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Archives: June 2009


Washington still growing; Tacoma still No. 3

Despite the recession and housing market deflation, Washington continues to grow and attract new residents from out-of-state, according to 2009 population estimates from the state Office of Financial Management. But the growth has slowed considerably from its recent peak.

As of April 1, Washington’s population stood at 6.67 million, up 1.2 percent from the year before. Not surprisingly, that annual growth rate was down from the recent high of 1.9 percent in 2006. The state grew by an estimated 80,600 people during the year, about 39,000 from in-migration from other states.

"The continued housing contraction nationwide and poor economic conditions appear to be limiting the mobility of the population usually influenced by labor market opportunities," said Theresa Lowe, the state’s chief demographer in a press release. "Many job seekers are finding it difficult to sell their homes or to relocate to accept employment at the price of paying two mortgages for an extended period."

In the annual competition for Washington’s second city, Tacoma (with 203,400 residents) is still slightly behind Spokane (205,500). Spokane grew at a slightly more robust pace.

Pierce County and most of its cities and towns continued to grow. The county’s population stood at 813,600, up from 805,400 in 2008.

See the standings below:

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New T-Dome sign will be here soon

A new reader board for the Tacoma Dome should be up and running by the week of July 13, Dome manager Mike Combs said Monday.

The computer system in the old sign died in mid-April, he said, and at more than 20-years-old the manufacturer in Portland wasn’t able to repair it.

The system was so old, part of the programming process involved floppy disks, Combs said.

Travelers on north- and southbound Interstate 5 will be treated to a full-color LED display.

The cost of the upgrade is

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Attorney General Rob McKenna has new open government site

Attorney General Rob McKenna has launched a new website to help residents find their way through the state’s open records laws.

The site is called "Unredacted: Uncovering the truth about Public Records and Open Public Meetings.”

"Citizens contact us when, for example, they believe that a city or county council meeting has been held illegally behind closed doors," McKenna said in a statement. "Our new site provides a road map for pulling back the curtain to find out what elected officials are up to."

Find the site, called Unredacted, here.


Signs o’ the times

It’s campaign season again, which means campaign signs are springing up like dandelions.

City Council candidate John Miles (who’s running against Joe Lonergan and Beckie Summers Kirby) has been challenging one opponent’s sign etiquette.

He wrote in an e-mail to Kirby:

Dear Beckie:

Seven of your campaign signs are on the Oakes Street right-of-way between 58th and 62nd Streets. Five are at fence-lines for maximum confusion about whose property they abut. The other two are at the corner of 60th Street. Two were already lying on the ground last night.

According to city code, "signs placed in planting strips must have the permission for such placement of the abutting property owner." I spoke to several property owners who insisted that they had not authorized placement of the signs. One indicated that they would call Tacoma Cares this morning to complain.

Please remove the signs.

Before continuing on, I’ll note that the reason I’m blogging about this instead of writing is a story is that city officials told me today that Tacoma Cares had received no complaints.

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Boring machine for Alaskan Way tunnel will be the size of a Jumbo Ferry

The tunnel boring machine pictured below was built by Herrenknecht AG (which has an office in Tacoma), for a tunneling job in Madrid, Spain. Below the picture are links to three companies that are in the business of building these huge machines (they’re about 55-60 feet in diameter) and which are likely to be interested in getting the job to build a “drill bit” for the 1.7-mile deep-bore tunnel under First Avenue in Seattle to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Here is a link to Herrenknecht AG. This is a German firm

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Sometimes the problem can be found in the solution

In Friday’s report from the Tacoma City Manager to the City Council, I noticed a small item. The city has applied for a Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement grant.

“Funds (would be used) to eliminate a backlog in the analysis of forensic evidence. Funds would be used to hire a contract latent print examiner for cases from 2008.”

I searched our clips using key words like “backlog”, “forensic,” “fingerprint” and “Tacoma.” Everything that comes up is several years old.

It appears there’s some sort of forensic and fingerprinting backlog

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Washington cities don’t steal business from each other, right?

Actually, that’s not right.

Seattle making a run at attracting/stealing Russell Investments may be making enemies south the King-Pierce border, but it is part of a long tradition.

In fact Tacoma has gotten the best of the competition recently, carting off three big shipping clients and several smaller ones. And just seven years ago Tacoma launched a campaign to place billboards and advertisements throughout Seattle urging business to consider defecting.

The picture below was taken in May of 2002 by Peter Haley and depicts Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma unveiling one of those billboards near Safeco Field.

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