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Archives: Oct. 2009


Phantom mailer burns Merritt with false claims in last days of Tacoma mayor’s race

Jim Merritt’s campaign is fuming over an apparently illegal direct-mail political advertisement that showed up in the mailboxes of Northeast Tacoma homes today.Merritt

“This is one of the rottenest hit pieces I’ve ever seen,” said Merritt campaign manager Ronnie Bush.

I just got off the phone with Marilyn Strickland, who said she knew nothing about the ad and that it didn’t come from her campaign.


The mailer claims that because Merritt has already publicly stated his position against a controversial housing development planned for the North Shore golf course, he won’t be able to cast a vote on the issue if he’s elected.

“If Jim Merritt is Mayor, the developer will challenge his `objectivity’ and Mr. Merritt will be removed from the hearing,” the mailer states. “He’ll lose his voice, and his vote.

“Why? Because Mr. Merritt keeps stating his opinion, and so he’ll be considered `prejudiced’ when the Council hears the case.”

The ad cites the “appearance of fairness doctrine” as the governing law on the issue. The law precludes members of decision-making bodies from publicly staking a position on land use decisions before such issues are officially considered.

The development, which has been challenged by a citizens’ group representing hundreds or Northeast Tacoma residents, is now before a city hearing examiner. Ultimately, the hearing examiner’s decision will go before the city council.

Bush claims that she’s checked with an attorney, who has told her that the mailer’s claims are false — Merritt could vote on the issue. A relevant part of state law appears to back up her claim (as does Strickland herself).
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Stimulus job creation numbers trickling out

The federal government is announcing today revised estimates of jobs created by the federal stimulus package, as well as the amount of money spent as of Sept. 30.

We’re still waiting for many of those numbers, but the good old State of Washington has put up a few figures of its own.

About $2 billion in stimulus money went directly to Washington state agencies in the form of program grants, according to the state Office of Financial Management (OFM).

Gov. Chris Gregoire said Thursday that the state money spent so far – $565 million – has created more than 30,000 jobs.

But there’s a caveat on those job creation numbers; 24,000 of them wouldn’t have gone away anyway.

State officials used a chunk of stimulus money to pay 24,000 teachers who were already contracted to finish out the school year. That money came from a pot of stimulus funds given to the state to help offset budget cuts.

Without that funding, the money to pay the teachers would have come out of the state general fund, said Jill Satran, Gregoire’s main adviser on stimulus projects.

That would have meant cuts elsewhere, Satran said, but the job losses that would have resulted from those cuts is difficult to quantify. Few, if any, of the 24,000 teacher jobs would have been among them, Satran said.

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Tea Party bus stopping at fairgrounds today

Anti-tax protesters will rally at the Puyallup fairgrounds today, as the Tea Party Express rolls into town. The bus is stopping here as part of a cross-country tour of the United States, which started this week in California and will wind up Nov. 12 in Florida. The ominous sounding “Countdown toe Judgment Day” tour is in anticipation of next year’s election.

The event starts at 6 p.m. and will feature a speech by KVI talk show host Kirby Wilber and music from three bands. Communications Director Levi Russell didn’t have an exact location of where the rally is taking

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Is $15k contribution to Keven Rojecki the biggest in city campaign history?

Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma thinks so.

Baarsma, (who, by the way, is endorsing Rojecki’s opponent, Victoria Woodards), just told me he thinks the $15,000 independent expenditure to Rojecki’s at-large bid for city council that I reported earlier today is the siMoney bagsngle largest donation he has seen in any municipal race going back decades.

“That’s huge,” Baarsma said of the donation. “That’s never happened before. Ever.”

(I’ve looked through online PDC reports going back over the past several years, and so far haven’t found anything to dispute Baarsma’s thinking.)

Mayor BaarsmaBaarsma, a former political science professor and Tacoma history wonk, said the biggest previous donation in any city race he can think of was dropped into the coffers of his opponent, Harold Moss, in the waning days of the 2001 mayor’s contest.

George Russell donated $5,000 to Moss, who, in turn, put out what Baarsma called a direct-mail “hit piece” against him featuring a cartoon rendering of Baarsma.
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Public employees union buys $15,000 TV ad for Rojecki

UPDATE: (@2:11 p.m)  Cody Arledge, legislative director for Sheet Metal Union Local 66, said the Rojecki ad was funded by his union, as well as by the Washington State Council of Firefighters, the Tacoma Firefighters Union, Kent Firefighters Union and SEIU 775.  These groups have participated in the past in making such donations through the Washington State County and City Public Employees’ PAC, Arledge said.

“For most of us, we’ve been friends of Keven’s for years in the Legislative scene,” Arledge said of the reason for the spot.

For the state firefighters union, Rojecki has been “successful at building coaltions and bringing people together in Olympia,” Arledge added.


A PAC for the state’s biggest public employees’ union recently bought a $15,000 television ad supporting at-large Tacoma City Council candidate Keven Rojecki, state campaign records show.Rojecki

Listed in Rojecki’s campaign finance reports as an independent expenditure (a political action intended to help or oppose a candidate without the candidate’s direct cooperation) from the “Voter Education Committee,” the TV ad apparently began airing on Oct. 26, according to Barbara Corcoran, who is affiliated with the Everett-based PAC.

I haven’t seen the spot (anyone out there who has?), but Corcoran told me today she’ll have Pat Thompson, Director of Legislation/Political Action  for the Washington State County and City Public Employees (associated with AFSCME and the AFL-CIO) give me a call to tell me more about it.

I just spoke by phone with Rojecki, who said he wasn’t aware the ad was coming, but caught it recently while watching the Keith Olbermann show. His wife also saw the ad while watching Monday Night Football.

“I am not entirely sure exactly what it said, because it ran so fast,” Rojecki said. “It basically looked like a support position for me.”
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PDC fines Pierce County auditor candidate Will Baker $300

The Public Disclosure Commission has fined Pierce County auditor candidate Will Baker $300 for a repeat violation of state election laws. It suspended a separate $500 penalty for his most recent violation.

Baker appeared at a commission hearing Oct. 22 to answer a complaint that he had failed to file a candidate registration form and a financial affairs disclosure form for his current campaign for county auditor. Baker skipped an August hearing on the issue, and the commission assessed a $500 fine for the violation.

PDC spokeswoman Lori Anderson said Baker told the commission last week he was not able

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