Tag Archives: Jay Manning

Kongsgaard departs Puget Sound Partnership; Manning assumes chair

Martha Kongsgaard, chairwoman of the Puget Sound Leadership Council, has always spoken with a voice of both reason and passion while guiding the Puget Sound Partnership in its efforts to restore Puget Sound to health.

Martha Kongsgaard
Martha Kongsgaard

Yesterday and today, Martha attended her final meeting as a member of the Leadership Council, the governing body of the Partnership charged with coordinating Puget Sound ecosystem recovery.

While listening to presentations on technical and financial issues, Martha always seems to quickly focus discussions on the key issues of recovery while asking how to help average people understand the complex problems.

As a reporter, I’ve enjoyed speaking with Martha, who not only answers my questions in a direct and revealing way but also indulges my curiosity. Our discussions often take tangents onto other interesting subjects, sometimes leading to new stories or old stories told in a new way.

Nobody doubts Martha’s love of Puget Sound, expressed by her willingness to spend countless unpaid hours working for a better future.

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Shoreline owners are on the front lines of ecosystem protection

Waterfront property owners are a special class of people, and I mean that in a good way.

When it comes to sensitive shoreline habitat, they are the front lines of protection. When storms cause property damage, they see more than their share — and they pay handsomely for the privilege in both the cost of property and taxes.

Driftwood helps rebuild natural habitat after a bulkhead is removed, as in this example from Maury Island. Photo: Christopher Dunagan
Driftwood piles up and helps rebuild natural habitat after a bulkhead is removed, as in this example from Maury Island.
Photo: Christopher Dunagan

As I interviewed people and conducted research for a series of stories on shoreline armoring, I came into contact with dozens of shoreline property owners who were learning about the latest science on the nearshore environment. They wanted to know how to better manage their property. Some were contemplating removing bulkheads where the wave energy allowed, knowing that many bulkheads built years ago are not really needed.

The latest stories in our series, published in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound, are:

Although I believe that most shoreline property owners are environmentally responsible, I do wonder about people who have damaged shoreline habitats to improve their view or water access without obtaining the required permits. It seems at every hearing regarding shoreline regulations, somebody will speak up and say, “It’s my property, and I can do what I want!”

One of the interviews that did not make it into the series was a discussion I had with Jay Manning, a South Kitsap native who went on to serve as an assistant attorney general, director of the Washington Department of Ecology and the governor’s chief of staff when Chris Gregoire was in office. Jay now serves as a member of the Puget Sound Leadership Council, the governing body for the Puget Sound Partnership.

Jay and I got to talking about how waterfront property owners occupy a special place — literally and legally — when it comes to protecting the public’s interest in shoreline ecosystems. A balance of public and private rights is embodied in the state’s Shoreline Management Act, which demands the highest level of protection for water bodies and adjacent lands.

The public’s ability to enjoy natural resources along the waterfront “shall be preserved to the greatest extent feasible,” the act states. “To this end, uses shall be preferred which are consistent with control of pollution and prevention of damage to the natural environment, or are unique to or dependent upon use of the state’s shoreline.”

As an assistant attorney general representing Ecology, Jay learned that shoreline ownership embodies a special public-private relationship.

“It’s much more significant, I think, than what you find with upland properties,” he said. “The full array of (private property) rights that you find in upland areas does not apply to shoreline areas.”

State law builds upon the Public Trust Doctrine, an ancient and enduring principle that retains certain rights to the public for all time, regardless of ownership.

Jay, a shoreline property owner himself, says the Puget Sound Partnership has identified the protection and restoration of shorelines as a key element in the recovery of Puget Sound.

A few years ago, many cities and counties routinely approved bulkheads without giving it a second thought. But that has been changing as local jurisdictions adopt new shoreline master programs. Now, one cannot get approval to build a bulkhead unless a house is imminently threatened by waves or erosion.

So far, about half of the 12 counties in the Puget Sound region are operating under the revised requirements, along with nearly 90 percent of the 101 cities.

Unfortunately, Jay noted, rules related to shorelines have never been as rigorously enforced as those related to water quality, for which the threats to human health are more obvious. Counties and cities vary greatly in the amount of effort they put into land-use enforcement.

For some people, it just seems easier to move ahead and get the work done, thus avoiding delays and costs of permitting, consulting work and mitigation. Some people don’t believe that shoreline regulations make much sense.

But, as many local officials told me, they would like the chance to talk with property owners about the value of shorelines, explain the regulations and discuss various alternatives that might even save money. Most regulations, after all, have a basis in science, and we can all learn from what the latest studies are telling us.

From state post, Jay Manning returns to law practice

Jay Manning, who resigned in June as Gov. Chris Gregoire’s chief of staff, says he is ready to charge back into work as a private lawyer, after spending the summer hiking and mountain biking throughout the Northwest.

Jay Manning

Manning, 53, a native of Manchester in Kitsap County, returned today to his old law firm, an environmental practice that now bears the name Cascadia Law Group. One thing to know about Jay is that environmental issues have always been a central part of his life.

Jay took some time to talk with me today about his reasons for leaving state government and his hopes for the future.

“I had sort of run out of gas,” he confessed. “Although others disagreed, I thought I was not performing as well as I should be, such as my ability to solve problems.”

He said he was beginning to worry about his financial condition, with a son in college and retirement staring him in the face. It was a factor he mentioned in a going-away e-mail to his staff. “There was nothing dire there,” he told me, “but it was a concern.”

Although it may be a cliché, it seems to me that Jay was also thinking a great deal about his family life. His wife, a teacher, had been doing double-duty: keeping the home fires burning while going to work every day. During Jay’s time in state government, his family time was more limited.

“It was time to put myself back as an active member of the family, and it has been so much fun to do that,” he said. “Since July 15, I have really played outside and hung out with family and friends. I have my energy level back.”

As he traveled about the Northwest, Jay said he has come to appreciate the splendor of this region even more. He now lives in Olympia.

Meanwhile, Manning has considered various jobs, including prospects at environmental law firms. He settled on Cascadia Law Group, which he believes takes a rare approach to environmental disputes.

“Unlike most firms, this one does not let themselves get pigeonholed. In one case, they may be representing regulated business. In another case, it can be an Indian tribe, and in another case an environmental group. I like that they represent different viewpoints.”

Manning’s career path has helped him become a skillful negotiator with an ability to see various sides of a problem. Most issues are not black-and-white, he said. People on all sides have viewpoints that deserve respect.

After graduating from the University of Oregon Law School in 1983, Manning joined the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, where he and seven other lawyers represented the Department of Ecology.

When Chris Gregoire became Ecology director in 1987, Manning became chief negotiator during three years of tough talks with the federal government over Hanford cleanup. For a time, he went into private law practice and served on the board of the Washington Environmental Council.

When Gregoire became governor, she quickly named Manning to head up the Department of Ecology, where he served for more than four years before she asked him to become her chief of staff in October 2009.

Manning was grateful. “But for me, it sucked the energy out, in a way the Ecology job didn’t,” he said. “I knew the chief of staff job was hard, but until you’re sitting in that chair, you don’t know how you’ll react to it.”

Manning says his days as a trial lawyer are probably over. He anticipates working on management and public-policy issues, such as controversies over water resources in Eastern Washington. He said he would not be surprised to find himself lobbying for legislation at some point.

He also discusses how he might help environmental groups, either professionally or as a volunteer.

“I’m excited to work on energy efficiency, restoration of Puget Sound and some really exciting water projects on the east side of the state,” he said.

As Ecology chief, Manning headed up the state’s Climate Action Team, and I was surprised that he didn’t mention that specifically as a concern.

“I am concerned,” he told me, “but I don’t talk about it as a climate issue. It’s about making your home and business more efficient. You make a more comfortable place to live and your heating bill goes down. We talk energy efficiency, and climate is smack dab in the middle of it.”

The need to reduce greenhouse gases is clear, he said, but the term “climate change” divides people in ways that “energy efficiency” does not.

I asked him if “energy efficiency” conveys the appropriate sense of urgency about a problem that has our government tied in knots.

“That’s a good point,” he said. “My background would tend to push me toward a strong regulatory response. But I don’t think that is doable now.”

Does he think he’ll ever venture back into politics?

“I would never say ‘never,’ but I am really going to focus on being successful with this firm Cascadia. I saw up close what it takes to be governor. It is hard, and sometimes it is completely unreasonable. There is a big personal sacrifice to be made. Right now my focus is on this new job.”

Cascadia Law Group’s website describes the practice this way:

“Our clients come to us because we solve problems. We set out first to understand each client’s objectives. We then apply our knowledge of the law, persuasive skills, political acumen, and creative thinking to attain those goals. We have successfully helped our clients resolve many of our region’s most difficult environmental issues.”

I’ve talked before about how Jay’s growing up in Kitsap County shaped his concerns for the environment. Check out previous comments on Waterways from Oct. 5, 2009, and Feb. 17, 2008. I wrote a profile about Manning for the Kitsap Sun in February 2008.

Hanford’s story can be told in different ways

Cleaning up nuclear waste at the Hanford reservation in Eastern Washington is one of this state’s most critical and vexing environmental problems. The site is so dangerous to the people and environment along the Columbia River that every Washington resident ought to keep an eye on the progress.

“The contaminants out there are so dangerous and so long-lived… We should be absolutely insisting that the federal government clean that site up, whatever the cost,” Jay Manning told me three years ago.

Manning was the director of the Department of Ecology when I interviewed him about the state’s top environmental problems. See Kitsap Sun, Feb. 16, 2008. He has since become the governor’s chief of staff. See Water Ways, Oct. 5, 2009.

Since then, the federal government has poured billions into the project, including a significant boost of dollars with the economic stimulus package. Now that effort is being pared back, with a significant loss of jobs, as Annette Cary reports in the Tri-City Herald.

Converting huge amounts of nuclear waste into a safer form is a difficult technological and logistical problem, as reporter Craig Welch points out in a pair Seattle Times stories published Jan. 22 and Jan. 23.

These stories bring you into the meat of the problem. But I have to say that I was equally impressed by a short piece I heard last night on KUOW radio. Reporter Anna King helps us understand the nature of problem from the perspective of people who have made a career out of cleaning up Hanford’s waste. These grizzled employees have learned from years of experience, and are now about to turn over their projects to a new generation. The newcomers will learn to navigate the minefields of nuclear risk — but they, too, may be retired before the job is done. Quoting from her piece:
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Jay Manning moves on to become gov’s chief of staff

UPDATE: June 29, 2011

If you haven’t heard, Kitsap native Jay Manning has announced his resignation as the governor’s chief of staff. The Seattle Times’ Andrew Garber has the story and Jay’s e-mail to his staff.

I haven’t talked to him since the announcement, but I’ll check in with him later. After he took the job, we discussed his new responsibilities, as reported below. For what it’s worth, I wish him the best.

Jay Manning, who has headed the Washington Department of Ecology the past four-plus years, is moving into somewhat uncharted territory as the governor’s chief of staff.

Manning, a native of Manchester in Kitsap County, has always been associated with environmental issues and occasional environmental battles. Now, he will use his organizational and negotiation skills to work alongside Gov. Chris Gregoire.

“Jay Manning brings incredible leadership skills and knowledge of our state to this new position,” Gregoire said in a news release. “He works effectively with citizens all across our state. He has an extraordinary ability to bring people together to forge solutions to difficult problems and seize opportunities for Washington state.”

I reached Jay Manning this afternoon to congratulate him and ask him what the heck he was thinking.

He told me that both the Ecology director post and his new chief of staff position include an “incredible array of issues,” but the new job comes with a broader range of responsibilities. It will require him to become more of a generalist, which is a new challenge for him.

“I have focused on environmental issues my whole career, and that is where my heart will always be,” he told me. “But I look forward to a full immersion in all the areas of state government.”

It will be a learning experience as he gets up to speed on all state agencies, learns about budgets and economic stimulus programs, and gets entangled in state politics like he’s never seen before.

Of course, I am interested in Manning’s successor. Hiring the new Ecology director will be one of the first priorities of his new position, he said.

“I think the agency is highly functional as it is, but my job will be to get good candidates before her (Gregoire) for selection,” he said, adding that he has placed a proposed selection process on her desk but hasn’t heard back yet.

I would guess that candidates are likely to come from within Ecology or at least be someone who Manning and the governor know fairly well.

“I will want to move quickly on this,” Jay said, “and I think she does, too.”

Manning has taken on some tough issues as Ecology director, including battles over Hanford and climate change. Not everyone agrees with the agency’s decisions, but Manning has never hesitated to lay out the rationale behind them.

Through it all, it seems that Jay has remained well respected among those who have dealt with him. Of course, I wish him well in his new position and look forward to working with his replacement.

If you’d like to read a profile on Manning and hear him discuss the issues in his own words, go to the Feb. 16, 2008, story in the Kitsap Sun.

Getting inside the brouhaha over car washes

UPDATE 2, Monday, Sept. 29, 10:51 a.m.
The Department of Ecology has issued has press release which begins “Contrary to a story in today’s USA Today, Washington has not banned residential car washing.” I’ll provide a link once it’s posted on Ecology’s Web site.

UPDATE, Monday, Sept. 29, 9:30 a.m.
USA Today offered a story on this issue 14 hours ago, and already 120 comments — including one from Sandy Howard of Ecology — have been recorded.


If you wash your car and notice that soapy runoff is washing down a storm drain that flows into a stream or other waterway, you are technically in violation of the law.

The Washington Department of Ecology wants cities to adopt a standard, as part of their local stormwater rules, that recognizes the problem of soaps and detergents carrying toxics into the state’s waterways.

Now, before anyone gets up in arms about Big Brother watching to see who might be washing his car, Ecology officials have stated that nobody should worry about getting a ticket or facing legal action for allowing soapy water to run down a driveway.

In fact, since this issue blew up in Clark County, Ecology Director Jay Manning has come out with a detailed, two-page letter (PDF 52 kb) covering the law of car washes and calling for a little common sense.

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Jay Manning visits Bremerton to talk stormwater

Jay Manning, director of the Washington Department of Ecology, was in Bremerton today to get the lowdown about low-impact stormwater management from folks at the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County.

Art Castle of the association is leading a local group of officials in the development of a “cook book” of low-impact practices designed to dovetail with state rules for managing stormwater.

Art Castle, left, pours water on pervious asphalt while Jay Manning watches. The water does not run off or pool up; it just runs through.
Kitsap Sun photo

The parking lot at the office of the Home Builders Association happens to be built with pervious asphalt and various kind of pervious pavers. Manning watched as Castle poured water from a hose onto the pervious asphalt. No runoff or pooling was evident, as the water penetrated straight into the pavement.

Castle was glad to have some time to talk with Manning, a native of South Kitsap, because the Home Builders group has run into some regulatory obstacles with respect to the upcoming “cookbook.”

For example, engineers are debating how fast water can pass through pavement within a given design and whether that rate of penetration will hold up over time. Pervious pavement depends on creating “pores” during construction and keeping those pores open as time goes on. Sometimes the owner must use a pressure washer to reopen the pores.

In this example, the debate is about finding an acceptable rate of water penetration for a given design. If the assumed rate is too low, a developer will be required to build a backup stormwater system, such as a pond. That raises the cost of development and discourages the use of low-impact methods.

If the assumed rate of penetration is higher than what actually occurs in a heavy storm, then the water runs off the pavement with no place to go. That leads to flooding of streets and other problems.

Those are the kinds of issues that Castle wanted to address with Manning.

Manning told me that this meeting comes at an opportune time, because his agency must decide how to respond to a recent ruling by the Pollution Control Hearings Board that mandates the use of low-impact development wherever “feasible.” See Kitsap Sun story of Aug. 8.

Manning asked Castle to describe when low-impact development would not be feasible. Castle said he knows of three conditions that would preclude the use of LID: on sites with steep, unstable slopes; in places where you find especially dense clays that cannot pass water; and in areas with high groundwater levels that prevent water from soaking in.

Manning said he faces a decision about whether to appeal the hearing board’s decision to court or else live with it.

“If we live with this decision,” he said to me, “then what’s that going to mean for the Phase 1 permit (larger cities and counties) and the Phase 2 permit (smaller cities and counties)?”

Basically, state requirements would have to be rewritten.

The specific ruling (PDF 212 kb) by the Pollution Control Hearings Board was for Phase 1 jurisdictions, but it signals the board’s position for the Phase 2 hearing, scheduled for October, Manning said. If Ecology does not appeal the ruling to the courts, agency lawyers could try to settle some key issues before the October hearing, he said.