|Bob Yoder, Editor and Writer|
Dear friends and visitors,
The "Redmond Blog" reports news and opinion of local governments, organizations and neighborhoods so that they can be more responsive and "in touch" with each other. You are invited to send me your news, submit a Letter or write a COMMENT below a post. COMMENTS are moderated and publishing them may be delayed.
Please send your Letters, opinions, stories and news by email to: email@example.com Thanks for participating!
The Idylwood and Education Hill neighborhoods of Redmond have been my home for over 32-years. I've been living in the same house with my wife since we've been married - a stone's throw from Hartman Trails, Mann Elementary and Redmond Middle School. (Read my Profile.)
In 2006, I started writing this blog to shed light on city government land use and public notice issues. Residents from greater Redmond, Lake Washington School District and Evergreen Health Hospital District now contribute with their own stories and opinion.
My blog is constantly evolving and adapting to the needs of our community. For the last five years I've scrutinized local governments to identify needs, activate change, open government processes, monitor power, and independently report the truth behind the news. It's important to activate and challenge local government so that they can be more responsive, accountable and in touch with the communities they serve. Relevant posts and comments are occasionally emailed to our leaders.
This blog looks beyond the "news" spun by PR departments. News is community-driven and not comprehensive. Primary sources for news and my opinions are our communities, weekly observation of City Council Meetings, occasional communication with elected officials and community leaders, chatting with my neighbors and posting their activities.
To achieve a more responsive government and energized community at times, we renovate or rehabilitate outdated "structures" - "raise a new barn." Usually, public participation in local governments and government transparency will bring out the best to move our community forward. A few examples of community activism and progress, are as follows:
- My blog reported the 2008 Bear Creek floods on SR-520 with photos and a video by WaterTender Gary Smith that catalyzed funding actions by WSDOT, Rep. Ross Hunter, Finance Chair and other key legislatures and leveraged community voice. Councilmembers Cole and McCormick thanked RNB, stating the communication opened the doors to an $8 million state grant to re-locate the creek away from 520 and mitigate flooding. The city is contributing $2 million to the project. Endangered salmon and riparian habitat are restored. Preliminary consulting work started in 2011-12 after Army Corps delays from an archaeological find. The project was completed in 2015.
- In 2006, investigative reporting catalyzed hazardous waste clean-up and stormwater infiltration and riparian upgrades in SE Redmond industries. 11 regulatory agencies swept onto a AWR to enforce the city aquifer protection ordinance. RNB leveraged voice with the State Department of Ecology, City of Redmond Code Officer, SE Redmond industries, and the engaged community. In 2012, the City incented SE Redmond business to install stormwater treatment systems and upgrade their permits.
- Starting in 2005, my blog raised awareness of flawed public land use notice and catalyzed notice changes. The proposed land use public comment period was extended by 33%. Signage and Hearing notice were improved. Neighborhood meetings were required with proper noticing.
- In 2005, awareness was raised of Perrigo Heights plat encroachment on Hartman Wetlands and it's important woodland trail connectors. RNB lobbied the developer for a native growth easement trail. The City purchased 3 acres from the landowner to buffer the forested wetland trail neighborhood connector. City Administration appears more transparent about Land Use projects, though website notices are still dated and urban center tree clearing permits are non-transparent.
- City Council members and School Board directors are dependent on staff for the information they need to set policy and fund operations. Thus, salaries and bonuses of local government workers are usually increased without meaningful Council or School Board review; yet labor costs constitute the majority of local government budgets. My blog occasionally brings transparency to this challenge.
- My coverage of LWSD and Evergreen Hospital governments began in 2009. Evergreen's Brown Administration ended abruptly thereafter. LWSD's Superintendent Kimball left for Singapore in July, 2012. Both administrations have written entirely new organizational charts. Kudos to the City and Evergreen for putting "the people" on the top of their organizational hierarchy.
- Policy and Administrative code language is outdated at LWSD. Improvements in code process have been made at Evergreen and the City of Redmond and recently the school board has been updating some of their language.
- Redmond Blog investigated the school district's use of archaic city code and documented their over-regulated pet policy. District policy was changed to conform with County code giving owners more freedom to walk their dogs. New signage was installed district-wide. Pet policy is more transparent.
- Redmond Blog identified and helped to clarify mission and vision statement confusion within the Chamber and now influences OneRedmond to be more active in city events.
- Redmond Blog connects organizations and their leaders with the community. LWSD superintendent became an ex-Officio member of the Chamber and Redmond Economic Development Association (REDA). (Unfortunately the Superintendent of LWSD is not a member of OneRedmond.) Evergreen CEO Bob Malte is communicating with LWSD.
- Evergreen Hospital commissioners are improving transparency and placing greater emphasis of general levy dollar allocations for community health and wellness programs for 2013
- My blog reported on eight state audit "findings" from Evergreen Hospital's Brown Administration and in 2010 hot-lined the State Auditing Office (SAO) asking for levy accountability. Taxpayers received a $476,990 capital levy carry-over refund in 2012. The Evergreen Board of Commissioners wrote their first Levy Charter in 2011. The Malte Administration renamed Evergreen Healthcare to Evergreen Health in 2012.
- Local governments are reminded their records and documents are public and owned by the People. Redmond Blog worked to open governments and improve public access to government information. The city has recently updated their website to provide access to public record requests online. Problems and unintended consequences are solved or minimized and public trust builds with citizen participation and transparency this blog provides. The City of Redmond (and King County) now post transparent disclaimers that their emails are subject to public record requests.
- This blog reported on the burgeoning free-standing ER and Urgent Care industry in Redmond and the over-prescribing of opiates, and occasional abusive medical procedures that financially strap patients with independent insurance.
- I encouraged the City to designate "riparian" as Redmond's Habitat of Local Importance.
Thank you for reading and and contributing to Redmond Neighborhood Blog and sharing it with your friends and neighbors. Your stories, news, letters and comments are always welcome and will usually be published.
Redmond Neighborhood Blog published By:
Bob Yoder, Community Editor, Writer, Photographer
Education Hill Neighborhood
Redmond, WA. 98052
Twitter: @RedmondNeighbor Facebook Fan Page: Redmond Neighborhood Blog http://redmondblog.org/ , Subscribe by email
*Journalism experience: "Seattle Times" News Partner (2010), "Bloggers We Love" feature for New York's "Outside-In" (2010). "City Watch" Redmond Reporter columnist (2007). "Journalism That Counts" seminars in Tacoma (Tacoma Tribune) / Seattle. Student of Kovach and Rosenstiel's "The Elements of Journalism".
Privacy Statement: Blog and Facebook Comments may occasionally be posted on RNB. If the commentator asks me to remove the post I will. If comments are cut and pasted to RNB as "Letters to Editor" aliases will be used unless the commentator leaves his name.
Disclaimer: RNB is not responsible for errors, omissions or mis-representations made by RNB's publisher and editor. Not all content and sources are verified. Readers can expect that errors, omissions, and misrepresentations will occur from time-to-time, though every measure is made to publish accurate, clear, and responsible reporting and opinions. Reader "comments" are moderated for civility, and relevant, factual content. Readers should publish their name with their Comments and Letters but anonymous Comments are welcome.