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Archives: July 2009


Bar association rates Morgan ‘not qualified’

Embattled Federal Way Municipal Court Judge Michael Morgan has attracted a crowd of challengers in the August primary. This won’t help his case: The King County Bar Association Judicial Screening Committee rated him “not qualified.”

From the release:

Of the eight candidates running for two positions on Federal Way Municipal Court, the Honorable David Larson received a rating of "Exceptionally Well Qualified." Rebecca Robertson, Renee Walls and Matthew York received ratings of "Well Qualified;" James Santucci was rated "Qualified;" the Honorable Michael Morgan and Williams Jarvis were deemed "Not Qualified."

The full text is below:

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Jake Fey addresses questions about money raising

Tacoma City Councilman Jake Fey got back to me in an e-mail, addressing questions and speculation about why he was fundraising for his council position, even though he is unopposed for a second term.

A couple dozen people commented on my earlier post about the pace of fundraising for this year’s City Council races. Some asserted there was something fishy about raising money for an unopposed position. Others pointed out that it’s neither illegal nor unusual.

Here’s what Jake had to say:

My campaign budget for this election is substantially lower than 4 years ago. From the time I announced for reelection I decided that I would not take this campaign and my reelection for granted and would communicate with voters in the 2nd District. I committed to a campaign manager and I plan to doorbell voters in order to make sure I stay in touch with residents of the district. To pay for a campaign manager and print a campaign piece costs money and I do not want to incur the kind of campaign debt I did last time. Election time is a good opportunity to stay in touch with the voters and hear from them about their concerns.

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Pierce council sends Fife library measure to ballot

It may not be the hottest issue on the ballot. But in November Fife voters will decide whether to join the Pierce County Library System.

The County Council on Tuesday voted to send the issue to the November ballot. The Fife City Council approved the measure in May.

Fife is the largest city in Pierce County without its own library system or library branch. If a majority of city voters agree, the county library system would open a 6,000-square-foot branch in Fife in 2011.

The move would require a property tax increase of 45 cents per

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Pierce County to consolidate code enforcement, save money

Pierce County officials say consolidating code enforcement functions in the public works department will make it easier to deal with properties like this one.

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy’s pledge to consolidate and improve government services is getting a test run in the public works department.

Some code enforcement functions in the planning department have moved to public works. A planning department supervisor’s job has been eliminated, and the move is expected to save $143,000 annually.

Though they worked together, the code enforcement officers for public works and planning previously had different responsibilities. Public works folks (under the county’s Pierce County Responds program) generally addressed junk cars and some illegal dumping issues. The planning department officers dealt with zoning, building and other violations.

Now the two groups have been consolidated and cross-trained. The combined staff has six officers capable of responding to a range of violations.

County officials say the consolidation eliminates the need for two officers to visit a property with, for example, junk car and building setback violations. Violators now can deal with a single officer, instead of two.

Some enforcement efforts – like building inspections – remain in the planning department.

The consolidation of some code enforcement responsibilities is getting a trial run for the rest of the year. If it works McCarthy will ask the County Council to make it permanent in 2010.

In her campaign for county executive last fall, McCarthy pledged to improve customer service in county government.

"This consolidation is part of a larger effort by my office to make our code enforcement and permitting system more efficient," McCarthy said in a press release announcing the move.

Read the full press release below:

July 28, 2009

County combines code enforcement programs

Pierce County is consolidating code enforcement functions in a pilot project to increase service, eliminate redundancy and achieve budget efficiencies.

Under an arrangement led by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy’s office, code enforcement officers and support staff from the Public Works and Utilities department and the Planning and Land Services department will work as one team. The new program went into effect July 27.

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Why does the teachers’ union want names of people who signed and got signatures for Tim Eyman’s latest initiative?

I gotta think Tim Eyman has good reason to bring this to light.

I sent Charles Hasse an e-mail, asking him why the parent organization for the Washington Education Association wants copies of the Initiative 1033 petitions.

Eyman is suggesting the NEA wants to publish all the names on line. Hence, the reference to Whosigned.org.

(Dave Ammons at Secretary of State office confirmed the exchange of e-mails between Hasse and SOS folks is authentic.)

UPDATE: (2:20 p.m.) Hasse called me right away. He said “it was a fairly routine request.” The National Education Association, where he now works, routinely takes a closer look at ballot measures from around the country, looking for fraud or other improprieties in the collection of signatures on initiative, referendum and recall petitions.

Hasse was president of the Washington Education Assocation from 2001-07. He’s been “ballot measure strategist” for the NEA for almost two years.

“I’m certainly not alleging anything,” he said. “I hope he has nothing to hide.” But “there may be some reforms” that could be made in Washington state in the initiative process, he said. The NEA takes an interest in any ballot measure that could affect its members, as I-1033 would by constraining overall tax collections. The NEA is particularly interested in any measure that has paid signature gatherers, he said.

“The industry is rife with fraud and forgery,” he said. “We have the same interest as others do, that measures that are on the ballot belong there.”

Here’s what Eyman sent out earlier today, followed by an e-mail from one of his supporters to Hasse:

July 30, 2009

To: Our thousands of supporters throughout the state (cc’d to the media, house & senate members, and Governor)

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Are there enough signatures on Referendum 71? Too close to call

State elections officials will start counting and verifying the 138,000 signatures on Friday. Whether the measure gets onto the November ballot will be determined by the error rate: How many bad signatures are there?

The historic average is 18 percent invalid signatures. Referendum 71 petitioners turned in only 14 percent extras, so they might just miss the cutoff. Stay tuned.

Here’s a link to Dave Ammons blog over at the Secretary of State’s office.


1,700 motorist now pay to drive in Highway 167 HOT lanes daily

May marked the end of the first year of operation for the High Occupancy Toll lanes on Highway 167 in South King County. That’s 1 year out of a 4-year experiment to see whether the state can squeeze more use out of the highway by getting solo drivers to buy their way into the carpool lane when traffic is really heavy in the general purpose lanes.

The state Department of Transportation is declaring the first year a success. (Here is the 20-page report.) What do you drivers say?

According to the DOT, here are the highlights:

–More than 30,000 individual Good to Go! customers paid to drive the HOT lane.
–The average toll rate paid was about $1.
–The average number of daily tolled trips continues to increase monthly from 1,050 trips per weekday in May 2008 to 1,710 trips per weekday in April 2009.
–General purpose (GP) lane speeds increased 10 percent.
–GP lane volumes increased up to 4 percent.
–HOT lane volumes increased up to 3 percent.
–HOT lane traffic speeds increased up to 8 percent.
–Carpool and transit travel times maintained at HOV-only (pre-HOT) levels.
–The HOT lane does not appear to have any adverse impact on safety.

Carpools, buses, solo drivers saving time in HOT lane

First annual report shows HOT lane option still growing in popularity

KENT – More than 30,000 solo drivers paid an average toll of $1 to escape heavy traffic on State Route 167 and drive in the high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane during the pilot project’s first year.

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Light rail draws 12,000 riders a day; by December ridership on Seattle-Sea-Tac Airport link may almost double

You’ll note that 1,300 riders had to take a bus shuttle to get all the way to the airport because that final segment won’t be open until December.

Here is a link to the Washington Policy Center’s take on ridership. (It also appears in the comment section).

The center’s points are well taken. The 12,000 “riders” probably is only 6,600 different “people.” But I’m not going to get bent out of shape by that. I don’t think Sound Transit was deliberately distorting the numbers. Rather, the agency was just writing in a language the average person could understand.

Strong ridership during first week of Link light rail service
Link proves popular option for special events

During its first week of regular service Central Link light rail carried an estimated average of 12,000 riders each weekday. Another estimated 16,900 riders took Link on Saturday and 15,100 on Sunday.

"We’re encouraged by the large numbers of people who boarded light rail on opening weekend and have started using it every day,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. “This is a new way to think about getting around our region and we know ridership will continue to increase as more people try the system and we expand the line to more communities.”

Nationally, ridership on new light rail systems ramps up over time as more and more people find out about the service and give it a try. Weekday ridership during the first week was already more than halfway to the level Sound Transit projections show for the end of 2009.

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