Joan Bloom announces she will face incumbent DJ Wilson for City Council

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Joan Bloom

Long-time Edmonds resident and citizen activist Joan Bloom announced Thursday she is running against incumbent DJ Wilson for Edmonds City Council Position 5.

Bloom, who has been actively involved in Edmonds politics since 2004, said she decided to run because she sees “the enormous potential of Edmonds to become a model of open government.” She was a member of the Citizen Group of 33 (CG 33) that gathered in summer 2007 to discuss development of the waterfront properties and the citizen-based Transportation Committee and currently serves on the newly formed Edmonds Tree Board.

A small business owner in Edmonds, Bloom serves as a consultant regarding care for the elderly and disabled and their families. She and her husband Gary have lived in Edmonds for 26 years and have two adult children.

“DJ Wilson and I have agreed and disagreed on various issues since 2007, when we were both members of the CG 33,” Bloom said. “I have chosen to run against DJ because our visions for the future of Edmonds have significantly diverged in recent months.”

Joan and Gary Bloom also publish a issues-based website, EdmondsForum.com, and it now includes a link to Bloom’s campaign statement, titled “Vote for Joan of ARC – Accountability, Responsibility, and Civility.” Among her points:

– “While it is helpful to have the yearly budget posted on line, that is not sufficient to keep citizens informed as to how their money is spent. Monthly reports, with revenue and expenditures, should be available on the Edmonds website. Audits of Edmonds accounting should also be posted, in their entirety, for citizens to review.”

– “I would like to make available participation by citizens, when it’s convenient for them rather than just when it’s convenient for elected officials, or for those who have time (or interest) to show up for meetings. I’d like to not just make accessing information on the city website more convenient, but to make user involvement, possible.”

– “Let’s expect our elected and appointed officials to treat Edmonds residents as their employer rather than as their subjects. Elected officials, and appointed officials (including all city hires), as long as they’re not being abused, should always be polite, responsive, and helpful.”

38 COMMENTS

  1. I whole heartily support Joan Bloom in her quest to replace DJ Wilson. I have had the pleasure to get to know Joan and have found that she will put Edmonds first rather than her self. She has no political ambition and I know will do her very best for Edmonds. it will be refreshing to have someone with strong convictions yet that will be able to work with the other councilors and have respect for them and the citizens of Edmonds. I am just delighted that this she brings a possibility for a new era for Edmonds where words will be few but have meaning and where actions taken will be for the betterment of all the citizens’s life in an open and honest way. Joan ‘s character is beyond reproach. As you all get to know her and what she stands for you will join me on her list of supporters. I am just delighted to see her run! Vote for Joan of ARC!

  2. That’s one of the clearest campaign statements I’ve ever seen. As a voter, I really appreciate it when a candidate provides that much detail about what they will do if elected. Thank you so much for focussing on issues instead of personalities and endorsements.

  3. I am absolutely delighted to hear that Joan Bloom has announced her candidacy for City Council. I have worked with Joan on the Citizens’ Advisory Transportation Committee for two years, and I have concluded that she is a very creative thinker who really cares about this city and its issues. For example, Joan came up with an idea to have a shuttle bus that would transport residents and visitors to the various urban centers (i.e. 5-Corners, Westgate, Perrinville and so forth. In addition, Joan is very passionate about the environment and has done much to bring the city’s attention to the destruction of the wetland in her neighborhood. Joan is now serving on the newly created Citizens Tree Board and brings her environmental expertise to the table. I know that Joan does not make decision based on political rationale. That is another reason that she would contribute much to the council. I agree wholeheartedly with Mrs. Larman’s assessment of Joan’s character. So, I will jump on the Joan of ARC bandwagon. I hope you will join me.

  4. It is simply outstanding that Joan is willing to serve on the Council. Edmonds citizens deserve a Council person of her quality. Please count me on board the Joan of ARC bandwagon!

  5. I have to believe this is the best news I have heard in along time. Refreshing doesn’t evan begin to explain my reasoning. Gone would be a current canidate who thought that Edmonds past city attorney was doing great, and was a confidant and supporter of the past mayor who ran this city into the ground. I like the fact that she really has no political ambition, unlike the current incumbant, who for some time has been scratching many backs or greasing the skids of other politicians to get elected to a higher office. I wish the best of luck to Joan!

  6. Mr. Haverlock:

    Those of us who regularly comment on this site strive to stick to the facts; you haven’t done that. DJ Wilson voted to replace the city attorney with the Lighthouse Group. No Mayor has “ran this city into the ground”; the city’s financial reserves comply with the guidelines provided by the Government Financial Officers Association. You, of course, are entitled to your opinion that it’s not good for a candidate to have aspirations for a higher office.

  7. How come people can’t just listen to what the people who are running have to say make up there mind and vote, its pretty simple you can rant and rave all you want but you still only have one vote, seems to me that the people who write in this thing sure do a lot of complaining, if you folks think complaining is going to make the this economy or anything else better I got some realistic news for you it won’t

  8. Ron B.:

    The comments about compensation that I have made on this site, in letters to the press, and at city council meetings have been totally unambiguous. And they remain essentially unchanged, but the city has not been “run into the ground”. Here, once again, are the comments that I’ve been making about compensation.

    “As has been discussed many times, no matter how badly a levy is needed, or how well it’s communicated, it is in danger of failing if the voters have not been convinced that there’s no expense that can be removed from the city – without cutting any services. A lot of good people on the Levy Committee have put in a lot of good work, but their attention has primarily been focused on auditing the accuracy of expenses as opposed to auditing their appropriateness. That is particularly true of compensation expenses, which are more than 50% of total expenses. I believe that there remains at least two issues affecting compensation that need to be addressed.

    1) The goal of the city is to pay competitive compensation; that’s why they do comparisons to other cities annually. Nevertheless, even after I’ve talked about this several times, no comparison has been done to other cities in regard to concessions made by employees. Employees, except Police and Fire, took 9 furlough days in 2009 and received no merit increases, but they did receive 5.8% in COLA. I suspect that that is less than what is being done by the employees of other cities in 2009, 2010, and 2011. This should be assessed.

    2) It is often said that the ratio of the city’s population to headcount is higher than it is for most other cities. It is hard to deal with that assertion in totality; one would need to do a review by department. I have been saying for a few years that the headcount on the second floor (planning, building dept, engineering,etc) needs to be reduced. Their workload is heavily tied to the city’s construction activity, which has dropped considerably since 2007. ADB meetings are frequently cancelled because there are no projects to be reviewed. The only reduction in headcount has been the position of director of development services (Duane Bowan retired). Stephen Clifton has picked up most of those responsibilities. Not reducing this headcount will, I believe, present the possibility of a double hit. For sure the city could have been paying out less in compensation, but there’s also some liklihood that when construction returns to a higher level there’ll be a request for more staff to deal with it. The current staff having been hit by one of Murphy’s laws: Work expands to take up the time available.

    None of these items will change the need for a levy. But the voters perception that the city’s expenses have been scrutinized for appropriateness will improve the liklihood that it will pass. “

  9. Joan, I am please you have entered the race. Your record of serving the community is a good on and as the campaign goes forward I am sure your views for the future of our city will be widely discussed and debated, hopefully in a positive and healthy way.
    Joan, Ron B and Ron W have all discussed the Development Services and Engineering budget on several occasions. Most of the conversation has been that because permits requests are down then that budget should be cut. On the link below you can see the budget on page 4 for these two depts. You can see the head count numbers on page 8 on the same link.

    http://www.ci.edmonds.wa.us/CityDepartments/Finance/2011_Final_Budget.pdf

    The headcount is 27 and a budget of $ 3.2m. So no one has yet to estimate any magnitude of cuts. But some of implied that no new levies should go forward before cuts are made. Some are not aware of the recommendations of the levy committee that were made to council on April 26. See the following link for details.
    http://www.ci.edmonds.wa.us/CitLevyComm/docs/2010FinalLevyCommitteeSummary%20.pdf

    In a nut shell the suggestions were for 2 targeted levies lasting for 3 years. These targeted levies were for street overlays that have been out of the budget since 2008 and for a backlog of maintenance items for parks and buildings. The suggestion was $1.5m for Streets and $1.1m for the maintenance backlog.
    These items had been cut by council and the administration over the years to save money but it may well be time to move forward with a full discussion of the planned items and let the people decide if they want to proceed.
    So if you agree that we should not risk further street issues and building and park issues then one way to fund it is with 2 targeted levies. Looking at the Development Services and Engineering budget as a source for funds would leave around $600,000 budget. It would seem unlikely that cutting those departments could fund the needed repairs.
    Fortunately the Council will be hosting a “retreat like” discussion later this month and I am sure they will be all ears to hear what the citizens will have to say about any potential levies. Reading the levy committees recommendation on the link above could be a good starting point for discussion.
    Joan, thanks again for stepping up to run for council. Hopefully the public discussion of our City’s issues will be as forthright as your past record of public involvement has shown.

  10. Ron B I’ll be perfectly honest whenI kind of wanted get involved in city goverment dj answered every question I had so I endorsed him and I liked his answers. I also like what dianne b does and she helps with the dog park, Like I say he dj answered all my questions and I liked the answers, there is not much more to it that that. It doesn’t matter how I think Im not running for anything

  11. Darrol:

    I will repeat once more that I have never said that second floor employee cuts would provide sufficient funds to do street overlays, etc.You have overlooked my comments about employee concessions, just like the mayor and council members have. Additionally, you have overlooked my closing statement that “None of these items will change the need for a levy”. I said back in Nov.2009 when the FD1 contract was ratified that there still would be a need for a levy. But there first needs to be expense cuts.

    Levy proposals that label the funds for street overlays, parks and building maintenance,etc.are disingenuous, because in reality they are general fund levies. Calling them something else is, as Joan Bloom has said, simply a means to coerce citizens to vote for the levy.

  12. Ron W, are you suggesting that we could make enough concessions to pay for the needed street overlays and other maintenance items? Salaries in the GF are $12.8m and benefits are $4.4 for a total of $17.2m. So to get the funds from concessions would take a 15% cut in compensation and benefits. Is that what you are suggesting?

    How long should the citizens wait for a plan to cut compensation before we fix the known street overlay and maintenance issues? Do you think it is possible to get these kind of cuts in place for the 2012 budget? That budget will be voted upon by the existing council not a new council. Levy funds for targeted functions that were once part of the GF is a way to restore a service that the people may want to restore and will get the targeted activities actually done. The funds cannot be used for other purposes. If we give the people the option of voting for streets etc and they will have a chance to vote on the restoral of these services. Targeted levies give people the choice.I do not see that as coercing anyone. You either vote for or against and you get want what the people want or don’t want. The levy committee did not recommend a GF levy. I say let the people decide. We can vote the funds to do some targeted function AND we can vote for candidates who say they will seek concessions or cut backs or what ever we want to call it. When it comes to streets and known maintenance requirements it may be too risky and time consuming to wait for cuts and concessions. I have a great deal of confidence in our citizens to look carefully at all the issues and then vote accordingly.

  13. Mike,

    You stated you ike DJ’s answers to your questions.

    So why don’t you ask him why he built a deck in violation of Edmonds city code.? He not only failed to get a permit but he violated the setbacks requirement and even built part of his deck on his neighbor’s property.

    It was step one in his efforts to take for his own the elderly 88 year old widow’s property for his own. Wouldn’t you just love to have the Wilsons as your neighbor?

  14. The Wilsoin certainly have some tall explaining to do if they expect anyone’s votes.

    The bulk of the story is to be found in snohomish County Court case 08 2 07367 8, Wilson vs Sutherland in which the Wilsons sued Mrs. Sutherland for part of her property after she confronted them for occupying her property. Edmonds city officials did not find a building permit, although wilson had 3 other buildimg permits in the same time frame.

    It is understandable that the Wilsons and their supporter Mike, do not want the public to be made aware of this Wilson initiated lawsuit.

  15. Joe,

    You need to get the facts first Joe, and then come back to discuss the issue. The case was before two judges. The first one was appealed on the basis of misrepresentation by D. J.Wilson, Council candidate. The appeals judge, George Appel refused to even consider the possiblity that this nice appearing democrat and City Councilman would bear false witness although there was sworn testimony that he indeed had.

    The widow personally told me that she had been ordered by Judge Appel to sign over her land or she would get nothing for the property she had owned for 55 years. She received a low ball $225 K for her Edmonds view lot and Wilson further demanded and reeived over 5K sanctions presumably because Wilson and the judge didn’t like her attitude.

    HB 1026 passed almost unanamiously recently which will reform this odious law called Adverse Possesion. Hopefully it will prevent “good ‘ol boys” from taking advantage of senior citizens in the future.

    Ron B. Was this elderly abuse? Study the record yourself in the County Clerk’s office and make your own judgment. In my mind it is about the worst case of elderly abuse I have ever known of!

  16. You win, Ray. You have so many ways of saying the same thing it’s like playing whack-a-mole. And since all the judges are in on the conspiracy what’s the point of fighting. I’m going to join your side and add some little known facts of my own.

    Chew on this little tidbit: DJ Wilson has been seen numerous times masticating in public.

    And even though it is well known that his sister is a thespian, everybody acts like they don’t care.

    Joan Bloom doesn’t really exist: she’s just DJ in disguise. He’s going to get re-elected no matter who you vote for. Mwah ha ha.

  17. Darrol,

    Many of us agree that we need to fund street overlays. As you know, the citizens voted against the Transportation Benefit District proposal to increase car tab fees by an additional $40/vehicle in the last election. Some saw it as a regressive tax. It failed by a large margin – 70% no, to 30% yes.

    The TBD has other tax options open to them, including presenting a levy to increase property taxes. See comments from the CEO website as to why the TBD was formed:

    “As referenced above, Washington State legislation allows local governments to establish a TBD and accompanying funding sources to provide for the preservation, maintenance, and construction of local transportation infrastructure. The City has limited funding to pay for necessary transportation preservation and maintenance. This has resulted in the need to provide an ever-increasing annual contribution from the City’s GENERAL FUND to the street fund in order to continue preserving and maintaining transportation infrastructure. In 2009, this contribution is expected to reach approximately $700,000.” (my caps)

    The following is a link to Transportation Benefit district on CEO site, from which this quote was taken:

    http://www.ci.edmonds.wa.us/transBenefitDist.stm

    The following is a link to description of TBDs on State of Wa site:

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=36.73

    And here is a link to 36.73.06 describing the TBD’s Authority to levy property tax:

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=36.73.060

    So, as you can see, the TBD was formed so that the city had a dedicated source of funding for street improvements without having to drawn from the GENERAL FUND, and Council/ TBD could present a property tax increase levy to the citizens via the TBD. IF the levy passed, the money would not go into the general fund, it would be allocated to transportation needs.

    This seems to me a more reasonable approach for Council/TBD to take if they want to move forward with a levy in the fall. And I am aware that this would not address building maintenance issues.

    It is a long shot that a levy will pass in this economy, no matter how it is presented. I think that Council’s time would be better used focusing on the city’s expenses prior to presenting any levy to the voting public.

    Mike,

    Welcome back. I missed reading your comments. All citizens opinions matter, regardless of whether or not they are running for office. Please stay in the conversation. This is our democracy at work.

  18. Ron B.

    You are right on your point. The remainder of the lot would have been a tad under 10,000 sq ft. However there are a number of lots carried over before the area was annexed in Edmonds of similiar size, with homes on them. And although it is currently zoned RS12 I’m not so sure that it would be absolutely unbuildable.

    But again the lawsuit, however unjust, is over except as you point out the stench remains.

    Finally, the most important question remains: Will the voters approve of Wilson’s behavior, and is he the best, most honorable person available? I don’t think so in this case, not by a country mile.

  19. Ron B.:

    Condescending? Hmmmm…. Maybe Teresa could create an article called Condescending: Innuendo and Bad Humor. Then she could could move every message posted today by you, Ray and me over to that article. I’d be happy about that. And then everybody posting here could get back to talking about Joan and her ideas. This is my last off-topic message in this article.

    Joan, I’m sorry if I contributed to the distraction. You deserve better than this.

  20. Historically it has been the General Fund that has paid for transportation needs. There is no money now available from the General Fund, as a result of how the Mayor and Council Members have prioritized the use of the General Fund. The City Council started to supplement the funds for street overlays in 2006, perhaps 2007, by designating REET funds (from one of the two REET funds) in excess of $750,000 for that use. Soon thereafter the TBD was also formed. Things were good for a few years until the real estate market bust caused the REET fund to drop from $1.4 million to below $750,000.

    The Mayor and City Council will continue to prioritize the use of the General Fund for expenses that are in excess of what they should be. Such things as transportation
    and infrastructure repairs – real needs – will be used to entice voters to support levies.
    Hopefully, at the June 28th meeting they’ll determine that a levy is not in the cards this year and re-focus on expenses.

  21. As Ron W has said we are not funding street overlays even though it has historically been budgeted in the GF. Street Maintanence and Street Overlays are 2 different things. No money has been budgeted from any source for several years. No street overlays have been done with our own money since 2008.

    Joan talks about the TBD levy authority and while that is true a TBD levy can only be for 1 year and requires a vote of the people. So if we seek to use that method for funding overlays we would have to have a levy every year. While that may be ok it does cost to have a levy on the ballot and the costs go up if Edmonds is the only item on the ballot. The levy committee looked at this approach and rejected the TBD approach because would reqiure yearly elections and as a result would not be an efficient way to create an ongoing funding source for overlays. The recommendation for a 3 year overlay levy was based on trying to isolate a funding sourse for 3 years. 1. To get started on a critical need. 2. Show the people where there money actually was going and 3. Evaluate along the way how we the citizens would like to fund our street overlays in the future.
    The recent poll seemed to suggest that people understand the need and are placing a priority on funding street overlays. The TBD CAR TAB $40 was filled with a number of problems. 1. It was saddled with the notion that it was regressive. 2. It only did 1/3 of the job as it relates to overlays 3. The laundy list of 30+ projects that the $500k was to fund would have taken over a hundred years to complete. 4. Some on council actively worked on the NO campaign.

    Hopefully we can come to some agreement that we have a need and then present ideas of how to fund the need. Among the options suggest so far are
    1. Reduce head count in some departments. 15 head count reduction would be needed to generate $1.5m
    2. Reduce compensation/benefits. An 8% reduction in Comp/benefits would be needed to generate $1.5m
    3. Wait for REET money to come back when the economy recovers. Who can guess when that would be?
    4. A one year TBD levy voted on by the people every year that we feel we would like to fund overlays in using that method. Around $90 for a $375k home or property.
    5. A street overlay levy for 3 years to get us started until we find out if anything can come for 1-4 or some combination. Around $90 for a $375k home or property.
    6. Not suggest by anyone is to have another vote on a TBD CAR TAB tax for $60 per car per year. That would raise the $1.5m needed.

    My bet is the voter be able to understand the issue and decide yes or no on any plan presented. It is hard to believe that any real money can come from 1,2,3 above. 6 did not work. So that leaves 4 or 5. Same tax 4 requires annual votes 5 would not.

    Any other ideas of how to deal with the overlays?

  22. darrol they did more than a street overlay they replaced olympic view drive from the middle school to perrinville the last few years the job was done in two contracts one in 2008 and one in 2009. The city has a real problem with streetoverlays because they lost funding but the first phase of the olympic view job was done with lynnwood, the second contract I think was all edmonds, its actually quite an improvement, the street overlay is a problem that is going to have to be resolved in the next couple of years, I see one easy fix for now and that would be to outlaw studded snow tires the studless ones are just as good and a lot less wear on the roads

  23. Darrol – your outline of the barriers to funding street overlays (and other projects) is an excellent summary. Thank you!

    My take on how to approach this funding shortfall is to use every single tool that you listed: Look at smaller staff reductions and benefit reductions, work hard to raise REET through economic development and streamlining the permitting process…. understanding that our smaller staff has to be able to handle it, do a smaller one year TBD levy to get work started, and a smaller hike in car tab fees (say, $20).

    Such a plan may not fully accomplish all that is needed, but by pushing every available option we have, we create a more robust approach that will be more stable in the long run.

  24. I agree that there’s a variety of “tools” that can be used to fund street overlays and the overdue maintenance projects. But it’s pretty surprising to me that the list does not mention the furloughs that have been the subject of my “broken record”. Are furloughs such an unreasonable proposal? Obviously I think not.

    Since the salaries for city staff are set by annual comparisons to other communities, how can it be unreasonable to also implement furloughs that are comparable to what is being done by other communities?

  25. Ron W. I include the notion of furloughs as a part of number 2 Reduce compensation/benefits. Rather than list all the ways to reduce compensation I just lumped them together. The state is reducing compensation for employees and teachers. I think the target reduction is 3% for most jobs and 1.9% for teachers. I think it will be a mix of methods. Compensation can be reduced by a reduction of pay, furloughs, or job reclassifacation. In my business days reclassification was used to lower and to raise compensation based on the “value” of the job.

    Just a thought about furloughs. In the past when we used them the city was closed for business that day except for public safety services like police. So we did not reduce the rate of pay just the number of days regular employees worked. So the output went down. Now wait for that to strike a note for some who will take some added shots.

  26. Darrol:

    Thanks for the clarification.

    When I was in the business world and we went thru recessions, all employees were required to take a number of days off without pay and with the expectation that they were expected to show up for work. You may have experienced something similar. I’m not suggesting that this happen with city workers since most of them are unionized. I mention it only to show what sometimes happens with private sector workers.

    Also, State workers have been taking furloughs for a few years now. When I went to renew my driver’s license they were closed for a furlough day.

  27. Ron W. Another thing we did in business was to redeploy people in departments that may have been temporily over staffed. We sometimes did special projects that could be helpful but had not reach the level of concern to fully fund the work. Also we moved them temporily to department is need of staff to catch up. In Edmonds the finance dept is understaffed and as a result managers are doing the work instead of managing. We could redeploy skilled people form Developmental Service to do some grunt work in finance. For example, I am not all that skilled but by getting access to city financial data I was able to produce charts and graphs that help tell the financil story of Edmonds. The work that I did was modeled after what Redmond has done and requires a little excell skill. If I can do it some city staff who may have extra time on their hands could do it to. We would all benefit from more financial clarity. In Business we did things by thinking outside the box and we did so especially when business was slack. That way we could keep good people, use there skills to do special projects, and have them available when the work picked up again. Saved hiring, training, and severance costs.

  28. Gee Ron B, I should have guessed that bringing an idea to the table for discussion would result in a response from you directed at me as if I could change the world just by reading your remarks. Directing your comments at me will likely have little impact on actually moving any of your ideas forward. Your tone seems to suggest that as a volunteer I can make all the changes you have suggested so many times. I am just a citizen trying to work inside the system with my volunteer work.

    I guess that’s one of the hazards of trying to bring ideas and facts to the table for discussion is that the discussion can go in an unintended direction.

  29. I take care to write my ideas and FACTS in a way that is not personal. I would hope people would advance ideas and discuss them. My idea to use public employees by reallocating known projects is done all the time in my business experience. I have worked in companies with as few as 4 employees and as many and 1m employees. So advancing the idea of reallocation of work is not outside my personal experience.
    I WAS hoping for a response to my idea, for or against. But here is what happened. Your response was 26 lines long and only 2 lines of it discussed my idea. The other 24 lines seemed to discuss other things that have been discussed before.

    Here are your two lines relating to my idea.
    “Even if it made sense to move employees into jobs they lack the skills for, it would do little good to reduce operating expenses. Corporations downsize for a reason Darroll – it’s to save money.”

    I will try to say on point and offer some thoughts about your 2 line response to my original idea. One of the issues I here over and over is transparency and accuracy of our financials and all of that. As a volunteer on the levy committee and EDC I did the research with the help of some CPA’s. Redmond is a town that is often used as an example of good public involvement and good reporting and an improved form of government. As part of my research I went to Redmond with a team from the Levy committee, met the mayor and did extensive discussion with the finance people to figure out how they make the progress they did. I then personally did follow up work with the Redmond finance director and secured their report generator. Cutting to the chase I tested the report generator using Edmonds data and found that it would work here. I produced 6 sample reports using Edmonds data and presented it to council privately and in one of those 3 minutes at the mike sessions. So I learned firsthand how a less than skilled person..me.. could actually do some meaningful work in an area in which I am not fully trained. The skills necessary to do what I did was basically a copy paste or a rekeying of data into an excel file. Many have talked about the Developmental Services dept as a target for force reduction. So I went to DS and asked how many of the people could do the task described above. The answer was all of them. So my research identified a task that when completed would provide more transparency for or financial, gathered the necessary tools, tested how to do the work, researched who could do the work and reached the conclusion that using a city employee who may not be fully employed or have occasional time to do other functions could do the work discussed and do the citizens some good.
    Going on with your two line statement, yes it would do little to reduce operating expenses but it would generate reports that would help us all understand our finances better. We would be able to do more work with the same people.
    Going on to your statement, corporations do downsize to save money. In my business life we sometimes downsized and sometimes we found work that would help the company that was not being done but the underemployed people could do. This saved the expense of severance, later rehiring, and retraining. These could be significant so figuring out how to avoid these types of expenses may be a good alternative.

    Sorry for the long entry but I wanted to discuss my idea in a little greater detail discussion the research I had done before making my idea public. So in summary I was offering an idea for discussion that would get more work done with the same people. I had done my research to test some of the components of my idea before I brought it to the table for discussion. I would be happy to have people take shots at the idea. I would be happier if we all would try to build on ideas to see how we can improve government.

    New thought. There are 2 major activities the city has announced that will require good citizen input. One is the upcoming work on the Strategic Plan. The other is the 30 person task force the Mayor is putting together to work on budget issues. Ron with your desire and knowledge and math skills maybe you would consider volunteering so time for the budget task. You will already be given an opportunity to participate in the SP process. All citizens will have that opportunity.

  30. Needless to say, this election season will not be dull. And I don’t mean just the candidates, but the villans and heroes, the constructive comments and those full-on personal assaults (true or false). Regardless of the outcomes, we will be ringside to one very good reality drama and Edmonds may never be the same.

  31. Joe (comment #28),

    Apology accepted. Now…more about me…

    Todd (comment #34),

    I agree that the Mayor and Council should use all the “tools” that Darrol has suggested, and include Ron W’s suggestion of furloughs as another option to consider. IF Council pursues the two TBD options that you suggest, and IF they pass, there would then be a year’s worth of street overlays to document, so to speak, the results of the taxes levied.

    Darrol,

    Ditto to Todd’s thanks to you for all of the work that you have done on this as a member of the Levy committee. All suggestions are worth consideration, and I hope that the Mayor’s 30 member task force on budget issues will weigh them all.

    My concern about using Development Services staff as you have suggested is that this approach would be a temporary fix to improve reporting by the Finance Department. The interim Finance Director told you and I that more staff are needed in the Finance Department on a permanent basis in order to provide transparency in reporting. Your thoughts?

  32. It will come as no surprise that I have some opinions about transparency. First I agree that it would be nice to have the reports often mentioned. During my working career I was accustomed to having that kind of information, and much more. I worked for public companies, so having full reporting wasn’t optional. I’m currently an investor in a couple of private companies which provide considerably less information.

    Having said all of that I am not convinced that our city needs to do any reporting beyond what’s currently being done. I spent 4 years on the city council’s finance committee and heard zero complaints about the reporting until my last year – coincident with the departure of Kathleen Junglov, Finance Director, in July 2009. Since then the reports have been rarely produced on time, and when produced they had insufficient narratives to fully explain significant deviations from budget.

    In my opinion there have been four reasons for the unacceptable reporting during the Hines’ era: 1)Hines was encumbered by having IT (Information Technology) report to him; IT had previously reported to the mayor. 2) One or two council members inundated Hines with questionable requests for information. 3) Hines work ethic wasn’t compatible with his workload, and that was exacerbated by him having a very long commute to/from work. 4) There was no evidence that Hines was held accountable for meeting deadlines.

    To expand what was done in the pre-Hines era would, in my opinion, fail any cost/benefit test – because the interim Finance Director has said that 3 people would have to be added to the finance department. And it’s questionable that any tangible significant benefit would result. We all know about the city’s financial challenges, but I am not aware of any of that situation being caused by the finance department. Additionally, some of those cities that Edmonds is being constantly compared to seem to have the same, if not worse, financial challenges.

    I’ll be happy when the mayor comes up with a competent finance director who provides timely reports.

  33. Ronn B
    Your views are noted. Passing a levy for streets will not support the GF. So if the citizens decide to vote no on streets then we will not do streets. If the vote yes on streets then we will only do streets. The GF is not impacted either way. The GF is not now or, in my opinion, in the near term future going to fund streets. I cannot see in any of your posts a way to fix the streets. What am I missing?

  34. Just a facutual reminder. Council has traditionally voted for a 1% increase in property taxes every year. That would mean that if all of our homes go down in value by the same percentage our individual property tax will actually go up by 1%.

    Starving the Beast Strategy is interesting but it is likely to take quite some time to make an impact. Currently the GF does not go below zero until 2013. Council has two reserves funds that they can convert to support the GF. One is 1.2m and the ohter is 1.9m. Using both would push out the date of running out GF dollars until 2014 or 15. Only at that time would cust have to be made. Starving the Beast would take 3 to 4 years to work if Council were to use the reserves to support the GF.

    Joan asked about the finance dept headcount. in 2007 they had 8 people and now they have 6, a 25% reduction. The interim told us more people are needed and that is likely the case. But we can easily start the process of better reports with a few important ones that people would like to see on a regular basis. The data is already available and to populate a report generater with the base data is not that large of a task. Once it it populated then to keep it updated on a monthy basis is rather simple. 6 reports would require just 6 updated numbers and the reports self generate. I have done the tests. I have offered to put together a volunteer group to do the initial work and then come in once a month and spend about an hour to do the updates. This work could be done under the supervision of the city staff. The journey to full transparency can start with just a few reports, show people what can be done and then slowly generate added reports as needed. We use volunteers to plant flowers around town, why not use volunteets to grow better reports?

    Ron W. Few of us have the training and expertize you do. You were a high level corporate executive for a major international company. Timely reports structured the way they are today with a good narritive may work for you but for the average citizen it will not be as understandable. Any one interested in seeing the difference can just look at the Edmonds web site and look at the financial data presented. Then go to the Redmond web site and see how they display the data. You will be amazed and impresssed with how easy it is to understand how well the various budget centers are doing in Redmond. The graphs show it all. If you look at the Redmond site all the graphs were produced using the report generator that they gave me. I can actually go o their web site, get the next months data and using the report generator produce the same reports that they so on the site. Pretty transparent to me. We can do the same thing in Edmonds, all we have to do is decide we want to. I have shown Council and the Mayor how to do it all we have to do is start.

  35. Ron B. Thank for spelling my name correctly. My mother would be happy. While I know people are hurting they are really pretty smart. Given the full facts and making a levy for “streets only” will give them a choice. The polling showed a growning understanding that the streets need work. I do not know what people will do but I believe they should be given all the facts and option and then decide.

    In the recent school election for example we were asked to vote for a tax increase under the assumption that the State would reduce funding. People voted for that nearly 60 %.

    I cannot see any way the GF will be in a position to spend money on streets for several years and I have not any other plan to generate the necessary funds.

  36. We enthusiastically add our names to the long list of people endorsing Joan Bloom for Edmonds City Council. Without question Joan will bring responsible and transparent fiscal leadership, intelligent stewardship of our community resources and natural environment, and a strong vision for Edmonds’ future. Her experience as a small business owner working on behalf of the elderly and disabled, and her many years of civic involvement in our community, make Joan an excellent candidate. We can all rest assured that Joan’s leadership will reflect her passion for citizen participation in government, rather than self-interest, as is too often the case in politics. Thank you, Joan, for all you do! – Susan Blalock & Al Lyon

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