Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: auditor


Tacoma’s school money belonged in classrooms

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

News flash: The citizens who pay for public schools expect their hard-earned money to be spent on public schools, not on adults angling for business contracts.

Especially when money for teaching actual students is getting scarcer.

Had the Seattle and Tacoma school districts kept their focus relentlessly on the classroom, they wouldn’t have wound up duped by a rogue operation that claimed to be cultivating minority contractors while in fact squandering or pocketing money that should have been spent in the classrooms.

The Tacoma School District’s role in this is relatively minor, though it did wind up spending $105,000 without seeing much in the way of results. Along with the City of Tacoma and several other local governments, it bought into the Seattle district’s “Regional Small Business Development Program” (RSBDP), whose purpose was to help minority businesses bid for contracts.

According to the State Auditor’s Office, the Seattle School District got burned to the tune of $1.8 million by the new program, which misspent the funds on “services” that were either impossible to verify or never delivered – or turned out to be pretexts for siphoning money into private hands. A criminal investigation is under way.
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Auditor has helpful suggestions for lawmakers

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

In slightly more than two weeks, state legislators will gather in Olympia for the 2010 session – and the unpleasant task of dealing with a $2.6 billion budget hole.

Lawmakers will likely consider a combination of yet more cuts to state government and services, and targeted tax and user fee increases. Two givens: Almost nothing they do will be popular with everybody, and everything they do will set off one interest group or another.

So they’d be smart to take advantage of at least a bit of cover offered by state Auditor Brian Sonntag. Last week, he released the “Opportunities for Washington” report, a performance review of state government that outlines several strategies for saving money, streamlining programs and providing better service.
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Julie Anderson for Pierce County auditor

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

A funny thing happened to the Pierce County auditor’s office in the two years since citizens voted to make it nonpartisan: It seems to have become more partisan than ever.

Its current occupant, Jan Shabro, was appointed by the Republican majority on the County Council early this year after former Auditor Pat McCarthy was elected county executive.

In appointing Shabro, the council rebuffed the Democratic Party’s nominees – which included Shabro’s chief challenger, staunch Democrat Julie Anderson. The contest this year looks as partisan as any in the past.

Perhaps it’s understandable that the Republicans and Democrats want to keep their stamp on the office. The auditor gets to print her name on every ballot sent out, which is a nice way to pick up name familiarity. That makes the position a good springboard to higher office, as McCarthy’s election demonstrated.

Still, the county’s chief elections officer ought to be more than nominally nonpartisan, if only to avoid the perception (inaccurate so far) that a particular party has its thumb on the scale when the ballots are counted. Running elections is pure administrative work, as are licensing, animal-control and the other responsibilities of the office. There’s no liberal or conservative way to chase pit bulls.
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