Inside Opinion

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Tag: Marilyn Strickland


Pierce Transit board wants out of its tango with The Traveller

The Pierce Transit Board at the moment could be likened to a woman who has a few too many, gets picked up by a lowlife, wakes up in his grungy, broken-down bed and says, “How the hell did I get here? And how do I get out?”

The lowlife is Robert “The Traveller” Hill, a virtuoso stalker and harassment artist who’s tangled with the police and the courts dozens of times. He is sitting in the Pierce County Jail on a felony conviction for criminal intimidation of a judge.

The Pierce Transit Board wound up figuratively in bed with Hill on Monday in the worst possible way: It appointed him to write a statement for the voters pamphlet opposing the sales tax measure it will have on the ballot in November.

The board would have done less damage by appointing Hill to write the argument for the proposition. The way it happened, it looks as if the board deliberately picked one of the most disreputable human beings in sight to discredit the opposition. It’s the kind of move that alerts and mobilizes the enemy.

Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and other members of the board are excruciatingly aware of the smelly impression they’ve made. She said Thursday that she’s moving to persuade the board to seize an option it rejected Monday: Hold a special meeting before the Aug. 7 deadline to pick a credible committee to write the opposing statement.
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It’s a little late to plead ignorance about pot shops

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Looks like another round of dithering from the Tacoma City Council on medical marijuana.

At the council’s behest, Mayor Marilyn Strickland is assembling a “task force” of citizens tasked with helping council members shirk accountability for letting a commercial marijuana industry fester illegally in the city.

The group is supposed to advise the council on whether it should tolerate marijuana stores, also known as dispensaries. It’s hard to see this as anything but an attempt to outsource the question to people who bear no public accountability for it.

The issue came before the council last year and has been hotly debated ever since; any council member who actually needed more facts on the matter at this point would do well to confess a case of terminal obtuseness and resign.

The council has had time to study the issue ad nauseum. It knows that every competent legal authority, from the city attorney on up to the county prosecutor and the state attorney general, says that the sale of marijuana is illegal under state law, including the initiative that legalized medical marijuana in 1998.

The law does allow collective gardens of no more than 45 plants shared by a maximum of 10 patients, who can hire a skilled marijuana gardener (no shortage of those) on a strictly nonprofit basis.

The Seattle City Council has decided to pretend that this explicit restriction somehow allows dispensaries to sell pot to unlimited numbers of customers.

For the Tacoma City Council, the question is whether to mimic Seattle’s toleration policy or actually honor the law. It ought to close Tacoma’s roughly 50 marijuana stores – which for some strange reason far outnumber the city’s pharmacies – and stick to genuine collective gardens.
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Airfare gift: What was Mayor Strickland thinking?

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

It’s bad enough that Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland let a local businessman pay her round-trip airfare to three Asian cities with his frequent-flyer miles – almost certainly a violation of city ethics rules and state law.

What’s worse is that Strickland, a savvy and intelligent woman, didn’t seem to understand why taking the gift was wrong.

Her defense: “I didn’t get any personal gain or benefit out of it.” She was on official city business, she told News Tribune reporter Lewis Kamb, and didn’t want city taxpayers to foot the bill because of the tight budget situation.

But it doesn’t take outright corruption to create a conflict of interest. Tacoma’s ethics code specifically bars city officials from accepting gifts valued at more than $50 “for a matter connected with or related to the City official’s services with the City of Tacoma.” The value of the airfare is estimated to be at least $3,000. And state law also forbids city officials from taking “any compensation, gift, reward or gratuity” from outside sources for matters related to their municipal services. Read more »


The movie track in city politics

Ryan Mello and David Boe wrecked – well, at least weakened – the theory that serving on the board of the Grand Cinema is the route to success in Tacoma politics.

I should have reported earlier, but last week I witnessed new Mayor Marilyn Strickland perform her first ceremonial ribbon-cutting duties in front of the screen in the Grand’s newly completed fourth theater.

Her newly elected councilmate, Marty Campbell, handed over the big shears loaned for the occasion by the Chamber of Commerce.  Before the mayor did the deed, Marty observed that she is a former member of the

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Tacomans paid a price for their council’s secrecy

As we’ve repeatedly noted, the Tacoma City Council shut the public out when its members decided on finalists for two open seats. The citizens paid a price for that secrecy.

I’ll focus on a single case. In making that first cut, the council eliminated 36 applicants, leaving eight. One of the rejected candidates was architect Jim Merritt, who narrowly lost the citywide election for mayor last September. His opponent, Marilyn Strickland, was among the council members who secretly made the cuts last week.

Was Mayor Strickland magnanimous, chilly or judicious in that discussion? Did she defend her recent rival? Argue cogently against possible polarization resulting from his appointment? I don’t particularly care what side she came down on. But Tacomans would have learned more about their new mayor had they been privy to a discussion that produced a de facto decision behind closed doors.

I’m not arguing for Merritt’s appointment here, just wondering why his application was dumped in favor of other candidates who – for all their virtues – couldn’t match his very long record of contributions to the city.
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Merritt for mayor (if only we could get Strickland, too …)

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Tacoma’s mayoral contest this year poses the kind of dilemma we wish every race offered: two candidates so good that it is hard to pick between them.

We are endorsing Jim Merritt, but with considerable regret that we couldn’t somehow also endorse his opponent, Tacoma City Councilwoman Marilyn Strickland. Unfortunately, there’s room for only one person in this office.

When we pass over a candidate, we sometimes cite inadequate experience, limited volunteer service or other lack of preparation. We can’t do that in this case, because Strickland is eminently qualified to be mayor of Tacoma.

She is quick on her feet, a formidable advocate, dynamic and public-spirited. She possesses an MBA and substantial experience in both the private and public sector.

Her relatively brief two years on the City Council are buttressed by many years of community service in other capacities. She’s been part of the volunteer leadership of the Grand Cinema, the Tacoma Public Library and other important organizations. She exudes competence, intelligence and decency. She’d make a fine mayor for Tacoma.
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The Battle of the Berm

In battle, the fate of empires can turn on a small piece of higher ground. Think Little Roundtop. Think Bunker Hill.

Think the Dome District berm.

OK, that’s hyping things a bit, but the berm – which Sound Transit wants to build to bring its Sounder trains from Freighthouse Square to Pacific Avenue – is turning improbably into the central issue in Tacoma’s mayoral race.

Jim Merritt (I give some credit to campaign manager Ronnie Bush) has been playing the issue brilliantly. A much-respected architect, he’s pushing a “post-and-beam” alternative of concrete piers, and he’s has positioned himself as the champion of underdog Tacoma against the overbearing Sound Transit.

His opponent, Marilyn Strickland, has had a hard time responding. She voted with her fellow city council members to work with Sound Transit, which Merritt’s camp casts as a bully bent on ruining the future of the Dome District.

In the middle of all this is City Manager Eric Anderson. Visiting us yesterday, he offered a far less apocalyptic view of the beam-vs.-berm choice.
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