting with 2nd district County Commissioner Sandra Romero

When:
Monday, August 24, 2014

Where:
– Rainier: 9:30am – 10:30am at Rainier City Hall, 102 Rochester St W

– Yelm: 11:00am – Noon at Mr. Doug’s (New location).

Click here for Commissioner Romero’s latest Newsletter.


August 20, 2015

Yelm lags County and Thurston cities in retails sales performance

Yelm’s retail sales increases, though higher, lagged behind every major city in the County, as well as the County figures. A contributing factor may be that Yelm’s retail sales are so heavily dependent on Wal-Mart, which has had some issues (see below).

– “Thurston County retail sales rise 10 percent in first quarter”
“Thurston County taxable retail sales rose 10 percent in the first quarter of the year, a sign that the economic recovery is well underway.

“That’s according to the state Department of Revenue, which released retail sales numbers for the state and its counties this month.”

Here’s the overall retail sales growth for the county and its largest cities, year-over-year for the first quarter:

▪ Thurston County: Rose 9.8 percent to $997.6 million from $908.4 million.

▪ Olympia: Rose 9 percent to $442.8 million from $406.1 million.

▪ Lacey: Rose 12.3 percent to $235.3 million from $209.5 million.

▪ Tumwater: Rose 9.7 percent to $113.6 million from $103.5 million.

▪ Yelm: Rose 8.5 percent to $42.6 million from $39.2 million.

The state Department of Revenue also releases a separate category of retail sales data that reflects consumer purchases. Here’s how the county and its largest cities did:

▪ Thurston County: Rose 7.5 percent to $516.7 million from $480.6 million.

▪ Olympia: Rose 7.6 percent to $239.2 million from $222.5 million.

▪ Lacey: Rose 6.6 percent to $131.6 million from $123.5 million.

▪ Tumwater: Rose 5.3 percent to $59.4 million from $56.4 million.

▪ Yelm: Rose 6.1 percent to $25.4 million from $23.9 million,” quoting Rolf Boone, The Olympian.
Read more

– “Wal-Mart profit misses estimates; cuts outlook as pharmacy margins bite”
“Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) reported weaker quarterly earnings and lowered its annual forecast on Tuesday [Aug 18], as it copes with higher labor costs, a squeeze on pharmacy margins and sliding sales at its British supermarket chain,” quoting Nathan Layne, Reuters.
Read more


August 19, 2015

Yelm: Mayor Harding needs to post City Admin vacancy NOW!


Mayor Ron Harding

With Mayor Harding’s comments in the Nisqually News Valley (NVN) this week that diminished the importance of the highest paid Yelm staff position (City Administrator) and puts him in charge of the these duties as well, saying, “We don’t have any of it sorted out right now,” this Yelm Community Blog Editorial of July 13, 2015 is now more pertinent than ever:

EDITORIAL
The Yelm Community Blog is concerned about public transparency in the mayor’s handling of the transition and appointment of a replacement City Administrator.

On June 5, 2015, Yelm City Administrator Shelly Badger formally gave notice to resign from her position after a stellar 30 year career serving the citizens of Yelm in various City Hall posts. Announcing a new position with a Lacey company, Badger said her last day in Yelm will be September 1.

Background
Since Badger would certainly have accrued vacation time for which she is entitled to use prior to leaving her Yelm post means she will be effectively out of the office by mid-August. Yet, the City of Yelm has yet to post the City Administrator’s position as being open to begin the process to accept applicants’ resumes and subsequent interviews. Therefore, a transition period for Mrs. Badger to train a replacement prior to her departure will not occur.

Badger had recently taken on additional duties with the departure of other city personnel. While city positions such as a Finance Director and Public Works Manager are posted as open, the departure of the City Administrator leaves the city without a daily and hands-on, experienced leader interfacing on many city projects in critical phases for completion, such as the Yelm Ave. E./Hwy 507 overlay, sidewalk replacement on Yelm Ave. W., the Mossman realignment project and Yelm Community Center oversight.

Who is to handle the City Administrator functions?
Mayor Harding should immediately post the City Administrator position publicly AND seek a qualified, interim City Administrator. In a city with a part-time mayor, Mayor Harding is not in a position nor is he qualified to be an interim City Administrator. Further, the mayor can not designate himself as an interim City Administrator without creating an appearance of a conflict of interest, for which he was previously warned by the State Auditor’s Office is his duty to avoid as the city’s leader and highest publicly elected official. If the City Council should go along with this concept, they would also come under scrutiny.

The Yelm Municipal Code (YMC) states:
2.14.010 Position.
The position of city administrator shall be filled by appointment of the mayor, subject to the confirmation by a majority vote of the city council, to serve at the pleasure of the mayor. The city at its discretion may specify additional terms and conditions of employment in a written agreement executed by the mayor and approved by the city council. (Ord. 829 § 4, 2005).
2.14.020 Scope of authority.

Under the direction and authority of the mayor, the city administrator shall supervise, administer, and coordinate the activities and functions of all city officers, departments, commissions and boards to implement city ordinances and policies through the effective use of city employees, funds, materials, facilities and time, and shall direct and control the overall operations of the city to assure optimum services to the community. (Ord. 829 § 4, 2005).
Click here
____________________________________________________________________________

This is a wonderful opportunity for Mayor Harding to take decisive action at a critical time, with so many opportunities needing proper guidance as Yelm moves into the future. I support the city’s public process to acquire a professional and experienced City Administrator who has the confidence of the mayor, city council and the community. With perhaps a month from City Administrator Badger effectively moving out of her office, citizens of Yelm and the surrounding area under whose decisions affect so many, deserve no less!


August 18, 2015

Yelm: SE Thurston Firefighters respond to WA fire crisis


Courtesy: SE Thurston Fire

– “SETFA Firefighters Assist with Wildland Fires Around WA”
“Thank you to all the brave men and women around the State of Washington (and beyond) who are helping fight the terrible wildfires that are burning this summer,” quoting SE Thurston Fire.
Read more


“Lt. Ann Holeman- S.E. Thurston Wildland mobilization coordinator working a fire near Spokane”
Photo credit: SE Thurston Fire


August 18, 2015

Following Monday’s San Francisco earthquake – Are you prepared? –
Is Yelm prepared?

This Letter to the Editor in The Olympian on August 10th is very astute and timely, after Monday’s earthquake epicenter in the middle of the San Francisco Bay Area:

– “Washington is not ready when the Big One comes”
By Carlene Spitler, Olympia:
This is one of the most SCARY things I have ever come across. The “New Yorker” had a July article about the Big One. I then saw the expert on Fox News stating the facts of the next Big One. I was shocked when he said that everyone thinks that the California Coast will be the next one to suffer a earthquake disaster.

The facts show that the next disaster will be an earthquake when the plate below the ocean at Juan de Fuca slips. The expert said that it will create a 9.0 to 9.6 earthquake at that point causing a tsunami. The tsunami will cause a 100-foot wave that will split in half going to Japan and the other 100-foot wave will hit the West Coast from Seattle down to Eugene, Oregon. This wave is estimated to come inland up to nine miles.

The study also showed when calculating other tsunami’s across the world that most of Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia will be absolutely devastated. They predict 13 million people will die. The Olympian ran an Associated Press article that downplayed the event that is now more than three decades overdue. The experts are saying it is not a question of if but when!

The scary thing is that it said while Vancouver, B. C., and Oregon have asked Congress for money for a warning system, Washington state has not. I find this unbelievable. Call your congressmen and senators. Demand a explanation.”
Read more

– “Is Yelm prepared?
Pacific Northwest in the news for earthquake potential and lack of water”
Covered here July 24, 2015.


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