Nov. 24, 2009
Constantine calls for a "culture of performance" that changes the way King County does business
Pledges partnerships with cities, rural areas, employees, and other County leaders
Pledging to change the way King County does business, King County Executive Dow Constantine took office today and said in his first 100 days he will build the blueprint for real, sustainable reform of county government, and forge innovative partnerships with the cities, rural areas, employees, and other leaders to address the critical issues immediately facing the County.
“We must create a culture of performance at King County that changes the way we do business, changes the way we serve people, and that changes the way we budget,” said Constantine to the more than 500 people who filled Daniels Recital Hall in Seattle, a downtown sanctuary and landmark he helped save from demolition, “Old and sluggish institutions are in need of an update. The era of government by mere good intention is over.”
After being sworn in by U.S. District Court Judge Richard A. Jones, Constantine said his first step to engage employees in “a culture of continuous improvement” was to appoint Deputy County Executive Fred Jarrett to oversee performance measurement and management efforts countywide under the umbrella of a new countywide strategic plan. Constantine said his appointment of a Director of Customer Service as part of his senior management team was a down payment on his longer-term performance and reform agenda.
“We will convene a formal clearinghouse for employee-led reform ideas and create incentives for innovation,” said Constantine. “We will also establish a competition for proposals for the Executive to ‘walk a day in the shoes of a County employee,’ and once a quarter I will do so.”
Constantine said his administration will forge partnerships with leaders from King County’s 39 cities and unincorporated areas. “For too long, King County government has talked too much, and not listened enough,” he said. “We are going to change that.”
In the suburban and urban areas Constantine said he would begin a needed process to re-prioritize Metro Transit services and put an end to what he called “wasteful allocation based on historical accident and arbitrary political divisions.” He said he would engage with regional leaders on a process for allocating Metro Transit services to best support regional prosperity and economic development.In the rural areas, Constantine said he would look to protect and expand successful programs that safeguard working farms that he said “provide local, healthy food to schools and farmers' markets.”
To address the source of the County’s ongoing budget shortfalls, Constantine said he will bring together the County Council and the County’s separately-elected officials for what he called “a frank, overdue conversation about costs, services, and sources of revenue.”
“The County’s budget will lurch from one crisis to the next unless and until we acknowledge the need to close the structural gap between our revenues and expenses,” he said. “We need a plan, and we need to work together to make it happen.”
Constantine pledged to lead by example to bring down the costs of government in order to redirect resources to front-line services. “We not only cut 15 percent of our executive office staffing levels, my staff is also taking salary cuts below previous levels – and so am I.”
Constantine said that over the next four years, he will work to support a sustainable economy, protect the environment, and build the infrastructure by:
- Promoting and investing in clean energy jobs and green buildings, and redoubling efforts to compete for aerospace and other family wage jobs;
- Connecting land use policies to transit development, fulfilling the promise to clean up Puget Sound, and tackling climate change through coordinated regional action; and
- Fulfilling the promise to voters to expand light rail.
Constantine thanked outgoing Executive Kurt Triplett for “his leadership in stepping up to one of the most difficult periods in our county's history. He has prepared the Green River Valley against potential flooding and prepared our health system against a possible pandemic. His insight, instincts and transparent approach have been invaluable to me as your Council Chair and during this transitional period and I offer Kurt both my deep thanks and best wishes.”In thanking the voters of King County, Constantine pledged to embrace and implement new ideas and approaches while staying true to King County’s core values and preserving its quality of life.
“The world around us is changing, and King County will change as well to become more user-friendly, transparent, efficient and effective,” concluded Constantine. “We will make this progress by harnessing the innovation and spirit that built this region; and we will do so in a way that reflects our shared values of equality, fairness, and respect for individual rights and freedoms; of stewardship, sacrifice, and service.”