PSE Green Power Program an Easy First Step Toward Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Local electric customers find Puget Sound Energy’s “Green Power” program to be an easy way to reduce their carbon footprint. As we enter our peak electrical use, for the year, now is a great time to consider “going green.” For more than a year, all the electricity supplying our home has come to us through renewable sources. One day, we’d like to heat our water using solar, and maybe generate some of our own electricity. But, until that happens – and even after it does – PSE’s Green Power program is right for us.

According the the PSE web site, “Through the Green Power Program at Puget Sound Energy (PSE), you can support the development of electricity generated from renewable sources in the Northwest for as little as $4 per month. PSE’s Green Power Program is one of the top 10 Green Power Programs in the country (source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 12/2007).”

The purchase of Green Power, through PSEs program represents an investment in renewable power. “PSE uses the funds collected from the Green Power Program to purchase green power, educate the public and market renewable energy, and administer the program. PSE is required to report annually on our Green Power Program’s progress to the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Committee (WUTC) and Washington State Department of Community Trade and Economic Development, who in turn present their findings from throughout the state to the Washington State Legislature.”

You can purchase 100 percent of your energy from renewable sources for only $0.0125 per kWh on top of your monthly electric charges. But, you can choose buy only a portion of your electrical needs through the program, for as little as $4 per month.

For more information on the Green Power program and to sign up click here for the PSE web site.

Join the thousands of Puget Sound Energy customers who have already signed up to supply all or a portion of their electrical needs using green power (the Olympia area has the second highest participation rates, behind Bellingham, in the program).

The City of Bellingham, incidentally, has chosen to purchase its municipal electrical supply entirely through the program. I look forward to the day when both Olympia and Thurston County governments make that choice, too.

Click here to read a recent article, from the Olympian, which describes how other local families are reducing their carbon footprints.


Kennedy Creek Interpretive Trail Now Open to View Salmon Spawning

The South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group invites you to “Welcome back the chum salmon of Kennedy Creek.”

Click here for more information and driving instructions.

“Kennedy Creek is one of the most productive salmon runs in South Puget Sound. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to experience these wild salmon on the 1/2 mile, ADA accessible trail, with 11 viewing stations, interpretive signage, and volunteer guides.”

The trail is free and open to the public from 10 am to 4 pm on the following days in November:

  • Weekends (11/01/08 – 11/30/08)
  • Day after Thanksgiving (11/28/08)

Puget Sound Partnership Releases Draft Action Agenda to Restore the Sound

The Puget Sound Partnership, a community effort of citizens, governments, tribes, scientists and businesses working together to restore and protect Puget Sound, has recently released a draft Action Agenda to restore the health of the Sound by 2020.

A public comment period on the content of the draft Agenda ends this Thursday, November 20. The Partnership is working to prepare the final version of the Action Agenda for release on December 1, 2008.

Click here to download a copy of the 94-page Agenda. Then, click here to submit a comment.

The agenda includes important suggestions regarding what ordinary people and homeowners can do, to help improve the health of the Sound. Many of these we’ve seen before.

Some easy steps you can take to clean things up:

Vehicle Operations

What comes off and out of your car makes its way into Puget Sound

  • Drive less
  • Check for leaks
  • Use substitute for copper break pads
  • Ask for steel tire weights instead of lead

Fertilizers & Herbicides

What does not get used up by plants makes its way into Puget Sound

  • Pull and smother weeds instead of spraying
  • Follow package directions exactly
  • Improve soil
  • Use native plants

Car Washing

What products (soaps, waxes, cleaners) you use wash into Puget Sound

  • Use commercial car washes
  • Wash on pervious surfaces like a lawn
  • Use car wash kits for charity car washes

Pet Waste

What is left on the lawn will be washed into Puget Sound

  • Scoop your poop and put it in the trash!

Household Products/Chemicals

What goes down your sink, toilets, and drains makes its way into Puget Sound

  • Choose least toxic alternatives for household cleaners
  • Use more elbow grease, less chemicals
  • Use your local waste facility to dispose of chemicals properly

Septic Systems

What a septic system cannot handle makes its way into Puget Sound

  • Maintain your septic system
  • Do not overuse or abuse its abilities (toilet paper only)
  • Fix failing septic systems

The Agenda defines specific indicators and benchmarks to answer the question “How will we hold ourselves accountable?” (page 10). Among these are a target for “Net increase of 10,000 acres of commercial shellfish growing area open for direct harvest based on improved sanitary conditions.”

Futurewise, a public interest group, has released a notice to its members which reads, “I hope you’ll agree that the Partnership has gone a long way and deserves praise. While we applaud their effort thus far, we also believe the Action Agenda can and must be improved. The Partnership must clearly identify benchmarks and sustained funding to get us to a healthy Puget Sound by 2020. Further it should build off our existing community protections and take advantage of the region’s recent vote in favor of expanding light rail.”

This is a hefty Agenda, but folks in the Griffin area have an abiding interest in the quality of the Sound, share responsibility for the health of the South Sound, and many of us benefit in many ways – economically and in our quality of life – from the presence of the Puget Sound. Recent alarming reports of the probable deaths of 7 orcas, in the north Sound, highlight the critical situation which presently confronts us.

Local residents would do good to keep up on the activities of the Puget Sound Partnership and encourage our elected officials to take an active role in implementing provisions of the final Agenda.

In what ways do you support this Agenda or believe the Agenda does not merit your support? Click the “comments” link below and leave your comments.

County Recommends Reductions to Deal with Budget Shortfall

The Olympian is reporting that Thurston County staff is recommending workforce reductions. Despite these efforts, though, the budget shortfall is still estimated to be at least $1.2 million.

Click here to read the article.

Its especially noteworthy that so much – two-thirds – of the County budget pays for the criminal justice system. As a result, “the budget calls for fewer deputies to respond to and investigate certain crimes, less help at the Permit Assistance Center and more delays in resolving court cases.”

Several building inspectors are to be laid-off, too.

The Olympian has already reported the County may end a drug court program which diverted low-risk, non-violent drug offenders away from the jail system.

It is especially ironic to see how deep some of these cuts will go, after reading (just a few days ago), “The amount that Thurston County must pay three women who won a sex- discrimination lawsuit against the county will total almost $3 million after attorney’s fees are taken into account.”

And, don’t forget, just this last August, when a public record request disclosed that “Thurston County paid almost $1.47 million over four years to process and defend against challenges to the county’s 2004 comprehensive-plan update.” The County largely came out on the losing end of that protracted court battle.

The new County Commissioners will have their work cut out for them. Then again, it might be good that, at some point early this next year, there will be not one – but two – new Commissioners on the Board.

COMMUNITY ALERT: Catalytic Converter Thefts

On November 7th the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office has released a Community Alert regarding “a recent rash of thefts of vehicle’s catalytic converters, particularly in residential areas.”

If you have any information which may lead to those perpetrating these thefts, please call the Sheriff’s Office at 360-786- 5500 or Crime Stoppers 493-2222.

The entire contents of the notice reads:

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office has seen a recent rash of thefts of vehicle’s catalytic converters, particularly in residential areas. Due to the fact that these converters are found in exterior locations and that valuable precious metals including platinum, palladium, and rhodium are used in their construction, converters are a target for thieves. With scrap metal being a common avenue for the criminal element to make money, each of these converters are valuable commodities. The problem is especially common among late-model Toyota trucks and SUVs, due to their high ground clearance and easily-removed bolt-on catalytic converters. Welded-in converters are also at risk of theft from SUVs and trucks, as they can be easily removed with a battery powered reciprocating saw. The saw removal of the converter can often inadvertently damage the car’s wiring or fuel line resulting in dangerous consequences.

Thieves can get $40 to $100 for a converter from an unscrupulous scrap metal dealer. Toyota 4Runners are particular targets — not only do their catalytic converters contain plenty of platinum, their high ground clearance makes them particularly easy targets. A thief with a socket wrench can remove a 4Runner’s converter in minutes.

Since thieves crawl under the vehicle to remove the converter, it is easy to hide while the crime is taking place. Most victims report that they didn’t hear anything during the night – leading us to believe that speed wrenches or normal hand tools are used around residences. Each unit weighs less than 8 pounds, and is easily lifted and moved.

The nature of this crime makes repeat occurrences attractive, since the converter needs to be replaced for the vehicle to be operated. The only real way to protect against the crime is to make sure that the vehicle is stored inside.

Since many of us don’t have the option of storing our vehicles inside, it is important to remember that lighting is a thief’s enemy. Make sure that you have adequate outdoor lighting illuminating your driveway or vehicle storage area. Report any suspicious activity by calling 911 immediately. Know who your neighbors are and consider forming a Neighborhood Watch program.

For information on forming a Neighborhood Watch, contact the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Community Outreach Division at (360) 786-5855.

Contact info: If you have any information, please call the Sheriff’s Office at 360-786- 5500 or Crime Stoppers 493-2222.

Commissioner Bob Macleod Announces He Will Resign Dec 31st

The Olympian yesterday reported that our Commissioner, Bob Macleod, will be resigning as of December 31st. “He noted his diagnosis for an unspecified medical condition in the letter,” Christian Hill, for the Olympian wrote, “but later confirmed in an interview it is Alzheimer’s disease.”

Macleod, a Democrat, will be replaced in an appointment selected by the remaining two commissioners, from a list of three candidates. The list of candidates will be offered to the commissioners by the Thurston County Democratic Party. If the commissioners cannot agree on a replacement within five days of Macleod’s vacancy, the Governor will make an appointment.

Sandra Romero, newly elected to the Board of Commissioners, will move up her oath of office, in order to participate in the process of designating a replacement.

According to the news article, “The commissioner appointed to fill Macleod’s unexpired term will be up for election next year. The seat again would be open for election in 2010, when Macleod’s four-year term expires.”

Click here to read the entire article in the Olympian.

Click here for Bob Macleod’s biographical information and the organizations on which he represents the County, from the Thurston County web site.

Click here to visit the web site of the Thurston County Democrats.

UPDATED 11/17: From Thurston County Democrats, we received this communication, which clarifies a few points made in the article published in the Olympian:

Just a week ago, we were all saddened when Bob Macleod, Thurston County Commissioner, announced his mid-term resignation from the District 3 position effective December 31, 2008, due to health concerns. Our community is united in its gratitude for the 6 years of service Bob gave as our commissioner and the preceding decades of community service he generously provided while serving as news director at KGY radio. We all hope the challenges of his declining health may be minimized and that he may continue to stay active to the extent he feels comfortable.

We are now ready to begin the difficult task of “filling his shoes” for the remainder of his term. In accordance with Article II, Section 15 of the Washington State Constitution, the two other commissioners, Cathy Wolfe and Sandra Romero, will have 60 days after December 31 in which to appoint a successor [emphasis added] who will serve until November 2009, when a successor to serve the remainder of Bob’s term will be elected. The Thurston County Democratic Central Committee (Precinct Committee Officers) will provide the names of three candidates from which Cathy and Sandra are to choose one as the temporary successor.

Although our newly elected Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs) do not take office until December 1st and the upcoming holiday season poses some scheduling challenges, we do intend to provide the three names to the two other commissioners by mid-January at latest. This is the process we will follow:


Applications from Democrats resident and registered to vote in Commissioner District 3 are now being accepted, provided they are postmarked or emailed by December 1st. In addition to providing contact information (name, address, phone numbers and email address), applicants must indicate

(1) why they want to serve as county commissioner,
(2) what they believe makes them uniquely qualified to fill this vacancy,
(3) how they are prepared to stand for election in 2009 and then again in 2010, and
(4) what they intend to accomplish during their term as county commissioner.

Applications may be emailed to or post mailed to PO Box 164, Olympia, WA 98507.

Review Process

By mid-December (before the holiday vacations), the PCOs officially elected in 2008 whose precincts are in Commissioner District 3 will meet to interview the applicants and develop a ranked list to submit to the full Thurston County Democratic Central Committee (TCDCC). This date of this meeting will be announced after December 1st.

In early January, a special meeting of all PCOs officially elected in 2008 shall be convened to review the recommendations of the district PCOs and develop a final ranked list of three candidates to submit to the two remaining county commissioners.

Each meeting will be chaired and moderated by the Thurston County Democrats’ chair or designee.

Public Comment

Written comments from the public are welcome and may be sent to All comments received by December 15 will be distributed to all PCOs who are participating in the review process.

John Cusick, Chair
Thurston County Demcocrats

The Olympian has today run an article entitled “Will legislator fill commission seat?” which suggests that Representative Brendan Williams might appear on the list of candidates. Click here to read that article.

Google Now Tracking Incidence of the Flu

Dang. Like, is there nothing Google doesn’t do? Today comes news that, a research arm of Google, has made public a site which can be used to track the local and national incidence of the flu. Interestingly, Google is claiming they can respond more quickly and thereby beat even the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), by two weeks, in tracking the spread of the flu.

Click here to visit the site where you can select Washington state and see a graph of reported incidence of the flu, as well as trend lines that represent flu outbreaks from prior years.

Make sure, if you visit this web page, to click on the drop-box and select “Washington” from the list of states. Otherwise, you’re just looking at the graph for the entire U.S.

By all accounts, we’re entering our flu season. The web site also hooks into the American Lung Association to help to provide you with local flu shot information, if you enter your ZIP Code into a search field. According to Google, the Rite Aid on Cooper Point Road will have flu shots November 18 from 2:00pm-6:00pm.

Local Elections Result; No Game-Changer, But Change, Nonetheless

Election results of interest to local residents are still coming in, particularly in the races for Superintendent of Public Instruction and Public Lands Commissioner. But, other campaign results are in and we can see there will be change – or the possibility of change – but how profound that change will be depends, in part, on the degree to which citizens can keep alive their enthusiasm for participatory democracy.

Although the final numbers are not yet it, we’re likely to find that we had record turnout among voters in the election held earlier this week. Throughout the state, and in Thurston County, elections offices reported record numbers of registered voters. Organizations such as the Griffin Neighborhood Association will be challenged to convert that enthusiasm to vote into an ongoing interest to participate in government.

Click here to view the current vote counts.

The election of Sandra Romero to the Thurston County Board of Commissioners bodes well for those of us expecting the Commission to strike a better balance between the property rights and controlled growth crowds. We hope Romero will bring new ideas and new excitement to a Commission which has for too long spent public money in court, defending its indefensible land use policies. Here, within the boundaries of the Griffin School District, we find ourselves in the cross-hairs of a lot of development without adequate oversight from the County. The Commission will need to take on a lot of tough issues if we’re going to be assured our wells continue to pump clean water, habitat is preserved on the Steamboat peninsula, and our beaches front on a healthy Puget Sound.

Despite criticism of lackluster service in the office, Cathy Wolfe has won re-election to the County Board of Commissioners.

We wish to congratulate, in particular, Griffin Neighborhood Association Board member and local resident Fred Finn, for his success in the race for the House of Representatives in the 35th Legislative District. We expect Fred and Kathy Haigh, who easily won re-election, will prove to be worthy and effective representatives, in the House. Given the 35th LD spreads across 4 Western Washington counties, it’s a real treat to have Fred, a representative who so keenly understands our concerns, working for us.

The Griffin School District Technology & Capital Projects Levy is passing, with a vote 59% in favor. The “Yes for Griffin Kids” Committee has done a terrific job of gathering support for critical funding necessary to maintain our effective and independent local school district. The Committee deserves our thanks and our continued support. For more information and to join the “Yes for Griffin Kids” Committee, call Rhonda Fry at (360) 432-2337.

Kathy Haigh has taken a real leadership role, in the House, on issues related to educational funding. Fred Finn has served on the Board of the Griffin School District. We hope these two will work hard, in Olympia, to fulfill the requirements of the State constitution and fully fund quality public education.

As we right this article, incumbent Terry Bergeson and Randy Dorn are locked in a tight race that is yet to be resolved. With 51% of votes counted, Dorn leads Bergeson, but there are many votes yet to be counted, particularly in King and Pierce counties.

UPDATED: Late Thursday, enough votes were counted to convince Terry Bergeson to concede defeat to Randy Dorn. Dorn ran heavily on a promise to reform the WASL – indeed, to entirely replace the WASL – so we can expect some big changes in that testing regime.

Another important race still hanging on the vote count, particularly in King and Pierce counties, is the race for Public Lands Commissioner. Much of Peter J. Goldmark’s support is expected to come from particularly King and Snohomish counties. Goldmark supporters are cautiously optimistic, what with Goldmark’s slim lead over Doug Sutherland.

UPDATED: Late Thursday, the Associated Press determined that not enough votes were left un-counted in counties expected to support Sutherland. The AP has announced Goldmark has won. However, Sutherland has not yet conceded.

The next legislative session begins in just 2 months. We’ll soon have a new Commissioner, in the County. Whether you tend to see things as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent, you’ll probably agree there’s a palpable feeling of change in the air. Not just on a national level, but on a local level. We hope this sense of change – and of hope – will translate to new participation among citizens.

What are you looking forward to, with these changes in local government? Click on the comments link below.


Spend a Couple of Minutes Helping Your Neighbors to Vote

The Thurston County Auditor has posted a list of all votes they register as having been received, as of November 3rd. You can access those lists and use them to prompt others to vote.

Click here to access those lists.

Active Registered Voters: 148,402
Ballots Received as of November 3: 84,149

If you have any time at all, before voting closes at 8 PM on Tuesday, please check for just a couple of names of your friends and relatives in Thurston County.

Contact those whose names are not on these lists. If they have not yet voted, please remind them that no polling places are open; all voting is now done by mail, in Thurston County.

Drop-boxes are available, to receive ballots before 8 PM with no stamp required.

Click here for a list of drop-boxes.

If mailed, ballots must be postmarked on Election Day. Post offices have said they will not be open late, on Election Day.

If necessary, a provisional ballot may be completed at the Auditor’s Office, Thurston County Courthouse, Building 1, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW. Their phone number is 786-5408.