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On Tuesday (July 5) I went to Lakewood Town Hall, to make a public comment at the Council meeting. I suggested that the City of Lakewood leave the Pierce County Library System (PCLS). In the jargon, this is known as “de-annexation”. I expected my idea to be shot down by the City Council, assuming they bothered listening to me.

I nonetheless believe that Lakewood needs to deannexe from the PCLS. As I wrote in a previous article, the PCLS is a monstrous and unaccountable organization, which has taken Lakewood for granted and disrespected both its residents and elected representatives.

It is also a matter of civic pride. In 1991, when Lakewood became part of the PCLS, it was not a city. Now that it is a city, with a large and growing population, it should have its own library system. The Lakewood Library System.

Yet de-anexation is not easy. Looking at the Revised Code of Washington, the matter would have to be put to the ballot, at the same time as a general election (RCW 27.12.380). This would probably mean that the ballot couldn’t happen until November 2023. And there could be no ballot without the support of the City Council.

A ballot could be avoided if both the PCLS and Lakewood City Council supported de-annexation (RCW 27.12.355), if certain conditions are met. However, one must assume that PCLS will fight tooth and claw to keep Lakewood in its grasp.

As far as precedents are concerned, in 2013 Renton considered de-annexing from the King County Library System. The Library System wanted to close the Cedar River Library, and it was thought that the threat of de-annexation would act as leverage. Renton City Council did not support de-annexation and that was the end of the matter.

There is also a dark side to de-annexing, which we have to be careful to avoid. Lake Stevens City Council considered de-annexing from the Sno-Isles Library District. The motive appeared to be financial, and there was a proposal to replace Sno-Isles with a privatized library service. This is the City Council that became notorious for  allowing 1000s of trees to be cut down to make way for a new Costco.

It therefore needs to be clear that de-annexation means Lakewood getting its own library system, not the library services being contracted out.

Towards the end of the July 5 council meeting, there was council members’ comments. Council member Paul Bocchi was clearly not happy with the way PCLS has treated Lakewood, but he made it clear that it was “not our library”.

Donald Anderson, the former mayor, was more forthright:

I think that consideration [of de-annexation], not necessarily action, should be sooner rather than later, because we know that the library moves at a snail’s pace or slower.

He also did some calculations:

And my back of the envelope calculation is that we contribute about $4 million… to the Pierce County Library System. And if you look at Puyallup, who has their own library system, it would probably cost us 5 or 6 million dollars to run a robust library system in the City of Lakewood.

Donald Anderson was a teenage president of the Puyallup School Board in the early 1970s, so he knows Puyallup well. He seems to believe it possible that Lakewood can emulate Puyallup, and have a successful and functioning library system.

Yet Donald Anderson was treating de-annexation as a threat rather than a promise, as a way of getting the PCLS to be more sensitive to Lakewood’s needs.

It’s not enough. We need to recognize that Lakewood is the victim of an abusive relationship with Pierce County Library System, and the chains of abuse must be broken as soon as possible.


Lady of the Lake by Lancelot Speed, 1912This week Pluto returns to the exact position it occupied on July 4, 1776. This is a significant event, which helps us understand what is going on in contemporary America.

Pluto is the planet of transformation, but it can also relate to an intense power struggle. Two groups so far apart that they cannot communicate or compromise – and in in the end one of these groups is going to win.

England had a Pluto return in the 1550s – at a time when Catholics had temporary control and were burning Protestants like their souls depended on it. Yet the moment the Catholic queen died, and her Protestant sister took over, the situation reversed.

Who is going to win in America? If no one wins you get two countries occupying the same space. Rather like the religious wars in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.

And here are my forecasts for the twelve signs, for the week starting on July 11, 2022:

Aries (Mar 20 – Apr 19) You can accomplish a great deal, and you’ll have a huge amount of power at your disposal. But don’t overestimate your strength… it’s sometimes possible to have too much of a good thing. Also, you shouldn’t feel that you have to be out and about to get results. Sometimes the best results can be obtained in the home environment.

Taurus (Apr 20 – May 20) You’ll certainly have a lot of energy, and under the right circumstances you can do something that’s exceptionally brilliant. However you’re only human, and it’s easy to make mistakes. This is particularly the case in your social life – you can cause chaos without even trying. All it takes is one word to one person.

Gemini (May 21 – Jun 20) This week there’s a Full Moon, hitting the Cancer-Capricorn axis. You become more intense and you start taking life more seriously. You also become aware that one aspect of your life is a mess – and over the next few weeks you’ll want to sort it out. Yet with Mercury aspecting Uranus you get a powerful insight into your finances, which in the first instance you need to keep quiet about.

Cancer (Jun 21 – Jul 21) It’s a week when you need to think hard about relationships. You and someone else have a lot to do with each other, but you have your differences, which need to be addressed. The truth can be harsh, but it can also be liberating. Elsewhere, parties and other social gatherings may yield some interesting results. Just be yourself, and don’t be afraid to tell people what’s on your mind.

Leo (Jul 22 – Aug 22) It’s good to have stability, to put yourself on the straight and narrow. But sometimes you need to move forward – fast and decisively. And by the end of the week you’ll realise that over the last few weeks something has been holding you back. And once you understand the situation, you’ll be in full control. A private correspondence has important and favorable implications for career and business.

Virgo (Aug 23 – Sep 20) It’s a week of frantic action, when there’ll be many things that you want to start work on. But are you doing the right thing? Good fortune can turn to disaster in the blink of an eye, and all it takes is one bad decision. Yet Mercury, your ruler, is aspecting Uranus. Hopes, wishes, dreams, all get mixed into one – and when you are ready you must send the message.

Libra (Sep 21 – Oct 21) Where is the treasure? It’s not on the other side of the world, it’s right in front you. So focus on what you know and trust, and things that are familiar should be given maximum priority. Your family can be useful. It is also worth noting that Venus, your ruler, is aspecting Saturn. Creativity plus disciplines, fired in the direction of your career, can bring stunning results.

Scorpio (Oct 22 – Nov 21) There are things that need to be said, the sooner the better. You might feel shy, or you might be worried about the consequences, but if you delay too long you could miss your chance. Partners and lovers have got ambitious plans – but are they realistic? And maybe you can be the one to bring reality into the situation. It’s about being calm but decisive, and showing the truth rather than tellingt it.

Sagittarius (Nov 22 – Dec 20) There is a Full Moon, across the money axis of your solar chart. It’s a time when Sagittarians should be turning their attention to their finances. There’s something you can do, which can boost your prospects in a major way. Don’t doubt yourself! In terms of relationships, Mercury aspects Uranus. Partners and lovers are looking for variety. In most cases you can provide it, provided you can keep the balance between excitement and sensitivity.

Capricorn (Dec 21 – Jan 18) The week is dominated by a Full Moon. It’s becoming clear that something has to give, that you can’t be in two places at once. Somehow you have to make a choice, but it’s a choice that can make your life a whole lot better. While all this is going on, Venus makes a fortunate aspect to Saturn, your ruling planet. Perhaps someone new is edging into your life, and all they need is a bit of encouragement.

Aquarius (Jan 19 – Feb 18) You’re thinking beyond your immediate environment, to realms of experience that are hidden and perhaps outside the spoken word. And you know that with one final push you can discover a separate reality. However it’s important that you keep both feel firmly on the ground. And don’t forget your health – there are things you can do to make yourself fitter and happier. Places close to water can provide the right contrast.

Pisces (Feb 19 – Mar 19) It could be an exhausting week, especially if you’re of a social disposition. Other people will be making many demands, which will be difficult to refuse. One person is an inspired genius, another person is a crazy fool – so choose your friends carefully. But just because someone is talking too much doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Get them to slow down and amonst the garbage you’ll find some true wisdom.


Lakewood’s City Councilors: Half-year report

Lakewood City Hall

The year kicked off with a new mayor – Donald Anderson stepped down, to be replaced by his deputy, Jason Whalen. Mary Moss became the deputy mayor.

Mayor Jason Whalen is less abrasive than his predecessor. He certainly wouldn’t do what Donald Anderson did, and describe public attendees at council meetings as “the peanut gallery”.

It’s also true that Jason Whalen likes to give the impression that he is a believer in compromise and consensus. Or as new deputy mayor Mary Moss put it, “Jason doesn’t have a partisan agenda; he works on behalf of the people – not of special interests or Party ideology”.

In reality Jason Whalen represents a section of Lakewood, and he doesn’t seem too bothered by the destruction wrought on other sections of the community by the development of warehouses. Indeed from his comments at Council meetings, he actually seems proud that warehouse developers are locating in Lakewood.

Mary Moss, the deputy mayor, has contributed little of value to council meetings, and her communications often take the form of anodyne pleasantries.

Furthermore, she often follows the lead of Jason Whalen and former mayor Donald Anderson. To my knowledge the last time she contradicted them was in 2018, when she voted against Ordinance 683, which prohibited marijuana businesses in Lakewood.

Nonetheless, one should give Mary Moss the benefit of the doubt. From her reports, she attends a lot of events, and much of her work seems to happen behind the scenes.

It should also be noted that on June 21 Mary Moss, as deputy mayor, chaired her first council meeting. This was because the mayor was in Hawaii. It was a high-risk meeting, because there is a lot of anger in the community about the closure of Lakewood’s library.

As far as I could see, Mary Moss’s chairing of the meeting was competent, and she passed her first test. She did take a risk by directly responding to one public commentator, who implied that the City was responsible for preparing cost estimates for the library. However, nothing bad happened.

Donald Anderson might no longer be mayor, but that doesn’t mean he has gone away. He exercises control and influence, and we saw this when Michael Brandstetter suggested that the Garry oak becomes the City tree. Straight away Donald Anderson opposed the suggestion, and the other council members meekly followed suit.

Donald Anderson’s authority comes not just from his personality, but from the fact that he has been in this game a long time. He knows everything about Pierce County, he has contacts all over the place, including with the military on JBLM. And when he comments on the local transport system, or City funding, or a host of other topics, there always seems to be the sub-text: “I know this stuff backwards, I understand the limits of council-manager government, and you can’t do a better job than me”.

If there is one council member who genuinely and selflessly serves his community it is Michael Brandstetter. He is a hard-working council member, who is prepared to wade through bureaucratic detail and ask questions. Further, he is accessible, and is prepared to discuss at length issues that are worrying Lakewood residents.

Michael Brandstetter is capable of acting independently, for example his attempt to make the Garry oak the City tree. And like the other Republican council members, Donald Anderson and Jason Whalen, he is not afraid of expressing his opinions. Yet Michael Brandstetter appears to be a fatalist, in the sense of believing that once something has been decided, there is little you can do it stop it.

There are certain similarities between Michael Brandstetter and Paul Bocchi. Paul Bocchi wants to serve his community, and he has a good grasp of detail. I also get the impression that he is not comfortable with some of the things going on in Lakewood. He was certainly taken aback by the Pierce County Library System’s decision to close Lakewood’s library. And while he might have some views about tree preservation, being a Democrat he keeps a low profile.

Maybe Linda Farmer would actually just rather be somewhere else – I assume that if she is elected as Pierce County Auditor in November she will leave the City Council. And she hasn’t even completed her first four-year term!

Overall, Linda Farmer occupies a similar position to Mary Moss, in the sense that she tends to follow Jason Whalen’s and Donald Anderson’s lead. We saw this most clearly when she agreed with Donald Anderson’s opposition to making the Garry oak the City tree, saying

I would like a little bit more information about what it would mean to designate a city tree, to Council member Anderson’s point. What would happen if we needed to cut one down…?

Yet we shouldn’t forget that Linda Farmer, along with Paul Bocchi and Donald Anderson, was responsible for selecting members of the Ad Hoc Tree Committee.

Many people were suspicious of this selection process, and thought the committee would be stacked, so that the status quo would be maintained. Yet as it happened the committee supported increased protections for Lakewood’s trees, helped by the fact that representatives from real estate interests stopped turning up. So maybe Linda Farmer managed to work some magic after all?

Then there’s Patti Belle. I have already discussed the flawed process by which she was appointed, and her performance has been unimpressive. She has not shown any real leadership, and she often echoes the words of other council members. Matters aren’t helped by her body language – she often slouches to one side, sipping from a large drink occasionally, while holding up her head with one hand, as if she is bored, tired or both.

I understand that Patti Belle might be worn out after a hard day’s work, but City Councilors are not just volunteers – they are paid for their time. Patti Belle earns a six-figure salary at the City of Kent, and maybe she should ask herself whether she needs really the extra aggravation of being a Lakewood City councilor.

And here are the grades. They reflect council members’ performance, and the extent to which they serve their constituents’ interests. They are not a comment on their politics and ideology.

Council Member grades

Lady of the Lake by Lancelot Speed, 1912America has its 246th birthday. Every birthday is a reminder of our mortality, whether you’re a human, a dog or a tree – or even a country.

If you’re a Garry oak, for example, 246 is early middle age… you still have most of your life ahead of you, unless you’re cut down to make way for a warehouse. As far as America is concerned, we should be aware that countries and empires can suddenly frazzle and die.

Lakewood, by the way, was incorporated on February 28 1996, which makes it a Pisces. Sensitive and spiritual? Maybe the City is sensitive to criticism, but it’s as spiritual as a brick wall.

Pisceans can also be eager to please, responding rather than initiating. For example doing whatever developers want, even if that means destroying the City’s environmental heritage. And in the process being devious and secretive.

But enough of that, let’s move to the twelve signs.

Aries (Mar 20 – Apr 19) Last week’s New Moon is starting to weigh you down. It’s not so easy to assert yourself, and with Mars moving out of your star sign your stubborn insistence on getting results could lead to a mishap. Money might be important, but until late August it won’t bring you much joy. At the end of the week you’ve gots lots to say – but family and loved ones might not appreciate it.

Taurus (Apr 20 – May 20) Changing someone’s mind can be difficult, and rational argument won’t make the situation any better. But maybe someone just likes you – and they’ll do things your way even if they think you’re wrong. Elsewhere, it pays to take a long-term view. What you want tomorrow may not be achievable for at least a month.

Gemini (May 21 – Jun 20) You’re involved in something that you thought was going to be easy, and you now realize that it’s going to be a real headache. However, being a Gemini you’re flexible and resourceful, and a new approach could change the situation. A stressful aspect between Mercury and Jupiter has a disruptive impact on one-to-one relationships. Ethical concerns can’t be trivialized.

Cancer (Jun 21 – Jul 21) A lot of people are having a tough time, but your situation is surpringly good. You have a keen sense of self-interest, and business and career plans are starting to take shape. At the same time your communication skills are at the top of the range – you get your audience’s attention, even if you have to shock them. Over the weekend there is no place for cruelty.

Leo (Jul 22 – Aug 22) Mars is powering into Taurus, a sign which in the Leo horoscope has a special connection with career and status. The wheels are starting to move, slowly at first, but once you get going nothing can stop you. But don’t be afraid of constructive criticism. There are crucial facts that you don’t fully understand, and the sooner you’re put right the better.

Virgo (Aug 23 – Sep 20) Look around you. Something’s not right and someone’s not playing according to the rules. And if you keep quiet the Universe might not be forgiving. If you’re in a relationship, your social life might be a problem. Perhaps partners and lovers don’t approve of your friends? A compromise is possible, but not guaranteed.

Libra (Sep 21 – Oct 21) Do you have enemies or rivals? With Mars moving from Aries to Taurus they might be weakening – but also becoming nastier. It’s a time to rise above the situation, and not get get dragged into the septic tank of other people’s steaming emotions. Yet there is one person who can be very useful – perhaps they can get you a job or a contract.

Scorpio (Oct 22 – Nov 21) Scorpios like to be in control, and they feel happiest when they have the final word. However you can’t be in control all the time, and as the week progresses you might feel that you’re losing out in the power equation. What’s happening is normal, and you’re getting a chance to observe rather than act. One phone call – or even one realizaton – can turn your routine upside-down.

Sagittarius (Nov 22 – Dec 20) Don’t overdo it! What you’re able to do at the beginning of the week is not what you can do at the end of it. You have to listen to your body, and stop before the limit rather than after it. And avoid smoke and polluting environments – for example warehouse parking lots. Your throat and lungs are more sensitive than usual and Sagittarian smokers need to quit.

Capricorn (Dec 21 – Jan 18) You’re getting more attention than you want, and you may feel that you’re expected to make things happen. You might prefer to stay at home, or even go back to bed, but this is your moment. Yet you don’t have to do everything yourself – it is a great time for delegating responsibility. And just when you feel most alone you get support from an unexpected quarter.

Aquarius (Jan 19 – Feb 18) Your focus is changing. The activity of the last few weeks is reaching a peak, and you’re moving into a space where there’s less variety, less movement. But if you stay in one place for too long there could be trouble – like holding your finger in a candle flame. Once you start brooding you and your family start to suffer. Talk about health matters, but don’t obsess about them.

Pisces (Feb 19 – Mar 19) Traditionally Jupiter rather than Neptune rules your star sign. And with Jupiter moving through Aries you’re looking for financial change – the faster the better. Yet leisure activities could be surprising expensive, and matters aren’t helped by the demands of the people closest to you.

Some Pisceans will see clear evidence that their community is breaking up into a thousand pieces. Or as W.B. Yeats put it, in the first verse of “The Second Coming“,

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


Unaccountable monster: Pierce County Library System

Night of the Demon (1957)Myth: Pierce County Library System is a wonderful, caring organization, which always put the community first.

Fact: Pierce County Library System is an unaccountable monster.

In April it came out of the blue. A sudden announcement from Pierce County Library System that Lakewood’s main library was an “Aging building in critical condition”, that $10 to $15 million was required for repairs, and that

the Library System will need to remove all books, materials, and furniture from the building for a roof replacement, which may equal the cost of the entire property’s value.


Repairs far outweigh the value of the building.

It seems clear that the Pierce County Library System was done with the building, in spite of the fact that in 1964 it had won the First Honor award from the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association. The other two winners were the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, at Yale University and the Charles Patterson Van Pelt Library, at the University of Pennsylvania.

This means that the Pierce County Library System has failed to properly maintain a precious building that was entrusted to them by the Friends of the Lake District Library in 1991. And Library System dares to dismiss it as “Aging”, when it is an essential part of Lakewood’s heritage — and only 59 years old.

The Pierce County Library System made their intention clear in April, when they wrote

The City Council for Lakewood has also noted a new library for Lakewood as a priority in its strategic plan…

That’s kind of implicating Lakewood in the plan to close the library. Though the statement about the Council and the strategic plan was news to me. I looked for corroboration…

The 2021-2024 City of Lakewood City Council Goals had a single and rather vague reference to libraries:

Expand and improve utilities and community assets, such as sewers, libraries, parks, public spaces, etc.

There was a draft strategic plan, 2021-2022, which had the same, single reference to libraries.

Further evidence that Lakewood City Council was not thinking in terms of a new library was provided by their reaction to the news of the closure.

At a Council meeting on May 16, many of the council members seemed surprised that the library was closing, with two saying that they felt “blind-sided”. Another council member, Paul Bocchi, said he didn’t know that the building was in such bad shape – in spite of him being a Senior Warden at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, which is right next door to the library.

Lakewood’s City Council is supposed to be the community’s eyes and ears. The fact that Pierce County Library System didn’t keep Lakewood City Council properly informed is evidence that they can’t be trusted.

Matters are made worse by an October 2021 assessment report for the main library system, commissioned by Pierce County Library System. Suggested renovations included $270,000 for parking lot improvements, $245,000 for landscaping, and a massive $1,750,000 to fix the elevator. And this is all before a 15% budget contingency – which would put the elevator over the $2 million mark.

This set the stage for Pierce County Library System’s propaganda campaign, to convince Lakewood residents that they have have no choice but to close the library. They even produced a leaflet titled “Lakewood Pierce County Library Building Condition: Myths and Facts”.

The propaganda has shown some signs of success. Many people in the City are very trusting, and they took what the Library System said at face value, rather than as the manipulations of a corporate monster, with an agenda that isn’t necessarily in the best interests of Lakewood and its residents.

As a corporate monster, Pierce County Library System would presumably regard Lakewood’s main purpose as being to contribute to its approximately $40,000,000 of annual revenue. The contributions come from property taxes, with 3.4% going to the Library System.

Not only does the Monster take Lakewood residents for granted, but it also takes them for idiots. Here’s an example from one of their propaganda leaflets:

PCLS - Myths and Facts

I think we all know that the Monster wouldn’t personally tear down the building to build apartments. No, it would sell the building to developers, and they’d be the ones doing the tearing down.

But maybe the developers wouldn’t build apartments. Maybe they’d build yet another drive-thru, peddling junk food – convenient for students of Clover Park High School, which is just across Gravelly Lake Drive.

Having said all this, the Monster has to be careful how it sells the building. Its 1991 contract with the Friends of the Lake District Library states

If the property is sold by the Grantee, the proceedings of the sale shall be used to provide and/or enhance  library service for the Lakewood area.

In other words, the sale proceeds can’t just be absorbed into the Monster’s bank account. They have to go to Lakewood.

And at this stage, we might be wondering why Lakewood needs the Monster. Lakewood is one of the largest cities in Washington State, and it shouldn’t be at the mercy of an unaccountable creature, which doesn’t respect the City and its heritage.

This would mean that the 3.4% of Lakewood’s property taxes that now go to the Monster can stay in Lakewood. And we can have real accountability, with Lakewood libraries being run for Lakewood.

The City of Lakewood needs to stop feeding the Monster.


Joni Mitchell sings a song for Lakewood

Joni Mitchell wrote “Big Yellow Tax” in 1970. It should be Lakewood’s City anthem.

Joni Mitchell described the inspiration for the song in a 1996 interview with Robert Hilburn:

I wrote Big Yellow Taxi on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart…this blight on paradise. That’s when I sat down and wrote the song. When it first came out, it was a regional hit in Hawaii because people there realised their paradise was being chewed up.

Lakewood used to be paradise, it is now being chewed up by developers. Garry oaks are being torn down to make way for warehouses and their parking lots. Woodbrook has been destroyed, and 114 Garry oaks are about to be cut down in Springbrook. As the song goes:

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swinging hot spot
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

If you complain to the City about the loss of Garry oaks, you’ll be directed to Fort Steilacoom Park, where there are plenty of them. Or perhaps to one acre of young oaks behind St. Clare’s hospital.

However, what the City in effect seems to be doing is creating reservations, or tree museums – and outside the tree museums it is a free-fire zone. At the moment you don’t have to pay to visit the trees, but it could happen. As Joni Mitchell put it

They took all the trees, and put em in a tree museum
And they charged the people a dollar and a half to see them
No, no, no
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone
They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot


.Whalen on holiday.It’s a cold, miserable June in Lakewood this year – unless you’re mayor Jason Whalen, who has jetted off to Hawaii, presumably to celebrate his 35th wedding anniversary. His Facebook page has a picture of him and his wife in a bar or restaurant, wearing sunglasses, with the comment “Just enjoying”.

It must feel good to leave Lakewood and its problems behind… the 114 Garry oaks about to be destroyed in Springbrook… the explosion of public anger over the closure of Lakewood’s library… the impending lawsuit regarding the police shooting of Said Joquin.

Not to mention Lakewood’s 2021 Comprehensive Plan, which states that

If residents, businesses and city officials are committed to environmental responsibility in planning for Lakewood’s future, the city can assume a leadership role in responding and adjusting to the potential impacts of climate change.

Bo-ring! Who wants to show leadership in adjusting to the potential impacts of climate change? Not global travelers like Lakewood’s mayor.

Still, according to Flight Free, Jason’s Whalen’s return trip to Hawaii led to emissions of 1.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which will melt 4.7 square meters of Arctic sea ice. And that’s just him – when you include his wife, the figures double.

And we shouldn’t forget that this isn’t his first long distance vacation of 2022. He took a Spring break in Mexico, which is another 2.4 metric tons of CO2 for a couple.

So what about Jason Whalen’s next vacation?

Maybe he should just stay put for a while. From his statements at council meetings, he has an imperfect knowledge of Lakewood. He mixes up Springbrook and Woodbrook, and he didn’t know where Monte Vista was, even though close to 10% of Lakewood’s population live there.

It’s time for Jason to stop the globetrotting, and instead save the planet and learn about his city. Jason can still put on his sunglasses – but for the tropical feel he might have to turn up the heating.


Lakewood and Kammerzell’s Nazi jokes

SS Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger

SS Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger

Kent’s assistant police chief Derek Kammerzell lost his job because he made a few Nazi jokes. People got offended, but no one was hurt. When three Lakewood police officers were involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man, a civil court awarded millions of dollars against them. But they still have their jobs, and one of them is currently in charge of Lakewood’s police department.

Derek Kammerzell was the Assistant Chief of the City of Kent’s Police Department. In January 2022, The Seattle Times reported that he had been disciplined for making Nazi jokes:

1. Derek Kammerzell had the oak leaf insignia of an SS Obergruppenführer on his office door. The picture above shows SS Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger, who was head of the SS Main Office. In Nazi Germany Obergruppenführer was an SS rank, equivalent to a three- or four-star general.

2. Derek Kammerzell shaved his moustache, to give himself the Hitler look.

3. Derek Kammerzell told a joke about his grandfather dying in the Holocaust, because he fell out of a concentration camp guard tower while drunk.

4. According to The Seattle Times, an investigation referenced

a photograph, taken during the city’s Octoberfest celebration in 2019, that appears to show Kammerzell, wearing lederhosen, giving the stiff-armed “heil Hitler” salute while standing behind Mayor Dana Ralph. Kammerzell explained that “someone may have taken a picture while they were waving.”

As a result of these incidents, Derek Kammerzell got two weeks off without pay. This was outrageous. An assistant police chief who behaves like this, and treats Nazism and the Holocaust so lightly, should lose his job.

The Seattle Times reported that the City of Kent wanted to discipline Derek Kammerzell a second time, but this raised legal complications, for example relating to double jeopardy. In the end, the City agreed to pay Kammerzell over $1.5 million dollars, to purchase his resignation.

Now it could be argued, not by me, that Derek Kammerzell didn’t deserve to lose his job, or even be disciplined. It was joking around between colleagues, and no one got hurt.

Contrast this with Lakewood. As I have discussed in a previous article, three serving Lakewood police officers had seven-figure settlements awarded against them, following the 2013 shooting of Leonard Thomas.

Here’s how The Seattle Times described the event:

Pierce County Metro SWAT assault-team leader Mike Wiley described the police sniper bullet that killed Leonard Thomas on the front porch of his Fife home in 2013, his 4-year-old son clasped in his arms, as a “frickin’ million-dollar shot.”


The award included punitive damages totaling $6.5 million: $3 million against Lakewood Chief Mike Zaro, who was the SWAT commander that night; $2 million against Lakewood Sgt. Brian Markert, the sniper who pulled the trigger; and $1.5 million against Wiley, a Lakewood police officer.

The City of Lakewood, or its insurers, had to cover these costs. Yet none of these officers lost their jobs.

Michael Zaro was Lakewood’s assistant chief at the time of the shooting, the same rank as Derek Kammerzell. Shortly afterwards, he was promoted to chief of the Lakewood Police Department – a position he still holds.

The officers should have been fired, given that a civil jury had awarded damages against them. However, the City wasn’t happy with the verdict, and kept them on the payroll.

Even if the City had wanted to fire them, it may have been legally and contractually difficult. In which case Lakewood could have done what Kent did with Derek Kamerzell – purchased their resignation.

It might have cost a lot money, but keeping those officers on the force was a risk. If any of those officers had been involved in the death of another member of the public, a civil jury might be reluctant to give them the benefit of the doubt.  And as we know, on May 1, 2020, Michael Wiley shot Said Joquin dead during a traffic stop.

Mary Robnett, the Pierce County prosecutor, has decided that Michael Wiley won’t be facing criminal charges, but the civil case is proceeding. In dollar terms, it could cost the City of Lakewood a lot more than if they had bought three police officers’ resignations.


Melissa Knott is standing for Washington State Representative in the 29th Legislative District, Position 2. She is the best candidate for the position, and The Lakewood Examiner endorses her.

So what makes Melissa special?

Well, if you have spent any time observing Washington politics, you’ll know that successful Democratic candidates for political office tend to be self-serving conformists. They’ll boast about their progressive credentials, but as soon as they’re elected they become Stepford politicians – it’s as if they have been replaced by robot doubles.

Melissa Knott, by contrast, is clearly her own person, and she doesn’t care who she offends when she’s standing up for what she believes. I have seen her in action when confronting the mayors of Tacoma and Lakewood, and her passion and commitment to justice are obvious. I am confident that the trappings of political power won’t change this.

I know that for Melissa, education is of prime importance, as is social, racial and environmental justice. If she is elected to serve as a State Representative, I am confident that she’ll continue to be a true champion for the causes she has fought so hard for to date.


Who trashed Lakewood? A destructive legacy

Oak destructionAugust 20, 2001. Lakewood had been a City for five years, and its mayor was Bill Harrison, its deputy mayor Claudia Thomas. Another member of the city council was Doug Richardson, who would himself become mayor.

August 20 was a Monday, and there was a meeting of the City Council. After the usual preliminaries, there were public comments. Dennis Haugen was there, and

[he] indicated that City officials and staff should not solicit members to serve on City Committees.

This is a reminder that some things don’t change, because in 2022 Dennis is still making comments, by Zoom, from his new home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Although his recent comments tend to focus on national issues, such as immigration, crime, and drugs, his 2001 remark is still relevant.

We then had a comment from Judy Galbraith:

[who] expressed concern about the downgrading of zoning for single-family in the Oakbrook division. She recommended the elimination of daycare centers, health care and group homes zoning in Oakbrook. She expressed concern about sexual molesters moving across daycare facilities.

That’s another thing that doesn’t change – the minute-taking of council meetings leaves something to be desired.

However, what I think Judy Galbraith was complaining about was the proliferation of adult family homes in Oakbrook. And guess what? In 2022 it is still a problem, and arguably Doug Richardson and Claudia Thomas made the problem worse.

Once public comments were over, there was the usual consent agenda, followed by votes on various proposals. One vote was particularly devastating, and the City still lives with its consequences.

Doug Richardson proposed the following:


This means that if you are on a lot under 17,000 square feet you don’t need permission to remove trees. According to the old rules, prior to August 2001, the lot had to be under 10,000 square feet.

Deputy mayor Claudia Thomas seconded the proposal.

The vote for change was unanimous. This means that the whole City Council is collectively responsible for the environmental damage this change caused, and those who proposed and seconded it are doubly responsibility. Did Claudia Thomas unthinkingly follow Doug Richardson’s lead? Or did she make some effort to consider the consequences?

Following this change, a new group of property owners could cut down as many trees on their property as they wanted, without needing permits. As a result, it can be assumed that a vast number of trees, including precious Garry oaks, were erased from Lakewood’s landscape.

Furthermore, the change encouraged the development of adult family homes. In Oakbrook and other places, it became a common practice for developers of family homes to clear-cut their properties, to maximize the building space.

I saw this happening on a lot close to where I live. The property was over 10,000 square feet, but under 17,000. Prior to 2001, there were limits to what trees could be cut down. But because of Doug Richardson and Claudia Thomas, the owner was able to log 13 Garry oaks, without any need for permits.

Over the last year there has been pressure on the City to not just go back to the 10,000 square feet limit, but to have no limits whatsoever. This would mean that no matter how small the property, there would be some protection for eligible trees. The recent Ad Hoc Tree Committee has supported this amendment.

Hopefully, Lakewood will reverse the tragic change to the code that was instigated in 2001 by Doug Richardson and Claudia Thomas.