Posted by Peter Brennan on Sep 14, 2020
Rotary Club of Olympia
The Wheel
 
Today’s Program: Mayor Cheryl Selby
 
Meeting Called to order: by President Sean Padget @ 12:04 pm
  • Invocation by: Rosemary Barnhardt
  • Pledge of Allegiance led by: President Sean
  • Four Way Test led by: President Sean
Visiting Rotarians
None
 
Guest of Rotarians
None
  
Announcements
 
Anniversary Celebration
President Sean reported that there was a recent discussion about celebrating the 9/10 Centennial Anniversary and he prepared and submitted a Letter to the Editor to The Olympian recognizing this important milestone.  It was published in the paper over the weekend. 
 
World Polio Day
October 24th is World Polio Day.  On October 17th @ 3 p.m., a celebration will include a presentation by Rotary leaders in the eradication effort.  Cost is $30 to participate, and the funds will support the program.
 
Book Club
Book Club had a great meeting last week.  October 13th 5pm at Priest Point Park will be the next book club meeting. 
 
Food Drive
Food Bank drive raised more than $6,000 and tons of food.  Another drive will be coming soon; watch for information.
 
Executive Board Meeting
Board meeting is at 9 am this Wednesday via Zoom.  Let Sean know if you want to participate, particularly the Red Badge members.
 
Tiny House Project
Paul Knox shared that we had a very successful social distant celebration last Wednesday of the completion of our 5 tiny home project we are spearheading with Gateway and Lacey clubs.  Olympia Union Gospel Mission (go Skip!), YouthBuild and the City of Olympia was represented.  He expects we will get an article in both the Olympian and Thurston talk as both sent reporters.
 
Program: Mayor Cheryl Selby
 
Dick Cushing introduced former club member and current Mayor of Olympia Cheryl Selby.
 
Mayor Selby discussed the challenges the City is currently facing including the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and season of racial reckoning that gas gripped our community and our country.
 
Many city employees (300) have made the transition to work from home during the pandemic and the City Council has been meeting on Zoom.  The Council meetings are seeing greater attendance with an earlier start time of 5:30 pm and the increased accessibility of video conferencing.
 
The financial services group for the City has been working tirelessly to project decreased revenue of $12.5M and on a plan to respond.  Actual losses have not been as great, but still substantial at more than $6M through June.  Responses have included voluntary furloughs, early retirement, and some layoffs.  Budget reserves have helped buffer these financials losses.      
 
Cares Act funds have helped, first of $1.6M and another payment of almost $800k has been announced for COVID-related needs.  Funds are required to be spent down quickly. 
 
City has worked with Thurston County Chamber and Economic Development Corporation to provide support to struggling businesses including guiding through the PPP process.  Activities have included provide access to personal protective equipment to allow businesses to reopen safely, meals on wheels coordination, and mass distribution of hand sanitizer produced by local distilleries. 
 
Clean and Safe efforts for downtown Olympia are ongoing.  Efforts to address issues and promote the safety initiatives have been significant.  Improved lighting and additional clean team staff are part of those efforts.
 
Our community is addressing centuries long systemic racism.  The City Council has been hearing from many eager to take measurable and effective steps to set in place new policies to make our community safe and welcoming to all. Substantial work will happen over the fall and winter.
 
During the pandemic, the City was conducting a national search to appoint the next City Manager.  During the search, the Council witnessed the ability, strength, and compassion that they sought in Jay Burney.  The search was suspended and Jay was promoted to the position of City Manager.   
 
The efforts to address the growing homelessness and housing crisis with the findings and recommendation resulting from meetings in 2019.  The largest barrier to date has been coordination of a regional response including Thurston County leadership.  That coordination is moving forward so that it is recognized that this should not be only an Olympia burden.
 
Mayor Selby closed her presentation with her perspective on the resiliency of our community and her belief that we will endure this difficult time together.  We are a hopeful and creative community that will ensure we pull through these difficulties and become even better than we were before.       
 
Q&A:  Dennis Adams asked what the City is doing to address the violent actions of mobs in the downtown area.  Mayor Selby explained that the council has empowered the OPD to take quick action and more than 40 arrests have been made.
 
Dennis asked a follow up about plans for the large encampment on the west side of Capitol Lake.  Mayor Selby explained that this is not property owned by the city and COVID restrictions have made clearing of camps very difficult if not impossible.  She recommends members continue to ask nearby cities and the county to support efforts to find solutions for individuals experiencing homelessness.
 
She reported that the Plum Street Tiny Home Village has helped move 25 former residents into stable housing after spending time in the village.  She said that this is the model to help make a difference in moving people out of camps and into sustainable housing situations.  She added that Olympia is so far behind on housing developments that we are losing ground.  While market rate housing is being built in Olympia, the last projection she heard was that we are already underbuilding by 600 units per year.   
 
A question was asked about what we know of those who have been causing the violence and destruction downtown.  While the mayor didn’t know, Christy Peters shared that of the small number prosecuted for felonies, 100% were from out of state.
 
Meeting Adjourned: 12:58 pm by President Sean.