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Archives: April 2011


Surviving medical marijuana law includes bad news for dispensaries

With Gov. Chris Gregoire’s partial veto, only a few parts of the medical-marijuana bill will become law.

The one that worries dispensaries most has to do with how they have justified their existence under a voter initiative that doesn’t specifically legalize them.

The stores say they are acting as “designated providers,” a category the initiative created to provide marijuana to patients who can’t grow their own. The law said providers can hand out marijuana to “only one patient at any one time,” but dispensaries say that allows them to take one patient after another, immediately.

The new law appears

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Democratic, GOP party chairmen to speak at City Club

They don’t have occasion to get together very often, but the heads of Washington state’s two major political parties will be in Tacoma next week for a City Club of Tacoma forum.

Republican state Chairman Kirby Wilber and Democratic state Chairman Dwight Pelz will talk politics as lawmakers meet in special session in Olympia and politicos look forward to redistricting and the 2012 gubernatorial and presidential elections. Moderating will be the TNT’s own Peter Callaghan.

Event details:
When: Wednesday, May 4. Reception at 6 p.m.; dinner at 6:45; program at 7.
Where: Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific

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Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoes medical marijuana bill

Gov. Chris Gregoire today officially rejected the Legislature’s proposal to license medical-marijuana dispensaries, saying that having state employees perform that kind of regulation would open the workers up to federal prosecution.

Few parts of the bill survived her veto pen. One major casualty of the debate: arrest protections for patients that Gregoire and even law enforcement groups support. The governor said the parts of the bill she liked were too intertwined with the parts that worried her.

“I will not subject my state employees to federal prosecution, period,” she said.

“My action today takes away absolutely nothing from what that

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McCarthy revokes Washam’s internet posting privileges, alleging assessor is politicking on county website during campaign to recall him

Dale Washam

Dale Washam’s internet posting privileges were stripped away today by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, who says Washam was using the asssessor-treasurer’s website for politicking during a recall campaign against him.

In addition, McCarthy ordered the removal of two items Washam posted over the last several days.

It’s an unusual action and one no one in county government could recall happening before.

McCarthy and Washam are both elected officials, and Washam argued McCarthy didn’t have the authority to rule on what he could and could not put on his department’s website.

County officials couldn’t reach Washam this afternoon; McCarthy notified him of the changes in writing.

In an eight-paragraph memo she sent at 3:25 p.m., McCarthy told Washam she took the actions because he refused to remove online posts “that appear to constitute a misuse of public resources for personal purposes.”

She did so on the advice of Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Doug Vanscoy, and a letter from Vanscoy to Washam was published on the assessor-treasurer’s website.

Under McCarthy’s order, Washam and his staff can create messages for the website, but they can’t publish them without her consent.

“Effective immediately, content you wish to promote must first be reviewed and approved by me and, if necessary, counsel from the prosecuting attorney’s office,” McCarthy wrote.

The ruling will not affect routine business uses of the assessor-treasurer’s website, such as the software that allows users to look up property tax information.

McCarthy’s orders revoking Washam’s internet privileges came following an exchange of e-mails in which she asked him to remove some material and he refused.

“Dale, I did not want it to come to this,” she wrote this afternoon. “Numerous county employees have tried to work with you so that the assessor-treasurer’s office can be as successful as possible. But your recent actions left me no choice.”

If Washam wants to defend his actions or refute the critics who want to recall him from office, he should do it with personal resources, not the county website, she said, adding that she’s open to restoring his “full online access” if an understanding can be reached.

The News Tribune could not reach Washam for comment.

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Gregoire, lawmakers headed toward balancing welfare budget

It looks like Washington’s governor will continue to take the lead in managing the way money is spent on welfare, although lawmakers may be taking a greater role in the process.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Legislature’s budget writers met Thursday and are close to agreement on how to balance the remaining shortfall in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the federal-state welfare program.

It’s largely removed from the discussion of the shortfall in the general-fund budget, but the state has been tackling a separate shortfall in the programs connected to welfare. They were due to spend roughly $2 billion in the next two-year period, which had to be cut down by about one-fifth.

Gregoire did that mostly by placing a five-year lifetime limit on welfare payouts and cutting cash payments — to $478 for a three-person family down from $562, for example. Many Democrats in the Legislature didn’t like her cuts, which fueled an effort to take over control of the welfare budget.

That seems to be over now. The Senate unanimously passed, and the House appears poised to accept at least in part, a bill by Sen. Debbie Regala of Tacoma that would make some reforms right away and appoint a legislative-executive task force to study others.

The deal doesn’t overturn the governor’s cuts, nor does it take her authority away.

“This has historically been a very contentious issue between the Legislature and the governor’s office, and I feel we have really crossed a major threshold,” said Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Lake Forest Park. Read more »


Gregoire signs bill to end TransAlta’s use of coal

Gov. Chris Gregoire put her signature on Senate Bill 5769 this morning in Centralia, bringing to an end a long fight over emissions from the Alberta-based TransAlta’s local coal-fired power plant.

TransAlta plans to build a natural gas facility to replace its coal-based operations. It is closing one coal-fired boiler by 2020 and the other by 2025, and under the bill must install pollution-reducing equipment and spend $55 million in local economic assistance.

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Tacoma police chief reprimanded in Zina case

Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson has reprimanded Police Chief Don Ramsdell for not telling him the department’s spokesman was being paid to be on-call the morning he fell back to sleep instead of issuing an Amber Alert for 12-year-old Zina Linnik.

Anderson also ordered Ramsdell to initiate an internal affairs investigation to determine if spokesman Mark Fulghum violated department policy the morning of July 5, 2007, by taking something to help him sleep. Police department personnel are forbidden from being impaired when on-call, Anderson told The News Tribune this morning. (Click here to see reprimand and related documents.)

Fulghum said in a deposition filed in a wrongful death suit brought against the city and other governments that he took an Advil PM before going to bed about 1 a.m. that day.

“We do not know that he violated policy,” the city manager said. “The issue has been raised.”

Don Ramsdell, Tacoma Chief of Police

The city also will hire an independent, outside consultant to review the way the Police Department investigated Linnik’s disappearance and murder “from beginning to end,” the city manager said.
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Special session update: Day 4

Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to veto the Legislature’s medical marijuana bill today.

The only question is whether she will allow some parts of it to survive. Gregoire says she’s worried the federal government will prosecute state employees if they get involved in regulating marijuana.

Gregoire is also making a trip to the TransAlta plant in Centralia this morning to sign a bill negotiated with the company and environmentalists that aims to wean the state off coal over time.

She’ll be joined by TransAlta CEO Steve Snyder, House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt, who works at TransAlta, and others as

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