By Brian Dennery, Tillicum
Thank you for you’re many years of service! For all of the right or wrong decisions that you have made during your tenure, there are always some of us who feel that you have made good decisions and some, possibly, not so popular decisions. In the following case, I really do not know if you made a decision at all or that you are receiving all of your mail. The background to this letter is the following. I wrote to you, First Mike, Representative Kelly and other state representatives about the issue of relocating the Camp Murray Main Gate. Normal courtesy is to answer letters, or to at least acknowledge them. There are many processes in place for the common ordinary person like me to contact you and our representatives and other state leaders. I used the formal technique, that being writing, without success to date. No replies to me from you and most of the others. Kelly’s aid wrote a canned email of thanks. I feel extremely slighted, but not amazed. (Be it known, I am pouting at this time.) If you and the others would have sent me a reply, I am 100% sure that I would have read it, and at least 100% sure that I would have acknowledged the replies. My letter to you and the others was pertaining to, what I consider a most important matter to me and other Washington residents. My letter and attachment that I sent to you had to do with the small community known as Tillicum, which is located in the great state of Washington. Possibly you may be aware of Tillicum that is located directly off the I-5 freeway between Olympia and Tacoma, exit 121 or 122. Tillicum/Woodbrook community has the great distinction of being one of the poorest communities in the state, if not the poorest. Lakewood City Officials including the City Manager acknowledge in writing that the Tillicum/Woodbrook area as being intellectually, economically, socially and disadvantaged. This is in writing in the most recent Lakewood City Plan for Tillicum, dated August 2011. At least they are correct on this. In other words, we certainly did not make who is who in America. Tillicum most likely holds the state record for having the most barbershops located in a one-mile area. Possibly a Guinness Record. But most of all, Tillicum has the distinction of being the Door Mat to Camp Murray. (Door mat: an object used to walk on while feet are cleaned to gain access to a facility)
Let me get down to the issue at hand which is the current Construction of the new Entrance Control Facility (ECF) on Camp Murray which is being located adjacent to the existing Emergency Operations Center (EOC) located on Camp Murray. I’ll just bet that a great majority of the citizens of Washington are not aware of the fact that the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for the State of Washington is located on Camp Murray. You know that the Emergency Opperations Center contains specialized emergency operations equipment, personnel and, yes, the Governor’s suite, which is used in case of an emergency. I would suspect that the suite is there so that you may oversee the operations of the EOC and make decisions in case of any true state emergency. Correct? This center is currently operated and overseen by Lowenberg and Director James Mullen. This according to the web site. I understand that Lowenberg will be leaving his position prior to or when you vacate yours. From what I have read, Lowenberg’s responsibilities and that of Director Mullen, in a nut shell, for the EOC are to (1) assure that the facility is in a secure area located out of harms way, and (2) to make sure that the center is staffed and up and running 24/7/365. The EOC, up until most recently, was located in a well-concealed secure area, forested and off of the main entrance to Camp Murray. It still remains in a semi-secure area of course. The security and stealthness has now been tremendously downgraded. As of three weeks ago it was concealed from most public view. Not now! Since the new Entrance Control Facility (ECF) to Camp Murray is now being moved and relocated into the residential area of Tillicum, the EOC is out in the open for all to see now. From my perspective, it is now in a less secure location, especially with the new ECF being placed extremely close/adjacent to the EOC. I consider the Emergency Operations Center a vulnerable Washington State asset, as you should also. It is an extremely important facility that’s main and only purpose is to support and inform, without fail, the welfare and well being of the people of Washington State in case of an emergency!
The following are some direct quotes from the State Emergency Plan that can be read on the Washington Military Department Emergency Management Website. These are direct quotes and I would suppose that you a familiar with them:
“Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government or civilian population, in furtherance of political or social objectives. Washington State is vulnerable to terrorist activity. Terrorism can be state sponsored or the outgrowth of a frustrated, extremist fringe of polarized and/or minority groups of people. Extremists have a different concept of morality than the mainstream society. They see issues in terms of black and white.”
“Communities are vulnerable to terrorist incidents and most have high visibility and vulnerable targets. These critical facilities, sites, systems, and special events in the community are usually located near routes with high transportation access. Examples include:
Government office buildings, court houses, schools, hospitals, and shopping centers
Railheads, interstate highways, tunnels, airports, ferries, bridges, seaports, pipelines
Sites of historical and symbolic significance
Telecommunications, newspapers, radio and television stations
Law, fire, emergency medical services and responder facilities, and operations centers
Critical facilities, sites, and special events become more appealing during visits by high profile personalities and dignitaries. Sporting events such as the Olympic Games and World Cup increase the probability of terrorist targeting. Additionally, international meetings and conventions provide terrorists an excellent environment in which to articulate their cause through violence. Terrorists have introduced two new wrinkles, which are of growing concern: targeting first responders with secondary devices and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) hoaxes. Terrorists will go to great lengths to ensure an event produces the intended impact, even if it means destroying an entire structure or killing thousands. Commercially available materials agents can be developed into WMD. Science and the Internet have made information relating to WMD technology available to an ever-widening audience, and terrorists and other would-be criminals are using it for WMD experimentation. Experts generally agree that there are five categories of terrorist incidents: biological, chemical, nuclear, incendiary, and explosive.”
“Terrorism is a deliberate strategy with persons’ objectives obscured by the fact their acts seem random and indiscriminate. Terrorism is discriminate since it has a definite purpose, but indiscriminate in that the terrorist has neither sympathy nor hate for the randomly selected victim. Communities should use the existing processes and methodologies developed for the successful management of other hazards. Usually, the plans and systems developed for other problems can serve as templates for developing a comprehensive counter-terrorism program. Hazardous material emergency response plans and procedures are helpful in this arena. First responders must remember they are targets and that proactive steps need to be taken to protect the crime scene and the evidence.” (End of Quotes that were taken directly from the EOC Plan)
In a document written by a Washington State National Guard Engineering Specialist in August 2009, in support of the proposed new gate, which was in the planning stages at that time, he states that Camp Murray will place its ECF in accordance with DOD directive UFC 4-10. In August 2009 it was in writing that the intent and plan of Camp Murray was to comply with DOD directives in the placement of an ECF. (These directives are referenced in the new construction contract by the State GA) Well Governor, Lowenberg has now seen fit to say the “hell” with the directives and we will place our new gate where I want to. This even though it may not be popular with neighbors outside the fence or in their best interest. Well, let us see how popular this is going to be with the citizens of the State of Washington after reading this letter that I have written to you and will be making available to all. Do you really think that when citizens find out that their Washington State Emergency Operation Center, is now being placed and located in harms way with the advent of the new Camp Murray Entrance Control Facility, that is now under construction, that the citizens of this fine state are going to be pleased with you Governor. Of course, Lowenberg doesn’t give a damn. I sure hope you care!
Lets not forget about the involvement of Pierce County and the City of Lakewood in all of this also. Pierce County issued the permit to the Washington Guard to construct a new gate on Camp Murray. Now Lakewood has issued a permit recently for ingress and egress onto Tillicum residential streets, even though there is tremendous opposition in the community. Hopefully the residents of Washington will awaken and help a small community oppose a wrongful project. The county construction permit and the Lakewood land permit were issued without a thorough review by Pierce County and Lakewood. The SEPA and the FONSI are currently being re-written and corrected by the Washington Military Department. Thus they have lengthened the hearing process to their advantage so that a new hearing examiner will review the appeal after the first of the year.
The Lakewood Land Use Permit is currently under appeal to the City of Lakewood, which is in accordance with the Lakewood permit appeals process. The appeal has been extended into January from its original hearing date that was schedule for December 7, 2011. As I stated previously, the Washington Guard is having to go back and revamp SEPA’s and its FONSI documents that were in error and lacking correct information. These documents were supposedly reviewed by Pierce County Permits Department and the City of Lakewood Permits Department prior to issuing the now existing permits. This is a part of what has elongated the hearing date. Lowenberg has ‘seen fit to push on with the construction, during the appeal lull, and has allowed the cutting of the trees and started site development. Lowneberg has exhibited a “KMB” attitude, as is Lowenbergs normal Napoleonic way. The new ECF is being located next/adjacent/close/within stones throw of the EOC. Remember Oklahoma City Governor? Timothy didn’t park his truck next to the Federal Center building in Oklahoma City, he parked it close by (near to). I don’t want a cloned Timothy truck in my neighborhood! I’ll bet most American Soldiers, which includes me, are jubilant that Lowenberg didn’t plan and construct ECF’s in war zones!
As you may surmise, I certainly have no respect for Lowenberg. It is quite evident that he has no respect for me or the citizens of Tillicum and Washington State. Lowenberg doesn’t even live in Tillicum and shortly will not have to pass through Tillicum to go to work at his part time job. He will be able to devote 100% of his time to his Law Office located in Tacoma. Why should he care what happens to the future of the residents of Tillicum? Lowenberg has seen fit to do what he wants and has completely snubbed residents of Tillicum. That’s correct. Put the old thumb right up to his nose and has displayed his arrogance. “KMB” is his battle cry! Please pass on my appreciation to Lowenberg for his token display of recent community involvement a few months ago when he and his band of idiots left their fortress and picked up trash along the streets in our community. I have lived here for over six years and this is the first time for community involvement by Lowenberg that I can recall. Obviously a real community person. November 18, 2011, Rick Paterson, a spokesman for the Washington Military Department recently stated to the Tacoma News Tribune that, “We feel that ultimately our data is solid. We feel that the city has given us the assurance and confidence in issuing the permit. We have every reason to believe that we’re going to go forward with the project.” Governor, the data is not solid. That is why the Washington Military Department asked for a change to the hearing date.
Governor, in excess of 550 Tillicum and Lakewood residents signed a petition in opposition to this new gate in July and August 2011, which was handed to the City Council of Lakewood. 100+ residents spoke in opposition at four (4) Lakewood City Council Meetings. (See YouTube for these speeches) 60+ people have produced formal opposition documents during the appeals process. 55 home owners in the community of Eagle Point have gone on formal record in opposition in two (2) separate documents. As can be seen, it is not just a few that are opposed! The City of Lakewood issued the Land Usage Permit in accordance with its Process II. Since the proposed construction was opposed by a majority of residents, which the Lakewood City Manager recognizes and acknowledged it in writing on the face of the permit itself. Thus, the permit should have been issued in accordance with Lakewood Process III. Now the State Attorney General has become involved. But alas, Napoleon has refused to meet with his opposition in a meeting that had been scheduled for October to discuss the issue. You see there is no Democracy in the City of Lakewood. The Mayor and city council have very little to no say as to what the City Manager does. Governor, you were elected through a democratic process and the majority ruled.The majority won.
Governor, before you leave office, and hopefully within the very near future, I encourage you, and formally request that you to become involved immediately and make the correct decision. Please intercede on this issue before it is to late to stop further construction of the new ECF in our neighborhood. The cost to taxpayers will become even more staggering if a contract termination for convenience is not issued immediately.
Governor, Tillicum residents and Washington State residents deserve Democracy and a lot of respect from you and other elected and appointed officials. We certainly have not been afforded that respect, nor democracy. City Manager Neiditz, Asst. City Manager Bugher, Mayor Richardson and the City Council and the Washington State Military Department have very little to no respect for us. Tillicum has come a long way from the past. Tillicum was known for its killings, drugs, prostitution, gang violence, etc. Tillicum/Woodbrook is now a wonderful community and deserves respect. It commands respect. We are proud! Disrespect by the Washington State Military Department and the City of Lakewood is costing Washington State Taxpayers “IN EXCESS”of $4.5 million to construct the new ECF which is now being located 3/10 of a mile (a little over 1200 feet) from it’s present location, not to mention putting numerous residents into harms way. The state is also footing the bill for the vehicle traffic mitigation in the Tillicum residential area which is estimated to cost $1,200,000. Tillicum’s streets were just newly renovated less than two years ago costing millions. New “Habitat for Humanity” homes are currently under construction. A very large amount of the traffic from Camp Murray, approximately 4400 vehicle trips will shortly be routed through the quiet neighborhood in which they are being located. In the case of additional traffic mitigation, the City of Lakewood is going to hold, in escrow, $100,000 of Washington State taxpayer’s money for five (5) years. (Lowenberg will have a speed bump in his name. A great distinction. The “Napoleon Lowenberg speed bump”. It will happen! I guarantee it. Would you like a speed bump?) Further, there are costs to taxpayers for the appeals process, which will include the most certain advent of an appeal going forward to the Pierce County Superior Court. We here in Tillicum don’t have deep pockets, but we have, and are, banded together in solidarity and we have dug deep into our own pockets to oppose this damn stupid idea. All of this problem so that “Napoleon and his band of idiots” can have a new ECF. State costs and personal costs are rising rapidly in this matter. Governor, PLEASE , issue us residents of Tillicum a State Funded Grant so that we can fight this problem in court. It’s the democratic way. Remember, we are a poor community. Help Us! We currently have an emergency! State and federal grant money seems to be of no object. It would go to a great cause, seriously. We consider ourselves a great cause.
A State Budget Crunch! We don’t see no stinking state budget crunch for this new facility!!! Obviously, money is no issue. Governor, Camp Murray will now have two operational ECF’s located within 3/10 of a mile from one another? OOOP’s, mistake on my part. Camp Murray will have three (3) operational ECF’s. An ECF shared with JBLM at North Fort Lewis also. The current ECF located in Tillicum is to remain operational for the use of large commercial and military vehicle traffic, and of course, Napoleons horses to pass through. It will stay operational so that it may be used in the advent of a possible terrorist attack on the new ECF. A well thought out plan. Who cares about a budget crunch. Certainly you and Napoleon don’t have it on your radar screens. An excess of $5,000,000! No one said government is smart. Of course, $5,000,000 is just a drop in the bucket, but it is a drop in the bucket. The more drops in the bucket the fuller the bucket. I know, its not all state money, but, a large amount of state money is included in this mess. Possibly, better to spend $5 million on Washington’s schools than on a want, not a need, for this ECF. I remember when I was growing up, my parents taught me, you get what you need, not what you want. A good plan!
Most recently the City of Lakewood requested a grant of $5,700,000 from the Federal Military Department to modernize ingress and egress from Madigan Army Hospital to I-5 at Berkley Ave. Lakewood was awarded this grant recently. Now that there is grant money, $5,700,000 available, it is now my understanding that Lakewood and the WSDOT are attempting to figure out who is going to do the construction contract and who is going to perform the actual construction of the vehicular traffic mitigation for the Madigan gate entrance. When the City of Lakewood requested the grant, Lakewood engineers informed us in a council meeting that more detailed traffic studies had been accomplished by the city in early 2011. According to two Lakewood City engineers in the October 2011 city council meeting, he inferred, that with the possible construction of additional lanes and the widening of the Berkley Street bridge and modifications to the south bound off ramp at exit 121, traffic flow into and out of the Camp Murray gate and Tillicum would improve, and would for certain, improve to Madigan. Thus, myself and others concluded that the construction of the new gate could become a thing of the past and, need not be placed into our residential community. This could possibly eliminate our family feud. I do volunteer to do the flip of the coin for which government agency is going to do what with the $5,700,000 grant. Heads we win, tails they loose.
The Washington Military Department is currently constructing a new maintenance facility located on JBLM at a cost to taxpayers of in excess of $21,000,000. When this facility is completed, military and civilian workers who work in this facility on Camp Murray will no longer be needing to work at Camp Murray. Thus traffic into Camp Murray will decrease even further. Get the idea? With all of the above, which includes the Madigan grant money, the new ECF is not needed, nor was it ever needed, just a want. “Look, I can see the state EOC from my house now!”
Please Governor, just do what is best for all of us! Please care about all of us. Not just Tillicum residents only, but for the residents of Seattle, Spokane, Yakima, Wenatchee, George and Martha, Soap Lake, Omak, Twisp, Naches, Pullman and the list goes on and on. We residents of Washington State count on the Emergency Operation Center and count on you. I certainly don’t take it lightly and I hope you don’t.
Brian Dennery, Tillicum
USAF Retired NCO
“Proud, but, Disgruntled Tillicum Resident”
PS: Governor, this is not meant to be humorous, but. There are now owls living in trees located next to my house. First time in six years of living here. Don’t get me wrong. I am glad to have them here next to my home. Owls, other fowl and other wild animals have had to vacate the new construction zone where the trees have been removed for the new ECF. I suppose they were personally directed by Napoleon Lowenberg to move out of Camp Murray. (I certainly hope that there are no Spotted Owls.) I would surmise that the bald eagles aren’t happy either. Gray squirrels are now having to rent trucks to move what remains of their winter food cache, which has been, for the most part, completely destroyed by the ongoing construction. The Washington Military Department environmental studies must have some big environmental flaws! To destroy the winter food caches of all the animals during the start of winter is the Guard’s none suspecting and none caring attitude. How about Napoleon giving some MRE’s to the animals? Just my observation from my animalistic side.