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Archives: March 2010


Some boards slashed, others escape

Legislators eliminated 45 state boards in a law Gov. Chris Gregoire signed Monday.

It was more than the 18 boards lawmakers trimmed from the state budget last year, though short of what Gregoire asked for.

Lawmakers have now eliminated nearly as many as Gregoire herself has cut through executive action. Together, they have killed off somewhere in the neighborhood of 130 boards from a list that originally included 470 of the fast-multiplying bodies.

The cost of the boards is minimal compared to a $2.8 billion budget shortfall, since many meet infrequently and pay only the expenses of their members. And legislators took some of the more expensive boards off the chopping block. The new law is expected to save about $3.3 million over the next five years.

A few of the winners and losers:

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T-Town is No. 2 in something


Showing why you don’t pick a fight with someone in Spokane — there’s not a lot to do over there, so plenty of time to put all these charts together — our friends at Spin Control fire back that while Tacoma lags in population, it’s Washington’s Second City when it comes to crime rates.

Tacoma never has shied away from its gritty image, so the real surprise is: No. 2? To Everett?

But my research shows that on another measure of a city’s dangerousness, the No. 1 crown goes to Spokane.

It’s Washington’s drunkest major city,

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Pierce County assessor employee resigns, cites “intolerable” working conditions

Dale Washam

A supervisor who accused Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam of discrimination and retaliation will resign this week, citing intolerable working conditions.

Administrative officer Sally Barnes submitted her resignation in a letter to Washam dated March 16. The resignation is effective Wednesday.

“The working conditions in the Assessor-Treasurer’s Office have been intolerable for more than a year,” Barnes wrote to Washam. “The only reasonable choice you leave me with is to depart employment.”

Barnes has declined to comment in the past and could not be reached for comment this week. You can download a PDF copy of her resignation letter here.

Barnes’ resignation is the latest evidence of conflict between Washam and some of his employees.

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Flood insurance pool allowed

A law Gov. Chris Gregoire signed Monday at Auburn Senior High School aims to protect businesses in the Green River Valley from flooding.

Companies across the state could end up paying for future flood damage in the area threatened by weakness in the Howard Hanson Dam.

The measure gives the state insurance commissioner authority to create state-run flood insurance for businesses. “In the worst of times for them, they’re going to be able to get the opportunity to keep their doors open and their shingles out,” Gregoire said.

Insurance companies and their business policyholders would potentially be on the hook for damage claims.

The governor, who attended Auburn High, recalled staying home from school nearly every year without fail because of flooding.

Gregoire also Monday signed a series of major changes to the education system, including the Race to the Top bill that I wrote about in today’s paper.

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Gregoire offering new tax ideas; banks, soda are possibilities

Gov. Chris Gregoire says she has suggested to lawmakers new ideas for raising more tax revenues in an attempt to break the impasse keeping legislators in Olympia. That includes renewed pushes for some tax proposals that had fallen by the wayside in negotiations.

Gregoire would particularly like to see legislators tax soda pop and limit the tax exemption banks get for home mortgages. And she has suggested some ways those proposals could be changed to allay concerns, she told reporters today at Auburn Senior High School.

“We’re offering up some alternatives,” Gregoire said.

Gregoire suggested an excise tax on

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Pierce County to borrow $24.3 million for road projects

Pierce County is preparing to borrow $24.3 million to pay for road construction in Frederickson and the Gig Harbor area.

The County Council’s rules committee approved plans to borrow the money on Monday. The full council is expected to follow suit next month.

The county plans to borrow the money to pay for several projects:

• Widening 176th Street East to five lanes from Waller Road to 51st Avenue East.

• Widening Canyon Road to six lanes from 172nd Street East to 160th Street East.

• Widening Wollochet Drive Northwest to up to five lanes from 40th Street Northwest to East Bay Drive Northwest.

• Replacing the 176th Street bridge over the railroad tracks between 51st and Canyon.

• The county also will use some of the money for engineering and right of way acquisition costs for widening 176th from Waller Road to B Street.

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Sam Reed’s return to work is in sight

His kidney removal surgery went so well last week that Secretary of State Sam Reed could be back at work in the office as soon as next week.

Reed is expected to make a cameo appearance at the Legislative Building on Friday when Egil “Bud” Krogh of Watergate “plumbers” infamy is in town for a brown-bag lunch at Reed’s office.

The 69-year-old Republican secretary of state has been recovering at home in Olympia since late last week. He underwent surgery on March 22 at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle to remove a cancerous left kidney, and follow-up tests found

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Yes, you may fill out your Census form before April 1 – in fact, Uncle Sam wants you to

The Census form is very clear. Right there at the top, it asks how many people are living in your household on April 1.

So why, when April 1 is still three days away, are those folks at the Census pushing people to fill out their questionnaires and mail them back before Thursday?

A sharp-eyed News Tribune reader wants to know.

And while we’re on the subject, where are the Census forms for people in Eatonville – or other places – who have only P.O. boxes and no home mail delivery?

The short answers, according to local Census Bureau spokeswoman Cecilia Sorci, are:

• Yes, it’s OK to fill out your Census form and send it in now, even though the questionnaire uses an April 1 count date.

• Census forms are coming to rural residents who don’t get mail on their porch or at the street, but they’ll be hand-delivered and it may take some time. If you haven’t received your form, expect it within a few days.

Both questions were posed to The News Tribune reader representative by subscribers. Each asked that her name not be published.

“The form says the count is to be taken as of April 1,” one reader said. “What if you fill it out before then and there’s a change?”

The reader said she knew of some people would could die before April 1, and that would change the count.

April 1 is officially designated Census Day, the official reference point for the every-10-year snapshot of the U.S. Population, officials say.

But it’s not a hard-and-fast fill-out-the-form date, Sorci said. Forms went out earlier this month to 120 million American households.

“The reality is that most people’s households are quite stable and they know who will be in their homes come April 1,” she explained.

“But if you do anticipate that your household numbers will change by April 1, if someone’s gravely ill or if someone’s expecting a child or if you’re planning to move, then by all means, wait until April 1 to fill it out and send it back.”

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