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Archives: Nov. 2008


Times: Companies honor Dicks with $478,000 to charities

What’s the newest way to curry favor with a congressman? Give to his favorite charity.

The Seattle Times today reports that Boeing, TriWest Healthcare Alliance and a host of corporations have contributed $478,000 to charities in the name of U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair.

Dicks isn’t the only Washington election official so honored. The Times reports that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, was honored with charitable contributions totaling $64,000. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray was honoree with contributions totaling $45,000.

"This is a new stealthy way to retain influence with favorite and most helpful lawmakers," Keith Ashdown of

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Capitol to host ‘holiday’ tree, atheist billboard

From Adam Wilson at our sister paper, The Olympian:

Although it seems to get another neighbor every year, the Association of Washington Business’ holiday tree still is the centerpiece of the season in the Capitol.

The tree, up to 30 feet tall, will arrive in the Capitol Rotunda on Monday and be lighted in a celebration Friday. This year, a Christian nativity and an atheistic billboard will join it in the seat of state government.

“The way this whole thing started is that some folks came to us from the Legislature and the Capitol visitor center and said, ‘Hey, there’s no Christmas tree in the Capitol; could you help us?’ And we said, ‘OK, sure,’ ” said Don Brunell, president of the Association of Washington Business.

Now in its 19th year, the tree has become part of a charity drive for rural fire departments and the focal point of a popular lighting ceremony the first Friday of each December.

It has sparked a series of additions, the most recent of which is the billboard by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, new this year.

“Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds,” declares the sign, which is scheduled to be dedicated at 10 a.m.

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Voter registration changes in Pierce County

One more map, this one showing changes in voter registration. I don’t have up-to-date population maps, but I’m guessing the changes mirror population grown to a large extent.

The places where registration fell by more than 50% are largely places with low registration numbers to begin with. But the yellow areas show an trend that might warrant further scrutiny.


Term-limit extension for Pierce County officials?

Some veteran Pierce County politicians would get some extra time in office if the County Council and voters approve term-limit changes that will get a public hearing Tuesday.

The council will consider a proposed amendment to the county charter that would allow the county executive and council members to serve up to three consecutive four-year terms in office, up from the current limit of two terms.

As currently drafted, the three-term limit would not apply to any time elected officials have served before 2010. That would give existing officeholders a clean slate and would allow some council members to serve up to 19 years in office.

Councilman Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom, who drafted the proposal, said it wasn’t his intent to allow council members to serve that long. He said he will introduce an amendment at Tuesday’s council meeting that would count time already served toward the three-term limit.

The proposal already has drawn criticism from those who say it’s a way for incumbents to extend their hold on power.

"To the victors go the spoils," Councilman Calvin Goings, D-Puyallup, said at a council Rules Committee meeting Monday. "I think this is a power play, pure and simple."

Muri originally pitched his proposed charter amendment as a way to address long lines and other problems experienced during the Nov. 4 general election.

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Press release: Group appealing federal detention center expansion

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee says they are filing an appeal to halt expansion of the federal immigration facility on the Tacoma Tideflats. The group is concerned plans for the new construction at the Northwest Detention Center didn’t have enough citizen input.

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee – Tacoma has filed an appeal with the City of Tacoma concerning the proposed expansion of the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) at 1623 East “J” Street on the Tacoma Tarpits EPA SuperFund Site. The expansion of the NWDC will provide housing for 575 detained citizens from other countries, expand the total bed-space to 1575, and provide 104,000 square feet of floor space.

The appeal is currently the last act in a failing attempt to provide input to the approval process.

“The City has pretty much taken every effort to exclude citizen input from the expansion approval process” said Tim Smith, chairperson of the committee. “At this point and time we can only appeal the determination of non-significance issued by the City of Tacoma on Nov 14. We have 14 days but as today is a city holiday, Monday Dec 1st is the last day to submit and appeal.”

More after the jump.

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Are four-day weeks saving state agencies money?

From Adam Wilson, state government reporter at our sister paper, The Olympian:

Having Friday off has become routine for workers at some state agencies, but it’s too soon to tell whether moving to a four-day workweek is saving money, the agencies report.

Leaving government offices empty on Fridays was supposed to save on energy costs, one of the early moves Gov. Chris Gregoire made as the state’s budget began to shrink. Washington now faces a $5.1 billion shortfall in funds.

"Things have been going smoothly and people are driving in to work one less day a week, which is an energy savings. But in terms of building energy use, we won’t know until December," said Wendy Pugnetti of the Department of Community Trade and Economic Development.

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Prof to local Democrats: Stop scapegoating ranked choice voting

University of Puget Sound professor Richard Anderson-Connolly has a message for Pierce County Democrats: stop blaming your troubles on ranked choice voting and take a good look in the mirror.

Anderson-Connolly is a ranked choice voting supporter. On Kelly Haughton’s RCV blog, he expresses disappointment that local Democrats are, in his mind, blaming the new voting system for their poor showing in the recent election.

Earlier this month, County Councilman Calvin Goings, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for county executive, urged his fellow Democrats to reconsider their approach to fielding candidates under the RCV system. Goings

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There’s more than one way to slice an election

It took me most of Tuesday and Wednesday to crunch the 2008 election results from Pierce County and start comparing them to 2004.

We’re still analyzing the data to get a better sense of what happened and why. But that’s no reason not to share our initial findings with you, dear reader.

After the jump are several maps I put together — from voter turnout to how many votes in each precinct Gregoire picked since the last election. We’d love to hear your thoughts on how things are changing. (Stay tuned for a story.)

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