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Archives: Oct. 2008


Pat McCarthy takes her name off RCV survey at polls

Auditor Pat McCarthy has taken her name off voter surveys that will be distributed at Pierce County polling places next Tuesday.

McCarthy said today that she took the action last week after her fellow county executive candidates and state Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser complained she had violated the sanctity of the ballot and perhaps given herself an unfair advantage by distributing the survey in mail ballots. State law bars officeholders from using public resources to promote their campaigns.

McCarthy, a Democrat and one of four candidates for county executive, argued the survey (here’s a

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Dispute over delayed results in ranked-choice races

There’s an interesting debate over on our Inside the Editorial Page blog. At issue: why do we have to wait until Nov. 7 or 8 to learn who’s leading or winning Pierce County races?

The dispute involves county Auditor Pat McCarthy’s handling of the new ranked-choice voting system. Voters can rank up to three candidates in order of preference. But on election night and for at least the next two days, McCarthy plans to release only the first-choice results. That is, we likely won’t really know who’s leading in the county executive’s race, for example, because some voters’ second-

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Lawyer asks Rob McKenna for quick action on Dorn complaint

Her August complaint to the Public Disclosure Commission hasn’t been resolved and probably won’t be by election day. So Judith Lonnquist has asked the attorney general to block an independent expenditure campaign from spending money to beat up on schools chief Terry Bergeson.

Lonnquist said that if the state waits until after the election to act, the harm will be done.

She accuses challenger Randy Dorn, the Service Employees International Union and the CFW of violating laws regulating so-called independent expenditure campaigns. Because Dorn is the president of the SEIU-affiliated Public School Employees Union, and the union has

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Why you probably won’t be taking time off work to vote

Think you can roll into work two hours late or take off early on Tuesday in order to hit the polls?


Except under the rarest of circumstances (read the RCW and tell me if you can think of a scenario where it might work), Washington law has relegated paid time off work for voting to the same dust bin as the three-martini lunch.

The bloggers over at Lifehacker recently wrote about voting as a nice way to get some time away from work and

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Seattle seeks taxing authority to pay for KeyArena renovation

As part of his NBA season preview, staff writer Eric Williams published a story today that updates Seattle’s effort to secure $75 million in public money to renovate KeyArena.

The city plans to ask the Legislature to consider restoring the city’s ability to raise money through the city-only, hotel-motel tax that funds the Washington State Convention and Trade Center.

The tax rate in Seattle is 7 percent, but only about 6 percent is needed to pay off the remaining bonds. So the city is asking the Legislature to reduce the Convention Center tax to 6 percent and restore

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Newspapers laid off more than 6,300 workers this year

Several of you have asked me about what’s going on in the newspaper industry, in light of the departures of several members of the Capital (Capitol) Press Corps.

Former state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt said he’s worried politics won’t be covered as much. Retiring state Rep. Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, was worried about our dwindling ranks.

Washington isn’t the only state that is losing journalists, but we’re certainly well represented given layoffs at The News Tribune, Seattle Times, Spokesman Review, Olympian and TriCity Herald.

Some of my colleagues are keeping track of the layoffs and buyouts

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3 companies sink big bucks into county exec race

With companies like Afterglow Beach, Blue Mountain Vineyards and Windsong Ranch contributing generously to Pierce County executive candidates, you might think the tourism industry has taken an interest in local politics.

You’d never know a major developer – Investco – contributed the money. But that may be the point.

State records show prominent builders and developers have sunk big bucks into the hotly contested county executive race. Sometimes, they’re doing it through affiliates with names that offer no clue where the money is coming from.

Aiding them is a loophole in state law that allows companies to circumvent campaign contribution limits.

Under state law, any single person or company is limited to contributing $800 to a Pierce County campaign. But some companies are able to get around that by contributing through their various affiliates, each with its own $800 limit. It’s a loophole the Legislature tried and failed to address in 2007.

State records show many local companies have taken advantage of the loophole. But three stand out.

&bull Sumner-based Investco and its executives have given more than $18,000 to county executive candidates.

&bull Corliss Resources, a separate company owned by relatives of Mike Corliss, who owns Investco, has pitched in about $14,000.

&bull Companies and executives affiliated with Tacoma-based Tucci & Sons contractors have given more than $20,000.

Together, these three companies have contributed at least $52,550 to executive candidates (here’s an Excel spreadsheet with details).

The primary beneficiaries: candidates Shawn Bunney and Calvin Goings.

Bunney, a Lake Tapps Republican, has accepted more than $31,000 from companies and executives affiliated with those three firms. That includes money they donated to his 2006 County Council campaign that he apparently transferred to his executive’s campaign. I have an appointment with Bunney’s campaign this morning to confirm the 2006 contributions from these companies were transferred to his 2008 campaign.

Goings, a Puyallup Democrat, has received nearly $20,000 from the three companies and their executives.

The other county executive candidates have received little or no money from those companies. Tacoma Democrat Pat McCarthy has accepted $1,600 from Investco-related companies. Independent Mike Lonergan of Tacoma has received none.

Representatives of Investco and Tucci have confirmed the information in the spreadsheet. I’m still waiting to hear from Corliss Resources and from the executive candidates.

Look for more on this in tomorrow’s News Tribune.

Meanwhile, Tucci & Sons President Michael F. Tucci issues this statement in response to questions:


Thank you for sending me the fax version of the excel spreadsheet; the numbers appear to be correct. We are pleased to have the opportunity to comment on the article you intend to run about our families’ contributions to the Goings and Bunney campaigns for County Executive.

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Lots of voting in Pierce County already

By the looks of absentee ballot statistics, a bunch of y’all were busy over the weekend.

The Pierce County auditor’s office reported receiving 24,252 ballots in Monday’s mail.

Of the 322,758 ballots sent to county voters, 70,045 have been turned in. That’s a return rate of 21.7 percent.

That’s slightly ahead of the 20.5 percent of ballots returned at this point in the 2004 cycle, and well ahead of the 14.1 percent rate in 2006.