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Archives: Nov. 2008


Rossi and Obama sitting in a tree…

After the Nov. 4 election results were certified yesterday, I started using our fancy-schmancy mapping software to look at how Pierce County voted.

The map below shows perhaps the most interesting results, voting precincts where Rossi and Obama both won — the darker the purple, the greater the Obama win. The darkest purple shows areas where Obama won by 11 to 24 percent.

You can see the quite a mixture in the communities between the Democratic stronghold in Tacoma and the traditionally Republican rural areas. And also in the Gig Harbor area.

As we dig into the

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Pierce council puts a hold on Centro Latino funding

Following news that its former executive director is suing Centro Latino, the Pierce County Council on Tuesday put a hold on nearly $30,000 worth of funding for the nonprofit group.

Joy Gomez-Gonzalez, the former director, says she was wrongfully fired when she questioned improper behavior by a board member. She accuses the board member, David Almonte, of using his position to secure a large contract for his furniture business and trying to hire a friend as a contractor on the renovation of Centro Latino’s Tacoma building.

Almonte has denied any wrongdoing. Other board members say their attorney

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One final whimper from Dino Rossi campaign: Buy my book

I don’t know if Republican challenger Dino Rossi is saddled with any debt from his failed second run for governor, but he is pushing book sales.

As a parting shot (warning?), he’s telling his supporters to hold onto their wallets, implying that Gov. Chris Gregoire will, indeed, raise taxes to balance the state budget in light of a now $5 billion shortfall. That, despite her campaign promise not to raise taxes.

What taxpayers need to worry about is what Democrats in the Senate and House send to Gregoire. If the only thing she gets from a Democrat-dominated Legislature is a tax increase, she might have to say “The devil made me do it.”

Democrats, I suspect, are pinning a lot of their budget-balancing hopes on a rescue package from President Barack Obama. And the sooner the better.

Dear friends,

I wanted to thank you again for your help and support during the Governor’s race. While we did not receive a majority of votes, we accomplished many things, the most exciting of which was inspiring thousands of people to involve themselves in politics for the first time. My hope is that everyone reading this will stay involved for the betterment of our state and nation.

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Get ready for higher tolls on Tacoma Narrows Bridge–or not

It appears the Washington Transportation Commission is trying to do some advance work on the public in the event they decide to raise the tolls on the new bridge so soon after raising them.

Tolls went up by $1 on July 1, to $4 for cars at the toll booths and to $2.75 for those with transponders.

A citizen advisory committee is reviewing traffic counts to see whether it will recommend higher rates for July 1, 2009. Members will meet 2 more times next week. Their recommendation will go to the commission, then the commission will send its recommendtion to the Legislature, all before the Legislature convenes on Jan. 12.

Even though tolls are reviewed every year (or more often, if necessary), the tolls set a few months ago should have been high enough to last for two years. But the state Department of Transportation has been spooked by lower-than-expected traffic for a month or two, and they might prod the committee and commission to booth the toll.

On the other hand, gas is no longer $4.35 a gallon, as it was when traffic on the bridge took a dip. It’s about $2, so maybe the DOT is panicking just a tad. They tend to err on the conservative side so they can make the loan payments.

Stay tuned.

Commission Chairman Dan O’Neal sent out this opinion-editorial piece.

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Fee hikes, cheap gas help balance Pierce County budget

Pierce County will cut about 75 jobs, delay capital spending and boost a variety of fees to balance a 2009 budget approved by the County Council Tuesday.

The $854.5 million spending plan also counts on cheap gas and revenue from red light cameras to keep the county in the black.

Council members say the budget supports key services like public safety while cutting back in other areas.

"Government does not always need to grow," said Councilman Shawn Bunney, R-Lake Tapps.

For years Pierce County government grew steadily, fueled by a residential and commercial development boom that provided a dependable source of revenue.

But earlier this year, as the real estate market slumped, the county cut nearly $5 million from its 2008 budget. With a full-blown recession looming, the council approved a largely status-quo spending plan for 2009.

Total spending will fall about 3 percent from this year’s budget. Spending on the general fund, which includes most traditional county services like law enforcement and courts, would rise about 1 percent to $289 million.

The general fund plan would cut about 75 jobs, most of them vacant.

The county planning department will take the biggest hit, losing about 38 positions. Planning department Director Chuck Kleeberg said five of those will be layoffs. With the slowdown in construction, county officials believe the department doesn’t need as many employees to do its job.

Other workforce reductions are spread across numerous departments. The budget also cuts spending on extra hires, overtime, equipment, training and other line items.

While other departments cut staff, the sheriff’s department would add six positions, paid for with contracts or grants.

Other budget highlights include:

&bull The council voted to charge more for various county services. Sewer rates would rise an average of 5 percent. Surface water management fees – assessed to pay for flood control and water quality programs – would rise 10 percent. Fees on park rentals, fire inspections, court filings and other services also would rise.

But the council declined to raise numerous planning department fees, which County Executive John Ladenburg had counted on to raise $1.7 million.

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County sees 81 percent election turnout

Earlier today, Pierce County released certified elections results, capping a long and historic election season. Voter turnout set a recent record for presidential election years in terms of both the raw number of voters (333,824) and the percentage of registered voters participating (81.20 percent). Turnout ranged from 74 percent to 78 percent in the election years from 1976 to 2004, according to county election manager Lori Augino. The county didn’t have readily available numbers for earlier elections.

Pierce County’s turnout trails the state, which experienced a whopping 84.55 percent turnout. The turnout surpassed the previous record of 84.5

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Justice Richard Sanders to AG Michael Mukasey: “Tyrant”

Political bloggers have been abuzz over rumors/reports that Washington state Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders heckled U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey last week. Someone shouted “tryant” at Mukasey. This was at the Federalist Society speech in which Mukasey fainted.

Yesterday, Sanders was cagey when Olympian reporter Adam Wilson asked about it. Sanders said he was in town, but not in the room when Mukasey collapsed. At the time, the only one really “reporting” that Sanders was the heckler was Michele Malkin, a conservative blogger who said that’s what someone said on Fox News.

Sanders declined to respond

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Gregoire orders $260 million in budget cuts

This just in from the Associated Press:

Gov. Chris Gregoire is unveiling emergency plans to carve another $260 million from this year’s state budget.

Gregoire’s new cuts follow last week’s announcement that the state is facing a deficit of about $5 billion through mid-2011. The shortfall includes a gap of about $500 million in this year’s state budget.

Gregoire previously announced plans to trim about $330 million from this year’s spending. Tuesday’s announcement bumps that amount up to $590 million, putting this year’s state budget back in the black when it ends in June.

Gregoire’s budget office is giving agencies a targeted dollar amount of cuts to reach. They’re being told to scale back new programs, and cut spending on existing programs that have been identified as low priorities.

Update No. 1: The AP’s Curt Woodward filed more material. Here’s the rest:

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