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Category: Lakewood


Pierce County districting links: maps, history and past blog posts

I write a bit today about the ongoing redistricting of Pierce County’s seven council districts (the charter uses the term “districting” even if it actually RE-districting).

Since the story is best told with maps, here is a link to the most-recent map as well as some previous versions.

Also, here are links to previous Political Buzz posts on the topic.

June 17 – Pierce Districting Committee gets Map D:

June 12 – Redistricting maps carve up Pierce County in different ways.

June 8 – Latest iteration of Pierce County district lines posted

May 27 –

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Pierce Districting Committee gets Map D: Proposed 7th District puts much of Tacoma with Gig Harbor peninsula

Now it’s all about University Place.

The fourth formal iteration of new Pierce County council districts was presented Thursday night to the appointed Districting Committee. And depending on who was speaking, it is either the best plan presented so far or a shotgun marriage between urban and suburban areas.

Leading the opposition was Pierce County Councilman Stan Flemming who found out after he arrived at the Gig Harbor City Hall meeting that he would no longer live in his current district, No. 7.

“The map has been redesigned at the expense of the people of the 7th District,” Flemming told the committee. “This map addresses all of the concerns of the citizens of the other districts and has completely ignored the concerns of the people of the 7th District.”

Not only did Flemming object to U Place being in the 6th with Lakewood, he argued that Fircrest has nothing in common with Tacoma and should not be in 4th with South and east Tacoma.

Map D for Pierce County Districting

Steven Garrett, the geographer hired as the committee’s districting master, said he must include about 40,000 on the west side of the Narrows to make up a district. His choice is to go north into Tacoma or south into University Place. Since there is some precedent for the district to combine the peninsula with Tacoma and because that allowed the other fixes he was asked to make, he followed that path. Read more »


Pierce County courthouse rumor about political interference with districting committee was a good one (except that it wasn’t true)

Had I heard what Pierce County Council Chairman Roger Bush had done? Had I heard the chairman was concerned that Republican incumbents were being drawn out of their districts and wanted changes made? Had I heard that he summoned the appointed Districting Committee master to go over the proposed districts?

No, I hadn’t heard about that. If true, it would be a problem because while the Pierce County Charter doesn’t use the word “Independent,” it is sort of assumed that the committee that redraws county council districts should be insulated from the politicians.

The committee isn’t non-partisan so much as it is bipartisan. There are two Republicans and two Democrats who then appoint a chair. And since it takes three votes to approve a plan (and four votes to amend maps presented by the appointed master) cooperation is required.

I left a message for Bush and called committee Chairwoman Karen Seinfeld. She wasn’t aware of any meetings between master Steven Garrett and Bush. The committee has had three public hearings and has heard about some concerns with early maps. In each case the committee asked Garrett to find solutions, which he has.

For example, an early draft split Summit and Waller. It also placed Steilacoom, Ketron Island and Anderson Island in a district with Gig Harbor when local leaders thought it fit better with Lakewood and University Place.

While Seinfeld said she isn’t focused on “incumbent protection,” the committee would entertain concerns by elected council members about how new districts effect them. But the proper setting is a public hearing. That’s where Councilmember Dick Muri appeared to talk about the Steilacoom issue.

I reached Garrett Friday afternoon to ask him about the rumored meeting with Bush. He said he wondered why it had taken me so long to call since he too had heard the rumors.

Only one thing. They aren’t true. Garrett said he doesn’t think he has ever met Roger Bush and certainly didn’t spend hours meeting with him about districting plans.

“If such a request came my way, I would decline,” Garrett said. “I’d be uncomfortable with it.” Council members “have a stake in the result, as does the public. They’re welcome to come to the hearings.” Read more »


Who are highest paid employees in Puyallup and Lakewood?

The latest 2010 updates in our SoundInfo searchable public employee pay databases are two mid-sized cities: Lakewood and Puyallup.

(Search data for Lakewood here.)
(Search data for Puyallup here.)

Some observations from a quick sort and averaging of the numbers.

In Lakewood:

• City Manager Andrew Neiditz was the top-paid employee at $164,491, followed by court security police Sgt. John Fraser at $160,178 and community police Sgt. Mark Eakes at $128,088.

• Sixteen out of the top 25 paid employees were in the police department, mostly officers and sergeants making over their base rate of pay. Six-figure pay for rank-and-file officers isn’t uncommon – we’re finding that local cities and counties routinely rely on overtime in their public safety operations.

• Forty-one out of 300-some employees in the database made $100,000 or more. (Thirty-one of those were in the police department.)

• City Council members were paid $8,400, while Mayor Doug Richardson received $10,800

• Average salaries for other job titles: police officer – all types ($88,215), office assistant ($30,252), human resources analyst ($65,253), maintenance worker II ($53,691), code enforcement officer ($56,333), senior planner ($75,934).

In Puyallup:

• The top paid employee was police patrol Sgt. Robert Thompson at $150,781, followed by City Manager Ralph Dannenberg at $150,153

• City Council members made $13,700 while Deputy Mayor Tamara Brouillet made $14,400 and Mayor Kathy Turner made $15,600.

• Pay for some other job titles: corrections officer ($64,526), court clerk ($48,328), fleet services mechanic 2 ($61,840), librarian 1 ($44,780), parks maintenance worker 2 ($52,958), police patrol officer ($95,398).

• Forty-two out of 300 some employees made $100,000 or more last year.

To see a list of the top paid employees for each city, read on.
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UPDATE: Pacific Avenue won’t close until at least June due to Sound Transit project delays

UPDATE: Apr. 12 5:10p.m.: See comments section for clarification.

It was supposed to happen four months ago. But a rail project’s partial shutdown of Pacific Avenue in Tacoma’s Dome District now likely won’t occur for at least two more months, a Sound Transit spokeswoman said today.

“As far as Pacific Avenue, we’re going to end up closing it as early as June,” said Kimberly Reason, a spokeswoman for the regional transit authority. “We haven’t set a specific date yet.”

Reason cited unexpected soil contamination, as well as storm water and sewage drainage issues as causing construction delays on

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Merger of Lakewood, UP fire districts winning approval

Lakewood residents were voting overwhelmingly to dissolve their 70-year-old fire district and merge operations with the University Place Fire Department, according to preliminary returns tonight.

If approved, West Pierce Fire & Rescue would become operational March 1.

Lakewood Fire Chief Ken Sharp would become chief of the new agency. University Place Fire Chief Mitch Sagers would become the deputy chief.

The proposed merger is driven by efficiency. Fire districts rely heavily on property taxes, and these two faced a collective $1.5 million shortfall this year due to the drop in assessed values.

The merger would erase that deficit by eliminating vacant administrative positions, postponing wage increases negotiated by the districts’ five labor unions and saving on supplies.

There would be no reduction in service, officials said.

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