Holiday ode to Federal Way as 2021 comes to a close | Livingston

An ode to Federal Way’s holiday season begins with a roast before we toast.

Poor Federal Way is in a pickle since its economic development is nothing but a trickle. The mayor is searching far and wide for businesses to fill our empty office space but his policy partners don’t want to give him chance because his duress gives them an opportunity to verbally prance.

They want the executive post for themselves, especially the so-called deputy, but collectively they serve without a clue as to what to do to lead our city to a better world view. While the policy partners complain about why they aren’t in charge, there is talk from the regressive crew about attempting an election coup to bring back the city manager form of government anew.

That is the form of government the city had when we incorporated and then as now Federal Way’s growth and vision remains as mediocre and misunderstood as our chosen name. However, back then our council had the city manager to fire or blame for supporting their ideas which were often lame.

Leadership taking its cue from the Growth Management Act proclaimed housing affordability must be our rule in order to take care of our increasing numbers of poor and homeless. But, sadly they fooled themselves and shortchanged the rest of us by not focusing on the real prize of community success which requires a laser focus on building a higher-level city embracing middle-class-diversity.

Council leadership and political powers beyond our town’s control believe that Federal Way should be all about affordability, so with multifamily expanding beyond 50-percent and a growing number of renters with a subsidy check our city blazes a trail toward poverty. While all on council championed this point of view, the progressive wing on council got blamed for a policy seen by the public as out-of-line with the community’s minds and by voter’s choice the progressive voice is gone.

Empathy for our economically challenged while admirable and necessary alters council’s ability to see that the real investment must be in building a strategically-valued-community able to help people grow out of poverty. Our council consistently fails to see that our focus must be on elevating our community’s cultural health, the arts, education, aesthetics, diversity, jobs and middle class housing opportunities because that is where our city’s future lies and without them being our front and center policy our city slowly dies.

Hands are getting wrung when talk begins about Federal Way’s never-ending crime season that is here for no logical reason. Except for the fact that every year our city grows poorer and since stuff just costs too much, why not grab a little from the rich – it won’t be missed – much.

Crime seems to be society’s forever curse with drugs and guns making things worse. But when our police response – here or elsewhere – is over the top the public rightly gets pissed.

To right the wrongs, our former council member turned legislator convinced the state that with a few changes in the laws our police would instantly be nice. But somewhere in the legislation our citizens’ misbehavin’ was given not much of a glance and now we are looking everywhere for our local flatfoots to do an arresting dance.

He saw a national wrong that needed to be righted but our local criminals know the drill and will continue doing what they do for a thrill. The robbers may not understand that the only advantage they gained is that when they get arrested the cops have to be chill.

Economic development is critical and some council members believe they should hire the chamber of commerce to do what they have failed to do. Our chamber of commerce is a valued lunch club of no common sense seeking to lead the city forward at the citizens expense.

They want to become the voice of creating a better local economy and tell the city they know what to do. What gets lost in the discussion is that our chamber of commerce has no track record of building community success which is a good reason they should not be paid by the city to tell the city the job it needs to do.

Communication is critical. The Federal Way Mirror nearly shutdown when the pandemic hit. It reduced its presence to online and slowly became a printed paper once more. The Mirror is needed to remind us that as a community we are better connected with ink in print, and the police blotter segment proves that criminals sometimes amuse.

Letters are written and shared. Complaints are expressed and the Mirror’s weekly opinionator gets mentioned by some as one of our city’s manipulators, but still, it is just freedom of the press.

The schools need our appreciation for their task is huge. They need all the help they can get but a free pass is not given because they are the engine for Federal Way’s future success. This means they have our empathy while we hold them to the highest of standards and challenge them with respect to become an “A” rated district out of necessity.

Some of our citizens have expressed concern with the mayor’s leadership ability now that he is half the man he used to be. He is proudly losing weight in our community and his gravitas is always being challenged, but in every speech he expresses confidently that our city is being well-managed. Right or wrong he has no doubt that after being duly reelected many of his ideas will be rejected.

But this is the season where we look past our grievances and make amends. The spin may be thin but the sentiment is real because we care a great deal about what happens next. Federal Way’s challenge is to grow every day in its understanding of what it means to be a cutting-edge place full of energy, grace, commerce and pace.

Our politicians creak and moan about what they can and cannot do, but today we are all one enjoying the holidays with thoughts of kindness and care for one another in the spirit of the season. May your holiday season be joyous and great and let’s raise a glass wishing 2022 a peaceful new year.

Keith Livingston is a retired municipal management professional, lifelong artist and Federal Way resident. He can be reached at