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Archives: Nov. 2009


Pierce County will retain e-mails for six years under new records policy

Pierce County will retain employee e-mails for at least six years under a new policy announced today.

County Executive Pat McCarthy said the move makes information contained in county e-mails more accessible to the public.

“I ran (for executive) on open and transparent government,” McCarthy said. “This policy is in keeping with a philosophy of making sure we provide access to information for citizens.”

State law provides public access to most government records. As governments rely more on e-mail, databases and other electronic records, access to those records has become a big issue among open government advocates.

Under a previous policy established in 1999, county e-mails were automatically purged from the county’s computer system 14 days after employees deleted them from their in-box. To save them permanently, employees had to print and file them away.

Under the new policy, the county will electronically store most e-mail messages and attachments for at least six years. After that, they’re purged.

Some messages – like spam and draft e-mails that were never sent – will not be archived. Others will be retained for more than six years.

The county has new archiving software that will make the records easier to search as well as store.

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Pierce council overrides two vetos, chides executive and judges

The Pierce County Council Tuesday voted unanimously to override two vetoes issued by County Executive Pat McCarthy in an ongoing battle over the balance of power among the various branches of county government.

The council voted to override McCarthy’s veto of an ordinance that eliminated the Superior Court seat recently vacated by Judge Michael Hecht. The effect is to reduce the number of Superior Court seats from 22 to 21, despite objections from McCarthy, judges, the prosecuting attorney’s office and the local bar association, all of whom claim the council has overstepped its authority.

“I haven’t seen such a blatantly illegal act in my 25 years in practice,” Judge James Orlando told the council Tuesday.

Council members responded by asserting their authority over the budget and defending the legality of their decision. They also criticized the judges for stonewalling efforts to assess the court’s workload. And they questioned the work ethic of some on the bench.

“There are some judges who are better at their golf game than they are at being a judge,” said Councilman Tim Farrell, D-Tacoma.

The council also voted to override the executive’s veto of an ordinance changing the county’s comprehensive land-use plan. They accused McCarthy of holding up dozens of legitimate zoning and policy changes because of concerns they say she failed to express before the council approved them.

“With all due respect, Executive McCarthy, what were you thinking?” said Councilwoman Barbara Gelman, D-Tacoma.

Tuesday’s votes and harsh words were the latest evidence of tensions among county officials that have been simmering all year.

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Judge signs anti-harrassment order against Hill

A Pierce County District Court judge has ordered a Tacoma man to stay away from former City Councilwoman-turned-Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson for the next year.

Judge Maggie Ross approved on Friday Anderson’s petition seeking a permanent anti-harassment order against well-known local figure, Robert Jesse Hill, court records show. The order remains in effect until November 20, 2010.

Hill, 39, who has a long history of mental illness and various arrests, is restrained from trying to contact or come near Anderson under terms of the order. That includes banning Hill from coming to Anderson’s home, or within 50 feet of

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Julie Anderson sworn in as Pierce County auditor

From the Pierce County communications department:

Nov. 24, 2009

Julie Anderson was sworn in Tuesday, Nov. 24, as Pierce County Auditor.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Kitty-Ann van Doorninck administered the oath of office during a ceremony in a conference room at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma. Anderson thanked the dozens of friends and family in attendance, including her father Donald Anderson and stepmother Sherri Goulet.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Pierce County,” Anderson said. “The campaign messages of hard work and ‘people before politics’ struck a chord

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Cat-fight for council: Feline Facebooks to fill vacancy

In the cat-fight to win appointment to the Tacoma City Council, one candidate is showing his claws:  Stanley the Cat has thrown his collar into the ring, seeking to fill either of two vacancies now facing the council.

Not to be outdone by a host of would-be council-members now campaigning on Facebook, the local feline has his own page on the social networking site devoted to promoting his candidacy:

Dedicated to building support for Stanley the Cat’s bid to fill one of the two vacancies left on the City Council in this dog-eat-dog political world.

In addition, Stanley’s

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Prosecutor: McCarthy’s Superior Court veto is legit

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy’s veto of an ordinance eliminating a Superior Court seat is legitimate, according to a legal opinion issued today.

In a letter to McCarthy, Douglas Vanscoy, chief civil deputy in the prosecuting attorney’s office, writes that McCarthy did not have to sign the returned ordinance in order to make her veto legal. (You can download a PDF copy of the veto here).

Vanscoy’s opinion is the latest salvo in a skirmish that began when the council voted earlier this month to eliminate a Superior Court seat formerly held by Judge Michael Hecht. Counci members cited

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Who wouldn’t want to be Mark Lindquist?

In case you missed it, check out Matt Driscoll’s profile of Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist in the lastest Weekly Volcano.

“Rock fan. Novelist. Screenwriter. Dreamboat. Lawyer and prosecutor. Mark Lindquist is a character fit for one of his own books,” Driscoll writes.

Driscoll recounts Lindquist’s rise to literary stardom and gets to hang with a guy who drinks with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, reviews the latest Nick Hornby novel and has a letter from Kurt Vonnegut hanging in his living room. Reading the story, you wonder who wouldn’t want to be Mark Lindquist. Hell, I’d settle for being

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Pierce County Council may overturn land-use plan veto today

As I reported last week, the Pierce County Council today is expected to discuss how it will respond to County Executive Pat McCarthy’s veto of an ordinance eliminating the Superior Court seat formerly held by Judge Michael Hecht.

But there’s another veto pending before the council that may get action today.

Last month McCarthy vetoed an ordinance adopting numerous changes to the county’s comprehensive land-use plan. The ordinance would rezone individual parcels, but also change some land-use policies.

McCarthy objected to two provisions in the ordinance:

• A policy change affecting criteria for urban growth area expansions

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