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Archives: Nov. 2010


The apathy capital of Washington state? A triangle of Spanaway just north of the lake

It probably isn’t something most neighborhoods covet. But there it is, a small triangle of unincorporated Pierce County that is the epicenter of voter disinterest.

Voters there are in both the 29th Legislative District and the 9th Congressional District. Both of those districts have the honor of producing the fewest numbers of the voters in the 2010 election.

When they were created following the 2000 Census, all districts contained roughly the same number of residents. That may have changed some in the decade since and new lines will be drawn next year. But it is still an interesting comparison to see how many people in each district bothered to vote.

The 9th Congressional District, represented by U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, produced 225,594 votes. The next lowest voter turnout came in the 4th District of central Washington. But unlike the 9th where Smith had a contested race with Republican Dick Muri, 4th District Rep. Richard “Doc” Hastings had his usual cakewalk.

The turnout champs among congressional districts are the voters of the 8th where 309,877 voters reelected U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert over Democratic challenger Suzan DelBene.

Then there’s the 29th Legislative District. Read more »


Washington voter turnout close to a record, still higher than predicted

Dave Ammons at the Secretary of State’s office sent out the latest – and likely last – update on voter turnout for the 2010 election. It’ll be last because counties must certify results today which means they stop counting.

The total cast will be about 2.56 million out of 3.6 million registered. That’s 71.18 percent, higher than any election since 1970 and well above turnout in the last several mid-term elections.

There are a handful of pending recounts across the state and the final results will be certified Dec. 2.

Here’s the entire memo from Ammons Read more »


Tacoma: City Council asks for $3 to $6 million more in budget trims; proposed power rate hikes likely considered year to year

With the end of budget season in sight, Tacoma’s City Council Tuesday asked City Manager Eric Anderson for options to trim his proposed $401 million spending plan by $3 million to $6 million before approving the city’s 2011-2012 general fund budget.

That means a vote on the budget set for tonight’s regular council meeting won’t happen as scheduled. A date of when it will has yet to be set.

The council also signaled Tuesday that it likely will approve the Tacoma Power Utilities’ budget as proposed, but may only approve planned power utility hikes a year at a time.

Mayor Marilyn Strickland said by approving power rate increases for next year only, the council can come back next fall “to see what the economy is doing,” before deciding if a second-year of rate hikes is necessary.

To balance the city-owned utilities budget, TPU officials had proposed rate increases for water and power customers that range from an average of 5 to 5.7 percent for each of the next two years.

Council members, who are charged with approving the agency’s budget and any utility rate increases, likely will propose different percentage rate increases for both water and power, said Councilman Jake Fey.
Read more »


Flood Control Zone District board meeting moved, rescheduled to 1 p.m. today

The first meeting of the Pierce County Flood Control Zone Board of Supervisors has been rescheduled for 1 p.m. today and moved to the Hess Building at 901 Tacoma Avenue South.

The seven-member Pierce County Council will sit as the board for the newly formed, district.

The meeting originally was set for 9:30 this morning in the County-City Building, but county offices are closed due to snow and ice.

The district’s creation sparked controversy in many cities, with their leaders complaining residents who don’t live in flood-prone areas would be taxed to pay for the district’s work.

Plans now call

Read more »


State Audit supports findings that MLK housing association misspent $1.8 million

A state audit issued today fully supports an accountant’s findings from a year ago that a Tacoma housing nonprofit misspent nearly $1.8 million of public funds for what was supposed to be a Hilltop-based business center that has never materialized.

The audit also for the first time cast some blame on the state’s Commerce Department — the agency that administered the state and federal grants to the Martin Luther King Housing Development Association — for failing to adequately monitor spending and creating the opportunity for the nonprofit to conduct further spending abuses.

A rendering of the MLK business center that never materialized

“We agree with the CPA’s findings and determined the nonprofit used $1.8 million in state and federal grant funds to pay off other loans and to offset operational costs not related to the grants,” said a summary of the report issued today by State Auditor Brian Sonntag’s office.

The audit’s results come more than a year after the Department of Commerce hired an accountant to review state and federal grants spent by the MLK housing group after The News Tribune began detailing widespread financial problems at the agency in 2009.
Read more »


Updated: State budget boss disputes lower revenue forecast

As we reported earlier, the recent state revenue forecast trims $1.2 billion off expected state revenues through June 2013. It also widens the immediate budget deficit by another $385 million that Gov. Chris Gregoire would have to cover with deeper across-the-board cuts or asking lawmakers to speedily enact cuts to cover the deficit which is not about a half-billion dollars.

It also means the shortfall for the next two-year budget has swollen to $5.7 billion and Republicans are calling for a special legislative session to start after Thanksgiving. But Marty Brown, budget

Read more »


Governor declares contracts unfeasible, bringing unions back to table

Following yesterday’s gloomy revenue forecast, Gov. Chris Gregoire will reopen state employee contracts and bring unions back to the table.

“The forecast fell far short of expectations and my budget director, Marty Brown, sent me a memo declaring that collective bargaining agreements and arbitration awards arrived at earlier this fall are financially infeasible,” the governor said. “Based on the revenue forecast and that declaration I am calling those parties to come back to the table.”

Read Rachel LaCorte’s AP story here.

Read response from Washington Federation of State Employees here.

Here’s the governor’s statement:

Gov. Gregoire’s statement

Read more »