If I were the Czar of Federal Way | Letters
January 10, 2013 · Updated 4:37 PM
Like most longtime citizens and/or business owners in Federal Way, it is easy for me to see the solution to any of the problems facing our fine city. As such, if I were the Czar of Federal Way, here are the first eight changes I would make:
1. While the red light traffic cameras provide clear evidence of an infraction and have reduced accidents, the school zone camera system is still badly flawed, issuing millions of dollars of questionable tickets. This system could easily be fixed by adding a second set of cameras recording drivers as they passed the flashing school zone signs (similar to the red-light system). As czar I would launch an ethics investigation as to why this wasn’t fixed years ago, especially as one of these cameras issued more tickets than the other five cameras combined.
2. Even as czar, it would be impossible to stop the Community Center’s losses of nearly $1 million annually. However, a restructuring of programs and staffing could cut these losses in half. The first step would be to hire a manager who was paid based on performance.
3. The city’s economic development director would also be paid for performance (e.g. number of businesses attracted to Federal Way). At a minimum, he should be required to call 10 existing businesses and 10 potential businesses every day with a simple question: “What would it take for you to keep/move your business to Federal Way?” These answers would then guide the city’s economic development plan. Spoiler alert: the Crystal Palace and/or Performing Arts Center won’t be on the list.
4. The city, school district and South King Fire and Rescue (SKFR) would be required to publish annual reports to their constituents. Not brochures with pictures of hunky firefighters or cute children, but reports that take a hard look at what we are receiving for our tax dollars. These reports would also measure their performance against other local agencies. Lakehaven Utility District does a great job of this each year (as required by law).
5. The salaries of every elected official would be doubled (possibly tripled). At the current salary levels, very few people can afford to serve in public office. With no disrespect to our currently elected officials, we would draw a much broader group of candidates by offering them significantly higher pay. Even the mayor’s salary of $115,000 is pathetic compared to the salaries received by the city’s department managers. Even the position of czar would require a salary of at least $200,000 before I would be interested.
6. Improve school security. As a parent who regularly volunteers at one of our grade schools, I have seen firsthand that there is essentially zero security at our grade schools. This is not acceptable. One simple solution would be to have our police officers file their paperwork from a school instead of City Hall.
7. I would completely restructure SKFR. No longer would we drive $500,000 fire trucks at 5 mpg to every first aid call. Rather, we would send two people out in a $40,000 SUV at 20 mpg to non-fire calls, leaving the third person at the station with the fire truck. In the extremely rare event of a fire, the SUV and fire truck could meet at the scene. Not only would this save an incredible amount of money, it would improve response times as SUVs are faster than any fire truck.
8. I would create a partnership between the city, school district, Highline Community College and St. Francis Hospital to create a medical high school/running start program as part of the new hospital campus. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that should not be missed.
I’ll save the list of people I would hire or fire and pet projects I would shut down for my second week as czar. Out of curiosity, what would you do if you were Czar of Federal Way?
Matthew Jarvis, Federal Way
Note: Matthew Jarvis authored this article as a private citizen and not on behalf of the editorial board.