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Fredo's Roundtable: Tacoma Council District 1 Candidates forum

by fredo
on 8/2/2011 @ 10:33am
I'm inviting the four candidates for the 1st District council seat to join in a discussion of the issues facing Tacoma and the direction the city should be moving in the next few years. The primary election is 2 weeks from today, so that should give plenty of time for views to be exchanged and perhaps engage the candidates in a way that isn't done in the News Tribune or in the Local voters pamplet.

The candidates for this office are:

Joe Atkinson
Anders Ibsen
Carl Alexander
Karen Smitherman

I'm going to ask that people posting on this thread try to stay on topic and be respectful. Keep your questions brief and please don't hi jack the discussion.

All the candidates are in favor of accountability and transparency, so I think we can move past the superficiality. What are Tacoma's problems and what are the solutions? Let's have a fun and informative discussion which will lead to an exciting primary election on August 16, 2011.

by Urban E on 8/2/2011 @ 10:48am
I'd like to know if any of the candiates support a $20 or higher car tab tax to fund road improvments and to start actually building a streetcar network?

by NineInchNachos on 8/2/2011 @ 11:03am
1. Is Clear Channel compromise really a Sugar Coated Satan Sandwich?

2. Do you support 'gaze' in the military?

3. Should we extend the to all minority groups?

4. Should chickens be permitted to take arsenic-laden dirt baths?

5. Do you support arts commission grants for local cartoon organizations?

6. Will you allow Kevin to install a web cam in your shower?

7. Would you consider as the 'super best' blog in Tacoma?

by TDI-Reporters-Notebook on 8/2/2011 @ 11:49am
(adding to R. R.'s list)

8. How can a magazine calling itself 'City Arts Tacoma' exist when its actual Tacoma content is little-to-none? If elected, will you fight to have the city's name removed from the title of the magazine?

9. If elected, will you make regular visits to the offices to make sure everyone is still alive and OK?

by NineInchNachos on 8/2/2011 @ 11:57am
10. Yes can somebody shake a TPD spokesperson out of his/her on-the-clock advil pm slumber to arrange a courtesy check on and also maybe The New Takhoman?

11. Should established local best blogs be going Galt ?

by NineInchNachos on 8/2/2011 @ 12:09pm
12. Is it moral for a cartoon creator to 'cut off' a cartoon creation after it is revealed in 3rd party fan fiction... FAN FICTION... that your cartoon creations may or may not be lovers? ANDERS IBSEN I DEMAND A REPLY.

by fredo on 8/2/2011 @ 12:24pm
I've spoken to all the candidates except Karen and think we will get some good participation. Keep the questions coming, but just a reminder, keep the thread drift to a minimum. If it doesn't have anything to do with the city council election it doesn't belong here.

I'll add a question of my own for all the candidates:

On numerous occasions in the last few years the city council has elected to dispense voting advice to the Tacoma voters.

Question, in your opinion should the council give voting advice?

by Anders on 8/2/2011 @ 1:54pm
Well, hello everyone! And thanks to Fredo for taking the initiative to call me this morning. I can't say no to a citizen in need, especially one I have doorbelled twice. :-)

Here are some answers to get your town hall started:

Urban E's question: Yes, I support the $20 car tab to fund infrastructure improvements like street repair, and longer-term enhancements like street cars. I think a revenue package needs to be balanced between different sources in order to spread the burden and ensure maximum long-term stability, however.

RR's and TDI's questions:

1. As our attorney friends and fellow urbanists Doug Schafer and Erik Bjornsen point out, there is no "deal" with Clear Channel. It doesn't matter if they agreed to a settlement, since the council did not actually vote to ratify what they "signed." I look forward to our city modernizing its code to completely ban digital billboards, and expunge non-complying static billboards. You'll have to ask Clear Channel about the flavor of their sandwiches, satanic or otherwise.

2. I am totally pro-gaze, military or otherwise.

3. As you may know, our current curfew ordinance makes an exception for youth engaging in 1st Amendment activities like free speech or association. I for one smell a promotional opportunity. That means anyone wearing a t-shirt saying "I object to the curfew" can walk around downtown whenever they please, regardless of their age. Think of the marketing potential!

4. If chickens want to take arsenic dirt baths, they should work at Point Ruston.

5. Absolutely. I want a Friends of CLAW fez hat.

6. Que?

7. They would help their own cause if they started regularly featuring Tacomics.

8. Absolutely. I'll get right on it.

9. Absolutely. I'll get right on it.

10. TPD presence on the blogosphere is a great idea. In all seriousness I'd be happy to suggest the idea to my cop friends if elected.

11. 'Who is John Galt?'

12. As a Friend of CLAW-aspirant, I wholly support the natural rights of cartoonists to do with their creations whatever they please, irrespective of 3rd party fan fiction.

Fredo's question: Depends on what you mean by voting advice. If that means being a vocal advocate for the policies I believe in, then absolutely. I think this is going to be especially meaningful for the upcoming Charter Review Commission, whose recommendations have to ultimately be decided by the voters. Overall, if I think a ballot measure is good, and will benefit my constituents, you can be pretty sure I'll be "advising" my friends and neighbors to vote for it.

by fredo on 8/2/2011 @ 2:59pm
Anders, I'll give you an examples of the council giving voting advice. About a year ago the council advised Tacomans to vote for higher sales taxes to benefit Pierce County Transit. This was a county issue. Before that they allowed themselves to be photographed in front of the municpal building holding "Marilyn Strickland for Mayor" signs.

You say if it's for "the policies I believe in" that council voting advice is OK, absolutely. So that means you oppose the council giving voting advice unless it favors your position. Is that pretty much it?

by Carl on 8/2/2011 @ 3:19pm
Hi everyone! This is my first post on a blog so bear with me, thank you

No, I would not support the $20 car tab “tax” and I am pretty sure that it not be an issue coming up before the council.

1. I am not necessarily totally opposed to digital billboards, there are places where they could be used effectively. Where I am opposed to them is along heavily trafficked streets as they pose too large of a distraction as all of the surveys show.
2. Has this not already been on a federal level, mute issue.
3. Thank you for informing me that minorities were not included in the curfew, but I still have not found that particular section.
4. If I remember correctly funds were dispersed to clean up the arsenic-laden dirt baths, the ones that may exist now might be from those who took the funds but left the bath.
5. I think grants are more of case by case basis, if you are planning on submitting a cartoon for the grant, feel free to apply.
6. Am more of a private person and see no reason scare everyone.
7. I believe the good, better, best rating system is up to the viewer.
8. Is this to include all businesses that have “Tacoma” in the name?
9. I thought that was your job.
10. I am not sure if a blog post is the right forum for TPD to voice their opinions or concerns.
11. I would love to have a discussion with John; can you have him give me a call?
12. Sorry, I have no idea what you are talking about.

There are pro/con sides to every issue no matter what it is. If I am asked for my personal advice or opinion about an item, you shall get it. If the Council has moved to get an issue on the ballot odds are they are in agreement with it. I think it comes down to is whether the council is passing on a summary of what they have determined during session, I would then like to see that advice.

Thank you Fred for clarifying your prior question. I believe that the Council as an entity should only indorse one way or the other City issues, privately they can indorse anything they desire.

by fredo on 8/2/2011 @ 3:36pm
Thanks Carl and Anders for your informative responses. Please keep checking in for new comments/questions from Tacomans. Carl you did great on your first blog post, you're an official feedTacoman!

by NineInchNachos on 8/2/2011 @ 3:43pm
Carl and Anders are both awesome for participating and I admire their sense of humor (which they will need to survive on the council, not kidding)

However, I wonder if Carl's heart is up to the task. Case and point: Siro Manthou is laid up with a bum ticker because of the Clear Channel psychic attacks and or witchcraft. Anders is the safe choice. He's young, full of life.. active.


by fredo on 8/2/2011 @ 3:49pm
I suppose that the health of the candidates is of legitimate concern to the voters. Perhaps the 4 candidates could indicate if they have any health problems which might compromise their ability to serve a four year term.

by KevinFreitas on 8/2/2011 @ 3:57pm
Thx @fredo for putting this together and for the candidates for their thoughtful (and fun!) responses. A great local exercise in participation. Now to think of some questions of my own...

by fredo on 8/2/2011 @ 3:58pm
Here are 2 additional questions I'd like to ask each candidate to answer:

1. Do you intend to serve for the full 4 year term or are you inclined to jump ship if a more interesting elective position becomes available for you?

2. Are you, or anyone you are closely related to, a government employee, pensioner, or affiliated with any city employee or business which might come in contact with the city?

by NineInchNachos on 8/2/2011 @ 4:11pm
Fredo can you also arrange round table with Robert Hill and Will Baker ? We need these guys on the feed.

by fredo on 8/2/2011 @ 5:29pm
that's a good suggestion nachos. How about we wait until the primary election is over, then I'll start roundtables for all the council positions? I'd like Hill and Baker to participate as well.

by NineInchNachos on 8/2/2011 @ 5:40pm
13. Ok serious question: How do we make Tacoma more appealing place to live for armed forces service people?

by Anders on 8/3/2011 @ 12:39am
Fredo: I mean that councilmembers enjoy the right to free speech just like any other citizen. I have no problem with councilmembers advocating for transit service (which, by the way, affects thousands of District 1 residents - many of whom live in our four major nursing homes), or a preferred candidate, or any other political issue.

A councilmember has the same right to "advise" people as RR does in his Tacomics. If anything, I think elected leaders have a greater obligation to use the authority of their office to mobilize public opinion behind good policies (like say, the idea of a street car system).

Now onto your two other questions:

1. Yes, I intend to serve a full term if elected.

2. No in all instances.

RR, # 13: The key is affordable housing and quality of life. Service members are dedicated to the community, but they're not rich. If we want to attract them to live in Tacoma, we have to ensure that there are safe, clean and vibrant communities where they and their families can afford to live. That means continuing to invest in the city services that make our city attractive, and working proactively with private sector actors to incentivize a balanced mixture of income levels for future developments.

by Anders on 8/3/2011 @ 12:40am
By the way, nice questions and format, everybody.

And welcome, Carl!

by fredo on 8/3/2011 @ 5:56am
Anders, you say you advocate making life in Tacoma affordable. Yet in this thread you've also claimed that you favor increasing the cost of car tabs and increasing the sales tax.

How does increasing the cost of living in Tacoma make life more affordable?

by KevinFreitas on 8/3/2011 @ 7:26am
14. What's the last movie you saw?
15. How might you help encourage/foster local spirit towards bringing neighbors and community together to help breed a better sence of Tacomaness?

by Urban E on 8/3/2011 @ 8:14am
1. How much time is to long for a city to sit on propety and continue to lose money while waiting for some magical economy to improve?
2. Do you feel that Charter Schools would be a better use of education dollars?

by fredo on 8/3/2011 @ 10:17am
16. Do you favor raising the B&O tax threshold or removing the B&O tax in it's entirety so that Tacoma might attract some new employers?

by Rick Jones on 8/3/2011 @ 10:36am
Fredo's #16 actually excited me about Eric Anderson. He wasn't on the job for two weeks when he suggested eliminating the B & O. Of course it was a trial balloon that didn't get more than 30' off the ground...

by The Jinxmedic on 8/3/2011 @ 10:37am
#13? Stop freakin' protesting the troops when they attempt to move equipment through the Port of Tacoma. Believe me, they don't see it as a protest against policy- they see it as a direct "in your face" attack on their service and sacrifice. Yes, I will get worked up about this one- I have been there.

by The Jinxmedic on 8/3/2011 @ 10:41am
#12- You thought I was serious? The only one in this town that takes RR's "attacks" seriously is Jeremy Gregory, which is too bad- because we would really like to have him in CLAW. His stuff is awesome. (No offense intended, RR) By the way, today's strip went up as scheduled. :-)

by Rick Jones on 8/3/2011 @ 10:42am
17. What about the Prairie Line Trail and moving the end of it so United Way can have more surface parking?

18. What's your take on the garbage collection pilot plan that going to run in two areas in Tacoma?

19. Any thoughts about relocating the current residents of the Winthrop so it can return to a hotel or other commercially relevant property?

20. Should the city give Pleasants and Moses as much time as they need to put together financing for the new building north of the Elks?

by NineInchNachos on 8/3/2011 @ 11:03am
good questions Rick Jones! Hope to see more of you round the feed.

by NineInchNachos on 8/3/2011 @ 11:04am
Jeremy Gregory has been stellar lately. I feel bad for making fun of his cartoons. Seriously!!!

by Jesse on 8/3/2011 @ 12:07pm
I would like to see a candidate outline goals and timeframes for their administration. Something like: "My goal is to have a new leg of streetcar from 9th to MLK opening by August 2013 with a cost of no more than $20M a mile", for example. A list of goals and timeframes similar to this format.

In fact, if you are running for office, you should already have this.

by fredo on 8/3/2011 @ 1:14pm
Jesse, I agree with you. I would like to see more candidates actually provide some kind of vision for the city. This is even more important in races like Tacoma City Council where the offices are non-partisan and the voters may not know where the candidate falls on the political spectrum.

On the current city council I would say we have 6 councilmembers who are liberal or extremely liberal, and 3 members who are middle of the road but who lean liberal. There is no strongly conservative voice, IMO.

Read the campaign literature and the voters guide carefully. I discovered that none of the 4 candidates actually says anything of substance, it's almost all boilerplate fluff. That's why I launched this round table: to try to flesh out the candidates real thoughts a bit.

by NineInchNachos on 8/3/2011 @ 1:21pm
whats the bold font ratio sir?

by panachronic on 8/3/2011 @ 2:09pm
Totally. Freakin'. Awesome.

Thank you, candidates!

by Carl on 8/3/2011 @ 2:36pm
Ninel: I appreciate the comment on the sense of humor, although some have said mine can be a bit dry.

Regarding the health and psychic powers, if you are aware of something please let me know in time to change my life insurance. BTW: If psychic attacks and or witchcraft are used, I do not think age would be an issue.

Fredo: 1. I hope so, unless Ninel gets back to me with some additional information.

2. Well I have pulled many building permits from the City over the years while doing design work, so I suppose you could say that I did business with the City, but to my knowledge I have no relatives working for the City in any capacity.

Ninel: 13. I believe it already does appeal to many service people. Since I moved here in 69� the majority of people I met were service people who had been stationed at either McCord or Fort Lewis and had moved back here after finishing their tour. I used to wonder if there were any natives here although I did find a few. But to answer your question, I do not believe in increasing services that support a few will help a family decide to move here, what does is the general nature of the community,

Kevin: 14. True Grit

15. People need to get more involved, get out and meet their neighbors

Urban: 1. Confused by the question, do you have a particular piece of property in mind? Each piece of property is different vacant land, office building etc. Some of the vacant sites are used for neighborhood gardens, parking areas, parks. Also what do you mean by losing money, that is more of a business term, how is City losing? Are you saying that all excess City property should be sold and developed so the City could then benefit from the property taxes? Are you talking about maintenance on an older building? Economy going up and down is not magical, but is the general cycle of supply and demand, Tacoma has been through many cycles in the past and will do so in the future.

2. No, we just need to spend the dollars we have more wisely.

Fredo: 16. B&O tax needs to be looked at as in how it is assessed; a flat tax on a gross amount for a company operating on a low profit margin may cause the company to look elsewhere for a business location.

Rick: 17. I tend to believe change order might make that project even more expensive than it already is.

18. Any ways of improving collection is a worthwhile endeavor, let us see what happens with the trial.

19. Do you have room for them?

20. I have seen development deals that have taken years to put together and not all get done even after that amount of time. Are you saying that the City should put a time limit on the project to force it through? Doing this may kill the project and then we are in a longer waiting game to get someone else to jump in.

Jesse: A streetcar going point A to point B has never made much sense to me. What value would be gained from going from 9th to MLK? A circular track to some of the small business districts of Tacoma would be a far better project. Rough example downtown to 6th south on Mildred east on 19th, south on Mason, east on Center back to downtown. One of this size should come in under the 20M a mile but even using that number we should be able to have a full circle ride for a reasonable fare. This would benefit most of Tacoma, not just downtown. It would be a landmark for the area as well as help all of the local communities. It would save people the parking fees at different events enabling them to afford to attend more events. It would help all the businesses along the corridor, I think that many would use it as a day trip, have lunch in restaurant, shop different stores and have diner elsewhere with no concern of parking along the way.

by Carl on 8/3/2011 @ 2:43pm
Ninel: 13. I forgot to mention of the few natives I found, I married one

by NineInchNachos on 8/3/2011 @ 3:05pm
I support streetcar loops too!

by Jesse on 8/3/2011 @ 3:45pm
I agree Carl -- mostly. My example was just one pulled from the first thing I thought of. The current streetcar stops at 9th and I'm pretty sure the plan is to go up stadium way to MLK.

But if I were actually giving my two cents on streetcar, I'd like to see the original cable-car loop restored in conjunction with the MLK LID and the continuation of LINK to MLK. However, Portland does streetcar for $15m a mile while we're likely to pay $80m making my idea a virtual pipe dream.

by NineInchNachos on 8/3/2011 @ 3:47pm
All of the military port protesters are anarchist infiltrators from Olympia.

by The Jinxmedic on 8/3/2011 @ 3:59pm
Those Olympia anarchist infiltrators spend enough time screwing up their own city. Let's either keep them out of ours, or put them on trains to Portland.

by The Jinxmedic on 8/3/2011 @ 4:03pm
Regarding Link extension- If the Salishan people didn't have all those fancy new cars, the Portland Avenue extension would make more sense for ridership potential. Just think- that would be a straight shot from downtown to the Emerald Queen Casino, too! (The street car could be powered by the Clear Channel digital billboards that already exist on the reservation there.)

by NineInchNachos on 8/3/2011 @ 4:34pm
Say Carl doesn't make it on the City Council this time around. Why waste that talent ? Let's recruit him into the Tacoma Citizens Auxiliary City Council !

As the representative of The Hyperspace District I put forward the motion.

by JesseHillFan on 8/3/2011 @ 6:28pm
NiN I left a message on Mr Hill's answering machine asking to come to this site and have either you or Fredo interview him.I also mentioned that you (RR) left a message on his Facebook page too inquiring an interview as well.Hope that he contacts you back.

by NineInchNachos on 8/3/2011 @ 7:12pm
Hill Watch:

by Joseph Atkinson on 8/3/2011 @ 10:42pm
Thank-you Fredo for putting this forum together. I apologize for not getting on it sooner, things have been really busy. I'll make my best attempt to answer some of these questions now.

Running for office has been a great experience for me that has truly opened my eyes up to a wide array of viewpoints and issues.

I'll answer a couple of questions briefly and will encourage folks to call if you want elaboration. It's a critical time, and as a person with a young family who works full-time and is running a business, time is tight at this moment (especially with the dozens of calls I get every day).

To quickly answer Fredo's first questions we need people, jobs, and families. We need smart development and growth. We need a stable tax base, and not new taxes in this time when the middle class is squeezed. As a homeowner who has lost over 70K in value (without a property tax reduction) who just took a 3% paycut and lost 20% of my business income, I strongly disagree with the notion that more regressive taxes and fees with help the working man. I am willing to 'ask' the people if they want to pay taxes to fix roads, but if we keep taxing on these extra pet projects to a new tax, the people will reject it. Just look at the lack of leadership in Pierce Transit. I asked Jake Fey at a West End Neighborhood Council meeting if the Transit Board was going to come back to the table with a more reasonable tax proposal, and got a solid 'no'. That's lack of leadership, and the people who ride buses are suffering. If we are going to have the audacity to ask for tax increases, we need to do it in a smart and reasonable way. I do not favor a multi-regressive tax approach that will hurt my middle-class neighbors in the height of this recession for an optional expenditure.

Voting advice? I agree that individuals can do as they please as long as they are not using government resources. Taking a picture in front of city hall is questionable and risky. Was it an ethics violation? Probably not.

Veterans? First off we need to listen to the VFW's and people who served this country with honor. I will do 'all' I can to honor them in this are where so many live. Tacoma can do much better. I have more on this, but am saving it.

4 year term? It would be my honor.

Last movie? CARS 2 in the theater with my little boy. I've been too busy, and that was the first in about a year. At home, Blood Diamond, Sunshine, Pandorum. I love sci-fi books and movies. Plus Leo DiCaprio is sooo hot!

Remove B&O Tax? That is unrealistic in the short term to remove that inequitable tax. However, I would like to see us initiate a threshold increase for companies who are multiple job creators to start. Let's send a message that we value 'all' businesses.

And to my own point, I believe in balance. I don't believe in giving any interest group everything they want while ignoring another.

Of course there are many more questions, but my wife is getting mad. Thanks to my other candidates for taking part in this forum, and my patrons for the great questions.

Gotta run,

by fredo on 8/4/2011 @ 7:07am
Joe, thanks for your comment. I'm sure a lot of voters in the district are following the discussion here at feedtacoma. After all the primary election is in just 12 days! Please check in for more questions/comments.

I'm a little concerned that you may not have the time to serve on the city council, Joe. You mentioned several times how busy you are, but as a council member you are going to be expected to give more of your time and attention then you are now. Is it going to be OK with your wife when you spend every Tuesday until late at night for four years down at city hall?

For readers who wonder what happened to Karen Smitherman, I have some bad news. I've left messages on her phone but haven't actually made contact. I won't give up...I'll never give up.

by NineInchNachos on 8/4/2011 @ 8:04am
yes thanks for taking time out of your busy busy schedule to participate in a public forum with minds interested in your campaign. Did you type your whole comment with one hand on the keyboard and the other hand in front of your face staring intently at your wristwatch ? Hold on I'm getting a phone call... it's David Koch... he says he liked CARS 2 also.

by Mofo from the Hood on 8/4/2011 @ 8:05am
If everyone noted in this forum had participated after inhaling stuffed Zig Zag paper, would the resulting content look any different?...

by fredo on 8/4/2011 @ 8:27am
Interesting observation mofo. Could some of the questions and responses be a little more coherent and focused? Probably.

But I'll put the content of this thread up against the content provided in the News Tribune, the candidates glossy brochures, and the nearly worthless voters pamphlet. There is no other forum for this type of candidate examination. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Kevin for setting up the preeminant community driven website.

I think we will be seeing more information on this thread from the candidates who are serious about getting their message out as the voting deadline approaches. Those who don't wish to participate make that decision at their own peril.

by The Jinxmedic on 8/4/2011 @ 8:31am

by Mofo from the Hood on 8/4/2011 @ 8:32am

An unelected city councilman has invited all current members and hopeful candidates to an impromptu toga party. Entertainment will include non-stop movies featuring Leo DiCaprio.

by fredo on 8/4/2011 @ 9:17am
I'd like to ask readers to come up with questions you'd like the district 1 candidates to answer. Here's mine:

21. At a time when there is insufficient city funding for basic street and infrastructural repair/maintenance should we be spending money on pet projects?

by NineInchNachos on 8/4/2011 @ 9:21am
please get the nice old lady to answer some questions here too. I would like to venn diagram all the candidates based on responses here for my next Tacomic.

by Carl on 8/4/2011 @ 10:17am
Fredo: After reading this feed as well as some others I came across a comment that you liked simple answers.

21. NO

by fredo on 8/4/2011 @ 10:21am
bravo...a straight shooter.

OK, the ball is in your court Anders, Joseph, and Karen.

What are your answers, YES or NO?

by NineInchNachos on 8/4/2011 @ 11:34am
one of Marty's pet projects is fixing the potholes. DO U SUPPORT A RECALL OF MARTY CAMPBELL !?

by fredo on 8/4/2011 @ 11:50am

Pet Project (n)

1.A project, activity or goal pursued as a personal favorite, rather than because it is generally accepted as necessary or important.

My question #21 assumes that people agree on the meaning of "pet project" as shown above. If you have a different meaning for pet project or if Marty does maybe you could provide it to us. Maintaining the streets is generally accepted as necessary so it would not be considered a pet project. It's an open discussion so I suppose it's OK to ask the candidates if (#22) they are in favor of recalling Marty Campbell?

by Anders on 8/4/2011 @ 2:31pm
Fredo: "Anders, you say you advocate making life in Tacoma affordable. Yet in this thread you've also claimed that you favor increasing the cost of car tabs and increasing the sales tax.

How does increasing the cost of living in Tacoma make life more affordable?"

Answer: Because if we neglect basic services, life will become less affordable anyway. The real question is, do we want to pay upfront for the services and infrastructural improvements that will build the long-term wealth of our community, or do we want to pay further down the road in the form of blight, higher crime, unemployment and business losses?


14. What's the last movie you saw?

Answer: Deathly Hallows Pt. 2. Wasn't too bad.

15. How might you help encourage/foster local spirit towards bringing neighbors and community together to help breed a better sence of Tacomaness?

Answer: More community events like National Night Out, for example. The first step towards fostering any kind of community is getting people out of their homes and face-to-face with their neighbors. Food and festivities is a good first step.

Urban E:

1. How much time is too long for a city to sit on property and continue to lose money while waiting for some magical economy to improve?

Answer: The city must obviously be as proactive as possible in encouraging the development of vacant properties. Besides working collaboratively with developers and property owners, the best long-term strategy is continuing to invest in the services and infrastructure that make the entire city attractive and livable. A safe, beautiful and well-maintained neighborhood is a place where people will want to live and invest; a blighted, crime-ridden neighborhood full of potholes is not.

2. Do you feel that Charter Schools would be a better use of education dollars?

While education policy is not within the purview of city government, my personal feeling on this issue is that charter schools are not an effective use of public dollars. I'm fine with private schooling (I went to St. Pat's for most of my primary years), just don't spend our tax money on it. If you want to talk further about the topic, you can just send me a personal message or email me at


16. Do you favor raising the B&O tax threshold or removing the B&O tax in it's entirety so that Tacoma might attract some new employers?

Answer: I agree that the B&O tax is unfair, in that it taxes gross income rather than net income. At the same time, the practical reality is that the B&O tax supplies a quarter of the city's revenue, funding important services like street repair and police protection for example.

And honestly, the economic impact of taxes on job creation is extremely over-rated. Seattle's B&O tax rate is twice ours in some cases; why aren't they hemorrhaging businesses? Why did they steal Russell away from us, even though we created a separate financial institutions B&O tax bracket in which they paid close to nothing?

Ultimately, demand creates jobs, not tax cuts. If it's still a bad business climate, then getting a little savings in tax money won't prompt business owners to hire extra people. And those tax breaks will ultimately lead to service cuts, which usually means public sector layoffs. That means increased unemployment, which is only worse for local businesses because that makes demand even lower. The key to reversing this trend is to continue investing in city services: both to curb rising unemployment, and to improve the city's overall livability and quality of life.

There's a reason that metropolitan centers are filled with businesses, irrespective of their tax rates. And that reason is urban amenities, services and infrastructure. Funding and developing those assets - so that we can make our community a safe, attractive, and lucrative place in which to live and invest - is a far more sustainable and logical economic development plan than Reaganomics.

If we ditch the B&O tax, the only way I would support it is if we can do so in a revenue-netural manner that maintains or expands current service levels.

Rick Jones:

17. What about the Prairie Line Trail and moving the end of it so United Way can have more surface parking?

Answer: We've done surface level parking to death downtown. I used to work downtown, and there's nothing stopping employees from parking in the Dome District and just taking the Link to where they need to go. The development of our downtown, and its assets like walkability, are a far higher priority to me than more surface-level parking lots.

18. What's your take on the garbage collection pilot plan that going to run in two areas in Tacoma?

Answer: I like the intent behind it - reducing emissions and encouraging recycling - but I think the city is more than capable of reaching those goals without cutting service in half. We could retrofit our garbage trucks with cleaner energy, for example (TPU's bucket trucks are already hybrids; it can't be that hard). And there's nothing stopping the city from amending the code to allow food waste recycling in yard waste containers. This is just a pilot project after all, so there's still time to see how it works. But I'm still personally cautious.

19. Any thoughts about relocating the current residents of the Winthrop so it can return to a hotel or other commercially relevant property?

Answer: Cautiously in favor. In favor, because the Winthrop is a unique downtown asset that can spur economic activity, and because studies (and common sense) tell us that clustering together lots of people in high-rises is bad for public safety and quality of life.

Cautiously, because the waiting list on THA is a few thousand-strong, and I wouldn't be comfortable about a mandatory relocation unless I knew that every one of those residents had a home waiting for them. I used to work with the Safe Streets group/tenants' union at the Winthrop, and it had a very active member named Glenn. It took Glenn about a year to get a move approved to a West End Section 8 housing unit. Ultimately, we need more affordable housing throughout the city in general (albeit more spread out, rather than concentrated in high-rises).

But I'll certainly pursue the goal of revitalizing the Winthrop as a long-term project. We just need to keep the human element in mind, as well as the economic.

20. Should the city give Pleasants and Moses as much time as they need to put together financing for the new building north of the Elks?

Answer: Re-developing that part of downtown is an important priority for our city. While our patience shouldn't be limitless, the project has more merit than the several other suggestions for the Elks building that have come and gone over the last few decades. And Pleasants, who played a key role in re-developing the Albers Mill, at least has a track record of successful development in our downtown. If the project is soundly executed, then it will be worth a slightly longer wait.

by Anders on 8/4/2011 @ 2:37pm
Fredo again:

21. "Pet project" is a pretty relative term, since one person's worthy project is another person's waste of time. For example, a lot of people in the various North End neighborhoods of District 1 tell me they'd like traffic infrastructure like speed bumps, and the occasional roundabout. Those are very neighborhood-specific projects that may not mean anything to say, a North East Tacoma resident, but matter a lot to my constituents who are directly impacted by the improvements.

So how about I give you a clarified answer: I will energetically pursue macro-level policies like street repair with the same gusto as the neighborhood-specific, on-the-ground concerns that the people in my community value highly. I will use my constituents' concerns as my political barometer.

22. I'm fine with Marty where he is.

by NineInchNachos on 8/4/2011 @ 2:47pm
Anders, does your wife get mad at you for answering the questions of strange people on the internet?

by Anders on 8/4/2011 @ 4:04pm
Nah, she just rolls her eyes and laughs a little. In that cute little way of hers.

by fredo on 8/4/2011 @ 4:10pm
"I will energetically pursue macro-level policies like street repair with the same gusto as the neighborhood-specific, on-the-ground concerns that the people in my community value highly. I will use my constituents' concerns as my political barometer." anders

Anders, with all due respect that's how Tacoma has gotten such a bad rap for deferred maintenance over the years. Nine councilmembers spreading neighborhood specific pet projects all over the place, then claiming they don't have funds to perform basic street maintenance. Just tell those people with the desire for some flowery roundabout that the city "isn't doing that right now."

Anders, anytime you can't tell what project is a pet project or not, just get my attention here at I will inform you if it's a pet project. I'm glad to perform this service specific macro diagnosis with the same gusto that I use in all my postings. I consider it my duty to provide useful analysis to councilmembers as required. If people found out we weren't funding pet projects, after a while they would stop bugging you.

by fredo on 8/4/2011 @ 4:58pm
Hey, I'll even provide a couple of examples of pet projects. 26th & Proctor stamped concrete crosswalks. The street was in perfect repair, then ripped up to put in the new crosswalks. Then there was the unneeded roundabout at N. 37th & Stevens. These two pet projects alone were probably in the neighborhood of $300-400,000 . I'm sure these were built for some vocal constitutents but provided little or no benefit to the city.

by NineInchNachos on 8/4/2011 @ 5:02pm
Highway 16 interchange is a pet project
Space shuttle? Pet Project.

all of creation? a pet project of the lord. Amen.

by NineInchNachos on 8/4/2011 @ 5:02pm
Iraq. Pet project.

by fredo on 8/4/2011 @ 5:20pm
Topic: City council candidates forum

Could we please stay on this topic? Thanks a million.

by KarenSmitherman on 8/4/2011 @ 5:25pm
Hello everyone! Glad to jump in. I got fredo's invitation this morning, and now that I'm home from doorbelling I'm ready to roll.

I want to start off by talking a little bit about my public policy philosophy. I think this rhymes with some of fredo's questions. The golden rule to me is: Public policy decisions should never be made in a vacuum. Neighborhood feedback is incredibly important, and a City Council member representing a districted position, I am tasked with representing the needs of West and North Tacoma. However, the City Council must forge a vision for Tacoma as a whole. There ultimately is little difference between micro- and macro-level: A pothole on South 56th is the same as a pothole on North 30th. On City Council, my role is to make sure the micro (the people of my district) are represented fairly, efficiently and favorably in the macro (citywide) vision. Ultimately, West and North Tacoma most benefit when they are part of a robust macro vision.

Now, that all is important, but it's pretty abstract. Most of what I hear at the door is much more concrete. People are frustrated. They want a solid education and good jobs. They care about their kids. To this end, I believe my service with the B.E.S.T. program. I was jointly employed by Tacoma Public Schools and the local Chamber of Commerce. I brought together the Chamber, K12, labor and higher education to pursue apprenticeship programs in our schools. This is a micro start to the sort of program I'd like to see on the macro level: Bringing people together to cooperate on problem-solving for the good of all Tacoma.

Of course, sometimes it's not just about finding novel solutions. Sometimes tough calls need to be made. I've gotten a chance to hear from thousands of people. Here are some of the issues I'm frequently hearing at the door:

1) Billboards - I represent a District where people value home-town feel and a natural environment. Over and over I hear that these billboards are the antithesis of everything our community values. They're pollutive, really. It is important that the City Council keep its promises as an elective body, and ensure that its dealings with corporations benefit Tacoma's true bottom line: Its citizens.

2) Transportation - No one knows the sting of the recent service cuts like senior citizens. My district easily has more senior citizens than any in Tacoma. They needed buses to access critical services, healthcare, family and loved ones. My priorities are twofold. First, we must work to assure that the recent levy failure is not repeated. Our communities can't afford that. Second, we should investigate alternative funding sources, but cautiously. The vehicle licensing tab issue could eventually come in front of voters, were it expanded, and we know that would be a harder sell than a levy. But, fundamentally, we need to make sure the buses are there for people who need them, and to retain our image as a modern, urban city.

3) City Manager - I want a City Manager who clearly understands the difference between leadership and management. The City Manager should not take on the burden of fixing Tacoma's problems alone. He or she must understand the system of change at all levels. This requires extensive skills in the budgeting process, delivery of services, and core functions of city government; as well as integrity, transparency and competence. The City Manager must serve at the behest of Tacoma's future.

Now, you'll have to pardon me for running through these quickly, but here's a few other questions I spied scrolling through...

4) Military folks: Simple. Affordable living. Transit (armed forces members are some of the biggest public transit advocatse out there.) Taking care of our veterans.

5) B&O Tax: I must echo the sentiments of others above. The B&O tax is flawed, but necessary.

6) Parking lots: Enough already! No one associates parking lots with vibrancy.

7) The Elks project: Grace Pleasants has a strong record in local development. I'm willing to give some leeway when developments are truly invested in the communities in which they're developing. This is a critical building in a critical area of downtown. Certainly I will not tolerate infinite foot-dragging or carrot-dangling, but so far I am much more excited than concerned.

8) Tacomics: I firmly believe that the toonish arts are an important part of our shared cultural history. As a long-time K-12 teacher, I've seen the positive role they play in our communities. Expect a fierce advocate on City Council!:-)

Must run for some voter-calling now. If I have missed anything anyone wants answered, or there are more burning questions, do let me know. This is a fun and wonderful opportunity!(+:


by fredo on 8/4/2011 @ 5:48pm
That was great, Karen. Nice narrative and obvious affection for our city. Please check in each day if you can. We're generating some interesting areas of inquiry. And welcome to It's just the greatest local internet site in Tacoma. I'm a little prejudiced.

by NineInchNachos on 8/4/2011 @ 7:25pm
Thanks Karen!!!

by KarenSmitherman on 8/4/2011 @ 8:24pm
Fredo, R.R., you're absolutely welcome!

by fredo on 8/5/2011 @ 7:20am
Good job candidates, and thanks for participating.

Now that we have all 4 candidates in the loop, lets roll up our sleeves and get down to business. It would be useful if questioners could assign a number to their question and keep the question brief and on topic. There are so many lines of inquiry I'm not sure we can keep the candidates focused without some sort of framework. With that out of the way I will post my first question.

by fredo on 8/5/2011 @ 7:27am
23. Unemployment is beginning to affect lots of Tacomans and the recession is also hurting those who are still employed. There are many local business failures, foreclosures and bankruptcys. At the same time, Tacoma city employees are being paid handsomely, according to the News Tribune over 700 are being paid in excess of $100K per year.

Question: If the city needs additional funds should it:

A. Raise taxes
B. Borrow the money
C. Begin reducing the amount paid to city employees.

by fredo on 8/5/2011 @ 3:49pm
24. Should Tacoma join Portland, OR and Seattle as a "sanctuary city" where illegal aliens could find a haven?

A. yes
B. no

by Joseph Atkinson on 8/5/2011 @ 7:04pm
Great questions! Just got home from the campaign trail, and am headed out to see the new Planet of the Apes movie. Will be my second film this year! Here are some quick answers:

Looking back, I apologize if I seemed rushed. Dinner was getting cold, and my family is the most important thing I have in life. When I spoke of being busy, I was primarily speaking of my campaign. Work in Olympia is a piece of cake, it is campaigning that is the most time consuming (especially at this critical junction). I think my colleagues would agree.

Council time constraints will not be an issue. I'll devote as much time as it takes, whether it be 30 or 60 hours a week. Spiro and I had a good discussion on that topic. You're talking to a guy who pulled off a 3.9 at UW while working 50+ hours a week while paying a mortgage and raising a family. That was a tough 4 years that taught me strong time-management skills. I am no stranger to hard work.

The short answer to question 23 is that a robust, competitive business environment, family wage jobs, and urban growth are the answers to our revenue problems. We need to be very careful not to harm struggling families and businesses in these tough times. I don't mind 'asking' people if they want to raise taxes to fund the basics like street repair, but add-ons and pet projects will cause any proposal to fail. They would have to be temporary, minimal, and direct to stand a chance against the people, and we as a government must exhaust other options and set strong priorities first. We need to take a lesson from Pierce Transit.

As for city employees, my primary concern is the vacancies. Giving all employees a raise in the middle of a recession cost us good family wage union jobs in the past, and threatens future jobs in our city.

City bonding and borrowing power is a good tool, but we have used up too much already. If we bond we must do it smart and in partnership with the private sector by drafting smart contracts that ensure taxpayer money is used wisely and our city is paid back. Interest rates are at record lows, and this can be a good tool if we keep the future and our children in mind.

24. I am strongly pro immigration. We as a country need to reform our immigration system to encourage more people to work, live, and go to school in the US. My wife is a naturalized citizen and I've been through the immigration process while bringing her mother here. It is not fair to my wife and mother when people are rewarded for breaking the laws of this country. We need to look for a fair and humane solution to the long-standing issues of illegal immigration. Making Tacoma a sanctuary city is not a viable solution to this issue, and only divides us further.

by CaptainBritton on 8/5/2011 @ 7:34pm
I see a huge problem with lack of crosswalks. It's as though the safest way to cross the streets in Tacoma is to just Jay walk/sprint, because crossing at corners (especially around Wright Park/Division/Sixth) is a serious hazard!

What are the candidates views on ways to fund and implement this needed Pedestrian safety feature in Tacoma?

by Joseph Atkinson on 8/5/2011 @ 10:10pm
Crosswalks are a huge issue, and are expensive with ADA requirements. Crosswalks are 'not' pet projects as I see them. The process to get one installed through the city is WAY too expensive and takes years to do the surveys. We need to look into ways of getting things done more efficiently and quickly.

Another option is to utilize the Innovative Grant through your particular neighborhood council. However, funding is limited. I applied and received a grant for a mid-block crossing Pearl between 48th & 49th, but did not get enough funding to do the project until next year. The good news is that I am getting this project done for less than 1/2 the cost taxpayers would pay if the city did the project. And it's federal dollars!

My point is that resources are available, and I am always available to help people navigate through the process.

by Joseph Atkinson on 8/7/2011 @ 10:05am
Planet of the Apes was terrible! The special effects were cool though, especially the motion technology. Could'v been so much more.

by Redorblack on 8/7/2011 @ 1:33pm
Statistically / Technically, the legal way to cross a street is at least as dangerous as crossing mid-block illegally... often more so. The reason for "bumpouts" and other techniques is to minimize crossing time and reduce the risk of a motorist pulling a right or left hook into the cyclists and pedestrians at intersections. Crossing mid block leaves the pedestrian with only two directions of danger to watch out for instead of 4 or more (6th and Sprague).

Oh, and the opposing viewpoint (just pretend it's a comments section on a news story)

We'll care about pedestrians when they have registration, licenses and pay for tabs to use the roads like the cars that deserve to be there! Until then we'll just continue to run them down if they get in the way making us hit them... crosswalk or no crosswalk. You know pedestrians rob banks and quicky marts don't you! I've even seen them talking on their phones while drinking! When pedestrians can cross the road as fast as my jacked up pickup, then they can get off the sidewalk... oh wait that's where I left my pickup... on the sidewalk. Think I was too drunk to walk home safely...

by NineInchNachos on 8/7/2011 @ 11:08pm
what is the obsession with illegal immigrants? it's hilarious \

by fredo on 8/8/2011 @ 7:19am
Sorry you find illegal immigration to be a source of hilarity. It's a major public policy headache in almost every city in the US including Tacoma.

by fredo on 8/8/2011 @ 7:27am
The city council recently authorized the installation of digital billboards (it's referred to as the "settlement agreement"). They never conducted any survey or provided the public with any opportunity to weigh in on the digital billboards.


#25 Will you ever vote for something that the public has not had an appropriate opportunity to weigh in on, or will you ever vote for something that a majority of your constituents do not favor?

by NineInchNachos on 8/8/2011 @ 11:05am
high cost of low wages

Q: 1. do you support rollback of minimum wage? pt 2 Are you , or have you ever been a NAZI ?

by fredo on 8/8/2011 @ 11:29am
#26 Is there anything in your past, either criminal, civil, or personal in nature which, if discovered, would bring embarrasement on yourself or compromise the integrity of the city council?

by NineInchNachos on 8/8/2011 @ 12:11pm
Question to all candidates: Do you have any questions for Robert Hill, as a possibility exists that you will be working with him?

by fredo on 8/8/2011 @ 4:14pm
#27 Standard & Poor's just lowered Tacoma's credit rating. What would you do as a member of the city council to restore a high credit rating to our city?

by NineInchNachos on 8/8/2011 @ 5:03pm
@ #27

A: Air Strikes !

by NineInchNachos on 8/8/2011 @ 9:27pm
question to all candidates: should you crap your pants everytime you read a silly newspaper article ?

by fredo on 8/9/2011 @ 7:29am
#27 (I'm going to restate this question since it was based on an incorrect news story) What would you do as a city councilmember to make sure Tacoma's hgh credit rating is not placed at risk?

by fredo on 8/10/2011 @ 6:41am

The field of candidates for the District 1 council seats is going to be narrowed. Which candidates will move on to the November election and which candidates will be wondering what went wrong?

The candidates have all claimed they want to answer the questions that their future constituents may have. They have all provided their phone numbers and email addresses and have all consented to take questions here in the roundtable forum.

Which candidates really want to be responsive and which candidates just hope they can get into office through dumb luck? Time will tell.

by fredo on 8/10/2011 @ 7:52am
In July 2011, councilmember Jake Fey wrote@

"The City is quickly running out of budget options to balance budgets and, absent a recovered economy, will require the City Manager and the City Council to make more adverse budget cuts in future years."

Read more:

#28 Do you agree with councilmember Fey that Tacoma will have to make budget cuts, and if so, what budget cuts are you willing to agree to?

by Nick on 8/10/2011 @ 1:19pm
29. When it comes to accepting bids from private businesses for city projects, is a preference for local Tacoma-based businesses (a.k.a. employers) a significant priority for you? What if the local bid isn't the cheapest but is still within reason compared to the other bids?

Detailed follow-up: If a resolution on the agenda was to award a contract to an out-of-town business, would you be willing to take pause to at least confirm any local bids were given consideration?

by Nick on 8/10/2011 @ 1:20pm
30. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. If you were elected, and made a mistake while in office, what would you do?

by fredo on 8/10/2011 @ 2:43pm
#31 Many people think billboards are ugly. What about hundreds perhaps thousands of campaign signs on every city right-of-way for months upon end? Are they ugly or not?

by Altered Chords on 8/10/2011 @ 9:04pm
Came in a little late here so I had to skim. Carl said "mute point" I wouldn't vote for him. I have a difficult time respecting the opinions of people that do not know that it's "moot point".

Please vote people. I'm listening to the schoolboard candidates and Betsy Elgar is the least articulate human being I've heard since attending grade school in the early 70s.

Thank you for reading my post even though I'm in district 4.

by fredo on 8/11/2011 @ 6:50am
ha, I missed that one Altered Chords. Thanks for your posting.

I would prefer an articulate candidate over an inarticulate candidate any day. Having said that I would prefer an inarticulate candidate who actually listened to the question asked and responded directly to the question over a candidate who didn't listen to the question but gave a well articulated canned response which didn't have anything to do with the question. Let's be careful as voters not to substitute rhetorical skills for common sense.

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2011 @ 7:53am
lol hey forgot to mention that yes you can see all the candidates debate here

by fredo on 8/11/2011 @ 9:12am
I encourage everyone to watch the "debate" that Nachos linked.

Note: It's really not a debate and it's unclear when it was taped. The candidates never challenge each other and only 3 of the candidates are even present. The questions apparently were submitted by the North End Neighborhood Council of which one of the candidates is a member. The questions are all softballs which allow the candidates to just give long narrative responses. It's unbelievably boring. It's apparent that the candidates were allowed to see the questions before the taping. It's painful to watch, but if you are a 1st district voter it's probably mandatory viewing.

Fredo's roundtable is the only forum where voters can engage ALL 4 candidates in an INTERACTIVE way regarding events as current as today. Please post your questions now and come back to view the candidates responses to YOUR question. I guarantee that every candidate who seriously wants your vote will respond.

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2011 @ 9:49am
my god you need to watch the position one forum (link above) starts at about the 27 min mark. Joe looks the part but while speaking the guy appears terrified and trips all over his words. Not sure who coached him to talk into the camera waving his pen around but it's awesome and i'm totally going to steal it. Anders up next. . see how he does!

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2011 @ 9:58am
Joe made a point to say he has two houses. Just like Fredo!

by The Jinxmedic on 8/11/2011 @ 10:01am
Fredo has a whole bunch of "houses" out back in Fredo City!

by fredo on 8/11/2011 @ 10:09am
At fredo city we refer to our housing units by their common name...tarps.

by fredo on 8/11/2011 @ 10:11am
yeah, he never explained about the two houses thing. Maybe he snores really loud and his wife makes him sleep in the detached garage.

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2011 @ 10:14am
Anders delivery reminds me of Star Trek's Commander Data. We need to elect more cool-headed thinkers (but that's just me). Meanwhile Joe continues to sweat and seem overly animated with his pen.

by Rick Jones on 8/11/2011 @ 10:19am
A few nights ago I woke up at 2:00AM and couldn't get back to sleep. So what else would I do for a sedative but turn on Channel 12 and watch this 'debate?' Fredo's analysis is pretty accurate in my view. Regardless of the softballs or the practiced responses (well perhaps not in Atkinson's case - I think he stole the pen thing from Dole. Digger Phelps uses it as well on ESPN - markers always colored to match his ties) I thought Ibsen looked and spoke suspiciously great. Very poised, good speaker, already a political wonk.

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2011 @ 10:23am
Karen seems like a non-evil Barbara Bush

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2011 @ 10:25am
I feel robbed that Carl wasn't included in this forum.

good call Mr. Jones.

by fredo on 8/11/2011 @ 10:29am
Rick, welcome to the forum. You always post good insights about the city. Could you post a couple of questions for the candidates?

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2011 @ 10:33am
oh god. oh god. Lauren Walker vs. Robert Hill forum 1 hour and 9 minute mark.

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2011 @ 10:37am
closing statements of position 1 candidates was awesome. say we lived in some strange alternate universe where Joe were to get elected.. IMAGINE having this man on the council with Joe Lonergan... the Joe and Joe show! I'm seeing a road-trip buddy movie where they spend the entire film in the car attempting to order at a drive through window. finally at the end of the movie the poor fast food worker yells through the speaker phone: "LOOK I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT, ARE YOU GOING TO ORDER SOMETHING OR DO I HAVE TO CALL THE COPS!"

by CaptainBritton on 8/11/2011 @ 10:45am
Barbara Bush isn't evil. I met her once. I asked her about how she liked her many Simpsons appearances and she said her and George watch them all the time and love them. Then she kissed me on the cheek and wished me luck even though I was a "liberal" whatever that is...You know she travels around with a total body double? Her Secret Service guys had me show them around the facility and point out blind-spots where an assassin could potentially hide.. It was weird. They even made us provide two separate "panic" rooms. But she is a sweetheart in reality...:)

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2011 @ 12:07pm
I could listen to Dexter Gordon all day. What a cool accent!

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2011 @ 12:08pm

What the what?

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2011 @ 12:09pm

by Rick Jones on 8/11/2011 @ 12:14pm
Fredo - offered some up 8/3 (#s17 - 20). But here are some more:

32.Do you think the recent discussion about switching from a City Manager System (CMS) to a Strong-Mayor System is a result of outgrowing the CMS or a product of an, until recently, weak or un(der)informed council?

33. Are you familiar with the City Charter? If so is there something you would like changed/amended?

34.In your district: There was an agreement between MC Const (Pt Ruston Project). and the City for an easement that would give the public perpeptual access to the waterfront. In addition MC Const was to construct the improvements for the easement property (which it will still do). However, the City agreed to purchase the land covered by the easement. Pt. Ruston is a courageous and beneficial project, but the purchase was sold as a means by which the public could have forever what it already had forever. It appears to be more a monetary boost for a struggling developer than a purchase for something needed. Do you feel the process through which this occurred was open and proper?

35. Same topic: Ruston will benefit enormously by Pt. Ruston. But Ruston doesn't seem to have contributed anything except allowing Tacoma to be the governmental decision maker. Is this fair? (Allowing, of course, that Ruston has more serious budgeting issues than any local municipality).

36. Please comment on the decision-making process that led to the demolition of the Luzon.

by NineInchNachos on 8/11/2011 @ 12:29pm
I nominate Rick Jones for Citizen's Auxiliary City Council representative for the ministry of inquisition !

by fredo on 8/11/2011 @ 1:27pm
Anders Ibsen wrote@

"We need to have a tax structure that is simple and doesn't penalize entrepreneurs".

Read more:

#37 So would you be in favor of dropping the city B&O tax in its entirety? This would simplify the city tax structure and would stop penalizing local employers.

by fredo on 8/11/2011 @ 1:56pm
Anders Ibsen wrote@

"The way to attract new business and retain our current employers is to improve the livability and quality of life of our city"

Read more:

#38 Are you saying that the current level of livability and quality of life will not attract new businesses or retain current employers? What is wrong with our current livability and quality of life? How can you improve the livability and quality of life in a recession? Please be specific.

by fredo on 8/12/2011 @ 7:47am
I hope the candidates will favor us with some responses today. I would hate to think that the candidates for Tacoma City Council are even MORE apathetic then the average Tacoma voter.

From a practical standpoint, why would anyone wanting to serve on the city council announce that they would be willing to answer questions from voters in the district, then refuse to do so? If the voters are just an annoyance to be tolerated en route to a $40,000/year part time job, why not have the honesty to just declare that fact?

by NineInchNachos on 8/12/2011 @ 8:18am
get pumped!

by fredo on 8/12/2011 @ 8:45am
RR, you've undoubtedly observed that the candidates would prefer talking about movies they've seen to the actual issues facing the city. Therefore, I'm going to pose a new movie related question for the candidates:

#39 Which movie would best characterize your council campaign?:

A. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
B. It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World
C. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
D. Pee Wee's Big Adventure
E. Don't Look in the Basement
F. Village of the Damned

by NineInchNachos on 8/12/2011 @ 9:20am
go local!

G. Hand that Rocks the Cradle
H. 10 Things I Hate About You

by fredo on 8/12/2011 @ 9:40am
#40 Which famous line of movie diaglog best describes your 2011 campaign strategy:

A. Frankly I don't give a damn
B. Go toward the light
C. Don't look at the light
D. You can't handle the truth
E. Can I hold the rabbits?
F. I got worms

by Joseph Atkinson on 8/13/2011 @ 5:23pm
Here's a good article from the Tacoma Weekly that shows some general contrasts between the candidates. All candidates answered very well, but there are of course clear differences.

by fredo on 8/13/2011 @ 5:56pm
Thanks Joe, that's a valuable source of information and the link is a good one.

In the Tacoma Weekly you stated:

"Having an informed electorate and a responsive government will strengthen our city."

Could you give us an example of your responsiveness by providing answers to some of the questions above? I'm waiting for some information so that my vote will strengthen our city.

by jenyum on 8/13/2011 @ 6:26pm
In all seriousness, you all (candidate-type people) should probably respond, at least to some of the serious questions. Just treat it like an appearance on the Daily Show.

by fredo on 8/13/2011 @ 6:39pm
Right Jen! There are some ridiculous/humorous questions here like you would expect on any blog, but lot's of great questions, much better than those asked in the Tacoma Weekly and on TVTacoma. I haven't watched the Daily Show so maybe you're right about that.

If the election comes down to 50 or 75 votes separating the winners from the losers there might be some candidates that will wish that had worked the social media a little more diligently.

Here's a chance for a candidate to take a bold position and perhaps pull in some support. I'm not voting for anybody on the basis of some stupid yard signs and boilerplate affirmations of "listening," "transparency," or "accountability. " That's all BS

by Carl on 8/14/2011 @ 7:14am
by fredo Question: #25 Will you ever vote for something that the public has not had an appropriate opportunity to weigh in on, or will you ever vote for something that a majority of your constituents do not favor?

Fredo, I hope so, I believe that is the reason for having a council.
Question to you Fredo, are you talking about the billboard fiasco? Here is some of thought on it as well as the prior question as well as some other points.

We elect members to the council to represent us, members we can trust to evaluate all of the things the council oversees. They set codes and regulations, we assume that all of their decisions are well thought out and all of the pertinent facts are looked at as well as possible repercussions of their decision.

The current codes define the sign standards in detail, they also state no strobe lights for obvious reasons, but businesses have them, should they be kicked out of the city?

What does a decision by the council mean? Is it binding? If a vocal part of the community comes forward, does the council then have to put it to the public for a vote? If so how many?

Are not earlier forms of digital billboards (and some of the "banned" versions) already in place, high schools, Tacoma dome, gas stations? Some of these have flashing lights, flickering graphics, strobe effects, and some signs are fully digital as well. So as it stands now a digital "sign" is ok, but a digital "billboard" is not. I do understand the size and scale issue, this is the part that should be discussed not the "digital" part.

Back to billboards,
1. What are they for?
2. Are they different from any other business signs
3. Are different regulations required for them

A billboard is just another form of advertizing as we are all aware of. Businesses use them to promote their firm or groups use them to deliver a message. But the simple fact is businesses want to increase their bottom line, attract more customers, and sell more products.

Businesses are the ones who create jobs not any government (any additional government job must be paid with our dwindling tax funds of course we can just raise taxes to pay for it but what does that accomplish). We need to attract more businesses to the area, let the ones who are here now have resources available to them so they can prosper. This is the way to gain more jobs in the community

Do not get me wrong I am not saying that billboards are the solution to all of our economic problems; there are many other ways to do this. What I am saying is can we really afford in these tough times to not look at any possibility that might help even if in a little way.

Some are saying that billboards are a visual blight on our community, well I agree some are and some are so stacked together that it defeats the whole original purpose of them. But really is getting rid of the ones in need of repair and replacing/removing them not actually a good idea.

The Tacoma Urbanist states "It is important for voters to know the result of their vote. The billboard issue is perhaps the largest issue before the City of Tacoma this year and threatens to do more damage to the city of Tacoma than perhaps any other single vote in decades. Will the candidate that Tacomans vote for stand up for the city to keep blight (digital billboards) from ruining Tacoma's skyline? Or will they capitulate and try to appease billboard companies at all costs?"

The largest issue before the City of Tacoma, I for one hope not. Capitulate what, an agreement that had already been made and agreed to. No one is trying to appease anyone, at least I hope not. I do not consider a modern digital billboard to be a "blight"(depending on size), what I would consider as blight is the older ones that are in need of repair or had been grandfathered into a location that really is no longer appropriate.

Karen Smitherman states "95% of those citizens who testified are strongly opposed to the Proposed Settlement Agreement (PSA) with Clear Channel."

The key point about this high percentage is "those citizens who testified", does this mean that 95% of all Tacoma citizens do not want billboards, of course not, what it means is those who have a strong feeling about the issue came forward and complained, how many I do not know but to get a 95 percentile at least 20. So do we change agreements for 20 or so people ( or even if 2,000 showed up- the meeting might still be going on then because at 3 min each it would be a 100 hour meeting) for a population of 200,000 or so? I wonder what that percentage is.

Many people have asked me why I decided to run, I have given this some thought and here are some but not all;

-Tired of being over regulated

-Seeing conflicting codes with exceptions to the code buried in another location
Why are exceptions in the code, was the ruling not just or does it apply only to some

I am frustrated to hear that a committee will be formed (at a cost) or we need to have an outside consultant (a much larger cost) come in to evaluate the situation; when most of the time a simple discussion will result in a yes or no answer.

Also on the committee part, do they ever go away or do they evolve into something else, even if the committee is all volunteers, there is a cost involved.

Why the basic services are the first ones that are threatened with funding cuts if we have a shortfall of tax funds (not revenue government does not produce revenue) when funds or grants to various special interest groups may receive a small cut or none at all.

I have been asked why I did not list any charitable organizations that I may have helped out with, did I not do any. The answer is simple to me, I have helped and volunteered either my services or time with many over the years, but I did not do it so I can make a list of them. The ones I have helped know what I did and they are the only ones who need to know.

Regarding the roundtable discussion, I am sorry about missing that. A couple of reasons, main one is a conflicting appointment that could not be changed, but also I am not one that likes to give an intelligent (or foolish) answer to a question in just two minutes, I usually need at least five to reason through the actual question, unless it is something I am fully familiar with. Of course I could have come up with some meaningless political dribble or statement that has no bearing on the actual question.

I would rather take some reasonable time, look at as many possible solutions that I can think of and pick the best one I can think of at that time with the information that is available. If new information comes to light then things might change or they might not. No matter what, any decision that is made not everyone will agree to, but if everyone agreed on the decision what was the point of the question then. To me if everyone agrees then why did the issue come up in the first place.

All in all this has been an eye opening experience for me, from all of these special interest groups (most of which I never even heard of) that send me a questionnaire that is full of leading type questions to try and fit me into a category that fits their needs to just even being misquoted on something. I understand that these people are only trying to further their agenda but at what costs to the rest of us.

Thank you for taking the time to read my rambling

Carl Alexander

by fredo on 8/14/2011 @ 7:59am
Thanks for your comments, Carl.

One advantage to using an open architecture virtual forum like the one here at to disseminate your platform is that nobody can control the discussion nor advance any agenda. You have the ability to reach dozens, perhaps hundreds of people who, like you, wish to make Tacoma a better place. When you are at feedtacoma you have a soapbox and a live microphone 24 hours a day. Pretty powerful, wouldn't you agree?

Another advantage is that the candidates have plenty of time to consider the questions asked before posting a response. Some of the questions for the candidates that are still unanswered were posted many days ago.

I started the roundtable because I had the sense that the public was not being afforded the opportunity to see the real candidate. The voters guide and candidate mailers were only exposing a sort of well-polished and ultimately meaningless political prose.

Furthermore the roundtable is a test I designed to see if candidates who always herald their "transparency" and their long-standing claim that they wanted to be responsive to the voters was fact or fiction.

I hope the discussion will enlighten both the candidates and the questioners. On Tuesday, I'll be using the information we've gathered to make an informed decision on my ballot. Good luck to all the candidates.

by Carl on 8/14/2011 @ 9:13pm
Altered Chords, Sorry about the "mute" " moot" error, I did not notice the spelling until after I had posted and did not realize I could have edited it after posting until much later.