Submitted by John Simpson.
Last Thursday’s News Tribune brought us front page news that Governor Inslee is displeased with the Trump administration’s repeal of a safety regulation which governs the freight trains that haul large amounts of flammable materials.
The fear is that these trains would no longer be required to install electronically controlled pneumatic braking systems designed to decrease the chance of derailment.
“I fear the day we witness a destructive or deadly derailment that could have been prevented with readily available technology,” Inslee said.
While I understand and agree with the use of technology on trains to enhance public safety, I would also like the governor to apply the same logic to the increasing number of Adult Family Homes in Lakewood, particularly in the Oakbrook neighborhood, and the growing number of violent offenders and sexual predators placed therein.
To be clear, Adult Family Homes were never meant to house violent or sexual offenders; they were solely created for individuals to age gracefully and for those with vulnerabilities to receive care.
This has not always been the case, however, as the number of violent and sexual offenders – like a long line of rail cars carrying flammable materials – along with the number of Adult Family Homes continues to grow in the Oakbrook neighborhood.
To this end, the City has leveled legal proceedings against the state’s Department of Social and Health Services’ (DSHS) in an effort to make it comply with state law, and that the agency be held accountable for the safety of Lakewood’s citizens and vulnerable adults living in and around these homes.
Recently, Pierce County Judge Elizabeth Martin ruled against the city’s complaint, saying that the issue should be addressed by the state legislature through either an amendment of the Adult Family Home statute or through new legislation.
The city will probably not appeal this ruling.
Meanwhile the number of Adult Family Home businesses will continue to grow in the Oakbrook neighborhood, and the DSHS freight train will continue to offload its volatile cargo of violent and sexual offenders.
This brings us back to Governor Inslee’s earlier quote.
To paraphrase, many citizens of the City of Lakewood fear the day we learn about a tragedy occurring at the hands of one of these violent or sexual offenders in or around one of these Adult Family Homes, a tragedy the governor could have prevented with the readily available technology of the stroke of a pen directing DSHS to comply with the law.
All Aboard! There will be a Community Meeting about Adult Family Homes on October 23rd beginning at 7:00 pm at the Lakewood Elks Lodge, located at 2388 on 75th Street West. All are welcome.
Mr. Simpson is a Lakewood City Councilmember.