Commentary: Playing Calvinball with traffic-calming dollars

In Calvinball, the game played by Calvin and his stuffed tiger in the Calvin and Hobbs comic strip, rules are created and changed on the whim of the players. Mayor Earling is playing Calvinball with our traffic-calming dollars.

The Traffic Calming Program is clearly described in our 2009 Transportation Comprehensive Plan. (Appendix B, p.193-211)

It has three phases:

  1. Residents petition for local street traffic concerns.
  2. Staff and residents develop education and enforcement solutions.
  3. Staff reviews traffic calming devices for funding, priority, technical feasibility.

Despite this carefully defined process, the following item showed up on the 8/14/2014 Public Works Quarterly Project Report:

“Residential Neighborhood Traffic Calming, $10,000
The 2014 funds for this program are being allocated to the construction phase of the mid-block pedestrian crossing along SR-104 (directly north of Pine St./ WSDOT project).”

Old rule: Local street traffic concerns.

Calvinball rule: State highway enhancement.

Old rule: Require a petition, with signatures from no less than eight households, to initiate the Traffic Calming Program in your neighborhood.

Calvinball rule: In lieu of a signed petition, substitute supporting phone calls.

Old rule: Involve residents in developing education and enforcement solutions.

Calvinball rule: Forget phase 2, public involvement. (Public involvement is a pain, anyway.)

Old rule: Review funding, priority, and feasibility.

Calvinball rule: Go straight to the state and advocate for the pedestrian crossing along the highway, promise funds to the state, slip it into the Public Works Quarterly Project Report, and you’re good to go. If any Edmonds residents question this $10,000 allocation of traffic calming funds, tout this as an exceptional opportunity and suggest that it’s too late because the 2014 dollars have already been promised to the state for the “construction phase.”

– By Joan Bloom
Edmonds City Council

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56 Comments

  1. I would like to hear what the Mayor has to say about this. I am NOT OK with this kind of politics. There may or maynot be a need, but the established traffic plan should not be ignored!

  2. The citizens of Edmonds should DEMAND that our Mayor and Staff ANSWER questions regarding THEIR ideas of how the law works. EVERYTHING starts at the TOP…….

  3. So, we’re trying to stop 40mph traffic coming from the ferry on a State highway? How many people from the development would use this cross-walk? How often and for what need? They can walk up the hill and cross @ a designated cross walk, or go left to the controlled intersection and move along. Without some data (roundabout problem) it’s hard to say this is a real need, or a response to a few loud voices. This money needs to be spent elsewhere in Edmonds for identified unsafe pedestrian crossings.

  4. $10,000 may not sound like much, but it is 100% of the 2014 Traffic Calming Program funds.

  5. In a community with some very, very tragic recent pedestrian accidents ( preventable?) all of the meger allocations of funds to is being used to leverage a $300k crosswalk project when the benefits are not obvious to the general population in residential neighborhoods which might benefit by painted, properly signed crosswalks.

    It is getting more and more difficult to understand why even the agreed priorities and processes are being blatantly disregarded in favor of roundabouts, continuing with the Sunset “vision” and now the Point Edwards crosswalk to City Park. (Will there be better and bigger signage now to direct the public to the public walk way along the ridge of Point Edwards?)

    It is simply frustrating.

  6. In 2011, Council authorized $50,000 for the Traffic Calming Program. With this funding, staff conducted speed studies along 23 street segments where citizens have expressed speeding concerns in the past. Each segment was evaluated based on a set of criteria and ranked in a priority list. Sunset was NOT one of the 23 projects included on the Traffic Calming Priority List found at the following link:

    http://agenda.ci.edmonds.wa.us/docs/2011/CCOUNCIL/20111206_598/4349_Priority%20list%20of%20stretches%20%282%29.pdf

    On Nov. 15, 2011, the original funding for the Sunset Walkway Project ($16,000) was drawn from the Traffic Calming Program via an amendment to the 2011 Budget. The budget amendment agenda item passed unanimously with no opportunity for public comment.

    This was a very unfortunate, creative way to draw funds away from neighborhoods that had a true need for Traffic Calming Dollars to Sunset Avenue. Why was Sunset Avenue prioritized over the 23 street segments on the priority list?

  7. As I understand the budgeting process, council approves a budget and nothing can move unless council approves a budget amendment?

  8. I have previously stated that I do not favor the location of the SR104 crosswalk, but if I had been the city staff member asked to come up with $10,000 to help WSDOT complete their $300,000 project I would have agreed to do it. I’m confident that there have been, or will be, times when WSDOT rescues a project for our city. And it’s not that our citizens get no benefit from the project.

  9. WSDOT is supposed to benefit all citizens of the state. We pay for the projects be it here or in Ritzville. The notion that a project like the Crosswalk is deserving of either state money or the City’s already allocated funding because it benefits Edmonds ( assuming it does) doesn’t include the finite nature of the State’s funding for worthy projects perhaps in communities with less clever grant writers on staff. The City staff can get “creative” in finding money’s to “leverage” the project but they then need to get the approval to use that funding from the Council, without Council approval staff cannot commit any funds to anything. Moving budgeted funds to use for other purposes is the Council’s prerogative, not the Administration’s.
    It sounded like this was done after the money was committed in this case.

    • Scheduling constraints often cause budget amendments to be authorized after the fact.

  10. Isn’t that what happened at Haines Wharf?

    • I don’t think so; that situation involved a series of unapproved change orders that could have been caught had the project been periodically monitored by city council.

      • Unapproved change orders don’t get paid. In Edmonds it seems the unauthorized expenses come to Council as a budget amendment after the money is committed and there is nothing for them to do but approve it.
        Which is what it appears to me happened with the Traffic Calming fund. If the Council wanted to move the money out of that fund, they should have been allowed to debate it long before a commitment has been made by the Administration. They may well have done exactly that, but they should been given the choice. If they wanted to leverage the money for the Crosswalk it was theirs to decide, no other.
        And it is not the Council’s responsibility to monitor the expenditures of every City project! They should be told of cost over runs as they happen, not buried in a budget amendment.

      • Why should the Council have to monitor everything so closely and how much time do they have to do this work? Shouldn’t the true blame be assigned to those who initiate and process unapproved change orders, etc.?

        This is a core problem in Edmonds – blaming our underpaid part time City Council far too often instead of Mayor and Staff.

        The job of a Council Member is overwhelming. How can they possibly know whether or not they are being told complete and truthful information during open session as well as behind closed doors in Executive Session?

        • Certainly staff is to blame, but that doesn’t absolve city council from not having done due-diligence.

          So Ken you believe that city council should not periodically review projects amounting to several million dollars in order to insure that they know what’s going on?? Well fortunately this council does not agree with you. But unfortunately sometimes they take their oversight of expenses to the extreme. Here’s a tweet by MEN from this week’s council meeting “Party time — 5 minute discussion on how to pay for recognition of volunteers and employees so far has taken 20.” This is so little expense that it isn’t even budgeted!

          • Ron, I never said that I “believe that city council should not periodically review projects amounting to several million dollars in order to insure that they know what’s going on”.

            I merely tried to argue that the majority of the blame should be assigned to those who did the act, not those who failed to catch such during their periodic review of projects.

  11. Posse

    informal:
    A group of people who have a common characteristic, occupation, or purpose, “he pompously led
    a POSSE to the gate to get those wild horses…….. get that posse together…

    synonyms: gang, band, group, crowd, pack, horde, herd, throng, mob swarm, troop,
    cluster; company, gathering; informal bunch, gaggle, load

    Seems like there is always a POSSE going after our $8.00 an hour
    Town Council souls……..blame them for ALL

  12. The council finance committee meets monthly and are presented with any budget adjustment recommendations. My bet is they agreed to this adjustment. That is not to time consuming and that IS their job to ask why and sort it out. They are elected by us so we do not have to go to the people for every last thing. I am not trying to put blame on council. Just trying to understand the process of how money can move around in the budget. If they did approve this that what is the big deal?

  13. Did Mr. Williams have the authority to use 100% of the funds budgeted for Traffic Calming – Neighborhood Traffic Concerns for a WSDOT pedestrian crossing project? Please consider the reverse – would a WSDOT staff member have individual authority to move $10,000 from a State Program to a City of Edmonds Street Project?

    The Traffic Calming Program is a specific 2014 budgeted line item for $10,000. It is part of Fund No. 112.

    Traffic Calming – Neighborhood Traffic Concerns – The 2009 Comprehensive Transporation Plan includes a Traffic Calming Program (Appendix B).

    Funding was budgeted in 2014 for this program, but instead it was used for a WSDOT pedestrian project. Speed studies were conducted in the past along several stretches of roadway where speeding concerns have been expressed. The results of the studies are compiled in a database to help identify where traffic calming devices (speed cushions, permanent radar feedback signs, traffic circles, etc.) should be installed, based on the current budget.

    If the WSDOT project had merit, I believe staff should have presented the opportunity to others, including the City Council to see if there was a need to spend City of Edmonds’ taxpayer money in this fashion. If so, a budget amendment could have been proposed. Maybe Mayor Earling could have authorized this payment without Council involvement – I truly don’t know. If so, I believe the money had to come from another place, not the Traffic Calming Program.

    This is an important topic because we have had tragedies and many Traffic Calming needs remain. We have very little money to address them. Actually, we have no money as all the 2014 money has now been used for a WSDOT project. Hopefully this will be corrected and the money returned to the Traffic Calming Program.

  14. Let me see if I have this right: When Council questions unilateral decisions by the Mayor and his staff, they’re micro-managing? But when a project, such as Haines Wharf, turns into a disaster, it’s because Council has insufficiently micro-managed?

    • Managing projects that amount to several million dollars of expense is not micro-managing; spending four times the allotted time discussing an expense so small that it isn’t even in the budget is micro-managing.

      And, by the way, the Mayor is authorized to approve expenditures up to $100,000 without seeking approval from city council.

  15. I was once again appalled at Councilwoman Bloom’s preference for process over progress. The Public Works Department was able to work with the DOT, at the DOT’s request, to begin the construction of a crosswalk at Pine Street and SR 104. In this case the City will receive a benefit ($300,000) at a minimal cost ($10,000.)
    There is no place for pedestrians to safely cross Highway 104 to access the waterfront or the marsh or the west side businesses between the lights at 226th Street SW/15th Street SW and Dayton. According to Ms. Bloom, traffic calming in this area is not something the City of Edmonds should participate in, despite the direct benefits to many residents of the City, because SR 104 is a state highway. It appears from her comments at the most recent Council meeting that she is much more interested in process, and control over that process, than in acting on an unexpected opportunity to get something accomplished.
    Perhaps Councilwoman Bloom should review her notes from the expensive and extensive course she and her fellow members took on how to get along with one another and with staff. The citizens of Edmonds are tired of the vindictive and unnecessary verbal abuse that staff and volunteers receive from some members of Council for doing their jobs.

    • Kathleen Dewhirst, This isn’t about “how to get along”…..it is about LAWS (that thing you call PROCESS) being followed and by the way that $3000,000 isn’t FREE money for the whoever FEW…….that which you refer to as a “benefit”…..like FREE money…..are you kidding……and to refer to this as an unexpect OPPORTUNITY…..for a select FEW.

      The last time I checked we were STILL supposed to be living in a DEMOCRACY……that has laws…….unless I guess of course one thinks they fall into the one percent or has friends……..and for “progress” can skirt the law or what many of you seem to refer to as just some ol’ “process”……..over “progress”…………..

      It appears that there are numbers of you that seem to think that our Mayor and his staff can do whatever without the approval of the CITIZENS that the the Mayor swore to represent. This isn’t about what the Mayor WANTS, it is about what the citizens want. …………………Our Mayor gets to spend $100,000 all ON HIS OWN for whatever , if he wants to…….are you kidding?!

  16. Thank you Kathleen for your excellent and to the point comments.

  17. Ms. Dewhirst:

    You appear to view the democratic process as inconvenient, and confuse “getting along” with “going along.”

    “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.”
    _Winston Churchill

  18. We had $10,000 budgeted for the 2014 Traffic Calming Program as of 1/1/14. Taxpayer money had already been spent in the past to conduct speed studies along several stretches of roadway where speeding concerns had been expressed. The results of the studies were compiled in a database to help identify where traffic calming devices (speed cushions, permanent radar feedback signs, traffic circles, etc.) should be installed, based on the current budget.

    The City had set up a related public process as part of the Transportation Comprehensive Plan. That effort also cost taxpayer money and I don’t think the process was set up so it could be de-emphasized in the pursuit of subjective “progress”.

    The citizens had helped identify many needs and taxpayer money was spent to rank those needs. One identified need was at Walnut where a horrible tragedy would take place weeks later – but the Traffic Calming budgeted funds sat by unused. Why were all the needs ignored? Why was no “progress” made addressing the many needs? Why was this $10,000 still “up for grabs”, per Mr. Williams?

    In June/July, Phil Williams apparently decided to call a State Pedestrian Project a “traffic calming” project and use 100% of the 2014 traffic calming funds for WSDOT’s project.

    If SR-104 is a true need rather than just a want, hopefully the money can be found elsewhere to help WSDOT complete this State project. I’m a little surprised the State can’t afford the last $10,000 of a $320,000 plus WSDOT project – but if not, maybe we can help the State out. The State’s needs are even more puzzling because the State apparently received a Federal Grant for this project already.

    Hopefully, the $10,000 will be returned to the Traffic Calming Program so that progress can be made addressing the needs this money was budgeted for.

  19. One thing I think is clear from this discussion. One committee should be charged with overseeing all projects taking place and approved by the council. For as long as I can remember there have been unexplained expenditures and cost overruns on almost every project we get involved in. Then the finger pointing.I have heard after the fact that council members have asked for information about a project and have been stonewalled. That should be unacceptable. However it would be easier on staff and the council to have one committee in charge of overseeing these projects.
    If the Mayor overstepped his authority on this issue then his chastisment may be warranted. The end result appears to be highly in our favor. If the finance committee is charged with the oversite I am talking about an explanation would be in order.

  20. I have to say that if LAWS are actually broken, it is interesting how a number of you refer to this as something else…….process, hiccups, finger pointing, etc. This is quite SHOCKING to me…….and then to chastise the person that is asking perfectly legitimate questions in regards to spending incredible amounts of $$$$ that a lot of you seem to think is NOTHING, small change, etc. ……

    This isn’t ROCKET SCIENCE, and one would have to have been hiding under a ROCK to not get this. When ONE person can make a recommendation to ONE person on our Town Council in a town of 39,000, and getting the go ahead to possibly spend at least a couple MILLION DOLLARS! because this ONE person (and that is clear who that is now) requested this, I believe is against the laws that we have. There are steps to do this, and clearly this procedure was not followed to implement this.

    And now, we find out that a FEW people in another area (WEALTHY area) (out of our 39,000 population) requested something else, and immediately our Mayor and Public Works Director Phil Williams went into action, on something that WASN’T even on the LIST……………………..or put before the PUBLIC whom our Mayor and Town Council REPRESENT

    I have sat in Town Council meetings and listened to staff talking around and around in circles and quite often never actually answer DIRECTLY questions asked by Council members. Some of you must be so used to it, you don’t even RECOGNIZE it anymore.

    I would also like to add that it appears to me like there are people in this town getting special treatment, and their requests appear to come FIRST, in total disregard of the WHOLE PUBLIC, whom our representative are supposed to be representing…….

    I haven’t checked recently but I believe that there is a law on the books in regards to CRONYISM also………and if I remember right, and I could be mistaken , there is something that was called CRONY CAPITALISM and it isn’t complicated.

    And Mr. Page, what is UNACCEPTABLE is that it appears that LAWS are being broke ………………..”For long as I can remember there have been unexplained expenditures”…………that is not acceptable

  21. I am researching a $22,000 traffic mitigation fee required of Point Edwards LLC back in 2004. I believe this payment had some relationship to a traffic signal at the intersection of Pine Street and SR 104. The City refunded the $22,000 plus paid over $4,000 interest to Point Edwards LLC in 2013.

    I think a Traffic Impact Analysis of the Point Edwards project was required under SEPA. I think the SEPA review for the Point Edwards project was for 300 units. For some unknown reason, it appears that this study was somehow tied to the Edmonds Crossing project. Why would that be? Why would a private project be analyzed in conjunction with a possible public project – in this case a project that never happened?

    I am trying to determine what traffic mitigation requirements should have been required, if any, at the intersection of Pine Street and SR 104 for a 300 unit project, located in an area where there were very few prior residences, if any. My gut tells me there had to be some requirement or else Point Edwards would have fought the requirement to pay even the tiny $22,000 amount. I could be wrong.

    Also, if Building 10 is approved and the project grows to over 300 units, won’t a new Traffic Impact Analysis have to be done? Why would the State do a $320,000 plus project now if there is a chance that a new Traffic Impact Analysis will have to be done…..unless of course there is no chance that a traffic signal would be required at the intersection of Pine Street and SR 104.

    Much to research and think over….any help would be appreciated.

  22. Wasn’t there some kind of law suit going on with Point Edwards?

  23. Hi Tere, I am not sure what the status of that lawsuit is. Following is a link to a related article:

    http://myedmondsnews.com/2013/12/point-edwards-developers-sue-edmonds-city-council-building-10-decision/

    The City of Edmonds issued a SEPA Mitigated Determination of Nonsignificance on May 9, 2003 for the original Point Edwards development proposal for a multifamily development of up to 300 units. The first mitigation measure of the May 9, 2003 MDNS is:

    1. The city accepts the applicant’s proposed mitigation fee of $22,000 for signalization improvements to the Pine St/SR- 104 intersection and $32,000 for trip mitigation.

    So it looks like there was some NEGOTIATION of the mitigation fee for signalization improvements as well as trip mitigation. The amount that related to signalization improvements, $22,000 was equal to $73.33 per unit assuming 300 units.

    For some reason, the signalization project at Pine Street and SR 104 was tied to the potential Edmonds Crossing Ferry Terminal project. This seems very strange to me – why would the developer have to pay a mitigation fee for signalization improvements that was contingent on the initiation or completion of a large public project like Edmonds Crossing within 5 years?? It was represented during the June 18, 2013 City Council meeting that the Point Edwards condominium development was not sufficient by itself to trigger a signalization improvement at Pine Street and SR 104. If not, why would they have to pay the $22,000 in the first place – I just don’t get that.

    SEPA mitigation fees have to be refunded if not used within 5 years. The City somehow missed this, but finally refunded the $22,000 plus $4,427.15 interest to Point Edwards LLC on June 13, 2013.

    WSDOT now plans to install a mid-block crossing pedestrian crossing with a cross walk Signal and illumination system.

    It is not a perfect match, but one might wonder why the Point Edwards developer wasn’t required to mitigate the cost of a pedestrian crossing if such was going to be needed. The developer received a refund totaling $26,427.15 and now taxpayers are apparently going to pay $322,505 ($10,000 from Edmonds) for a signalized pedestrian crossing in close proximity to the Point Edwards condominiums.

    I wonder how much a signalization improvement to the Pine St/SR- 104 intersection would have cost and how the $22,000 mitigation fee was calculated.

    P.S. it looks like a new Traffic Impact Study was done on March 25, 2013. It discusses Pedestrian Services but does seem to address whether or not an additional pedestrian crossing of SR104 is needed.

    One of the related mitigation recommendations states that the City’s GMA transportation impact fee will be formally assessed at building permit approval. I do not know if this impact fee would have any relationship to a pedestrian crossing at SR 104.

  24. How soon we all forget: 1) look at the financial presentations back in 2009 – 2010 that the Council was receiving and look at them now (i.e. full disclosure of all fund balances and everything reconciles and ties); 2) look to see what policies were in place to limit the expenditure of the Mayor (i.e. there was none and now it is $100K); and 3) look to see what was being presented to the PPP committee at that time.

    We have created many new safeguards in terms of financial clarity and policies to prevent another “Haines Wharf”. Some of you may remember the forensic audit Mr. Bernheim and I did on this project (as the Auditors could not look at it due to litigation) to determine if the Administration was at fault. As a Council, we decided it could not be proven (as there was no polices in place) that the Administration acted WILLFULLY to create such a financial disaster with the cost overruns.

    So, please do not lump Haines Wharf in with this issue as I believe that Mayor Earling’s administration along with attorney Mr. Taraday did the best they could to come out of this lawsuit protecting Edmonds. I applaud both gentlemen and the staff for the extensive work and documentation done on this project and yes, the Auditors did review this project last year.

  25. By my count there are 32 comments by 12 people discussing policies, processes or playing Monday morning quarterback. Edmonds and it’s vocal folks are always at the keyboard with something to say. That’s great! But what have the rest of the voters said about issues like these budget and project issues?

    THEY HAVE SPOKEN LOUDLY AND CLEARLY. Forgive me for YELLING but I think it is important to understand what the voters have said about budgets and projects.

    The Economic Development Commission proposed (Jan 2010) to do a Strategic Plan to help us all get closer to what the voters would like to do going forward. Council approved 6 to 1. Council adopted the Strategic Plan after a number of public sessions leading up to the final plan. That approval came on April 2, 2013 by a vote of 6 to 1. A total of 10 council member have voted at least once and 4 have voted twice. One council member voted to fund the SP but voted against its adoption. Only one council member has not voted on the either the funding or the adoption, because his appointment was after the plan was approved.

    So what have the votes said about budgeting and projects. More than 2500 were part of the work sessions leading up to council’s approval. A statistically valid survey of voters was done to quantify the level of support for the 86 elements in the plan. Here are the data for 2 of the elements of the SP that speak to the issue of budgeting and project accountability.

    BUDGETING BY PRIORITIES (not yelling just a heading) You can find the full discussion on page 63 of the link below. But here is a summary for this discussion.

    “Implement Budgeting for Objectives (BFO) process that incorporates public input to establish community priorities, resolves a balance between revenues and expenditures, and encourages innovative and alternative delivery methods.”

    90% (not a typo) gave it a ranking of 3 or better. That was 400+ people representing 18,000 voters wanting to move forward with BBP or BFO. (Same process, just different names.)

    PROJECT ASSESSMENT The discussion for this can be found on page 64 of the link below. But here is a summary description.

    “Assess, on an annual basis, State of the City programs, projects, and budget. Regularly conduct public, customer, and business surveys to determine the effectiveness, performance, and priorities of adopted Strategic Plan actions.”

    78% gave this a ranking of 3 or better. That was 350+ people representing 15,600 voters wanting to move forward with this element of the SP.

    Council has approved both of these elements and is the lead entity to see that they are implemented. If we were get these elements completed then some of the issues discussed above would tend to go away. It would appear that the silent folks (those not talking here) have already weighed in on plans to get us out of this kind of mess in the future. THAT IS REALLY GOOD!!!

    Here is the link to the SP on the city web site. You will find it on part way down the page on the right.

    http://www.edmondswa.gov/

  26. All I’m saying here is that I haven’t seen ANY of these “silent folks” actually SEE originally SPECIFICS of this project like the Sunset Project that have MORPHED into projects that cost millions and there are NO SPECIFICS shown that people actually said ANYWHERE that they wanted this exact SPECIFIC 2 block road changed to what has been presented like ANYBODY knew the SPECIFICS of this project which will obviously morph into MILLIONS….There were NO SPECIFICS that I saw ORIGINALLY for this SPECIFIC Sunset Project

    I don’t think those people you refer to, Mr. Haug, as the “silent folks” EVER saw this specific mega multi-million dollar project on that form people filled out. Where is that SPECIFIC item?,

    Let’s SEE the actual RECORD of these “silent folks” saying they wanted this SPECIFIC couple block project that is now at somewhere along the lines of a MILLION, oh, and add the $20,000 PRETEND striping.

    This isn’t about Monday morning quarterbacking, it’s people wanting to KNOW how one person in our City can get this SPECIFIC project to be a PRIORITY

    Perhaps we need to put it up for a VOTE….when I hear comments about “silent folks”…..let’s see if there are many “silent voters” here. We KNOW the “silent folks” on our Town Council……those that rarely have questions regarding projects

  27. Funny, I thought I was commenting on the issues first presented by Council Member Bloom on Calvin Ball with Traffic Calming $ being shifted to Hwy 104. My point is that if we put into place BBP and Project Accountability we will go a long way to creating ways for voters to have more visibility and say in how we spend public money and more visibility to accountability. The SP did not talk about very many specific projects but it did mention many concepts that people supported about making better connection between areas of our town. I will not make an comments here about Sunset, this is not the place for them.

    • It would really be great if everyone could limit their use of all caps to ONE word per entire comment (if your comment is 60 words, for example, you can choose your favorite ONE word to emphasize out of those 60). That way, no one feels like they are being shouted at. Thank you.

      • Teresa, that idea is EXCELLENT.

  28. I have stated before, my use of CAPS has NOTHING to do with “shouting”……I do not SEE any area at this where words can be highlighted, put in bold, underlined, etc. Perhaps you could point that area out to me if there is one here……

    Anybody that KNOWS me, KNOWS I don’t “shout”…….I have always used caps in areas where there is no highlighting, bold, etc. So I assume THIS is becoming a rule for this newspaper? I have not had this problem with other news outlets when sending lettres….and it appears that people that write like they are texting, small letters, etc. have not crossed this rule either. Just because one questions how a government is spending millions of dollars does not MEAN they are shouting…..

    Well, I guess that is one way of closing down people in this town that don’t “go along” no matter how much the cost. I believe THAT is the problem here in Edmonds, and I believe many people agree with me, if put to a vote.

    Again, put the Sunset Project up to a vote.

    Last time I looked, I believe I saw that the person that runs this news service is on one of the Mayor’s commissions…..economic I believe.

  29. Tere,

    Caps as shouting has been regarded as such, on the Internet, before the World Wide Web came into being in 1991, on BBSs, Compuserve, AOL, The WELL, and GE’s and IBM’s services (which names now escape me). The old tradition was to emphasize with _underscores_. Currently, *asterisks* are more common because many services turn them into italics. Though, emphasizing more than a word or two is an insult to you audiences intelligence.

  30. Yes, I know the history. I have never found this to be a problem with other blogs such as this or large national news services, and I have done this from the beginning for quite some time. Evidently here in this community this has been read in only one way. I have never had anybody (I sure wanted to cap that word anybody) ever complain before or feel like I was yelling…..I’m not a shouter or yeller, although I do like to get my point across
    I have had to work to just type this without my forever caps, but I can certainly try I suppose. There ya have it and it was quite hard to do but I will certainly try perhaps

  31. Ms Ryder, The Economic Development Commission was formed by a vote of the Council over 5 years ago. It is not the Mayors Commission. The 17 member who have served and are serving are trying their best to add value to our community. When it was to Sunset, the council extended the commission until the end of 2015. Yes, “the person who runs this news service” is on the Commission having been appointed by Council Member Johnson. She also serves a school district and runs this online paper. My Edmonds News is a wonderful place for people to provide well reasoned, fact based discussion of the issues. In the interest of full discloser, I have served on the Technology Committee, Levy Committee, and am currently serving on the Economic Development Commission and the Strategic Plan Steering Committee.

    • According to the guidelines from the MRSC, the role of citizen advisory boards and commisions is for policy and procedure and expertise regarding individual commisions and what they are set to accomplish in particular fields. Usually, and this can be looked at at the MRSC site regarding commissions/boards, etc with many Washington cities, there are actual experts and people that are at least related to a field they are on the commission for to make decision and specific educated appraisals, evaluations, etc. I question any conflict of interest that may come up regarding who our Mayor picks for these different commisions, when there appear to be many that do not even have people on them that are in that particular field, and they would have little or no expertise. Usually there are a couple regular citizens but most of the members would obviously need to be at least in some way related to the subject that they are making decisions on. Hence, my questions of conflicts of interest and why what appears to me to be an inordinate number of people chosen that don’t appear to have expertise in the particular field that they were chosen for.

      The commissions are not supposed to be set up to push only certain agendas.

      • The MRSC guidelines on their web site has an 85 page doc entitled “Local Government Citizen Advisory Boards Examples, options, and model practices for the effective and efficient use of advisory boards by local governments” gives a number of examples of a number of different acceptable strategies for appointing citizens to boards and commissions. Only a few types of commissions have suggestions for “subject matter experts” being named to the commissions. Much of their discussion revolves around Citizen participation in government. That is my read of the MRSC guidelines.

        I have served with all former and current Citizens Economic Development Commissioners and have seen a fine group of citizens who do not seemed to carry any baggage conflict of interest. This is especially true of those appointed by the Mayor. Innuendo without facts is SAD.

        • I want to fully endorse Darrol’s comments about the Citizen’s Economic Development Commission. I was a city councilmember in 2009 and was involved with the creation of this group; DJ Wilson was council president at that time and he was the “father” of the CEDC. One of the two members that I appointed still remains a member; the second one resigned after a few years when she moved out of state.

          I have attended most meetings of the CEDC since 2009 and have observed the same as Darrol has reported: “Citizens Economic Development Commissioners I have seen are a fine group of citizens who do not seem to carry any baggage or conflict of interest.”

  32. Per US Debt Clock.org, the United States National Debt is rapidly approaching $17,700,000,000,000. The website indicates that this is equal to $151,787 debt per taxpayer.

    The United States unfunded liabilities sit just under $118,000,000,000,000, or $1,012,209 liability per taxpayer. This amount is comprised of Medicare, Prescription Drug and Social Security unfunded liabilities.

    Despite this, the Federal Government still has massive funding up for grabs at the local level, money that many argue is sometimes used for “wants”, not just “needs”.

    In Edmonds, we have discussed controversial projects such as the Roundabout and Sunset Avenue.

    When I reviewed a Sunset Avenue grant obtained via the Puget Sound Regional Council, I discovered that the PSRC’s application form did not even require a signature. After I asked about omissions and/or inaccuracies on application forms, I was told that the PSRC begins by assuming that the application as submitted is correct per information known at the time by the sponsor. I was also told:

    “If information provided in the application related to the evaluation criteria is later suggested to be inaccurate, we do not have a specific process to deal with this other than through public comment or through information provided through monitoring of the grant.”

    Now we see another $320,000 plus being spent on a cross walk and signal near the intersection of Pine Street and SR 104, an intersection that did not require a signalized intersection per the traffic impact analysis done for the Point Edwards Development. I understand that a signalized intersection is not the same thing as a cross walk and signal, but I am not sure if the new crosswalk is a true “need” or merely a “want”.

    In this case, the cross walk and signal across SR 104 seems to have been suddenly prioritized over traffic calming needs that had been previously analyzed and ranked.

    It is tough to fight the battle of the rapidly growing National Debt and unfunded liabilities. Is it worth the effort at the local level, or has the battle already been lost? I hear it argued that if we don’t grab the money, some other municipality will grab it. An incredible debt burden has been created for our future generations.

    • Ken, it is clear some of budget issues of the federal govt are a bit out of control. In addition to the real dollars being passed out the cost to administer these programs must be enormous. The grants we often discuss are for public projects that generally spread the benefits to a number of people.

      I have just had a bid for solar at my home and was shocked, (no pun intended) the compare the costs, benefits and incentives given to the folks willing to install solar. Bottom line is the breakeven of cost and benefit is over 60 years. The cost exceeds $33,000 but the incentives would pay over $31,000. The energy savings would make the projects profitable for my installation. The long run savings after the initial cost are recovered are less than $50 a month.

      I have just posted more details under the reminder of the Solar Meeting planned for tonight and next month. This is a case of large grants that go to individuals not other governments. What do you think about this type of grant?

  33. Thank you Councilwoman Buckshnis for diligently checking for financial clarity and honesty, and also thank you to all Council members that ask the hard questions that the citizens who they represent expect them to do as their representative. Again, just going along, really isn’t being a responsible citizen or representative in our government.

    We have seen in the history of our country what can happen quite quickly by just going along.

  34. Tere , It appears that you have a problem with the mayor that is clouding many of your remarks. I would like to thank the many volunteers on boards and commissions who devote there time to making Edmonds a better city. Most boards or commissions are either confirmed or appointed by the council. Frankly you have in my opinion insulted a great group of citizens of this city.

  35. I am late in joining this conversation because our family celebrated the marriage of our son and his fiancé. The festivities included a huge party at our house on Friday and the wedding celebration in Seattle on Saturday. 

    I was a member of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee for Transportation when the 2009 update of the Transportation Element of our city’s Comprehensive Plan was written and then approved by the city council. City Council members Joan Bloom, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, and Kristiana Johnson were my team mates on the 2009 project. The authors of the Transportation Element included the aforementioned advisory committee, Edmonds city staff, a consulting company, and the citizens.

    Mrs. Bloom is correct in citing the procedure our team developed regarding traffic calming projects. (And her post was cleverly written).

    The importance of developing processes and procedures cannot be underestimated. Processes should be feasible, understandable, repeatable, and within the confines of the law.

    The highlight of the procedure Mrs. Bloom cites is the role of citizens in recognizing a traffic problem in a given neighborhood, petitioning the city, and then actively working with the city to resolve the issue. The assumption behind the procedure is that citizens are the experts in their neighborhoods. It is they who walk, ride bicycles, push strollers, and drive in their neighborhoods. It is they who, through countless hours of observation, can report problems and band together to petition the city.

    I have reflected on the many comments in My Edmonds News about our process. I speculate that the reason that the city has not received petitions from neighborhoods is because we did not do a good job of letting residents know that they have this mechanism is available to them. We should have done a better job of publicizing the process.

    As I have begun this letter on a personal note, I will end with one too. To the gentleman who commented that Ms. Tere Ryder insulted those of us who volunteer in this community; I do not feel insulted.

    I am a mother and a grandmother. I am very sensitive to bullying. I have been saddened by the personal attacks on Ms. Ryder. Do I always agree with Ms. Ryder? No. But I would prefer that commentators refute her arguments and, at the same time, treat her with dignity and respect. 

    • Ms Tipton, I did my research about the recommendations for staffing Citizen Committees on the MRSC site and my research did not concur with that stated by Ms Ryder. I was merely pointing out the complete research on the site differs from that which was presented. By implying that we as normal every day citizens do not have the right background to sit on citizen commissions, is either an insult to the citizens or and insult to those who did the appointing. The comment “Last time I looked, I believe I saw that the person that runs this news service is on one of the Mayor’s commissions…..economic I believe.” This is not a commission set up by or run by the Mayor as the comment implies. The EDC was the brain child of the council. I am just commenting on the accuracy of statement made by others just as I would have them comment on my accuracy. I would expect to be able to defend my statements with facts or well reasoned opinions and be able to explain that to the readers.

      I do not challenge the right of anyone to write but I would hope that we all get our facts as accurately stated as possible to improve the education process of these blogs. My comments are intended to challenge facts, not the people presenting them. Sorry if they come across in any way other then my intension. I am specifically relating my comments to Ms Ryders of Aug 24 at 12:21 pm. I just re read these comments and do not consider my comments to be any form of Bullying but I may just not know the definition of Bullying.

      • Mr. Haug,

        Thank you for your response to my letter posted on August 27, 2014, 9:01 am.

        It is not easy to define bullying as there are many aspects and types of behavior that can be characterized as bullying. Many commentators in various conversations that have taken place on My Edmonds News have picked on Ms. Ryder.

        I am sorry that I have singled you out. Please do accept my apology.

        Sincerely, Barbara Tipton

  36. Thank you, Ms. Tipton.

  37. Ms. Tipton,

    Thanks for your excellent summary of the work of the Transportation Committee. It is just like you to take responsibility, as a volunteer, for informing the citizens of the Traffic Calming process. You state, “We should have done a better job of publicizing the process.”

    It is important for everyone to understand that the administration (staff under the direction of the Mayor) is responsible to inform the public of the process, not the volunteers.

  38. Thank you, Council member Bloom.

    As we all know, Mayor Earling will soon be holding a town hall meeting in the Highway 99 neighborhood. That would be an appropriate time for the Mayor to describe the Traffic Calming process. I attended the town hall meeting that was held in my neighborhood (Perrinville), and the most of the question and answer period centered around transportation issues.

    I might also suggest that the city’s website be updated to describe the Traffic Calming Process.

    In addition, I receive periodic e-mail notices regarding city issues and events from Edmonds Web [webmailer@edmondswa.gov]. Perhaps a city staffer can send an e-mail, describing the Traffic Calming process, to all of us who are on the Edmonds Web Mailer distribution list.

    Sincerely,
    Barbara

  39. Barbara,

    A presentation on the Traffic Calming Program has put on the extended agenda for the September 9th Council meeting by Council President Buckshnis, at my request.

    Your suggestions about promoting the program are excellent. Hopefully, Council will discuss implementation of them at our Sept 9th meeting.

  40. I think the lively debate on this blog is healthy for the city. Barbara Tipton’s ideas about publicizing the process for such ideas as the Traffic Calming Project is excellent. Let’s all watch the presentation Sept. 9.

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