[EDITOR’S NOTE: This column by Earl Gipson is a view of SeaTac city government. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The SeaTac Blog nor its staff. We are seeking additional regular columnists to reflect different opinions and views of SeaTac residents. Those interested can e-mail us at editor@seatacblog.com.]

by Earl Gipson

Surprise! SeaTac Councilmembers make how much?

Hey folks and all that. I have to talk about something that I (and others) missed years ago and I was sitting right there when it happened (and whining about some other City screw up). It has to do with Councilmember’s compensation to the tune of $18,000 more than their base salary of $12,000 annually ($14.4K for the un-elected Mayor).

This occurred in 2010 and it was agenda Bill 3380 (here) on Page 53. What brought this to my attention was the posting of Councilmember’s expenses a couple of weeks ago (here). It is the fifth line down and noted as ICMA 457.

Rule changes to Medicare triggered this
Councilmembers prior to 2010 had contributions made to their medical insurance (savings) via a VEBA program for themselves and spouses to the tune of ~$1,293 per month (2010). If you want an explanation of VEBA just google it. The new rule was that Councilmembers had to use any other medical insurance before using VEBA. Most, if not all Councilmembers either had health insurance through their employers or through Medicare, etc. The option was to switch to a 457B plan or keep the VEBA (can only be used for medical expenses). There is no real net change in costs to us SeaTac taxpayers.

What the heck is a 457 plan?
The 457 Plan retirement fund is only available to government employees (sweet) and select non-profits with restrictions with no early withdrawal penalty (you only have to pay income taxes) if you withdraw from it before reaching 59 ½ years. This is cash money (if they so chose), inheritable, and has nothing to do with medical. Since this plan is considered “deferred compensation”, even though voted on in 2010 it could not go into effect till 2014. They cannot vote themselves a raise for their current term in office.

There is no Cactus outrage here
In 2009, at a Council retreat I proposed the Council get a raise. Since I was “not getting along” with the Council, they all looked around to see if a ventriloquist had shown up when I said it. If a Councilmember does their job right, $12K a year does not come close to compensating for the hours it takes. I know how much time I spend keeping track of things, staying informed (missed this one). Good thing I don’t sleep much and have excess energy.

Now that we know
Many have balked at running for Council because of the crappy pay, long hours, and abuse that sometimes is heaped on them. The abuse and long hours won’t change but at least the pay ain’t so bad anymore ($30K a year), however we should expect competent Councilmembers without personal agendas and the entire City’s best interests at the forefront. I can’t say we had that in the past. With a bit of a hiccup at the start of last year, it is a new day.

The Council may not be able to vote themselves a raise immediately, but they sure can vote a reduction in the 457 Plan City contribution right away. As long as they don’t run deficits, bloat the staff, violate ethics (and get us sued), and come up with an ILA with the Port that does not steal from us (more than the port already has) they are worth every nickel they get. Looking at the expenses, a couple of Councilmembers (you can guess which ones I am talking about) need to cut down on travel that we pay for. I just offer some friendly advice.

Transparency at its best
Acting City Manager Joe Scorcio was the one who decided to post the Council’s expenses and will do so quarterly. Myself and others would never known about the “little” perk without it and I applaud his efforts on this and the staff’s efforts on the Code of Ethics. Lots of work to be done but yes, it is a new day in SeaTac. Let’s make sure we never fall back on the old ways. “Expect little from someone and that is exactly what you will get.” That was the old way.

Cactus Song Selection

How about an old Beatles song? Read into what you want.

Don’t Let Me Down. Beatles-1969:



Wine, music and a great cause – the annual Poverty Bay Wine Festival – presented this year on Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4 at the Des Moines Beach Park Event Center – is proud to be donating a majority of the proceeds to Highline Music4Life.

This noble non-profit helps underprivileged kids to acquire musical instruments. For the founder of Music4Life, Dave Endicott, it’s personal: “Music saved my life, got me off the streets.”

Last year, more than 720 guests of the Poverty Bay Wine Festival helped to provide funds for the Music4Life organization. This is the 13th year of the popular event put on by the Rotary Club of Des Moines and Normandy Park (add link).  With a record breaking attendance expected this year, Music4Life will be able to put instruments in the hands of hundreds of eager young musicians.

If you would like to join this entertainment-filled fundraiser, be sure to get your tickets ASAP before the price goes up. Tickets come with 10 tasting tokens and can be purchased right now at a discounted price of $35 at DrinkToMusic.Org. Tickets will be $40 at the door.

Join the fun with live music from some of the Northwest’s best blues artists, 20 local wineries, plus a brewery and a cidery. Besides drinks and music, a variety of tasty food items will be provided by Nibbles Seattle, Ivars Chowder and Fred Meyer.

Music Lineup:

  1. Danny Welsh @ Friday Evening 6:00 to 9:00 PM

  2. Eric Madis @ Saturday 2:30 to 4:00 PM

  3. Scott Lindenmuth @ Saturday 4:30 to 6:00  PM

  4. Brian Butler @ Saturday 6:30 to 8:00 PM

The fun doesn’t stop there for this year’s Poverty Bay Wine Festival. Put some money down for the Wine Grab, a chance to win a super-premium bottle of wine. In addition, each night you’ll have a free chance at a door prize. On Friday, someone will take home a stunning hand blown vase valued at over $400 from the Seattle Glass Blowing Studio. On Saturday, you’ll be entered to win a spectacular gourmet dinner for four prepared in your home by Chef David Boyd with Down to Earth Cuisine.

And yes, there’s more! Buy one or more $5 raffle tickets (add link to reservation page) for a chance to win two round trip tickets to anywhere Alaska Airlines flies. A second winner gets two season passes to Centerstage Theatre – a $660 value.

This year’s Poverty Bay Wine Festival kicks off the day before (Thursday, March 2) at Des Moines legendary Lighthouse Lounge. There’s live music featuring The Avengers, tasty food and drink, a showcase winery, door prizes and free admission.

The Poverty Bay Wine Festival is a 21-and-over event located at the Des Moines Beach Park Event Center. Volunteers are welcome and will receive all the benefits of admission: contact Patrice at pthorell@desmoineswa.gov. Parking is free and ADA assistive animals are allowed.

Real Estate Sponsor Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate has provided a video update on recent real estate market activity in our area.

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

By Jack Mayne

The City of Burien has filed a petition for review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to turn jet-prop airliners over Burien causing unexpected and unusual airplane noise and potential damaging fuel residue to be dumped on residents.

The review petition (download PDF here) was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco on Wednesday (Feb. 15) by the Dentons law group, also of San Francisco. Burien City Attorney Lisa Marshall and Denton attorneys Matthew Adams and Jessica Duggan of San Francisco sought the action.

The petition says Burien is “an environmental justice community” and the new route began in in the “summer of 2016 without notice to the city or its residents,” when the FAA “began experimenting … resulting in significant noise impacts to parks, schools, residential neighborhoods, and other noise-sensitive areas.”

Burien, said the review petition, “spent a considerable amount of time and effort trying to obtain from the FAA information about the New Route, the implementation of the New Route, and whether and when the FAA’s decision making process had been completed.” The petition says the FAA “did not provide a formal response to those inquiries until Dec. 16, 2016.

Then the FAA “upheld – and refused to reconsider – the new route.”

Therefore, the Burien petition says, “the city and its residents have suffered – and will continue to suffer – significant, adverse impacts as a result of the FAA’s New Route.”

By Jack Mayne

The idea of a fire department rescue boat training twice a month at higher than usual speeds on Angle Lake was rejected by the SeaTac City Council during a long meeting on Tuesday meeting.

Training firefighters to operate the rescue boat now kept at the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority station at located at 3011 S. 200th St. has been at Angle Lake, but the department wanted twice-monthly training periods that would mean boats accelerating at higher than the five miles an hour normally allowed.

Boat kept far away
This was objected to by Angle Lake residents for some time, more at this meeting Tuesday (Feb. 14) when Angle Lake resident Judith Williams suggested the City Council consider selling the boat because it was kept at the fire station and it takes upwards of a half hour to get it to the lake, making it useless for saving people in distress.

“We get a lot of rescues and we are always there first by a long shot,” she said, noting that many people swim the “entire circuit of the lake day in and day out all year round.”

The expense of the boat is a concern, she said, and the boat is “of no purpose since we are always there first and it isn’t even launched or moored there.”

“I would suggest they either get rid of the boat or move it to the lake where they can moor it….”

But the city no longer owns the boat– it was transferred to the former Kent Regional Fire District when the city joined that department.

Dan Winston said during Council comment period that he also opposed the potential of fireboat training on the lake because of possible damage from boat wakes to the beach and to property owner’s docks. He noted that people seem to copy the behavior of others and if some see the fireboat speeding for a training session they might do the same with their personal boats.

Having boats go faster than eight miles an hour “really presents a danger” to the many swimmers in the water year around, he said.

Winston said he cannot remember when the fireboat rescued anyone on the lake, that most people in trouble are rescued by other Angle Lake residents and he opposed letting the fire department do rescue training on the lake twice each month.

Councilmember Tony Anderson, a resident of the Angle Lake area, said discussions with residents reflected what Williams and Winston told the Council but that there were no concerns if the training were kept at slow speeds.

International Marketplace grant
Council discussed and approved a motion authorizing the city manager to sign a contract with the Washington State Department of Commerce for a $1.2 million grant million for the development of the International Marketplace as part of the city’s implementation of the South 154th Street Station Area Plan.

The purpose of the project is to support “development activities related to the construction of a public plaza and associated commercial space as part of the International Marketplace” which would help “achieve the vision for the South 154th Street Station Area as a thriving mixed-use, transit oriented neighborhood,” the city said in an agenda outline.

The city says it hopes for “showcasing and celebrating the diverse cultural heritage of the area through food, products, and art, it will be a focal point for residents, employees and visitors in SeaTac and provide an additional public gathering spot for community events.” The idea is a mix of shops, restaurants and open space will provide the types of amenities that residential and commercial developers believe to be essential elements of a successful community, said Economic Development Director Jeff Robinson.

Award, certificates
Mayor Michael Siefkes presented a certificate of appreciation to Joe Adamack as a member of the Planning Commission, and appointed Pamela Pollock to the Planning Commission and Judith Williams to the Human Services Advisory Committee. City Manager Joseph Scorcio and Siefkes gave a 20-year service award to Information Systems Manager Bart Perman.

By Jack Mayne

South King County will get more representation on the Port of Seattle Commission under legislation introduced this week in the Washington Legislature.

The bill – HB 1999 – would create a nine district Port Commission to replace the five districts now and with district boundaries the same as King County Council districts. That means SeaTac, Burien and Normandy Park would have partial representation from two Port commissioners instead of just one now. Des Moines would be in a separate district that would include other areas of south King County.

The prime sponsor of the legislation is SeaTac Rep. Mia Gregerson, along with 13 other King County state representatives as co-sponsors, only one of which is a Republican legislator.

Under the proposal, now before the House State Government committee, only residents of the district can vote for and become a Port District commissioner but there will be at-large or Port district-wide slots, probably two of the nine positions.

The pay for the new Port Commissioners would be the same as for state legislators, says the bill, or $42,106 annually.

A mobile home in the 18300 block of 34 Ave. S. in SeaTac (map below) was heavily damaged Sunday afternoon (Feb. 12) after a fire tore through it.

According to the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority, no one was home at the time of the fire, and there were no reports of injuries.

Firefighters from the Port of Seattle Fire Department, South King Fire & Rescue, Tukwila Fire Department, King County Fire District 2, King County Fire District 20 and King County Medic One all responded to the “very fast moving fire.”

Cause of the fire is currently under investigation and the amount of loss is yet to be determined.

The fire, which was reported at 1:40 p.m., is under investigation.

Reports are that heavy smoke from the blaze could be seen for miles.

The Red Cross is assisting the family.

Photos courtesy Andrew Crain Photography

On Friday afternoon, Feb. 10, the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce held its annual Awards and Recognition Luncheon at the Four Points by Sheraton Seattle Airport South in Des Moines.

The luncheon celebrated local businesses and individuals who have “gone above and beyond for our community and who exemplify our promise to be a voice for business and a leader in our Community.”

Here’s a video of the awards portion of the event courtesy South King Media:

Awards were give out to (with comments from chamber CEO Andrea Reay):

Special Recognition: Natalie Elert of Dollar Rent-A-Car.

Over the past few years, our organization has seen our fair share of transition; both in Executive leadership and in our organizational focus. Our rebranding effort is part of how we are actively sharing our new story and our renewed commitment to work in collaboration with our members, and partners to grow our region. None of this would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our staff and all on our board. However, the board did want to specifically acknowledge one individual who went above and beyond in their service to our Chamber.

Natalie Elert is with Dollar Rent a Car and has been on our board since 2006. She has served on our board for just under 10 years. Natalie’s last term ended in 2016. Thank You Natalie.

Ambassador of the Year: Michelle Clark with Courtyard by Marriott Seattle SeaTac

Ambassadors serve an integral role in our Chamber – serving as our representatives, they meet with members and assist staff – thereby increasing our capacity and helping us leverage our resources to better serve our members.

Nominees were Jackie Bea, with Basil’s Kitchen, Michelle Clark with The Courtyard by Marriott Seattle SeaTac, and Steve Emery, with Primerica.

Business Advocate of the Year: Judy Coovert with Printcom

The nominees in this category are being recognized for their tireless efforts to be a voice for business in our region. They exemplify our commitment to lead by example and through service to help leverage and increase opportunities for entrepreneurship and economic vitality in our region.

This year the nominees for “Business Advocate of the Year” were The Boeing Company – Boeing is proud to work with over 1,700 businesses in Washington to create jobs and economic opportunity as they work together to provide the world’s most advanced aerospace products and services., Judy Coovert with Printcom-Printcom provides quality printing, promotional products, graphic design services, and more……they go above and beyond, partnering with their customers to offer cutting edge account management tools and services and Rich Shockley with the Small Business Development Center at Highline College where they specialize in providing business and training services to entrepreneurs and existing businesses in order for them to be successful in today’s economy.

Outstanding Community Service: Destination Des Moines

Nominees in this category are being recognized for making significant contributions to our community through their time, actions, talents and dedication. All of our nominees serve as an examples of compassion, and service-striving to make our little corner of the world a better place.

Nominees include Destination Des Moines-serving the city of Des Moines, the businesses and community members through active engagement and promotion of the community, Radisson Hotel Seattle Airport-specifically being recognized for their work supporting Genesis Project and Earth Day in the City of SeaTac, and Soroptimist International Seattle South, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting better lives for women and girls.

Destination Des Moines is a nonprofit service organization dedicated to promoting the city of Des Moines as a premier community, rich in natural beauty and opportunity.

Tony Hettler, from John L Scott, is the president of the board and according to the nomination form we received “is the glue that carried the organization through times of trouble and is setting the standard of excellence for the future.”

Destination Des Moines does fundraising for the City of Des Moines Arts Commission as well as organizes logistics for many popular community events such as the Waterland Festival and the 4th of July Fireworks.

Everyday Destination Des Moines is working for Des Moines businesses and promotion of our Des Moines community.

Small Business of the Year: Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC)

The nominees in this category all have 20 employees or less and have achieved excellence through innovative business practices, products, and/or employee programs and community commitment. My father was a small business owner. He certainly taught me that a small business can have a very big impact in their community.

Nominees include Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC)- a statewide, nonprofit 501(c)(3) aerospace and advanced manufacturing registered apprenticeship program, Freedom Snacks-Gourmet Pop Corn “making snacking fun”, and Rainier Cancer Center – passionate about offering the latest in technological breakthroughs to fight cancer precisely and also providing trust, compassion and care for the whole patient.

Washington State has some of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country, and for those between 16 and 19, over 30% are not currently working. In an effort to address those statistics as well as the low high school graduation rate, AJAC saw an opportunity to develop one of the first registered youth apprenticeship programs in Washington State. Since 2010, AJAC has partnered with community and technical colleges to offer aerospace and advanced manufacturing apprenticeships to more than 200 employers. Nationally, apprentices earn an average of $300,000 more in their lifetime compared to non-completers; in Washington State the average manufacturing worker earns $87,756 a year with no college debt. That’s good for our community and good for business-ensuring we have the workforce we need to be competitive today and tomorrow.

The Chamber is proud to recognize AJAC as our Small Business of the year!

Large Business of the Year: BECU

Nominees in this category all have over 20 employees and have achieved excellence through innovative business practices, products, and/or employee programs and community commitment. Business, no matter the size-and contrary to popular belief, is personal. We make our choices-where to shop, what to buy-based on an alignment with our personal values and commitment. Relationships matter.

All of our nominees have achieved excellence, not only in what they have accomplished, but how they achieved their success. With a personal commitment to do more for their customers, give back to their employees and our community – they have set the standard for excellence.

Nominees include Alaska Airlines, our hometown airline committed to caring for their customers, their communities, our environment, and each other; BECU, a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative with more than 925,000 members. BECU is guided by the credit union philosophy of “people helping people.” and Recology CleanScapes, an employee-owned company, sees a world without waste, where resources are used and re-used in a sustainable ecosystem that strives for their best and highest use.

BECU offers services designed to improve the economic and social well-being of all members, and return financial value to them as part of their participation in the member-owned financial cooperative. Their objective is to ensure that all BECU members always experience the best value and service with complete trust.

They are committed to strengthening consumer financial education and literacy, endeavor to preserve credit union democratic principles and recognize the value to demographic diversity.

And their “world headquarters” are located in beautiful Tukwila, just down the street from our Chamber offices.

The Chamber is proud to recognize BECU as our Large Business of the year!

Also in attendance:

  • City of Burien: Council Member Bob Edgar
  • City of SeaTac: Council Member Kathryn Campbell
  • City of Tukwila: Mayor Allan Ekberg, Council Member Joe Duffie, Council Member Kathy Hougardy


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White Center’s 5K Walk & Run will return for its 5th year on Saturday, March 25, with another superhero-themed race.

“Who’s your favorite superhero? Lace up, grab your cape and we will see you at the race!”

The race will begin and end at White Center Heights Park (701 SW 102nd Street).

Register here: http://whitecenter5k.brownpapertickets.com/
Race Schedule:

  • 8:00 Doors Opens to the public
  • 9:00 Racers Begin
  • 9:10 Walkers Begin
  • 10:00 Entertainment, Race Winners Announced
  • 10:30 “Passport to White Center Event” Begins

Registration includes a free T-SHIRT! This event is pet friendly (dogs on leashes PLEASE), stroller friendly, family friendly, and wheelchair accesible.

The White Center 5K Walk & Run has four main objectives:

  1. Promote the positive and diverse culture that thrives in White Center
  2. Help to Promote local White Center businesses
  3. Promote a healthy lifestyle
  4. Unify the White Center Community

Like last year the proceeds will benefit the White Center Community Development Association and the YES Foundation of White Center, joining them this year is the White Center Food Bank, three non-profit organizations that are devoted to empowering our community:

White Center Community Development Association
The mission of the White Center Community Development Association (White Center CDA) is to promote a vibrant neighborhood and high quality of life for White Center residents and stakeholders through the development of authentic leadership opportunities, and community-led, neighborhood initiatives. We accomplish this through our three lines of business: neighborhood revitalization, family development, and community building.

YES Foundation of White Center
The YES foundation of White Center exists to address the social, economic, educational, physical, and spiritual needs of youth in the White Center area. By developing programs and partnering with other organizations, we provide kids with positive role models and powerful life experiences to encourage their hope and vision for the future.

White Center Food Bank
The White Center Food Bank (WCFB) began in the mid-1970’s as an emergency response to assist struggling families and individuals in the greater White Center and Highline areas during a major economic downturn. Serving over 1700 families a month the Mission of the White Center Food Bank is to minimize hunger, while nourishing community, nurturing self-reliance and embracing our rich cultural diversity. We fight to #KeepWhiteCenterFed!