Political Buzz

Talking WA politics.

NOTICE: Political Buzz has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Political Buzz.
Visit the new section.

Archives: 2007

Dec.
18th

Gelman’s `junior moment’

County Councilwoman Barbra Gelman last week attributed her confusion over an ethics code vote to a "senior moment." Since then the phrase has popped up in News Tribune stories and an editorial in today’s paper.


Gelman says she’s heard from several people who sympathize, having endured senior moments of their own. But in the future she hopes we’ll adopt a different description.


"It’s not going to be `senior moment’ anymore," Gelman said Tuesday. "It’s going to be `junior moment.’"

Dec.
18th

Is anyone running for assessor-treasurer?

County Councilman Terry Lee’s decision to reconsider running for assessor-treasurer next year begs the question: is anyone running for this office?


The only other candidate to publicly express interest in the job is Councilwoman Barbara Gelman, who served as assessor-treasurer from 1992-2000. But Gelman has not made her candidacy official with the state Public Disclosure Commission. No one else has filed, either.


The current assessor-treasurer, Ken Madsen, is eligible for a third four-year term under an amendment to the county charter approved by voters last month. But Madsen said his first choice is to retire.


Madsen said

Read more »

Dec.
18th

Lee bows out of assessor-treasurer race

County Council Chairman Terry Lee has decided he will not run for assessor-treasurer next year.


Lee, a Gig Harbor Republican, cited a desire to resolve several important issues in his council district during a term that will expire in 2010. Among the issues: new shoreline regulations and opening Gig Harbor-area satellite offices for District Court and land-use permitting.


"If I’m not there, an appointed councilman will be representing the community at a really critical time," Lee said.


The councilman also admitted he doesn’t much care for the fund-raising and reaching out to special interests that would be

Read more »

Dec.
17th

Ladenburg: Council budget comes up short

County Executive John Ladenburg has numerous concerns with the 2008 budget approved by the County Council last month.

In a letter to the council dated Friday, the executive cites an overall reduction of 16.5 staff positions requested by executive departments, including some that would have brought Pierce County into compliance with federal water pollution rules. And he objected to several strings the council put on spending in certain departments.

Among them: a provision that prohibits County Auditor Pat McCarthy from using her name, image or likeness on voter education broadcast advertisements. Ladenburg called the provision "a transparent attempt at political maneuvering." Councilmen Shawn Bunney, R-Lake Tapps, and Calvin Goings, D-Puyallup, are running for county executive against McCarthy.

"Most department heads contend this year was the most difficult budget process they have experienced," Ladenburg wrote to the council. "They feel, and rightly so, that their recommendations and ideas were completely ignored by the council without debate or the consideration of appropriate alternatives."

The executive did not veto the budget, but returned it to the council unsigned. That means the budget as passed by the council will take effect. But Ladenburg wrote that some of the council’s budget decisions must be revisited in early 2008 to comply with state and federal laws.

Read the full text of his letter below.

Read more »

Dec.
17th

Bush: Revotes were good government

County Councilman Roger Bush, R-Graham, takes exception to suggestions the council violated the state Open Meetings Act by discussing pending ordinances during two recent meeting recesses.


The recesses came after two close votes involving a sewer rate increase and an ethics code overhaul. In the first case, the council initially defeated the sewer-rate increase on a 3-4 vote. After a recess, the council reconsidered, and the rate increase passed 4-3.


Last week a proposal to table the ethics code overhaul initially failed on a 3-4 vote. After a recess, it passed 5-2. Councilwoman Barbara Gelman, D-Tacoma, changed

Read more »

Dec.
14th

State Rep. Helen Sommers to quit after 36 years?

State Rep. Helen Sommers, D-Seattle, is sending back campaign contributions and that makes it look as if she might not run again in 2008.


Sommers has been in the House since 1973, which makes her the longest-serving incumbent and institutional memory for the Legislature. And being chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee gives her stature and some clout.


Read what our colleague, Austin Jenkins, posted on CrossCut.

Dec.
14th

County Council: Backstage vote talks?

This article will run in the next few days in the newspaper. It’s the usual Friday crunch, so editors are still figuring out what will run when. But here’s a sneak preview:

By David Wickert
What’s going on backstage at the Pierce County Council?

Twice in recent weeks the council has taken a recess after a close vote – the first on a sewer rate increase, the second on an ethics code overhaul. In each case the council emerged from recess, voted again and arrived at a different outcome.

The actions suggest improper conversations among council members occurred during the recesses.
"I feel that violates the Open Public Meetings Act," said Councilman Tim Farrell, D-Tacoma, who was on the losing end of the ethics vote. "It looks really bad."

Other council members say nothing illegal happened during the recesses.

"I do understand why you ask the question," said council Chairman Terry Lee, R-Gig Harbor. But he added: "There’s no shenanigans going on back there."

Read more »

Dec.
14th

Regime change for Tacoma School Board

Kris Sherman reports these items from Thursday night’s Tacoma School Board meeting:


Item One: Jim Dugan took the board president’s gavel from Connie Rickman in the annual changing of the guard. As is custom, Dugan, who served as vice president during 2007, was the only nominee for the president’s job. Kim Golding was elected VP.


Dugan immediately set a new tone for coming School Board meetings.

He wants more interaction between the board and the public.


No longer will board members sit and stonily listen to comments and questions from the public and rarely respond –

Read more »