Are you planning on working with Dr. Tammy Campbell, the superintendent of Federal Way Public Schools, and her team in Creating a vision for our children’s future?

 

Being involved in public affairs is beneficial and rewarding.

 

Dr. Campbell is moving in full force and wants you to be involved to the fullest.

 

From the district website:

 

Federal Way Public Schools has embarked on a Strategic Planning Initiative called MOVING FORWARD AS ONE!, to develop the vision and direction for enhancing student achievement and success in the coming years.

The strategic plan will be our roadmap toward a future vision and provides unity, clarity and direction to the important work of the district.

In developing our plan, the District will use an approach that is inclusive and intentional and values all voices, and will continuously engage all stakeholders within the Federal Way Public Schools community.

(Emphasis added.)

 

Judging from their approach, they seriously want your opinion.

Read that again please “In developing our plan, the District will use an approach that is inclusive and intentional and values all voices, and will continuously engage all stakeholders within the Federal Way Public Schools community.”

 

Can you attend?

 

Well, I will not be taking time off work to attend a school board meeting.

 

And I definitely will not take time off work to attend any of the school boards many upcoming Strategic Planning Initiative: Moving Forward As One! forums, each starting at 5:30 and scheduled to go at least 2 hours.

 

Speaking of working with local elected officials and leaders, nor will I take time off work to attend a 7pm Federal Way City council meeting at which I have an irregular habit of speaking.

 

Or for that matter, neither will I need to use my vacation time to see how Lakehaven Utility District is planning to spend my tax dollars.

 

You are important!

 

That is because all these public agencies value your time and schedule, they all want you to participate and all welcome you to attend.

 

And just maybe because they are all being held by elected officials that actually WANT to hear from YOU, they value your input and schedule events at times most residents are available to attend.

 

Well, not all public agencies value YOU.

 

Now comes the story of the fire district. Any idea who sets the schedule there? Is it based on YOU?

 

No. Not a chance.

 

They allow the convenience of the fire chief of Tacoma to tell them when to hold a meeting. And the chief of Tacoma tacitly gets to consult with the chief of Gig Harbor, Valley Regional Fire Authority, Bremerton, Tukwila and a myriad of 30-or-more fire districts as far away as the San Juan islands BEFORE you are taken into consideration.

 

The reason is that Chief Allan Church and this board of fire commissioners will not schedule or hold a meeting without first clearing it though one man, who is not an elected official and not even a resident of the district.

 

He is so important he won’t even show up for less than $200 an hour to lord over his subjects. And tell you why you are wrong and they are right. Even when the law sides solidly in your favor. Repeatedly. Video recording. Firearms. To name a few.

 

And YOU are so far down the list of our chief’s priorities you don’t get any say in when these meetings are held.

 

Who is this all powerful person for which our elected officials bow down? Firehouse Lawyer Joe Quinn takes that honor. Along with his recently indoctrinated son, Eric, they call the shots.

 

Not only does he sport a fancy title, he obviously earned it. According to his website, Joseph F. Quinn, the Firehouse Lawyer, may be the only lawyer in the United States whose actual law office is located in the firehouse.

 

Joe and his son have to make arrangements to travel to all those fire district from their office way over in Gig Harbor.

 

I’ll see you at 5pm

 

So we fit into a time slot that is convenient for him. Not YOU. And we get a meeting scheduled precisely as most office workers are getting on the road.

 

Special meeting? Well 9am works, if you buy him breakfast. And maybe treat him to lunch. On the taxpayers dime.

 

So if the average citizen of the fire district wants to go to a meeting, better plan on taking some time off work, and waste your valuable vacation time, to do so.

 

But is has been carefully calculated. They planned on you not. They know you won’t. Why, even those candidates running for the office can’t seem to make it to the meetings very well.

 

And that, my friend, is why they get away with so many misdeeds and vile treatment of citizens. And commissioners. They hold you in such contempt because you are not like them. You are different and they can not tolerate you.

 

YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED!

Repeatedly they have said those not of the fire department have no business trying to manage the fire department. Whether it be sons and daughters of firefighters, or friends from neighboring fire communities, only those that have lived the brotherhood need apply.

 

Well, unless you are a Rubber Stamp. A admitted liar with a questionable record. That is an exception they are grudgingly willing to make.

 

And now you know why and how they keep you in the dark.

 

How do they keep us in the dark?

 

That is why the skirt the Open Public Meetings Act with secret committee meetings.

 

That is why they refuse to allow the public to see or even know about any documents they are going to discus and vote on until AFTER they have been passed. All documents they vote on are referred to by title only. And if necessary, only the first line, if that, is read into the record at a public meeting. And not a single one is available to the public BEFORE the vote.

 

Attending the meetings is the only way to know what business is taking place and even then you are required to submit a Public Records Request to read what they just enacted.

 

Do a side-by-side Comparison

 

School district – tons of information and multiple opportunities to speak your mind.

 

City council – those packets would choke your printer if you spewed every page out. Better to speed read and determine which is worth printing to take and talk about.

 

Go to the agency websites I mention in this article and you will see detailed and comprehensive packets of information for you to read days in advance of all those other jurisdictions. Documents that are just drafts, works-in-progress or polished ready to vote on resolutions are all free for the taking.

 

Unless it is the fire department. They only post a one page agenda. The day before the meeting.

 

Un-Secreting the process

 

Until they want your vote to pass another tax increase. Then they fabricate a need for a community relations specialist, hike up his salary and sell, sell ,sell.

 

Will there be nearly the incentive to meet with and embrace the public AFTER the election. Consider the frequency of those well times district newsletters to find your answer. They only show up when a ballot does.  How convenient.

 

But back to the school Strategic Planning Initiative

The future of our children is vital to the future of our nation. You are planning on attending and participating, right? The meetings are well timed for you to make at least one.

Aside

 

Did anyone o the Chili Cookoff this year? Notice anything different? Besides the gorgeous weather.

The format this year changed to financially benefit local charities, not have the revenues go to police and fire department managed funds. Each participant selected a local charity, paid to participate in the event, and dedicated the proceeds to help those in the community.

A shamefully disturbing comment emanated from a fire commissioner during a report about how this years event went. Specifically, he wanted to know how the proceeds were distributed. Another commissioner offered that about $8,000 was raised for the charities. But apparently the presenter was too vague in his answer, so the first commissioner got right to the point, asking exactly how much of the revenue did the fire district get.

When told that the district actually went in the negative on the event, the initiating commissioner suggested we hold an event next year so the firefighters got more of the take. Even went so far as to offer to organize something.

Excuse me?

What happened to all that benevolent atmosphere we keep hearing about in the fire department?

Doing for others above self?

Given a net of $8000, and 8 charities supposedly benefiting, that is $1000 each. And the fact that this was a benefit event for the local charities, wonderful public relations opportunity, the commissioner raising the money issue also extracts every penny possible from his official service, and the firefighters can afford to spend $64,000 on influencing a ballot measure, is not lost on me.

Based on his attitude, we can expect the fire district may take their chili to greener pastures next year. Ones that will pay them more, not help others.

Although, I really think many others in the room were as uncomfortable with the direction this commissioner was going as I was.

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