Inside Opinion

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Tag: Joyce McDonald

May
31st

Stealing the good bad guys from the Pierce County Jail

As our news staff reported Wednesday, the Pierce County Jail – which is to say, the Pierce County government – is taking a big hit from Tacoma’s decision last December to pull its petty crooks out of the downtown slammer.

Tacoma was the jail’s biggest customer. We’re talking the loss of millions of dollars a year (the city paid $6 million in 2012). The financial crisis is forcing Sheriff Paul Pastor to lay off jail staff, shut down 160 beds and do something creative with the resulting bed shortage. He promised there’d be no Fall-of-Baghdad-style mass release of mad sociopaths.

Pastor, county Executive Pat McCarthy and Council Chairwoman Joyce McDonald were in this morning to lay out the dismal facts.

“We don’t fault Tacoma,” McCarthy said, for sending its misdemeanants to Fife’s relatively cheap penal system and leaving its high-maintenance felons – whose incarceration the city doesn’t pay for – in the Pierce County Jail.

But McCarthy really wasn’t delighted with Tacoma. She proceeded to elaborate on the ill consequences of the city’s “shopping around” for jails and the way it let Fife “cherry-pick” the nicer, healthier, less dangerous small-timers.

This is something like the adverse selection that health insurers worry about – getting stuck with the sick, older people when the younger, healthy people decide they don’t want to subsidize all those heart attacks and strokes with their premium dollars. The City of Tacoma is a rational actor. It’s in a budget crisis of its own, and it’s not passing up a chance to save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in criminal justice expenses.

The City of Fife’s creative entrepreneurialism should be noted. Its jail has a scant 36 beds, but it’s negotiated for jail space in cities from Des Moines to Sunnyside in Eastern Washington. It then markets these beds to its own customers, now including Tacoma and Lakewood.

Another rational actor. Somebody should be working on Wall Street, not 23rd Street East.
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Oct.
18th

Our endorsements in Pierce County Council races

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

At least three faces on the Pierce County Council will change after the Nov. 6 election, but the political makeup of the council is likely to remain roughly the same with Republicans outnumbering Democrats. The only question is whether the GOP majority is 5 to 2 or 4 to 3.

• The District 2 race won’t affect that equation; it’s between two Republicans – incumbent Joyce McDonald, a former state representative from Puyallup, and Jeffery Hogan, the mayor of Edgewood. The district also includes Sumner, Milton and Northeast Tacoma.

Hogan’s main issue with McDonald has been her strong support for creating a flood control district that could levy a small countywide tax aimed at preventing and mitigating flood damage. Given the vulnerability of so much of the district to a catastrophic flood, her position makes sense.

Hogan could be a viable candidate for this position in four years, when McDonald term-limits out. But for now, district voters should stick with the incumbent (they gave her 68 percent of the vote in the primary). She works hard for their concerns and deserves a second term.

Here are our endorsements in the other council races – all open seats:

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July
15th

Our choices in 2nd and 25th District legislative races

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Democrats have their work cut out for them if they hope to win back seats in two Republican-leaning East Pierce County legislative districts.

Even the fact that the D’s have two standout candidates might not be enough. In recent years, the 2nd and 25th districts’ legislative seats have gone almost all Republican, with the only Democrat remaining being the 25th’s Jim Kastama. He’s running for secretary of state instead of for re-election to his Senate seat, so the two districts might turn completely Republican in November.

• In the 2nd District, incumbent Republican state Sen. Randi Becker of Eatonville is seeking a second term. She’s being challenged by another Republican, James E. Vaughn of Orting. In 2008, Vaughn ran as a Democrat against Congressman Dave Reichert. Read more »

July
10th

Our choices in three Pierce County Council races

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

The Pierce County Council is getting a major makeover this year. Three of its seven members are term-limiting out at the end of this year, and a fourth is seeking re-election. So at least three new faces will be on the council come Jan. 1, 2013.

Of the four races, three will be on the Aug. 7 ballot, with the top two vote-getters in each contest going on to the Nov. 6 general election. The fourth race – District 6 (Lakewood, Steilacoom, Dupont) – has only two candidates, so it will be decided in the general election.

District 2 (Northeast Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Edgewood) – Incumbent Joyce McDonald, a Puyallup Republican and a former five-term state representative, is seeking a second term on the council. She should get it. The only woman on the county’s governing body, McDonald is a pragmatic consensus builder who knows the district well. She has played an important role in the county’s ability to weather the recession without drastic layoffs or cutting the public safety budget. Read more »

July
9th

Give citizens the decision on emergency dispatch tax

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

A new tax to fix Pierce County’s fragmented 911 system could prove a tough sell this November – but let’s allow the voters to decide whether to buy it.

Right now, the County Council is split on whether to put the proposed tenth-of-a-percent sales tax on the ballot. The toughest opposition has come from council members Joyce McDonald and Dan Roach, who represent East Pierce County.

The dispute largely revolves around Puyallup, which has spent $8.5 million improving its emergency dispatch system. Its leaders say the city shouldn’t be forced to pay twice, for their own investment and for the technology of a consolidated county system. They’re also fretting about the fate of the 25 employees who work at Puyallup’s emergency communications center.
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