Thursday, January 31, 2008
As the day nears for our next council meeting I feel a sense of dread and a need to write this letter. I may ask questions here but don't be concerned, they're only for reflection.
At the last Council meeting you initiated your 'Rules of Engagement' as the RC calls it. By reprehending our community in that manner you have succeeded to alienate many more residents than you may care to believe. If you want to stand out as a leader I suggest you do not demoralize those you have taken an oath to serve and to represent.
Bradely, you've been quick to lay down the rules, yet you yourself refuse to be held accountable or admit to your own outbursts. Why is that? What are you afraid of? If your ethics are above board communication & interaction shouldn't be a problem.
I understand my only option to make a comment on town business is to knock on council members doors or call them, aside of the two nights a month I schedule to participate in town meetings? I personally prefer to address my representatives at council meetings where concerns and responses are recorded.
After the last meeting I witnessed Karen Pickett approach you calmly at the council table and as you smirked, Karen cried. I didn't hear the conversation...I didn't need to.
You have a very long road to travel to earn my trust at this rate.
Is this the behavior of the 'Town Hero' Mary Joyce anointed before she resigned? Yes, the 'Jefferson Award' shows up nicely on a Google search....dependable volunteer, with physical & fiscal resources and successes due to your personality & organizational skills. Awesome! If only you could add respect and humility to your qualities we may be able to bridge some very deep rivers while you are in office.
Please remember the Town of Ruston is populated with 750 +/- residents, not serfs for you to rule unquestioned. I can only suggest that you humble yourself, be an individual, step off of your pedestal, refrain from stomping out and take the heat when necessary. This bloc party voting, stomping out and disrespectful smirks is very unproductive and unattractive.
If you are able to do this then let's move on, acknowledge 'our' past behaviors and welcome public comments and interaction in Our Town of Ruston Government. Please make an attempt to work openly and together with all of the community.
If you are unable to do that then I ask you to step down from the council because you are hurting more than helping our Town heal.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Comments must be directed to the City of Tacoma:
Land Use Planner
Building and Land Use Services
City of Tacoma Public Works Department
747 Market St., Rm. 300
Tacoma, WA 98402-3769 (253) 591-5387
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
It went pretty much like this.
Back when the rocks hadn't cooled completely and I was but a wee lad;Going for a Sunday drive with my dad or with a friend's pop was a very big deal. Adventure was around any corner and still local too. All us kids would pile in a car without restraints of any kind and hang out the windows while raising hell right up to the limits of the responsible adult driving. Driving East on South 12th street, we would get all big-eyed when we saw the gap in the trees between Pearl and Stevens where the guy drove the 54 Merc off the road at a high rate of speed and clipped off the treetops. He wasn't found right away.
Most of our fathers were volunteer firefighters, members of the UP Boosters Club, Masons and also in the same Army Reserve unit. Believe me, those guys built that community on respect and a handshake. Our dads knew all the cool spots where the wrecks had been and regaled us with the gory details with a little begging on our part. The tour East through town included tales of the big fires in Tacoma and maybe even a stop downtown to have a pop and clamber over the TFD rigs. Dads would usually stop and grab a beer at some point while we wrestled in the car. The drive would continue down the hill and we might go across the 15th street bridge with its railroad tracks in the middle. The boards on the roadbed would pull the old bias-ply tires all over the lane. We loved to meander through the port and all the smokestacks eventually leading to the drawbridges. If we were lucky, we could stop for an Orange Crush or a Nugrape for cheap.
Coming back across 11th street across the Hylebos then the Blair bridges dad would point out the locations of the dock fires that claimed a TFD battalion chief and his engine. He always maintained that his friend died of a heart attack before the fire got him. Easier to deal with that way. Continuing West on 11th st he would turn a block North and parallel the road to drive under a succession of whirly cranes that were just wider than the one lane road. That was a big lumber mill just before the ramp to the Puyallup River bridge. Once on the bridge he would take the turnoff ramps from the bridge to the fingers between the waterways. Clattery old board ramps. You can still see the cuts in the sidewalk where they were.
Likewise, on the Murray Morgan bridge, you can still see the cutoff on the North railing just before getting to A Street where the traffic could take a right and bypass down town heading for Bayside Drive (Schuster Pkwy)Cliff Street is still there under the 11th street bridge and you can access it by a ramp on one side and stairs on the other just off A St. A turn back East from Cliff St onto the steel switchbacks under the bridge led down to Dock Street. You still can walk on the switchback if you take the stairway out on the South side of the bridge and get to Dock street. Dock street was another narrow track with fork lifts and trucks crowding the lumpy road as we headed North towards the bridge to Bayside Drive. This wood bridge had a ninety degree turn once it was high enough to cross the railroad tracks and led to the best part of the ride.
Tucked in under the cliffs and overhanging trees above the tracks, Bayside Drive led down to the old docks and the Sperry Tunnel. Not like your usual tunnel, it was truly a one way passage with a traffic light at each end and was carved out between the cliff and the Sperry Mills. Water cascaded down the walls constantly and the wood beams low overhead looked inadequate to hold up the flour mill growing out of the cliff. The roadbed was potted horribly and there was a sharp offset at the mid point. One very cold winter, when the tunnel was frozen solid with ice, a significant portion of the TPD night shift vehicles were stacked up in there chasing a suspect. Wet, dark, narrow and dilapidated, that tunnel was the greatest for kids with overactive imaginations.
Once we cleared the tunnel, the narrow road eventually wandered up to the intersection of 30th and McCarver where we dropped back down across the tracks at the big old sawmill. The mill wasn't always keen on our driving through. The huge rusty steel burner with all the sawdust flaming away was another favorite of ours. The Ocean Fish Market was right there by the dock and then the Top Of the Ocean restaurant was another favorite stop. We kids would tear up to the top deck to play around the fake stacks while dad wet his whistle.
The rest of what is now Ruston Way was a narrow meander with rail crossings and washed away bulkheads and tumbledown buildings. One of the rail crossings was nearly parallel to the road so the road jogged sharply the width of a lane. There was no sidewalk, a crappy road and quite a bit of space between the road and the incline to the railbed above.The Ruston tunnel had a fourteen inch water main on the roadbed cast in concrete up against the wall of the tunnel that made it one way for all but narrow cars and you could semi-safely walk through on the square concrete over the main. They buried a couple of 8" mains later to open the tunnel a bit.
Many years later, married and with kids I still took that Sunday drive and it wasn't all that different with the exception of the Top Of The Ocean having burned down in 67.
Karen's in Arizona for a couple of weeks. At her current location (Kearny), she apparently has no Internet service. She asked me to log on to let you know she'll get back to work as soon as possible. On Friday, she's moving to a new location (Tucson) where it should be more civilized -- Internet, Starbucks, etc. Until then, thanks to all for keeping an eye on things.
jim (writing from Albuquerque)
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
It is sad that Bradley begins his term with such prejudice and malice. He doesn't sound anything like the "community hero" Mary Joyce praised him for. It would have been better to address the public with his ideas on how to solve Ruston's problems than childishly limit how people may interact with the council. There will always be differing opinions, and there is value in those opinions. The variety, properly acted on, leads to a true government of the people.
Council meetings are business meetings. If you look over the past year you will see the small amount of business accomplished. There has been a lot of public comment and plenty of power struggles between the council and mayor. There have been orchestrated "shows" but there has been very little attention to serious issues facing the town and there has been little effort by elected officials to address them. You have large issues facing you. Do you think you can resolve them in your one and a half hours twice a month? Please tell me it isn't because you and your cohorts will have the issues decided before you take your seats and "officially" vote.
Bradley mentions public record requests. Why have there been so many? It is a measure of how unhappy people are with their town government. Sincerely work on the issues and I'll bet they reduce dramatically.
The government isn't broke but the people running it are. A different form of government is not going to stop the bitter arguments. The arguments need to be identified and addressed. Bradley's "rules of engagement" do not show a willingness to show leadership. I want a councilmember that is willing and ready to work for the good of the town. Being ready to fight isn't the way to do it.
Let me pass on some advice. Show that you are willing to learn what being a councilmember means. Learn your legal responsibilities, what state law requires and what will create liability for the town. Use your resources. Find a way to work with the mayor without letting him take over your rights. If something isn't right, don't be afraid to say so, but don't do it out of meanness. Become familiar with current issues. Know the faces behind your town government. Listen to your constituents. Remember that while you may have won an election many residents don't vote – and all residents count. And if you didn't win, remember that too. Don't be so petty that you can't be an asset to our town.
Now is the time to identify our needs and goals. Since our elected officials won't do it, let's use this blog to offer our opinions on things that are important to us and goals we have for our town.
Here's a few to start:
Fix fence bent over the sidewalk at the school
Parking lot broken up at the school
Fix our sidewalks
Refund meter deposits
Plan for sanitary and storm sewers
Painting center stripes on roadways
Upgrade buildings and equipments
Fix guard rails
Visible street signs
Paint the curbs
I love that. You have covered it most truthfully and effectively. You could be one of the kids that played at our house on Winnifred along with my two, three of my brothers' kids and several of the neighborhood kids that we helped raise to taxpaying adulthood. I worried about all of you and how you might turn out if something bad happened but you have made me very proud to have associated with a great bunch of kids.
You had community policing. The cops knew which one of you "did it" before you got home and mom and dad took care of the problem. Some of the kids did have problems but they could always come by and get hugs and a laugh and hang out for a day or a week.
Sure I have been here nearly thirty years and watched a lot happen. Even participated in a lot of it. I didn't come here to change the world to suit me or to make a profit on property or have a view. I came here to die at home, amongst family and friends. From what I have been seeing, some of the movers and shakers have damn little of one and next to none of the other.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Seen any cold winter's day traffic snarls yet? Any of that setting up for the big spring time community block party in celebration? Some summer sun BBQ'ing madness on a serene, pricey and privileged edge of the city's, oops sorry, town's chunk of real estate. No, not today again, it's yet another day that this little unwanted or unkempt secret remains quiet, bitter and motionless. It’s a cute mix of good old hwy 99 store fronts ready to spill out architecturally or economically and upstate New York cottage owner types who would actually sprinkle tacks in their yard to ward off unruly dogs. But just don't think I'm lying about that last part.
~ A Parker Fan
I ran across my testimony from one of the hearings on the Commencement condo’s, in that long-ago and far-off time when we had some shred of a ‘community’ (I don't sound bitter do I?): “The way this conflict is playing out is ugly, mean and downright evil. We can and should speak our minds and engage in the civic debate that a small town affords us. But we’ve turned into a lynching mob, out to kill anyone who disagrees with us. At this point, I’m not so concerned about this building. It’s only wood and steel. What’s important is what’s happening between us as human beings.”
Why can't we just disagree without hating each other? I don't feel hatred those who are in the RC inner circle. But I sure feel it from them. I tried to approach Council Member Albertson with that message a week ago, but he rolled his eyes and turned away. When I tried to talk with Council Member Huson after the last meeting, his insults were overwhelming. That's their right, but why work so hard to create bitter feelings?
Any attempts to ease tension or make things better have not only been squashed by this group now in power, but met with lethal force. This does not have to be a war ~ no one wanted it.
I don't have any answers. I wish I did. ~ Karen
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The Jan. 14th study session is being used to justify the removal of almost all public input at council meetings and the threat to remove our 4 minutes per month if the audience does not remain silent at all times.
So let's look at what happened. Many people came to this meeting upset that Council Members Albertson and Stebner had been dishonest at the previous council meeting. The council had been asked about the contract they were negotiating with Tacoma Fire, but they would not reveal anything other than to confirm a meeting with Tacoma. Tacoma subsequently notified the mayor that they had withdrawn from negotiations well before Albertson and Stebner were questioned at the council meeting on Jan. 7th.
Everyone knew that tensions would be high at this meeting. So Albertson opened by setting his ground rules. But he claimed those rules were based on behavior from the last council meeting where he claimed the council had been yelled at and sworn at. A review of the tape shows about a 2 sentence exchange where one person raised their voice somewhat, but did not swear.
Albertson then wanted to question the fire chief with no advance notice of what his questions were, although the questions were clearly prepared and available in advance of the meeting. The majority of the fire committee members were present, who had done extensive research on these issues. But they were not asked to participate.
Chief Torbet expressed frustration at not being given advance notice that he would be questioned, especially since he had specifically asked for information from the council at the last meeting. But he agreed to answer any questions.
Albertson then asked Torbet the same question 7 times (what criteria should be used to choose between Tacoma and Ruston fire). Since Tacoma had withdrawn from negotiations, and the council had not offered any explanation for their dishonest omission at the last meeting, there was growing tension in the audience by this continued discussion of contracting with Tacoma. Many had come to the meeting to explore issues related to Ruston’s department, not to continue a needless debate.
After the 6th time the question was asked, the mayor pointed out that he had done his best to keep order but it was clear that folks did not appreciate the way that the council was conducting the meeting. When Albertson asked the same question yet again, there was a sharp exchange between one member of the audience and the mayor consisting of 3 sentences. The mayor regained control of the meeting, but Council Member Huson then made a motion to adjourn and walked out of the meeting.
If you listen to the tape, you will note there was not a “20 minute free for all” as RC claims. Public discussion got out of hand for the last 1 minute and 35 seconds of the formal meeting after Huson walked out. The last few minutes of the meeting were similar in tone to many council meetings during the Commencement condo debate 3 years ago, where Huson and Stebner were audience members displaying what is now defined as ‘uncivil’ behavior.
On a final note, I appreciate the new council rules provided by RC. These new rules were read rapidly at the meeting last night and no public questions, clarification or input was allowed. And thank you to whomever took that niffy secret recording (not illegal, just hidden). But I continue to disagree with the one-side presentation they offer. We try to give you more details here ~ if only to balance what you are hearing from other sources. I hope everyone can stay open and try to talk through these issues as best we can, even if the discussion can no longer happen at the council meetings.
Mr. Fontaine wants to hear from everyone. I especially hope those of you who are not directly involved in the political scene down here will give him your input. Your voice is especially important during these turbulent times. You can reach Scott Fontaine at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call: 253-320-4758.
The Ruston Town Council has a Council position open. To apply, please submit a resume/application no longer than two pages by Feb. 15, 2008. Copies will be sent to the Mayor and Council for review of appointment. The appointment will be made on March 14, 2008.
SPEACHLESS IN RUSTON or SPEACHLESS NEAR SEATTLE - which do you think will sell better on the T-Shirts???as most of you know, i am rarely at a loss for words, but last nite takes the cake...or is it humbleing pie. by the time we peasants were going to be allowed our two moments in history, i could not think of any words longer than four letters to string together so i passed on taking a turn to address the 'cancel'.
THE IRONIC, HYPOCRISY OF dan and bradley THE LONGEST, LOUDEST AND MOST CONSISTENT ADDRESSERS OF PREVIOUS COUNCILS NOW ARE GAGGING THE PUBLIC.
way back when i was a councilmember, i thought taking the comments and even barbs from the public was part of the job. after all i was under the impression that i worked for the residents and got the big bucks for having the willingness to take what came and hopefully in the end do what was best for the town in my judgement. (even took an oath to that effect)
after not sleeping to well near seattle, the thought occurred to me at a little after 6AM that i should call all the 'cancel' members and ask to come over and chat with them or at least have some quality phone time. well, i didn't and will continue to TRY and take the higher road until forced off of it.
SIT BACK AND TAKE IT FOLKS, LOCAL GOVERNMENT IS NOW A SPECTATOR SPORT!
I am sure that most of you are as frustrated as I am over the lack of forward motion that continues on virtually every issue in Ruston. It would seem the inmates of a women’s penitentiary have more of an idea of how to conduct themselves at a public meeting than the majority of citizens who regularly attend our town council meetings. It would also seem that the mayor has absolutely no ability or desire to control the assembled rabble. Because of these things, I have made a motion that lays a few ground rules for the order of the agenda and general public comments.
My biggest concern for Ruston continues to be its fiscal viability. Recently, it was pointed out to me by one of the citizens that because of the duration of the town meetings and the amount of staff at the meetings, the meetings are costing the town between six and seven dollars a minute, which seems expensive, and really seems outrageous considering that very few things are getting accomplished. I think my motion will help.
I am sorry to lump those of you who know how to conduct yourselves in public with those who don’t, but obviously not sorry enough to let the same problems continue unchecked. Many of you have spoken to me since the first of the year, either in person or by telephone. I encourage that form of contact. Because of the amount of money the town was wasted responding to “fishing expeditions” in the form of public information requests, I will not be responding to any emails or writing any of you notes or letters.
To those of you who have spoken to me, I say thank you for your input, support, disagreement, etc. A health exchange of ideas is usually beneficial to all parties.
Again, one of my biggest concerns is money and how much we continue to spend on consultants, two of the biggest being attorneys and planners. It is obvious by the size of the budget that we have for these items that we could do much better. Also, in speaking to a developer in town who has been charged thousands of dollars in consultant fees, I agree that just because the process has been made overly complex and extraordinarily expensive does not mean that it is the best.
I will be trying to get this item on the ballot in November to let the citizens decide. I will be providing more information throughout the spring and summer regarding this issue. One of the reasons that I have given a list of my pet projects is that I do not plan to attend any further study sessions until we have rules of engagement for them and the person running the meeting is capable of doing just that.
I hope this letter has explained some of my actions and some of my thoughts.
Please contact me with questions or comments.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
New council rules were adopted tonight that include the following (this is not a complete list):
- Public comment will no longer be allowed on agenda items. Members of the public will be allowed 2 minutes at the end of each meeting. If anyone acts 'uncivil' - as defined by Council Member Huson, all public comment will be suspended permanently. That's 4 minutes per month.
- If anyone makes noise from the audience or speaks in a manner that the council does not approve of, the meeting will be adjourned even if bills and payroll have not been approved.
- Council meetings will not last longer than 2 hours.
- At 8:45 pm, all discussion on agenda items will stop and claims and payroll will be addressed.
- Any paid consultant who is needed at the meeting will be scheduled to appear first and will be dismissed after their issue is discussed.
- Council Member Stebner added a requirement that a police officer be stationed at each council meeting, at the mayor's discretion as to their availability.
- Council Member Albertson added a rule that prohibits the mayor from offering any comment unless authorized by the council to speak. Mayor Transue agreed to this rule rather than have it added to the motion that enforced these new rules.
The motion passed 3 to 1 with Council Member Hedrick voting no.
The council agreed to take applications for the council vacancy. I'll confirm the due dates and post them tomorrow. There will be no public interview of the candidates and no public comment will be allowed on the issue.
In my opinion, this is an over-reaction that viciously rubs salt on a very wounded community. It feels a bit more like old-style communist Russia than America in Ruston right now.
I wish him luck in his research. Maybe some outside scrutiny will help calm us down and we start to mend our very, very broken fences.
UPDATE: Mr. Fontaine posted this invitation. I wanted to put it up front so everyone can respond.
"Digging" might be a bit strong, but I'm basically wondering how things went so wrong, and how things can get better.(And if you want to weigh in, e-mail me at email@example.com. It's a shameless plug, I know...)
sleepy tiger's comment came pretty close! good job!
another cliche comes to mind regarding everding: "the smellers, the feller" the very idea of him trying to lay NO FORWARD PROGRESS at the mayors feet is pure fantasy. bob and his 'second on demand' have delayed and blocked any and all ruston oriented progress since the sad day they took office. tacoma oriented progress has not been so great either, but not for their lack of trying!!
Please folks, DO NOT let these people (our representatives ?!?!) railroad another councilmember into being seatted without due process. IF we are going to HEAL, it needs to come from the inside through a healthy, fair process. Show up, Speak up and Make up a RUSTON that can CONTINUE and that we all can enjoy and be proud of.
First let me say that I'm very disappointed with the workgroup session (on Jan. 14th) and what it was reduced to because of the tone set by Dan Albertson. This is not to point fingers, but rather to state a fact based upon his mandates to all of us at the beginning of the meeting. I believe our Council members suffer from confusion as to what is their responsibility and what belongs to the Mayor.
It was clear before the meeting even started that there was considerable friction between Councilman Albertson and the Mayor, which then carried over to us by Councilman Albertson lecturing us as if we were bad students and the principal needed to punish us. That’s my personal take on how the meeting opened, which then lead to further deterioration and a newly elected council person walking out in a snit making a snide comment. I don't think that's why he was elected to office and certainly didn't run his campaign on this basis.
In addition to setting the tone for the meeting, I was further disappointed by the format of the workgroup. I fully expected that we would have an informal workgroup, where attendees could sit in a circle (to facilitate communication among everyone) along with our town council and mayor to review the fire committee report.
The report completed by the fire committee has been distributed and presented several times already, yet we never seem to come to any resolution of the information presented. It appears that each time it comes up for discussion someone wants more information. What specifically is there left to report on? The report is very comprehensive, and we have to recognize that the town council does not have the medical background or expertise to make independent decisions that affect the residents of our town . While there obviously is an agenda shared by a few council members, the town as a majority has made its wishes known and very clear: Keep Ruston and the Ruston Fire Department.
To me the issue is pretty simple. Has Ruston had a catastrophe in the past few years that we haven't addressed? Are there concerns for the near future that our fire department and the report from the fire committee didn't address, and if so, what are they? Who is dissatisfied with the current level of service, and what specifically are they dissatisfied with? Let’s deal with realities not innuendos, lies and rumors. This is our town and our fire department. We should be able to discuss concerns without having our council members go behind our backs and meet with the City of Tacoma to forge a contract that the majority of us don’t want.
I believe it’s time for us to call for a vote to affirm our fire department, put the nonsense with Tacoma to bed, and get on with the issues that require our immediate attention. Having said this, these are my concerns. Our Council keeps spending our money frivolously while at the same time professing to be financially responsible and frugal. I believe Councilman Albertson was adamant while campaigning for office that the money should not be touched! However, we keep spending this money and soon Ruston won’t be financially viable, causing bankruptcy and annexation to Tacoma. All this after several of these council members pledged otherwise.
While I firmly believe the Ruston Fire Department is a non-issue and should be put to rest with a straight up vote, there are other issues that I believe require our immediate attention and yet no one to date has presented a clear statement that outlines the vision for Ruston within the next year and into the next 5 and10 years. We haven’t established any goals for the next year, and we still don't have a road map of how to get anywhere because we don't have a strategic plan. How are we going to approach the issues facing our community and prioritize the issues facing our community? Which items do we address first? We know our infrastructure is crumbling, we know we need some new/used fire equipment, expand personnel, etc, but no one has articulated a plan to address anything. We keep reacting to fires, and that's not management.
Leadership and integrity is another issue I’m concerned with. We currently have only one Council member who operates from a position of integrity, honesty, and conducts himself with dignity and fairness. We may not be able to prove that the open meeting laws have been broken, or at least the spirit of the law broken, but it’s clear that discussions have taken place prior to the public meetings and agendas have been marked out. This is too small a community to be conducting town business behind closed doors. We expect better from our council. I would suggest that council members could take a few lessons from Councilman Hedrick and be forthright in conducting town business.
I recognize that we won’t all see eye to eye on every issue and I don’t expect that we’re all going to get along all the time. What I do expect is that our council will listen to what we have to say since you work for all of us not just a few. I also expect that each of you will bring your skills and knowledge to the table, and recognize when you don’t have the expertise, and rely on those who do. Let’s deal with the big stuff and not sweat the small stuff. And lastly, this isn’t about the RC vs. the Ruston Blog. This is about our town and the issues that can no longer be ignored. We are your constituents and your first allegiance is to listen to us. Treat us respectfully, and we will do the same. These are our meetings: Not yours. Let’s stay focused on the issues and make this town proud of how we deal with issues and set an example for others to follow.
Monday, January 21, 2008
The meeting opened with a long discussion of the agenda approval and adding the contract for the prosecuting attorney, which was eventually added to the agenda as the first item of business. Mayor Transue opened discussion on the issue by making his recommendation. Council Member Albertson asked why this candidate had been chosen. There had been 6 proposals, only 2 of which were within budget. Transue, the town attorney and police chief interviewed those two, who scored evenly on the interview. Transue stated that based on reference checking and costs, he recommended Michael Bejarano.
Albertson said he had done his own reference checking on the other candidate and had negotiated a lower rate with her. Albertson wanted Christa Swain appointed as the prosecuting attorney. Council Member Hedrick felt that Albertson had inappropriately taken on duties given to the executive branch and was acting outside the legislative authority of the council. The town attorney said the names proposed on the contract were the preview of the mayor, the terms of the contract were for the council.
Transue noted that he had asked the council to appoint a member to work with him in this selection process after his last candidate was rejected. When there was no response, he moved ahead. Transue said he would take it under advisement if the council moved ahead with the contract for a new prosecuting attorney with a different person than he had proposed. An hour into the meeting, the motion to approve the contract with Ms. Swain’s name inserted and Mr. Bejarano’s deleted was approved 4 to 1 (Hedrick voted no).
Transue noted there were several items on the horizon that would require a budget increase:
1) Since the council had refused to compromise on the proposed lease of the Commencement’s sale center space, there was now legal action that would require an additional $12,000 to $15,000. He noted the length of the overall lease of the school was not an issue at trial.
2) Tacoma will be raising rates; 4% for sewer base rate plus a 7% increase in the consumption rate and 7% increase for garbage.
3) He was unsure what level of service he could provide for the rest of the year, given the council’s cut on overtime for town employees, especially police.
Albertson stated that they can serve the public best if they try to come up with a level of cooperation, such as the mayor giving his reasons for his actions and the council doing the same – that information should go both ways. He felt that information flow had been lacking from the mayor.
Transue asked Albertson for an update on their meeting with Tacoma Fire (to negotiate a new contract for emergency services). Albertson felt any discussion should wait until the study session on Jan. 14th.
When public comment was opened, I asked Albertson and Council Member Stebner to provide a copy of the contract with Tacoma Fire now so the public could review it before the next meeting. They gave no response. They eventually acknowledged there had been a meeting with Tacoma Fire, but would not talk about it until the study session.
Fire Chief Torbet then asked for details of the contract with Tacoma Fire. If there were numbers available from Tacoma, the council owed it to at least the fire committee to review them and not keep them so hidden. He asked Albertson and Stebner if there was a reason they were hiding these numbers? He found it very objectionable that the council was not being forthright with this information.
Last August, Ruston was awarded a grant from the state’s Community and Economic Development agency (CTED) for $75,000 to update the Master Development Plan (MPD) for the Point Ruston property to make it consistent with all the town’s land use codes. There have been inconsistencies discovered both within the MPD and with Ruston’s zoning codes and comprehensive plan. The grant requires a $31,400 match from Ruston that the council had removed from the budget.
A CTED representative at the meeting announced that they were not sure they could fund the grant under these conditions. Among other things, the time line was critical and the contract (as presented) had to be signed this week. Council Member Huson expressed ongoing concerned about the cost of the town planners (who are outside consultants) and his determination to hire an in-house house planner. The town’s consultants would do most of the work on this grant. The council eventually approved signing the contract while acknowledging that a budget amendment would be needed to fulfill the obligations of that contract.
I’ve already given a summary of what happened at the study session the following Monday on the fire department. Prior to the study session, Tacoma had released a letter stating they had withdrawn from contract negotiations on Jan. 3rd at the meeting with Stebner and Alberston. The timing is interesting; Stebner and Albertson apparently knew on Jan. 3rd that Tacoma had withdrawn from negotiations, yet at this meeting on Jan. 7th they refused to talk about details of the meeting with Tacoma until the study session on Jan. 14th. These council members began that meeting on the 14th by questioning Chief Torbet about what criteria they should use to judge between Tacoma and Ruston emergency services without acknowledging the letter from Tacoma or the fact there was not contract on the table.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Good morning Karen.
I just spoke to Mayor Transue. I have offered my support to him as the Mayor. I am contacting others in the community to do the same. We can start by attending the meeting on Tuesday night, remaining calm and civil. All of us realize the stress this Town is under. It will do no good to be at the meeting and be disruptive-The Mayor and Council will adjourn it immediately. We need to get further than the pledge of allegiance. I am asking all my friends around Town to hold their frustrations, at least for now. We need to appoint a new Council member. Lets hope and pray the Council acts fairly. (I'm not saying that you acted in out of line) We can make a difference by the actions we take.
We need to take a big breath and relax. Prayer, yoga, whatever works for you – let’s slow down and seek wisdom right now. This is a critical juncture in our history. More than ever, we need to listen and hear each other. As I told the council at the last meeting, the seeds of hate and anger were sown three years ago during the condo debate. We are reaping that harvest. I don’t have the answers, but I’ll share some thoughts. Please add yours ~ it’s our collective wisdom that will show us the next step.
First, I appeal to Ruston’s mayor and council for leadership. You set the political tone. Please don’t belittle your constituents any longer. Part of your duties include taking heat for your decisions. The study session Monday night started out with a speech requiring everyone ‘hush up’ (my words) and a threat to walk out if you didn’t like the way you were being treated. One of you did just that rather than call for calm or attempt to end the badgering of the fire chief that was upsetting the audience.
Please listen to us, even when you disagree. Making faces, holding up your hand when we approach you, pre-planning your actions before the council meetings sets the tone. There are consequences for these actions. The level of frustration you felt on Monday is one of those consequences. You influence whether or not that continues. Every once in a while, change course based on public input even if your inner circle won’t agree.
Just my opinion, but I see the mayor trying more than some of the council members. I don't agree with him sometimes, but he's at least willing to listen.
To the rest of us, I appeal for calm. While the frustration expressed by some on this blog and at meetings is real and well founded, treating each other with respect (even if it’s not deserved) is one of the foundational elements of any sense of community. I am torn between this desire for ‘politeness’ and a growing respect for people’s right to respond as they see fit ~ within limits. I think that limit has been crossed too many times in recent years (by both sides); not just because we have yelled at each other, but because we have not listened.
It’s time to listen now. So first to Mayor Transue and Council Members Stebner, Huson, Hedrick and Albertson, please listen to your citizens. You have been given a great gift. Now more than ever, treat this community with tenderness and care. You will continue to reap what you sow.
And to the rest of us, let’s take that collective breath and listen, too. It’s worth holding our breath and letting our leaders demonstrate the healing they claim to want, if they will.
TOWN OF RUSTON
5117 North Winnifred Street
Ruston, WA 98407
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2008
Statement of Mayor Michael Transue
“Effective today, I am appointing Sergeant Jerome Kunkel as acting Chief of the Ruston Police Department, having finalized the removal Chief James Reinhold from the position of Chief.
As an appointed employee, Ruston’s police chief must maintain the trust and confidence of the mayor and our citizens. While I will not discuss personnel issues, it is my responsibility to ensure that such an individual fills that position and I have taken action, within my lawful ability, to do so.
Sergeant Kunkel has my full support and confidence and will serve as acting chief until an interim appointment can be made. The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs are assisting me with the search for an experienced interim chief, so that I may conduct a state-wide search and make a permanent appointment prior to summer.”
X X X
Update @ Midnight: The News Tribune has a couple of mentions: a story and on the Political Buzz blog.
I guess the outside world did not know that Sally Everding (Bob's wife) is the editor and host of the Ruston Connection web page. Friend Virginia Carpio (co-editor with Sue Hines) of the Ruston Connection newsletter, announced at the last council meeting that both venues are private.
We do know that the Ruston Connection newsletter editors Carpio and Hines are named in the lawsuit between the casino and the church, and there have been recent changes to the Connection web page that canceled several previous memberships. Not sure if there are any dynamics here that helped Mr. Everding decide to step out of public life, but we'll let you know if we find any....
Saturday, January 19, 2008
We encourage a variety of opinion. If anyone wants to post on this main page, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to look at this recent change as an opportunity for all of us to set differences aside: Ruston blog and Ruston connection. I want Ruston to remain Ruston. I fear we are on the verge of loosing that, then we become a nonfactor in any decisions/discussions affecting our future. I would ask for our Council members to lead us in the right direction. I did not vote for all of you, and I certainly don't agree with the opinions you all might have expressed,but I must trust you at this time. It saddens me that I fear what my trust might deliver, but I simply do not have the time to give to fight. Please. Understand that the majority of us in Ruston don't care about who is with which "group", we care about keeping our town our town. Too many of us are tired. We are tired from working full time to support out families. We are tired because that is just the world we live in. That is why we vote for you. And I, at this time, trust, and pray, for all of you to overcome your differences to represent and develop a sense of community we once had and need again. Thank you for serving us. I know it is not an easy task for any of you. And I appreciate you all. We are in your hands. Please remember this.
Friday, January 18, 2008
And there are other pressing issues to explore; the council's continued attempts to disband our fire department, the council's decision about who be awarded the contract for a town prosecutor (a job clearly assigned to the mayor). Explore the older postings to hear more. Life in our small town continues...
Thursday, January 17, 2008
As a source close to the chief, he has turned in his equipment and his pager and will now be sleeping through the night. Seriously though, he will miss being a part of the town and has always been there to help us. He’s given a lot in time and resources to a town he doesn’t live in. He’s always enjoyed the people in town and will miss you all, even though he had to make decisions that weren’t always what some wanted. That’s part of being the chief.
Chief, in our hearts, you will always be our chief. I’m sure he’d appreciate hearing from you, and now he’s able to talk without violating any policy.
Since the mayor is afraid to talk, won’t talk, can’t talk, I’ll tell you. Sgt. Kunkel is running the department, for at least now.
Interesting how that issue has been around so long.
I've posted the papers if you'd like to hear more. Here is a flavor. Enjoy! Karen
Community Jewels, 1997:
The town of Ruston remains hidden, tucked away at the north end of Tacoma’s waterfront between an old dark tunnel and Point Defiance Park. The tiny town stands, in many ways, as one of the last vestiges of small town Amercia. Surrounded on all sides by the big city, community connections are strong, neighbors know one another and town pride is pervasive. And yet this modest town has been the stage of major battles; big city versus small town, corporate giant versus big government, environmental perfection versus reality.
This small town heritage is often carried in the memories of the elderly, in the stories they tell, and in the imagination of the young who allow themselves to be transported to a long ago time and place. Such stories can only be protected if told and captured. This paper attempts to preserve a few pieces of Ruston’s heritage, to tell a small number of stories gleaned from the old and wise among us and the documents they have left behind.
Ruston’s legacy is that of the Industrial Revolution, of man’s pride in taming the earth and using its riches to enhance his own life. It was that force that laid the seed for the community when Tacoma business leaders built a smelter on Commencement Bay. More
The View From Here, 1998:
As I look out my window to the water stretched out below, I wonder what view greeted the distant occupant of this house when it was built in 1912. What was life like for former inhabitants of this little town? Did they face the same struggles as a community? Were their heartaches and joys the same as ours today? Was the town close-knit or divided? Has the view out my window changed or remained the same?
Words help to paint pictures, to make the imagined real to the reader. Living in a small town can bring meaning to words only dreamed about in modern suburbia. Community: a body of people living in the same place under the same laws. Home: the social unit formed by a family living together, a place of origin, a congenial environment. Society: a voluntary association of persons for common ends, i.e. companionship, a part of a community bound together by common interests and standards. Such words blend into stories that make a group of individuals into a community, into a town. These pages will document but a few of the stories of my home, Ruston, and give fleeting glimpses of the pictures that might have been seen out my window over the past century.
The town of Ruston remains hidden, tucked away at the north end of Tacoma’s waterfront between an old dark tunnel and Point Defiance Park. The tiny town stands, in many ways, as one of the last vestiges of small town America. Surrounded on all sides by the big city of Tacoma, community connections are strong, neighbors know one another and civic pride is pervasive. More
Community Transformation: Change and its Effects on Quality of Life (MBA project applying change management principles to Ruston, 2005):
Shirley Bennett watched in dismay as the crowd jeered and shouted at the departing councilman. The small town of Ruston was embroiled in controversy and the last few community meetings had turned ugly. The threat of personal lawsuits had just caused one of the elected officials to resign, to the seeming delight of the angry crowd. Despite her own opinion on the current conflict, Shirley was more concerned about how her neighbors were treating each other. She had seen many heated debates over in her 20 years in town, but none as confrontational as this one. “Does change have to be this difficult?” she wondered. She worried about the future, too. Consensus on where the town was headed seemed impossible. More
There is much more to this story. Stay tuned!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Update at 6 pm:
2 very anonymous sources confirm that Chief Reinhold is gone. More details as they become available. We hear there may be some kind of official word on Friday. It's important to note that personnel issues are very sensitive and heavily regulated. We will endeavor to only repeat verified facts here.
We could easily replace UP with Ruston and suburban with residential and presto, it's one of the on-going debates we have here! The Ruston Connection group (Council Members Albertson, Everding, Stebner and Huson) campaigned strongly on maintaining the current residential flavor that Ruston has evolved into. Yet they oppose most development (by running any proposal through the ringer and then often not approving it). They met with Tacoma's mayor two years ago to explore annexation. They continue to push for Tacoma emergency services even after their own fire committee recommended against it and Tacoma has withdrawn from negotiations.
Perhaps this gives a bit of a clue about their motivation. They want to stay a bedroom neighborhood at all costs. If they strip away Ruston's tax base and identity, the only choice will be to annex. Then they won't have to deal with pesky things like small business customers parking near their homes, or buildings on the waterfront that might impact their view.
Maybe I'm grasping at straws. They sure haven't explained openly any reasons for their actions, leaving us to guess like this. Right or wrong, agree or disagree; open discussion is always best. But after two years of questions and open discussion by the public that has not been reciprocated by the council, I'm wonder if we can ever hope for honesty from these folks.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I think first and foremost the council needs to sit still and let their constituents speak. The council started last night's meeting by announcing that no one gets to be mean to them or they will walk. There is a very real backlash in this community against their actions. Part of what they signed up for is to take the heat for their decisions. These same gentlemen didn't have any problem dishing it out when they were angry with the previous council's actions on the condo's.
The council needs to answer some tough questions before they get to ask any more of 'em. Why did they choose to pursue a contract with Tacoma in direct opposition to the fire committee recommendations? Why do they continue to pursue Tacoma services even after Tacoma has withdrawn from negotiations? Why won't they schedule a dialogue with the fire committee to fully explore their findings and capitalize on the committee's knowledge and expertize? When will they step up to the plate and move ahead with the fire committee recommendations?
Once the air gets cleared, then we need to move on. We have a good fire department with a very clearly defined path to make it even better. It's long past time to get started.
What do you think should happen next?
Monday, January 14, 2008
Tonight’s study session lasted about 20 minutes for mostly procedural discussion before disintegrating out of control. Here is a break down as best I can recall. This is not intended to fully reflect what everyone saw or heard at the meeting, only my observations. The tapes will be available.
After the usual opening, Council Member Albertson stood up and announced that council members had been called names and yelled at the last meeting (not related to fire department issues). They would not tolerate such treatment and promised to adjourn the meeting if they felt they were being mistreated.
The mayor then stood up and said he, as mayor, had statutory authority to conduct the meetings and he was exercising that authority to run this meeting tonight. Albertson interjected that the council had the authority to adopt the procedural process that would be followed at meetings, but the mayor pointed out that the council had never adopted any such rules.
Council Member Albertson then stated that he had many questions about the fire committee report and he wanted the fire chief to answer them. The mayor pointed out that these questions should have been submitted in advance so that both the fire chief and the committee would have time to research and provide adequate answers. Having questions thrown at someone without notice could be perceived as adversarial.
Chief Torbet agreed to answer questions. Albertson had many questions that were all centered around what criteria should be used to judge which fire department (Tacoma or Ruston) would be better. He asked first about response times, then wanted Chief Torbet to outline what criteria the council should use to make a choice between the two departments.
The repeated questioning about the same issue drew some angry outbursts from the audience, many of whom were standing by now. Council Member Huson then stood up and left. Several people came forward to talk to council members at this point. After a few minutes, Council Member Albertson and Chief Torbet agreed to speak alone. They stepped out into the hallway with the mayor.
After several minutes, the mayor returned and announced the meeting was adjourned. He told everyone to clear the room so Albertson and Torbet could talk in private. After waiting several more minutes for everyone to disperse, the lights were turned off and the three men left to meet at some other location.
The goal of this blog is open, civil dialogue. No one was allowed to speak tonight except for the three men who are now meeting privately. Please use this outlet to share your thoughts. And feel free to leave your unedited comments on the Ruston Truth post of the meeting if ‘civil’ is more than you can tolerate at the moment.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
This protocol was sent to all the councilmembers, including the new ones and the mayor. The only response was a thanks from the mayor.
Ruston Citizens Advocacy
If the council has any ability to save face and finally move forward with integrity, here are the basic steps I’ve heard suggested by several citizens:
1) The council should provide their constituents (us) with their reasons for pursuing this contract with Tacoma. They must have had reasons. But they gave no explanation when they appointed themselves to negotiate this contract. The public has a right to know the basis for their decision.
2) Once the air has been cleared with open, honest discussion, the council should conduct a full hearing of the fire committee recommendations. To date the committee has given two presentations, with no questions by the council and very little time for public comment. The council and the community should have adequate time to ask questions and hear details of the committee’s research, findings and recommendations.
That means all committee members get formally invited to a meeting where they have time to prepare, sit up front and are given the courtesy of a full discussion of their work. That means the fire chief and his department give input on their department. That means there is advance notice of the agenda and who will be attending.
3) The fire chief has budgeted to begin a residency program in 2008. There should be no more delays or road blocks thrown out by the council. Our residents deserve a council that supports Ruston’s public safety departments and their recommendations. It’s time to stop playing games and do right by this community.
Add your message to the council here (via the comment button). I’ll post them for everyone to see and deliver them to the council on Monday. We deserve to be heard! And attend the meeting this Monday, January 14th at 7 pm at 5219 N. Shirley to have your say (if allowed by the council).
One final wish ~ wouldn’t it be nice if we could move on now? There are other pressing issues, all of which need collaborative and creative effort. I encourage the council to listen to our community, lay this battle to rest by taking the steps listed above and let’s move ahead. Continuing to fight over this issue (especially in the manner demonstrated thus far) will only destroy any hope for future collaboration; teamwork that is vital to solve the many pressing challenges we face.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Karen King, who is at least a third generation Rustonite, has shared some of her family's story. She is inviting others to share theirs as well at what will hopefully be the first of many reminiscing times just before the Council study session on the fire department's future:
Come to the next meeting on:
Monday, Jan. 14th
At: 6 pm
Your neighbors, the Algeos and the Kings at 5227 No. Winnifred invite you to our home prior to the work session on the 14th, to share your memories of Ruston over coffee & light refreshments. Then we can walk to the meeting together (or ride) and listen to the "powers that be" - then chorus our "Keep Ruston” opinions.
A Sense of History
by Karen King
While reading the article Asarco: The End of an Era by EVE BYRON - Independent Record - 11/11/07 I realized that the Town of Ruston is almost a mirror image of East Helena, Mt. The article highlighted the legacy this small community, now all but a ghost town, inherited from ASARCO after the smelter was closed. And while reading about East Helena and comparing it to our Town of Ruston, I realized that all too soon our community will also have lost its history unless we embrace the past and insist on keeping the past alive.
As a young child living in my grandmother’s home, I can remember so many things about growing up in this town, both good and bad. Living in Ruston we had the extended family, three generations living together under one roof. It included my grandmother, mother, three uncles, (an aunt who was already gone), and me and my two sisters. Eight people living together under one roof and only one bathroom! How did we ever manage? The extended family wasn’t unusual for the times, as many families were just like ours. My grandmother became a widow at an early age, and besides raising three sons and two daughters, she now had responsibility for me and my two sisters, while my mother worked two and three jobs.
Memories are wonderful because we tend to remember the best of times, the roar of the lions before feeding time heard all the way to Ruston School; or my aunt going off to nursing school and two older uncles off to the navy, leaving us with our youngest uncle, Ed. He seemed more like an older brother to us since he was so close to his nieces in age. What a devil he was, always pulling pranks and the incessant teasing. Now I think back to that time and realize how difficult it must have been to have lost his father (my grandfather) as such a young boy.
On the other hand, I remember my oldest uncle, Rick, occupying the bathroom for hours on end come Friday and Saturday nights, anticipating dancing with the girls at the Big Bad Wolf until the wee hours of the morning then hitting the Three Pigs (both now Ruston Inn) for some early morning breakfast. I also remember my other uncle, Tom, serving in the Navy, then returning home sharing his bigger than life stories of travels and adventures around the world. My aunt, Mary Jane, was attending nursing school, living and working with another family in order to pay her way through school.
Ruston was a tight knit community settled by immigrants who came to this small company town more than a hundred years ago. These were our ancestors, great grandparents, and grandparents. As time passes and more of the old time residents die off, a little more of the history and flavor of this community is lost. It saddens me to think that we’re losing our sense of history and soon Ruston will be just another bedroom community of Tacoma, an extension with no distinction.
Friday, January 11, 2008
As a council member, I pledge to:
* actively listen to, and respect, the opinions of all residents,
* strive to preserve the small town, residential character of Ruston,
* ensure that residents are informed about issues before decisions are made,
* work to end the over-used practice of secret Executive Sessions which exclude residents from knowing what their elected officials are discussing,
* promote reasonable development that will complement, and not detract from, Ruston's small town, residential character,
* advocate fiscal responsibility (tax less and spend less),
* strive to keep Ruston independent,
* and always remember that I serve as your representative.
Source: Albertson campaign web page: http://www.danalbertson.com
Let's see, after one meeting into the new year Dan has:
* already deceived us about a supposed contract with Tacoma Fire ~ maybe not an outright lie, but pretty darn close. Doesn't sound like he has kept his promise to "ensure that residents are informed about issues before decisions are made".
* negotiated a contract for a new town prosecutor behind the mayor's back. When he made the surprise presentation at the council meeting, it was clear Stebner and Everding knew this was coming. They made the motion to force the mayor to enter into a contract with a different person than Transue had recommended, with no questions asked. Maybe not an 'executive session', but lots of behind the scenes communication. Doesn't sound much like "work to end the over-used practice of secret Executive Sessions which exclude residents from knowing what their elected officials are discussing".
* promoted continued spending against the Commencement condo's legal use of their sales center (and supported turning down $24,000 in rent that was offered in 2007 before he was councilman). Nor did he object to Everding's talk of raising taxes to generate more revenue. Not sure that equates to "advocate fiscal responsibility (tax less and spend less)".
* After the fiasco of his move (along with Council Member Stebner) to destroy our fire department, its hard to imagine that he was even close to this promise to "actively listen to, and respect, the opinions of all residents", nor have his actions proven any commitment to "strive to keep Ruston independent".
Just some food for thought. What's your opinion?
But rather than rush to fill the vacancy as the Ruston council did, Puyallup has opened their process. They had 19 applicants, all of whom were carefully considered. Ruston may very well have experienced the same thing if the council would have allowed it. The previous time Ruston had a vacancy (under the previous administration), the council went through a deliberative process that resulted in many new faces stepping up. Engaging new interest and new voices in our political scene would have made the process worth it.
He shares his thoughts on the Tribune's editorial page today. Here is a flavor:
"If we spend the next decade mired in the personality conflicts and spiteful politics that dominate much of federal and state government, we will find ourselves on the list of communities that have been destroyed by the unnatural disaster known as unmanaged growth.
Now more then ever, it is important that we have community leaders who are willing to operate in good faith to best serve our community."
Well said, Mr. Swanson. I only wish Ruston's council members were willing to listen.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
This is a win for everyone, no matter what you thought of the political debate. Ruston residents can breath a collective sigh of relief, knowing the town will remain well protected by the Ruston Fire Department. Tacoma residents won't be asked to subsidise emergency services to an area that already has a strong fire department. Tacoma has an excellent fire department, but cannot respond as quickly – and seconds are vital in an emergency.
The question posed to the council after the meeting this Monday remains ~ why the secrecy? Council Members Stebner and Albertson knew they had no contract with Tacoma, yet deliberately misled the public at Monday night's meeting.
Stay tuned. We are going to review the tapes of the meeting and let you know the exact words they used in this charade. That way you can judge for yourself the ethics of these councilmen (or lack thereof).
Rumor Update (12:02 pm): Apparently Council Member Stebner has arranged for a representative from LESA, Ruton's emergency dispatch service, to attend the study session next Monday, Jan. 14th. We hate to repeat rumors, but since these particular councilmen seem to operate best in the dark, we don't have much choice.
I'm not sure why LESA would want to jump into the middle of this battle. Chief Torbet has worked many hours with their dispatch center to correct any problems Ruston has experienced. Showing up at a meeting without notifying the fire chief or the public appears to yet another attempt muddy the waters. It is unfortunate that our 'renegade' council members continue to involve professional agencies in their games.
I apologize for the poor image quality. We are working on it. Please let me know if you would like a copy of the letter emailed to you (email@example.com). Karen
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Metro Parks TacomaHeadquarters Building
4702 S 19th St
Tacoma, WA 98405
Thursday, January 17
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Come help shape the future of Point Defiance Park by reviewing and commenting on the 2nd draft of the Comprehensive Park Wide Concept Plan. Review the plan and take a short survey on our Web site. Eventually the combined plan will become part of the Draft Planning Guide for Point Defiance Park along with site-wide and site-specific plans, as well as general planning documents. Final approval of the Planning Guide by the Metro Parks Board is anticipated in February 2008.
Please encourage anyone you feel would be interested to attend this meeting. For more information visit our Web site or contact Curtis Hancock at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 305-1052.
I have many questions about the RFD issue and i think i'll list them and ask for anybody who can give some insight to respond. 1. Has there ever been any point in the past where RFD was incapable of providing the service they are there to do? 2. Is this issue more personal, financial, or is the debate necessary for the town future securities? 3. What brought it all on? 4. Is my family in any danger any way by have a volunteer department as oppsed to TFD? Is it the same training, Standards, Philosophies they are ran by? I think i am really needing to know both sides of the story and whats truth vs. rumor. -Mark
January 8, 2008 10:01 AM
Lyle Hardin said...
1)'..was RFD incapable of performing in the past?' The only period during which the RFD was not functional was the time between when ASARCO closed and Ruston contracted with Tacoma. Bob Pudlo would be the authority on this time frame. He was responsible for creating the RFD volunteer department shortly thereafter.
2)'Is this issue more personal, financial,..' For the members of the Fire Committee, of which I was one, the issue was neither personal nor financial, the issue was what was best to protect the community.
3)'What brought it all on' That question should be directed in a public forum to Council Member Stebner, who made the motion for himself to negotiate a contract with Tacoma for fire services.
4)'Is your family in any danger ... by having a volunteer department?' The Fire Committee concluded that the RFD has been providing the services that a fire department is expected to deliver and doing it in an extremely professional and proficient manner. I refer you to the Fire Committee reports, which you may obtain from Town Hall, for a delineation of the training, background and experience of our volunteer members.
January 8, 2008 10:42 AM
I apprectiate the response lyle. I dont think i asked the right question on #1 I guess what i was wondering is as RFD gets sent out on calls has there ever been a time where they say forgot to put gas in the fire truck? I just made this up and it isnt a rumor thats floating around yet but there are many rumors like is circulating and i was more wondering if these rumors are part of a smear campaign against RFD or has there been some issues that might question the safety of citizens?
January 8, 2008 10:56 AM
Mark, during our analysis, the Fire Committee did not find an single instance of the RFD not responding appropriately and Expediently.
January 8, 2008 12:15 PM
Chief Don Torbet said...
I have not posted on this forum as most of what I say seems to be misused and changed by those seeking to discredit the Ruston Fire Department. I have answered all questions posed, honestly and to the the best of my knowledge and ability. I will do my best to address your questions.
1. Has there ever any point in the past where RFD was incapable of providing the service they are there to do?
Answer: Not to the best of my knowledge. As I recall, we have used our Mutual Aid Agreement with the City of Tacoma a few times for larger indedents; maybe 4 times in my 24 years. Most recently was the Cole Tavern fire 3 or 4 years ago. Due to the possible complexity of the scene, our Asst. Fire Chief requested a full commericial response. I concur with his decision.
2. Is this issue more personal, or is the debate necessary for the town future securities?
Answer: To be honest, it appears to be personal. I like to give people reasonable doubt but after the published Ruston Fire Committee Report, it seems no amount of reason will be considered by a few. I have always welcomed examination of the Ruston Fire Department. I think the Ruston Fire Committee did a thorough and exhaustive job in they're efforts. We must always be willing to look at ways of providing enhanced service.
3.What brought it all on?
Answer: To the best of my recollection, Councilman Stebner felt that we were not responding to calls for service in the Town of Ruston. I gave him information documenting our response to EVERY CALL we were "dispatched" to. I also gave him information as to the reason Tacoma Fire Department had been in the Town of Ruston on calls for service. I personally spent over 40 hours on the phone investigating why Ruston Fire Department was not being dispathed to fire and medical aid calls within the boundaries of Ruston. I finally was able to convince the phone company (Qwest) that Ruston did indeed exist. They're new program installed at LESA was zip code based and had combined Ruston with Tacoma. Mr. Stebner refused to believe my explanation.
5. Is my family in any danger by having a volunteer department as opposed to TFD? Is it the same training, Standards, Philosophies they are ran by?
Answer: Medical training is set up, conducted, tested and monitored by the State of Washington and Pierce County Emergency Management. All EMT's in Pierce County are required to pass the same tests and meet the same ongoing training requirements. Our ongoing medical trainer is Lori Bisbing. She is a respected member of the emergency medical community. She is married to a Tacoma Fire Paramedic and has trained many of the counties EMT's. I will use one of her quotes, "I would hold Ruston Fire Department emergency medical skills up against any department in Pierce County, paid or unpaid."
Ruston Fire is also very fortunate to have in their ranks as a fire fighter, Pat Piper. He is the Training Chief at Bates College Fire Training Program. To complment that training, Ruston Fire was awarded a grant and has purchased over $10,000 in fire training materials. Standards are also mandated by the State of Washington. I have not read or studied Tacoma Fire's Philosophy. I would be very surprised to find it lacking in any way. I believe Ruston Fire has an equal committment to excellence. I would just like to remind people that our volunteers are required to be professionl even though they perform their tasks at a reduced monitary rate. I will accept nothing less.
If you or anyone else have other questions, concerns, or comments, I will do my best to address them. Don Torbet, Ruston Fire Chief 253-381-1887 cell number
January 8, 2008 12:40 PM
Chief Don Torbet said...
Mark, I can think of only one incident that has been used in a the present "campaign". The night of the big wind storm over a year ago, the "first out" fire engine failed to start. I used the medical aid van instead to answer a call for a tree down against a house. It was a toss up as to which piece of equipment might be needed. We do have a reserve fire engine should one have been needed. As soon as we handled the call we returned to the station and were able to get the "first out" engine back in service. In the next day or two it was found that the Town of Ruston heating system had failed.
A little history here. When the Town purchased their first deisel powered fire engine, the Town had heat installed in the engine bay. Please remember this is a 1964 Mack Fire Engine. They were designed to be kept in a warm fire bay. They were not equipped with provisions for "cold start" as they are now. After finding this, I installed a engine block heater. This will allow for cold starts, should the Town's heating system fail in the future.
Two things are important here: First: There was no way the Ruston Fire Department could have known or anticipated the failure of the Town's heating system. Second: There is a back up plan in place (the reserve engine) should it be required.
I want to truely thank you for your questions. I seldom hear the rumors and can't address them until someone tells me what they are. Again, if you or others have question and concerns, please ask.Don Torbet, Ruston Fire Chief 253-381-1887
January 8, 2008 1:14 PM
Chief Don-I actually never heard anything about the engine not starting that night of the windstorms and i thank you for being open and honest about it especially in fragile times like this where as you said anything you say will be turned against you and the department. I was very impressed at the fact that you guys were out taking care of our town as fast as you did at such late hours. I saw the medical aid van and didnt think much as to why. I have heard rumors not connected with that night and i think some of these rumors that lyle hardin already cleared up on this blog are definately a big part of the push for TFD over RFD it almost reminds me of when Powell went to the UN pretending we had evidence of WMD's, used alot of words and made some noise and everyone went along with it. After paying quite a bit of attention to this recently i would challenge anyone to put any evidence about why RFD isnt adequate(Rumors not counting as evidence). I would love to set up a public debate with anyone who would like to challenge me on this. Of course this would never happen because i know that it would be the last thing anyone would want as no evidence can be produced. As far as I have seen or heard. Im still trying keeping an open mind about this so hopefully someone will respond from the other side.
January 8, 2008 1:48 PM
It is so refreshing to hear a new voice asking very pertinent questions. I have forwarded your questions to all the elected officials in the town. Hopefully Council members Stebner, Albertson, Everding or Huson will respond with reasons why they do not support our current fire department. Council member Hedrick is on record with his support of the fire committee recommendations.
Thanks for your comments, Mark. Please stay involved!
January 8, 2008 11:05 PM
Thomas J Ferrer MD said...
Much of the information requested could be gleaned from the Ruston Fire Committee Report. It is best viewed in full color on the Big Screen or computer.
I worked on this report for one year with the same questions in my mind (almost exactly worded the way these questions are). I put my name on that report. This is not to be taken lightly. Honesty is the only way someone in my position remains in a position of Trust. My job and responsibility is too important to put at risk for a local issue such as this. People should realize that I work up to 100 hours a week. My job doesn't change if Ruston loses its fire department. I provide trauma care for Pierce County and accept Trauma referrals from the Western Region at times (here to the Pacific Coast). I present and teach regionally. (I have published nationally).
Working on the committee giving up sleep and weekends at times made me question my sanity. The reason that I did it is that Mayor Transue asked me (by way of referral, we did not know each other except as acquaintances). I realize that while I could easily have said that I was too busy (I am), but then I would be shirking a responsibility to a Town in which I live. I could analyze this overall situation (with actual medical expertise as well as emergency and trauma medical expertise) and could ask and seek answers to the questions that you just asked. No one in Town can match my medical credentials. There are only three other civilian surgeons in the Tacoma area with my qualifications. The answers are in the report in a blunt, clear but tactful way.
I will answer your questions again, but I do not want to fall into a "gotcha situation." I have a point of view so my answers will reflect that. I could easily give you answers that would reflect a different point of view. Tacoma Fire Department is an excellent department and provides Fire and emergency medical services to nearly 200,000 Tacomans, surely they can add our 786 residents to their responsibility. It's that simple. However, that's both the easy answer and the problem.
I quickly realized that the real question is that: Can Tacoma FD take care of Ruston's one square mile better than Ruston FD? Tacoma FD has to cover over 50 square miles. Some people will be closer to the Fire station position, while others will be farther away. Some parts of Tacoma are denser so the Fire stations are closer together or have more equipment and personnel. Some parts of Tacoma are more spread out and Fire stations have larger geographical areas to cover.
Look at a map. Ruston is located in one of the "corners" of Tacoma (roughly speaking of course). It is one the edge of the coverage area of the closest fire station. If another fire station has to respond their location is even farther away. This bothered me, logically this means that responders are now farther away. Response time will be longer. If Ruston were actually Tacoma, that would just be our tough luck.
However, there was always another option available, a local fire department that has protected Ruston for 50 years. It has a track record. If an example of an under-performance or incapability had existed, it would have been easy for those wanting to replace the RFD to exploit such a real example.
There have been times that Mutual Aid from Tacoma has been requested and rendered (about less than once every other year). This is part of our System. All Fire Departments have mutual aid agreements. Historically, RFD has provided coverage to TFD (not recently, but when it was needed, RFD played their role). RFD has had a Mutual Aid agreement with TFD for over 25 years. When TFD had about 40% of their Engines fighting the "Atlas Fire" last October, mutual aid agreements that day helped the TFD immensely.
So I looked for, asked these questions (question one in your list), listened out for criticisms relating to a specific example, and evaluated key events and cases (that occured while the Fire Committe was meeting) that reflected the performance of the RFD. Remember, I can break down most cases because of my background. I also had outside sources at my disposal to help me evaluate fire fighting procedures. (I won't claim any expert status, but I can understand. I also have treated fire victims (as a Burn Surgeon) so I know the patient situations and medical problems of Fire.)
Criticisms that came out of political parties (celebrations) associated with Council Members Albertson and Huson focused on lies designed to sow doubt about the capabilitiesof the RFD. They were addressed in the report, but if you heard from a friend that Ruston EMTs can't perform CPR, or have different licenses than Tacoma EMTs, it may not matter what I say. This is why there is no debate planned on the Fire Committee Report. It's hard to spread rumors if you are going to go up against someone of my knowledge and qualifications.
However, when you talk to Residents who have been helped, or saved by RFD, they sing nothing but praises. Many times they are not participating in Government and are not aware of what's going on until they are told, then they come out and tell their personal stories. People usually don't want to talk about their problems. It's the people that potentially need medical care ASAP and cant wait the extra minutes for Tacoma that I am fighting for.
Regarding question 2: I was asked to be involved after the much of this issue started and also asked myself why am I having to put forth such an effort. Was it to recognize that when Ruston had no income, the RFD was asked to deliver care on a shoestring budget? They did so with an excellent performance record. If it was to prepare for growth and thus upgrade RFD capabilities and budgets, thus protect the people, then the time is worth it. If it was to watch Council Members that are unqualified and uneducated in this field choose an alternative that can potentially harm Ruston residents then the best I can do is point out their folly and shortsightedness to not consider all possible consequences. Remember, I do Trauma. People think they are invincible. They don't really think about their FD until they need them.
Is it personal?: yes. What is motivating Council Member Stebner? When the Fire Committee first started meeting and Stebner was participating a Resident member who had no medical background he was asked why. His response was (this is just hearsay so take it with a grain of salt): Once upon a time when he was in the Air Force, he had a bad feeling about somebody, so he got rid of him and felt he made the right decision. Well, he stated something to the effect that he had a bad feeling about Don (Chief Torbet) and wanted to do away with him. Now I didn't put much stock into that answer, but he could never elucidate in a logical way any of his arguments or counterpoints. From my perspective, his thought processes are simple and goal oriented.
He is in the process in accomplishing his goal so if he is successful what does it matter what the motivation was. Once our FD is gone, we will have to live with the consequences. Ruston loses control and oversight of its Fire and Emergency Services. These are ceded to Tacoma.
Is it Financial? I have touched on this in detail in the reports and above. If you look around the world, any town or city needs to spend a certain amount per person to provide a certain level of service. RFD has been doing it well for a much lower cost. Tacoma may give us a good deal because I trashed their last proposal, but if they do it will be for a lot less than they charge their own residents. That will be politics, Ruston will like it, but the average Tacoman might not want to be subsidizing a town who already has a capable FD. I suspect, Ruston will pay one way or another, or we will continue to become Tacoma and it won't matter. Costs will go up eventually. Remember though if TFD has financial problems, Ruston will have no way to shield itself.
Question 3: What brought it on? I used to think that was important. Then I think I heard the answers and could only shake my head. Immature people are playing around with peoples lives under the guise of trying to provide you "safety" by the best available Fire Department (even if they are farther away).
If we were really trying to leverage what's best for Ruston, we would take a long-term view. Build up and control a valuable asset such as our Fire Department, increase its capabilities. When development matures, then an agreement with Tacoma to help them provide care in this part of of North Tacoma/Ruston without losing control would make sense. The other side threw up examples of the mergers of other small towns and their fire departments. They don't even have good insight regarding their own examples of why Ruston should give up its fire department. Their example actually referred to the following situation which they did not know the details.
One small town without a fire station (Algona) merged with a larger city (Auburn) with a much larger fire department as well as another small town Pacific and it's smaller fire department. All the residents voted on this proposal. All three cities then shared a one third representation on the nine person Board of Governors which governed the Valley Regional Fire Authority. The people in Algona that started with no fire department went up to having oversight and a one third say on how Services would be delivered. Ruston gets no fire station and no representation regarding our Fire and Emergency Services. We give away money and have no say. Anybody can do that.
Question 4: Is your family in danger? Is the RFD the same as TFD with regards to training and standards. Are the philosophies the same? This question could also have a long answer as you can tell from above. Based on the long track record of the RFD, the short answer is no (to danger). While I don't have a family, there are several families in Ruston that I have a personal attachment to and also its ingrained in my training to consider this question in any thing that I do. Am I giving the care that I want my family to have?
Your question is really about training and standards. There are many rumors, accusations, statements denigrating the "Training of Ruston EMTs" I covered this in detail in the Fire Committee Report, but as I stated before, it is difficult to fight innuendo. What I did do was evaluate RFD training as best I could do. I had access to them. So did everyone in town if they wanted to do what I did. RFD EMTs earn their license just like everyone else in the State of Washington. They keep their license by participating and keeping up with "continuing education" which is standardized and the term is OTEP (ongoing training and evaluation process)
When I did the report, our EMTs were one hundred percent compliant. I attended some of their classes, I lectured to them about trauma care, I evaluated their base of knowledge, (the emergency medicine side which are 80% of their calls). I did the above part a year before I was asked to serve on the Fire Committee.
This was just me learning on my own about the RFD (and I was invited to teach them). I studied some of their cases and their performance. I got to know them. The senior EMTs that lead our FD are impressive in their resumes and qualifications in emergency medicine and firefighting. They can save my life anytime, they can work on any of my family members. I could never make the statement that Ruston EMTs can't do their job because I would by LYING.
However, almost everyone else can make that statement and not worry about whether its the truth or not. They don't have my abilities, education or training to evaluate EMTs so they can say whatever they want to sow doubt. Ask someone who was a patient of theirs, then make up your own mind.
The firefighting questions can only be answered credibly by the Firefighters that are available to you to be asked. I asked firefighting questions to all those that presented to our committee, to Chief Torbet, to Pat Piper (Ruston Firefighter and EMT) who trains firefighters at BATES Technical College. Check his qualifications. My observation is that they train hard, can fight fire and save lives. Ruston Firefighters train for the situations that they will encounter in Ruston. Tacoma firefighters train for the situations that occur in Tacoma and have specialized units as do other large Fire Departments. If a hazardous waste train exploded in Ruston, we would need help.
What's rumor and what's truth?Its easy to spread rumor, you often don't have to attach you name or credibility to rumor. Truth can be easy too. Just don't confuse "beliefs" with truth even though they may be one and the same.
When you look at my slides from the first presentation and most of the second presentation, the "facts" on my slides are backed by references. When you publish something in an official manner and you put you name on it, it better be the truth. My answers today include my personal reflections that are additive to what is part of the Ruston Fire Committee reports. You can tell my opinion and point of view is part of my answers. You can tell when I am passing along hearsay. That's why they were not published in an official manner.
Thomas J Ferrer MD
January 9, 2008 8:06 AM