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Port, Tacoma, Pierce County all chip in public money for SR 167 lobbying effort

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on May 8, 2013 at 8:20 am with No Comments »
May 13, 2013 2:09 pm
167 509
The proposed “Puget Sound Gateway” / TNT graphic

Supporters of extending State Route 167 to the Port of Tacoma lobbied for their project throughout state lawmakers’ 105-day regular session and are gearing up to continue in the special session, joining a first-day gathering of transportation advocates Monday at the Capitol.

Business, labor and tribal interests are among the proponents, and so are local governments, who are now disclosing details about how much public money is being devoted to the lobbying effort.

Pierce County filed paperwork last week reporting an $18,000 payment to the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber to help pay for SR 167 advocacy and to retain consultant Tim Thompson to coordinate the campaign.

The Port of Tacoma is chipping in a $30,000 share, a port spokeswoman said. The City of Tacoma’s share is $15,000 but that’s expected to climb to $20,000, of which half would be covered by Tacoma Public Utilities and the other half by the city’s general-government funds, city officials said.

UPDATE 2:30 p.m.: The city of Fife has written a check for $5,000, chamber president Tom Pierson said. Altogether, he said the chamber has more than $70,000 in hand for the lobbying effort, not counting Tacoma’s share that he said he hasn’t yet received. That includes $15,000 received from businesses such as Totem Ocean Trailer Express and $3,500 from labor groups such as longshoremen. Other businesses and unions have made commitments, he said.

The totals don’t show the full scope of the lobbying effort. The SR 167 expansion is a major priority for many groups that have a presence in Olympia separately from the coalition’s campaign, including local governments:

  • In the first three months of 2013, Pierce County reported spending just shy of $50,000 on lobbying, not counting the contribution to the chamber. The county retained lobbyists Michael Shaw, Shawn Bunney and Scott Nelson while also employing in-house government-relations staffers Jennifer Joly and Brynn Brady. County Executive Pat McCarthy often traveled to Olympia, too, meeting with the governor in his first month in office and testifying in front of committees.
  • The city of Tacoma also spent nearly $50,000 separately from its share of the coalition, and TPU tacked on another $35,000. Those totals included pay for contract lobbyists connected to the law firm Gordon Thomas Honeywell and a government-relations staff that includes the city’s Randy Lewis and the utilities’ Robert Mack and Lisa Rennie. City Council members testified and Mayor Marilyn Strickland has met with the House speaker and others.
  • Puyallup, another city with an interest in finishing the highway, spent more than $12,000, including to retain contract lobbyist Doug Levy.
  • The Port of Tacoma spent more than $16,000 on lobbying, including retaining contract lobbyist Lisa Thatcher.

UPDATED 5/13: The lobbyists work for the law firm’s sister organization and lobbying arm, Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs.

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