Thursday, July 31, 2008

75 More We Can't Have

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The new addition at Westfield Southcenter (Tukwilla) opened this past weekend.  Having seen another mall go through a Westfield update, I had high expectations and I was not disappointed.  Already a decent mall, the addition is pretty impressive.

I saw only one sign with a cheap looking sign, a stuffed animal store called "Okie Dokie."   It would have fit right in at our dismal hulk of that space where the bathrooms are located for the the Farmer's Market at 320th. and 99.

I was wondering... could the City of Federal Way use imminent domain and seize the land where the Commons is located so that the land could be used to, oh, I don't know... build a mall?  (I wrote to Westfield shortly after moving here two years ago, begging them to purchase The Commons.  They responded saying they were always looking for new properties to develop, but to date, they have not taken me up on the suggestion.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Press Release: Maciek Jozefowicz art exhibit on display at Dumas Bay through October 3

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The Federal Way Arts Commission presents an exhibit by Federal Way resident Maciek Jozefowicz. The exhibit, on display at the Knutzen Theatre through Oct. 3, consists of wood sculptures made primarily of prefabricated basswood sticks of various sizes.

Click here to read the press release (PDF)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Press Release: National Weather Service proclaims Federal Way ‘StormReady’

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The National Weather Service designed the voluntary StormReady program in 1998 to prepare cities and counties across the nation with the communication and safety tools necessary to save lives and property.

There are 1,370 StormReady communities in the country, only 39 are in Washington State. Federal Way is the fourth community in King County to be designated.

Click here to read the Press Release (PDF)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Proposed Street Vacation: North Side of 320th. near Weyerhauser

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A public hearing will be held on Sept. 2, 2008 (not 2007) for a proposed street vacation (more info on SVs) for a portion of 320th. Click here to learn more (PDF). It looks like it guarantee that Weyerhauser won't extend north beyond 320th. to meet up with Military (map).

Personal observation: I'm surprised at how infrequently major highways are flanked by frontage roads around here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

City of Federal Way - Current Job Openings

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as of July 23, 2008

City Manager's Office

  • Assistant City Manager/Chief Financial Officer (Regular, Full Time) - $125,000 - $135,000 DOQ (When Filled - First Review of Candidates 7/14/08)
  • City Prosecutor (Regular, Full Time) - $4,972-$6,297/mo DOQ (39661)
Management Services
  • City Clerk/Records Administrator (Regular, Full Time) - $5,221 - $6,613/mo DOQ (39654)
Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services
  • Aquatics Instructor/Federal Way Community Center (Temporary, Part Time) - $10.25 - $12.25/hour DOE (When filled)
  • Beach Lifeguard - Steel Lake Beach (Seasonal, Part Time) - $9.50-$11.50/hour (39660)
  • Building Supervisor - Federal Way Community Center (Temporary, Part Time) - $8.50-$10.50/hr DOQ (Open until filled)
  • Climbing Wall Attendant (Temporary, Part Time) - $9.00-$10.00/hour (When Filled)
  • Custodian - Full-time, Community Center (Regular, Full Time) - $2,736 - $3,465/mo (When filled)
  • Custodian - Part-time, Community Center (Temporary, Part Time) - $8.50 - $10.50/hr (When filled)
  • FITNESS INSTRUCTOR - PILATES/YOGA (Temporary, Part Time) - $20.00/HR doq (When filled)
  • Inclusion Coordinator - Community Pathways Program (Regular, Full Time) - Approx. $9,377 per college quarter DOE (39661)
  • Inclusion Recreation Assistant (Temporary, Part Time) - $12.50 - $14.50/hr (When filled)
  • Instructor - Cycling/Step/Kickboxing/Weight Lift (Temporary, Part Time) - $15.00 - $25.00/hour DOQ (When Filled)
  • Instructors-Dog Obedience/Foreign Language/Cooking (Temporary, Part Time) - $15.00-$25.00/HR DOE (When Filled)
  • Lifeguard/Federal Way Community Center (Temporary, Part Time) - $9.25 – $11.25/hour DOE (When filled)
  • Seasonal Parks Maintenance Worker (Seasonal, Full Time) - $11.00-$14.00/hour (When Filled)
  • Weight Room Attendant (Temporary, Part Time) - $9.00 - $12.00/hour DOQ (When Filled)
Police Department
  • Police Officer - Lateral (Regular, Full Time) - $4,236-$5,684/month* DOQ (39767)
Public Works
  • Engineering Plans Reviewer (Regular, Full Time) - $4,617 - $5,847/mo DOQ (When filled)
  • PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR (Regular, Full Time) - $10,000/MO DOE (Until Filled)
See the City of Federal Way website for more information.

Unclaimed Dock in Steel Lake

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from the City...

A floating dock or piece of a floating dock has turned up in the Steel Lake Park shoreline area. It turned up last week and as of yet no-one has claimed it. If you are the owner of the dock, or if you know who the owner of the dock is, please contact Tim Dickinson, Parks and Facilities Supervisor at 253 835-6961.

Since the dock is becoming a safety issue for the children using the park, the City will need to remove it from our lake area. If the City does not hear from the dock owner by Monday July 28th, the unclaimed docked will be removed from the park and hauled away.

If you have any questions or information about the unclaimed dock please contact Tim Dickinson at 253 835-6961.

Thanks You

Sunday, July 20, 2008


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FWBlog notes that United Properties has asked for an extension on the purchase and development of the AMC Property.  I thought it had originally been FederalWayan who pointed to UP's own spotty record in the past as far as going through with announced projects, but I can't find it tonight.  (Will someone prod the Wayan?  Or has FW gotten too dull for them to even comment on lately?)  Anyhow, FWB nails it:

Given the close proximity to the city’s core and transit center, nothing less that what has been proposed should move forward.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cruisin', Police-Style

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I've been communicating by email with one of my readers, one of Federal Way's finest, and I happened to mention how much I disliked the look of our police cruisers. He asked me why and I had a hard time figuring out exactly why. So, I started looking for photos of police cars on Google Images. Turns out that's a good question... there are a lot of designs, especially here locally, that leave a lot to be desired. Of course, after 45 minutes of searching, I came across CopCarDotCom's gallery, so if you're looking for photos of police cars, check that link for a lot more.

I told him that our cruises reminded me of Robocop or that awful Shaq movie - very generic, like press-on letters.

Anyhow, here's what I found, with my thoughts at the end. Most photos, when clicked, will bring up a larger version of the photo.

As always, this is only my opinion and it's all subjective.

Federal Way
Washington Highway Patrol
Oregon State Police

King County
University of Washington
Port Hueneme
Hong Kong
Detroit Lakes
Auburn Hills
Stayton Police
Garden Grove
U.S. Virgin Islands
U.S. Capitol
San Francisco
Mexico City
Buenos Aires (a fiat? looks too small)

Port Angeles
Los Angeles
Dodge Charger Sample
Port of Portland
California Highway Patrol (old style car)
Broward County Sheriff (School)

So, after looking at all these, what do I think makes for a good police car design? (Though probably not all at once.)
  1. Shield (Law Enforcement star, representation of officer's badges or city logo)
  2. Slogan/Mission Statement - reminds us when we see the cars as well as the officers when they get into the car, why you're here. (Do we have one? I don't see it on our website.)
  3. 911 reminder. From children to new residents to the city (or country), you cannot remind people too much. (Unless the call center isn't staffed sufficiently to deal with misuse of the number.)
  4. City/County clearly identified (FW logo and name so tiny on back of car you'll probably miss it)
  5. If striped, stripes convey motion or speed
  6. Timeless typeface that conveys care or authority or power (we're here to protect you, but don't make us put our boot down) (FW's is a typeface called "Liberal" that reminds me of Star Trek... one of those fonts that was supposed to look cool years ago and now looks dated and wishy-washy.)
Bottom line, our cars feel dated and generic. (Except the Dodge Charger.  That just looks awesome.  Saw it again this evening.  Due to its body style they had to make the fat gray stripe jut up at a steep pitch at the back of the car.  That helped, too. Just a really awesome looking car. Unfortunately, fuel economy isn't as good as some other police vehicle options, so we won't see a fleet of these in town.)

I don't know about the officers, but as a citizen, I'd like to see cars that look as good as the image we're trying to portray of our city. (I'm told that the current design is the result of changes over time and that one consideration is being good stewards of tax dollars - the current design is on the inexpensive side when it comes to need to touch-up the paint after the vehicles get scraped up during the course of operations.)

Here are some cruddy looking hacks I did... (click them to enlarge) I am really poor at design work, especially when it comes to trying to "repaint" the car, but it's just some ideas to maybe get someone else thinking creativity. Also have no skill at 3D work.

The first car might have the city name too many times, though I snuck in the "Liberal" typeface used on the current cars just for some continuity.

The striping along the body of the car fans out into the city logo on the back panel.  Reinfoces city "branding" and might imply speed.

The third is the standard LAPD style.  Hard to see it, but it has the city mountains in reflective material on the white door and room for a slogan on the back door.

Anyone else want to give it a go? Email me and I'll send you the blank car file.
(I ironically note that Ford chose to shoot this promotional shot in front of a building that appears to have graffiti.  I also put a small joke into photos.  See if you can spot it.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rural Crime

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In the course of the past 8 days, friends of mine have had their house broken into and possessions stolen twice. Including a laptop containing all the photos of their daughter since birth, family heirlooms and special gifts. And electronics loaned to them after the first burglary by other friends of ours. And a laptop belonging to a non-profit. Oh, and their passports, including the toddler's. They've had to cancel their planned vacation to Canada. They'll also be out $2,000 since the insurance counts each incident separately and leaves them on the line for the deductible. (If anyone wants to donate any money towards their deductible, let me know and I'll tell you how to get money to them.)

I feel really bad. I told then when they were looking for a home "We were misled by a realtor in the past and ended up buying a home in an unincorporated area. Never again. But this is different! If you buy in unincorporated Federal Way now, there's going to be a vote and they'll annex that area. You'll get all the benefits of the city but you'll pay less because you bought before incorporation. Automatic bump in the value of your home!"

Now I'm not egotistical enough to believe they purchased where they did solely because of what I said. I'm sure they had a competent realtor, they had budget constraints and the house they purchased had been flipped and looked very nice throughout.

It just angers me so much. Of all the people it could have happened to. In some ways, I want to blame the people who worked so hard to defeat the annexation vote. I know a yes vote wouldn't have ultimately resulted in a major change in the area or even have caused anything to occur yet, but I imagine that because of the no vote, the area will only continue to decline as the county cuts more and more services. Your "no" vote was a vote of ignorance and you're going to drag everyone else down with you.

Like I said, I've lived before in an unincorporated area. I know what it's like to have the sheriff's call center just tell you that they're not going to respond, that the in-progress crime isn't significant enough and that they don't have any officers available to respond.

Could not have happened to less deserving people.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Guest Speaker: Education (Kevin)

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Thank you to Kevin, a private school teacher in San Diego, Calif. for his thoughts. (This is part of a series.)

a) about your philosophy of teaching
I've never really understood this question. My philosophy is to do the job I am paid to do, to the best of my ability. On a side note, I am big on service and this job allows me to earn money while serving the needs of a community, but to say that is a philosophy on teaching doesn't work for me. Do people ask gas station attendants their philosophy on gas station attending?

b) the future of teaching and education
It will get better in some areas and worse in others. Education as a system is as complex as the medical industry, with different people lobbying their points of view, and special interest groups campaigning for this and that. Some of it will stick to the wall, while other stuff will fall to the ground. Currently, the emphasis is on basic math and grammar, with little to no mention of civics, social studies, or science. Last year's nationwide 8th grade writing proficiency tests revealed only approx. 30% of 8th graders writing at or above their level. And compared to their scores in math, science, and history, that was a high percentage.

Schools with a high degree of recent success have adopted the teacher-as-family approach. See the Hillary Swank movie "Freedom Writers" for an example of how the formula works, but essentially a student is taught by the same teachers for several years, so the teacher takes a more personal interest in the students and the students are more apt to trust and seek the council of their teachers.

Another future trend (currently the norm in the entire state of Kansas and other places) is to hold elementary and middle school on the same campus. It is proven that middle schoolers are less likely to act out violently in front of little children, and little children will mirror good behavior of older kids (who they can more easily relate to as peers) as opposed to adults (who they can't relate to at all). In short, by housing all the kids of all ages on one campus, the result is a better behaved student body. Note... this does not work at the high school level... they should be kept apart.

c) and the role, if any, of technology in the classroom  (is the rapid pace of technology having an effect on education, and if so, what? and if negative, what is the solultion?)
I have taught in a developing nation with no access to technology, and now I teach in a school with fancy overhead projection systems and a computer lab. As with any job which incorporates technology, it is an aid to the process... a tool. It should not replace a teacher or a textbook. Just as some teachers struggle to use a chalkboard, others struggle to use technology. Teaching junior high kids, I can tell you that a computer is a nice bright shiny object to attract the attention of a generally disinterested demographic.

d) and what effects, if any, you think personal dress have on education (if negative, what is solution?)
I detest school uniforms. I've been a teacher and a student in schools operating with and without a uniform policy. There are so many other battles to fight in the school system that this seems so insignificant. I assume it is such a hotbed issue because it is a very visible element of a student body. I encourage a dress code that sets rules on skirt length on girls, droopy pants on boys, etc., but it is far from important.

e) what effects, if any, you think media/popular culture have on education (if negative, what is solution?)
On education... none at all. On children in general, absent proper parenting, the media shapes their view of society. Children (even the stubborn independent ones who claim not to need anyone) need someone to set limits and impose structure. A part of that is teachers, but in public schools where there are 30-40 kids in a classroom, teachers frankly don't have time to impart advice on culture. So children see people on TV, the internet, etc. and they become their examples of how to live.

f) the general trends in education (good and bad) and what can be done by teachers, parents, students, communities to embrace the good and resist the bad
The general trend in society, as it relates to education, is for parents to try to befriend their kids instead of beparent them. They do not set expectations of their kids, nor do they encourage them to grow and mature. Parents see schools as daycare centers... a place for kids to hang out while mom and dad go to work. If some learning happens to take place, great, but it isn't a priority. After all, an underachieving C student became president of the United States and proved to all Americans that intelligence isn't important.

Guest Speaker: Education (Heather)

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Thank you to Heather, a middle school teacher in Pasadena, Calif. for her thoughts. (This is part of a series.)

It is my strong belief that every child can be successful in school. In order to do this, students must have excellent attendance, complete homework regularly, read frequently, learn and apply responsibility, and have good behavior in class. Students also need to realize that learning takes place outside of the classroom, as well - just because they leave class doesn't mean their learning has to stop! I truly believe that children succeed with help from their parents and families. It really does "take a village to raise a child."

Technology is now intertwined with global cultures and societies - it would be naive to believe that technology does not impact education as well. Today's students need to master technology basics, as most of today's job markets require some level of know-how. Such basics would include knowledge of computer systems and software, various mathematical devises (including complicated calculators), and, if applicable, digital devices such as cameras. Many people lose the foresight that school was created to ready productive workers and members of society. As stated before, most jobs have technological aspects - students must be ready to use them when they enter the job force.

Education is a fluid entity - it has not, nor should ever be stagnant. Societies and cultures are constantly evolving, as are job markets. No longer can people claim, "Well, when I went to school...." - the fact is, things have been changing, and will continue to change. A good teacher will constantly look towards the needs of their students:  What are their learning styles? How will they learn best? What will they need to know to be successful? Technology is part of this component. Every year, good teachers look at what they can add to their classes to better the learning experience. Each year I taught, a new technology element was added. And each year, the new elements would be tested - were they successful, failures, needed, unnecessary? No relevant aspect of education will make a negative impact. Children today are creatures of a technological world - they are used to computers, video games, vivid media, cell phones, digital cameras, MP3 players. To not include such tools would be foolhardy, as they are objects children (and adults in our society) identify with. The trick is to use them efficiently.

The concept of personal dress in schools is a tricky one. The last school I worked for implemented school uniforms mid-way through my tenure. The truth is, clothing is a powerful socio-economic indicator throughout history, and will continue to be so. Clothing defines a person, and observers will create impressions based upon what they see. In schools - this can be a huge distraction from learning for children. Uniforms help level the playing field, while allowing some aspects of individuality (such as socks, shoes, jewelry, hairstyles). Not having to worry so much about what one is wearing, or what another person is wearing, or what people think of what one is wearing is sometimes a relief to students. Many parents have expressed approval of school uniforms to me in the past, and indeed, I do not think I would mind if my children went to a school with school uniforms.

There is practically no escaping the media nowadays - it is everywhere. People receive media messages walking down the street, reading books and magazines, watching television and movies, using their phone, downloading music, etc... The trick in education is to use media in a productive manner. Many students are audio and/or visual learners - having media examples can help them learn effectively. Showing relevant movies in history class may help students understand times periods better. Using digital media in science class may help students track experiments more effectively. Of course, teachers must be judicious in their choices and must not show media just for the sake of wasting time (the proverbial "reward" movie. etc...). Media and popular culture are here to stay, at least until the next fad comes along. Education embraces this - but in an appropriate way.

The trend I've noticed over the last century throughout education that has been the most frustrating is called the "pendulum effect" - it is the changing of focus swiftly to another completely different focus without giving the first focus much time to percolate. For example, there was a large movement in reading through the last century for phonics; many people thought this ineffective, so the focus was switched over to whole-word learning. Shortly after, when people felt this was ineffectively, the focus swung back over to phonics. In order for a learning approach to be successful, time and effort must be placed into it. The constant changing of programs, curriculum, and theories have created an unstable atmosphere in education. It only seems logical that programs won't work if time isn't given.

To conclude, education is a shared enterprise between students, educators, and parents. In order for it to be successful, all need to maintain a role in said partnership.

Your Turn: Education

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With all of the debate around education in Federal Way this past year, I felt one voice was really missing from the discourse, what little of it I was able to follow. (I am, admittedly, way behind on my Mirror reading.)  I had been engaged in a private discussion with one of FWPS's more outspoken critics, but it left me feeling really deflated and made me think that a lot of the public debate had gotten off-track.

I do not know any teachers in Federal Way, save for our daughter's preschool teacher.  So I contacted four teachers I do know... two friends in Pasadena, Calif. teaching at Pasadena area public schools, my college-roommate currently teaching at a private school in San Diego, Calif., and my brother teaching at a local school district, asking for their thoughts on a number of topics.

To of them took me up on the challenge and their essays come next.  But, since in the end, the focus of this blog is Federal Way, I'd love to hear what you think.  Especially if you are a teacher or educator here in Federal Way.  As always, all posts are open to comments, or you can contact me directly at

To provide a basic direction, I asked them to write on the following topics, but please feel free to submit your thoughts on any aspect of education.  (As always, comments are moderated and published at my discretion.)

The topics I asked them to consider were:

a) about your philosophy of teaching
b) the future of teaching and education
c) and the role, if any, of technology in the classroom  (is the rapid pace of technology having an effect on education, and if so, what? and if negative, what is the solultion?)
d) and what effects, if any, you think personal dress have on education (if negative, what is solution?)
e) what effects, if any, you think media/popular culture have on education (if negative, what is solution?)
and lastly
f) the general trends in education (good and bad) and what can be done by teachers, parents, students, communities to embrace the good and resist the bad
The ultimate goal of this blog is to celebrate Federal Way, so while I know there are plenty of thoughts on what's wrong with FWPS, there has got to be plenty going right.  (Friends rave of the public academy.)  So, teachers, educators, parents, students... let's hear your thoughts on education.   (Yeah, I realize the potential irony of this being the middle of summer vacation.  The timing is what it is.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Neighborhood Sign (302)

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This one comes to us courtesy of TP, someone who has trouble spelling "dork" has tagged the Northlake Ridge entrance sign (map).  Google Maps puts this in Auburn and not Federal Way.  Is Google confused, or is this unincorporated Federal Way?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Twin Lakes Post Office (301)

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Ah, graffiti season seems to have begun anew.  I'm starting to get your emails again (I've got a few to post and one or two to go out and try to take photos of) and discovered this myself yesterday morning at the post office (map) not too long after the woman who opens the post office up each morning discovered it.   One graces the front door as big as life and another the brick wall to the left.  (She was wondering if she needed to wander around the entire building to look for more.)

So people often ask why I'mso anti-graffiti.  Should we just accept it as part of our rite of passage into big-city-dom?   I don't think so.  When you're in downtown Seattle, the graffiti fits the scale of things.  When you have towers rising 20, 30, 40 stories in the air, graffiti on the side of a dumpy concrete building makes sense.  It's someone trying to make a mark on a world so much larger than themselves.

But here in our tiny little town, it's just plain unnecessary.  And I know that it's for that very reason that it's done.

So here's my idea... why can't these artists at least doing something that (a) beautifies an otherwise ugly concrete wall or (b) entertains us?   For instance, instead of some angry scrawl that looks like a smashed spider, what if the tagger had painted "Buy some stamps, yo." or something?   It would probably stay on the wall longer and bring a smile to the face of everyone who pulled into the post office parking lot. 


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