Recently I took an espresso break with a highly credible person who is as they say, “in the know.”
While knocking back my cappuccino, my confidential informant informed me that a number of citizens have been directing highly emotional and loosely supported complaints towards City of Lakewood staff and Lakewood City Council. The critical comments suggest the complaint targets are abundantly incompetent and are recklessly using our tax dollars. Malfeasants in office is a favorite term they like to bandy about.
Being one of The Suburban Times top caliber award-winning Investigative Reporters, it was only natural when Publisher Ben Sclair hand-picked me to sneak around town wearing a mullet wig and fake beard on an all expense paid investigative junket to get to the bottom this breaking story. While my publisher sounds like a big spender, he knew I was only about one mile from the scene of the story which made the concept, all expenses paid, equal no expense paid.
I was chosen because to many, at least by may pals Tommy in Louisville and Jimmy on the West Slope, my reporting skills are similar to those of The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the 1972 Watergate scandal fame. I have to admit, my source reminded me of the infamous informant connected with the Watergate scandal known as “Deep Throat.” Not wishing to copy Woodward’s and Bernstein’s Deep Throat name, my soon be famously informant is known as Deep Pocket. I have sworn to not disclose the true identity of Deep Pocket until 25 years following death. I think death refers to my death, which puts me at age 100 when I identify Deep Pocket. When I am 100, who will care?
The Suburban Times is dedicated to bringing our loyal readers the facts and nothing but the facts.
The citizen complaints have sounded something like this; “Hey, what is da-matter witch you politicians and city bureaucrats? After you waste our tax dollars building sidewalks around Gravelly Lake wide enough to be used as a Lear Jet landing strip, you den post signs telling us not walk on the berry sidewalks you just bilt. Does dat make cents? Have ett too much of dat new legal Washington weed brownies? Huh? Huh? Why do we hab sidewalks in Lakewood we are knot supposed to stomp on?
Ben Sclair, who is known for being a highly intelligent operator and is often referred to “as the brains behind the outfit,” instructed me to not only shed light on the above-referenced citizen complaint but to dig deep enough to discover if there was another side to this complaint story.
Until recently my investigation has been a closely guarded secret like the Robert Mueller Trump – Russian election investigation.
Now that my investigation is complete with a double, triple, and fourple, (Joe Boylism), check on all the facts including those facts I made up to make the story more interesting, we can now move into our transparency phase.
My investigative findings determined that the city staff and city council do not deserve any of the criticism leveled at them in what is an unprecedented level of complaints. I have come to this conclusion based on several significant investigative findings as follows:
Significant Finding #1: The city did not spend all our tax dollars on the street and sidewalk improvement project as the accusers claim. Lakewood spent a few dollars, but when compared to the total cost expended for the project, we might call what the city spent chump change. Most of the dollars flowed into the city for the project based on city staff’s highly honed ability to garner grant dollars. These free dollars flow from government bureaucracies like the Washington State Government and our Federal Government. Lakewood knows big government means big money.
Significant Finding #2: By using the childproof door locking system and by keeping my car moving at 35 mph, I was able to hold my pal Jimmy hostage in the interest of scientific discovery. Jimmy saw what happened to me when I fell off a motorcycle at 70 mph, so he was abundantly hesitant about jumping out of a moving car as we motored down Gravelly Lake Drive SW. My human experiment gave me the opportunity to make some scientific observations as we passed the No Pedestrian / No Walking signs depicted in the photos above.
During Jimmy’s forced participation in my street analysis experiment he produced the following spontaneous natural utterances as he searched for the true meaning of the No Pedestrian / No Walking street signs:
- Hey Joe, maybe those No Pedestrian / No Walking signs mean it is illegal to walk on the sidewalk?
- Hey Joe, maybe those No Pedestrian / No Walking signs mean people are discouraged from walking in the private yards in front of the sidewalks?
- Hey Joe, I think I finally got it. Those No Pedestrian / No Walking signs mean it is illegal for people using the sidewalks to cross Gravelly Lake Drive in the sign zone areas. Based on the three-Es of traffic, Engineering, Education, and Enforcement, the signs bring the first two Es into play. The signs are all located in what an old car-ped crash investigator like myself would refer to as KILL ZONES. KILL ZONES are those areas of Gravelly Lake Drive SW which intersect with high traffic cross streets and private roads.
While Jimmy finally got the actual message of the signs, he had to do a lot of thinking before being able to understand the signs’ meaning. The signs are confusing. Well engineered traffic signs should produce an instant and accurate recognition of the sign’s message without a lot of thought. A useful sign allows the viewer to see the sign and immediately understand the instruction being given.
Significant Finding #3: The No Pedestrian / No Walking signs do not actually face any citizen ambling down in either direction on the sidewalk. The signs face across the road with a second set of signs facing the first set from across the street. There is a total of four signs for each KILL ZONE. That means the signs do not message that we cannot walk on the sidewalk. The signs’ message we shall not cross the road in that location.
Significant Finding #4: The Golden Rule.
Most of us have heard of The Golden Rule, but many of us are unaware there are two meanings for The Golden Rule.
He who has the gold makes the rules.
What this means is when big government gave Lakewood the money, they dictated a rule that Lakewood must post the No Pedestrian / No walking crossing signs. The cost benefit ratio of posting confusing signs in exchange for big bucks is well worth it.
As you can see, if big government has the gold, big government makes the rules.
Take another look at Investigation Exhibit 1 below. I hope this clears up the big misunderstanding.
This The Suburban Times investigative report agrees with the critics that the NO PEDESTRIAN / NO WALKING signs are confusing, but based on the true facts, we ask the critics to be impressed, thankful, and polite as they communicate with Lakewood City staff and our Lakewood City Council.
Dave Shaw says
“Most of the dollars flowed into the city for the project based on city staff’s highly honed ability to garner grant dollars. These free dollars flow from government bureaucracies like the Washington State Government and our Federal Government. Lakewood knows big government means big money.”
I always find it laughable when people refer to the money for local projects (any projects, really) as being funded with “free money” from the state or federal governments. All anyone needs to ask is, “Where do the state and federal governments get THEIR money?”
On a similar topic: I see that the “barrier” across from the Clover Park Shops and CP High School is being “remodeled” again. How many times do such “make work projects” need to be done, and for what purpose? But it’s probably not that important because it is being funded by that “free money” you’re talking about.
Susanne Bacon says
I am still bewildered by the yellow bump stuff that encourages blind pedestrians to cross what you call a KILL ZONE while a few steps next to it there’s the sign “No pedestrians”. To be honest – I’m glad I always only drive past and don’t fourple-pass (as in four limbs, not tres-pass as in three) that area as a pedestrian.
Thanks for a loud laugh during my breakfast, Joe!
John Arbeeny says
Dave Shaw….you took the words right out of my mouth! “FREE” indeed! It’s our money. It should be against the law to refer to any “benefit” from government as “FREE”: some taxpayer paid for it and it is not “FREE”! This is the current mantra espoused by a new/old wave of socialists. Everything is “FREE”: college, health care, welfare, food stamps, etc. etc. etc. None of it is “FREE”. Hey Joe Boyle: how ’bout you remove the word “FREE” from your vocabulary when it comes to anything from government. Instead use “TAXPAYER FUNDED” so those who don’t follow politics will realize that they, the taxpayer, are paying for it. The fact that grants from state or federal governments are wasted on unnecessary projects is still a waste of TAXPAYER FUNDED money. in your photo how many people do you see on this mile of double wide sidewalk or any sidewalk within the city? As I recall from my council days, these TAXPAYER FUNDED wastes always come with strings attached from the grantors and require at least some matching funds from the city. A lot of this chasing grant money started back with the Hipkins Road chicanes…..as in chicanery…project which I recall spent $750,000 on this debacle, of which about half were city funds. This totally unnecessary project literally bent a straight road as part of road safety on the premise people would slow down in the bends. Where’s the evidence that it was needed? Where’s the evidence it worked? No accountability, but that’s how you justify your existence in city government: grab every dollar out there whether needed or not. By the way: the Hipkins Road debacle also put in nice little green plots that now have to be maintained by the city forever: another waste but that’s how empires are built; one little green plot at a time. I recall then Mayor Claudia Thomas proclaiming that the city had built 17 miles of sidewalks….at around $200 a running foot….but couldn’t answer the question whether that was twice as good as 8.5 miles or half as good as 34 miles. Indeed it didn’t seem to matter: more was always better! Yet sidewalks are the least effective method of moving people and goods. But as past Mayor Harrison proclaimed, “…….building sidewalks is what cities do.” Perhaps he should have said “….building sidewalks is the politically correct thing to do.” Parks Department has its own little racket as well: a two lane highway around Wauhop Lake, Fort Steilacoom Park and paved dog parking lot, while the roads into and around the park were in horrible condition. But gotta’ spend that money before they take it away from you whether needed or not. It’s known as “base line budgeting”. There are plenty of other such stories of government waste that I know from personal experience as a program manager in the US Army and past Council member and Deputy Mayor for the City of Lakewood. This is endemic to all levels of government. All government funds began as TAXPAYER FUNDS which we worked for, saved for, invested for and taken by government. TAXPAYER FUNDS should be spent accordingly based upon tax payer needs not government wants.
James Hills says
The sidewalk could have been narrowed a bit and a bike lane put in. No place in the city are there “real” bike lanes. There are signs on Bridgeport for example that say “Bikes may use the full lane” but there are no bike lanes. Perhaps that is because the “free money” would not pay for bike lanes. I doubt that though, I think it was just plain poor planning by the City.
Dave Shaw says
Putting in bike lanes will be the reason for “the need” to re-work the entire stretch of roadway again. “Make work” projects is what government seems to be all about.
Joseph Boyle says
Mr. Shaw, Mr. Arbeeny, & Mr. Hills,
It may surprise you to learn I agree with many of your points. The entire concept of FREE always needs a close look and FREE can mean trouble. What is that old saying? “There is no such thing as a free sidewalk.” Wait, I think the saying was “There is no such thing as a FREE lunch.” Same thing.
Even before your comments, I shared some of your feelings about FREE. All I was thinking is right or wrong, government entities have a way of taking our money. Once our money is in their money bag, then it becomes a quesiion as to how is big government going to spend our money?
Assuming government is going to take our hard earned money and they are going to spend our money wisely or foolishly, then in my mind how they spend the money becomes an important question.
I used the word FREE money because I realized big government could have chosen to take our money and then spend our money paving the streets of a small Eastern Washington town named George, Washington with hand stamped images of our first president every 300′ of roadway stretching through town.
Or, because of our Lakewood City Council and Lakewood City staff we could use their grant money skills to have big government direct their ill-gotten gains to us for Gravelly Lake Drive SW.
In the end, Lakewood did not change the Lakewood cut on the price of my vehicle license renewal from $20 to $40, so the fact that Lakewood captured some of the big government money makes me think FREE MONEY.
To honor your input, I will try to refer to what I have termed FREE MONEY as GRANT MONEY in the future.
The bottom line is it does not seem fair to criticize Lakewood City Council or Lakewood Staff for posting the signs in question since they are the result of the Golden Rule.
Now is a good time to consider applying the classic meaning of the Golden Rule when addressing our Lakewood City Council and Lakewood staff.
Joseph Boyle says
By the way Mr. Arbeeny, I like your term “Taxpayer Funded”. I will honor your request and try to use those words in the future along with Grant Money.
Thanks for sharing your thinking.