LEGAL THREAT UPS ANTE
The Thurston County Deputy Sheriff’s Association has a novel approach to urging county commissioners to find money for extra deputies. They’ve drafted, but not filed, a legal complaint that seeks to hold the county accountable for keeping officers safe.
Deputies say there is a safety risk for officers as well as the public. Residents may not get timely help, and fatigue could lead to injury for officers or the public. Already they say 23 of 30 officer injuries last year were linked to a lack of backup.
A 2014 state association’s report said Thurston’s deputy staffing per 1,000 residents was lowest in the state. But Thurston County Commissioner Cathy Wolfe says crime rates, emergency calls, and other factors must be weighed in setting staff levels, too.
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Deputies outlined their concern to Wolfe and commissioners Bud Blake and Sandra Romero through attorney Daryl S. Garrettson of Oregon. He sent a draft complaint that would be filed as a lawsuit if the county doesn’t improve staffing.
County criminal justice costs, already well over two-thirds of the county’s operating budget, grew recently with the opening of a new jail. County officials must take this seriously, but law enforcement needs to be constructive. Officers should support finding new resources that can pay for extra deputies and show restraint in their demands for compensation.
BE READY FOR THAT TSUNAMI
A bipartisan bill co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell boosts coastal preparedness for tsunamis. The Tsunami Warning, Education and Research Act of 2015 recently passed the Senate unanimously.
Cantwell says the bill advances research into tsunami detection and forecasting; it requires better notification to coastal dwellers and improved responses to tsunamis. It asks the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program and Coast Guard to recommend plans for communication and event responses, and for other agencies to assess risks related to the Cascadia earthquake fault.
With an estimated $30 billion in coastal economic activity in Washington and 120 million Americans living on or near coastlines, this deserves quick action by the U.S. House.
DOWNTOWN IS PERKING UP
The city of Olympia’s new Grow Olympia Fund offers low-interest, flexible loans to small businesses as a strategy for economic development, with a focus on downtown. Its first borrower is the Olympia Coffee Roasting Company, which is using a $320,000 loan to expand its roasting facility and to open a stylish new coffee house across the street from City Hall on the corner of Fourth and Cherry.
The expansion is expected to create up to 11 new jobs and perhaps boost productivity by keeping city employees revved up on caffeine. The new coffee house is open but a grand opening at noon Thursday offers free coffee and cake. Importantly, it’s an investment by a local business in our downtown.
NT TEACHERS STAY ON JOB
Teachers belonging to the North Thurston Education Association still are without a contract for the school year that began in September. Give them credit: They are showing up for school and not striking.
Members of the NTEA rejected a proposed contract agreement two weeks ago that provided 4.8 percent raises over two years (which the Legislature funded) and three extra paid days, according to North Thurston Public Schools. The parties still must agree on a pay agreement but the first 3 percent of the state-paid raises are being passed through to workers.