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 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting chief Ronald Vitiello: Nomination withdrawn.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