Word on the Street

The latest news in and around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

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Archives: Oct. 2008


Are you a wheel man/woman?

This morning I went for a bike ride with members of the City Council, Tacoma Pierce Chamber of Commerce, City of Tacoma Public Works Department and the Tacoma Wheelman’s Bicycle Club (including "recovering journalist" Dave Seago).

Small groups of a half dozen people started out in one of three locations from around the city: McKinley Ave. and S. 56th streets, Top Foods and the Metropolitan Market.

I left my house to meet my group at 7:35 a.m. with a sense of dread and a flat tire.

My group consisted of council member Julie Anderson, whose mountain bike also had a flat tire, Seago, David Boe, Rob McNair-Huff, a community liaison for the city, Jessica Holden, who works at the Chamber and brought me a helmet, and a handful of other wheel -men and -women.

What was the point? For the people making the decisions to get firsthand understanding of what it’s like to be a cyclist. The group commute was followed by a meeting in City Hall, where the group of about 30 talked about surprises, problems, questions and possible next steps.

The commute was lovely: The sun was shining, I’m sure birds were chirping, the views on our trip were gorgeous and, except for a brush with an elementary school at drop-off time, the traffic wasn’t so bad.

The problem: When we got to City Hall, there was no place to put our bikes. City buildings don’t have bike racks out front, so we stowed the bikes inside the building.

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The homeless find a connection and help

Larry Robinson was among the first to arrive at the Tacoma Dome early this morning for the day-long Project Homeless Connect.

The second annual event is expected to draw more than 750 of Tacoma and Pierce County’s homeless in search of everything from medical care and housing to haircuts and jobs.

"I’m hoping to work with housing services," Robinson said. The 50-year-old Tacoma man wore a sweatshirt with the hood over his head against the cold. It was only 7:30 a.m. and the doors to the event wouldn’t open until around 9 a.m.

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Free pizza vs. free speech

From reporter Mike Archbold:

I’m heading for the “Republic of Parkland” this afternoon to get a taste of what it would be like not to have our First Amendment freedoms.

A portion of the Pacific Lutheran University campus called Red Square will be roped off from the 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. during the second annual Free Food Festival.

Anyone who wants a free lunch of pizza can get a passport to the Republic of Parkland and eat their fill.

The catch is to get the passport, visitors must sign away their First Amendment rights –

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Your thoughts on the melting economy

In Saturday’s column I railed against the corporate CEOs, CFOs and directors who have taken millions in salaries and bonuses, not to mention extravagant perks, as they steered the businesses toward disaster.

Readers had plenty to say. Here’s a sampling of their e-mails:

Thank you so much for your article! Finally, the confusion, disbelief, and anger that is giving most of us deep hurt in our guts has made it to print. I only wish that it had been the page one headline as well as the lead editorial. The people are really weary of all the hype and sensationalized headlines and accounts of this crass fiasco. I personally feel though, that the members of Congress, much more so than even the CEO’s, are the ones, regardless of the administrations’ party, that are the real culprits. Integrity and responsibility has yet to be a consideration to any of them. Until we all take a much more pro-active effort to make our elected representatives transparent and responsible, the government we get is to a large extent of our own making and the status quo is most likely to continue.
We enjoy your columns very much; keep up the good work.

Gene Beavin
Gig Harbor

P.S. If you haven’t already read it, you may perhaps enjoy Peggy Noonan’s “frisbee” article in yesterday’s WSJ.

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Citizens keep watchful eye on immigration court

Tammy Fitting entered the courtroom promptly at 8:30 a.m. Before the immigration judge sat down, she looked around the windowless room inside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

There wasn’t much to see. It was a standard Monday master calendar hearing last month. Eighteen detainees filled half the seats. Across the aisle, the pews were bare – except for Colleen Waterhouse.

Waterhouse, the chairwoman of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tacoma and Pierce County, has sat in the same spot in the back corner most Mondays over the past three years. She listens, takes notes and fills out stacks of surveys for the National Lawyers Guild’s court watch program.

The forms ask dozens of questions to ensure the judge and Immigration and Customs Enforcement lawyer are providing due process: Has the judge inquired into the detainees’ mental health? Does the government lawyer provide legal advice? Does someone adequately explain the process to the detainees?

"We always try to make sure we have someone here," she said. "We make sure to keep an eye on what’s going on."

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Cancer walk raised $90k for research, awareness programs

More than 1,000 people participated in a three-mile walk through Tacoma’s Stadium District on Saturday to raise funds for breast cancer research and awareness programs. The event raised about $90,000 said Liz Lamb-Ferro, a spokeswoman with the American Cancer Society.

The walk was followed by a celebration at Stadium High School, including a performance from country music group Nathan Chance, which helped raise funds and donated half of its CD sales to the event

Sixty percent of the funds raised will go toward early detection and awareness programs, Lamb-Ferro said, with a particular emphasis on providing mammograms to

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Roy gleaning effort draws volunteers from Seattle

The orchard is just past the Roy, up a hill, past a graveyard and behind a group of five new homes sitting on a cul-de-sac.

For 10 young professionals from Seattle, it was the perfect place to spend a Saturday.

"The weather is great, I’m with friends and, most of all, we’re helping people," said Thomas Buford, a 29-year-old attorney for the Department of Justice.

The group spent much of the day among the 3-year-old apple and prune trees. They donned canvas bibs with giant pockets, filled them with dozens of apples and transported them to cardboard boxes. The fruit is destined for the Emergency Food Network, which will distribute them this week to area charities.

"I want to make a positive impact. That’s why I’m here," said 28-year-old Greg Chiarella, part of the group from a nonprofit called Seattle Works that helps link men and women in their 20s and 30s with various charity efforts. The group meets one Saturday each month for a different task; previous assignments include sorting donations at Goodwill and cleaning a homeless shelter.

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Amphibious haiku

Want to be one of the first people to check out Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s newest exhibit, Animal Avenue?

Time to get the brain crankin’.

The zoo is hosting a frog haiku contest. Winners will be selected in each age category (I’m going for “adult published writer,” hoping that my coworkers won’t read this and enter). Each winner can bring a guest for a behind-the-scenes tour of Animal Avenue. The runner-up gets two free tickets to the zoo or Northwest Trek.

The rules are here.

Here’s my best shot. (OK, it was actually

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