Why can’t we check out items from that awesome library in UP?

Every few months, someone posts some variation of the following questions on Facebook: “Why can’t we use the library in UP? Why does Fircrest reimburse the cost of a Tacoma library card, but not a Pierce County library card?”

My wife and I are professional writers. We both grew up going to local libraries in our hometowns. This is an issue that’s near and dear to my heart, so I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people about it. Here’s a primer that should help explain why things are the way they are in Fircrest:

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How Fircrest voted on ST3 in November 2016

Did you get your car tab renewal yet from the state? If you did, chances are you are feeling some serious sticker shock.

The November 2016 Sound Transit 3 ballot measure proposed building rail and bus projects over the next few decades, and paying for all of that expansion via various taxes. One of those projects will directly benefit Fircrest – the next phase of the streetcar extension will connect downtown to Tacoma Community College. Property values will soar in the future as light rail makes its way up 19th Street. Another huge improvement will be connecting Tacoma to SeaTac and beyond via light rail.

We knew car tabs were part of the financing package, but the scope of the car tab increase was definitely a surprise to most (including me, and I read a lot about it before I voted). Most attention was on Sound Transit’s first-ever use of property taxes, so few folks looked at the effect on the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) tax that you see on your car tab renewal.

Well, people are certainly paying attention now. (I got the renewal for one of my cars last week and … whoa.) As a result, the Legislature is considering proposals that range from making the car tab valuation formula more fair to letting cities opt out of the Sound Transit district.

The district covers Pierce, King and Snohomish counties. Pierce County’s portion of the district voted against ST3, but the package was approved due to stronger support in King and SnoCo.

Fircrest has four voting precincts: 28-535 through 538. The ST3 vote was very close in the land of firs:

Approve:             1,823

Reject:             1,809

So it won in the ‘Crest by 14 votes.

That’s not exactly a voter mandate either way. Half of our city voted to relieve congestion expanding our regional transit service. That’s why I agree with calls like this one for Sound Transit and the Legislature to adjust the car tab formula.

Where we’ve been, and where we’re going

League of Women Voters asks about economic development, open government, building consensus, and more

The League of Women Voters has an extraordinary history — forming in 1920 as advocates were making the final push to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, finally giving women the right to vote. The nonpartisan League has been providing valuable information to voters ever since.

My opponent Heather and I both filled out the League’s candidate questionnaire. It’s a generic one designed for all cities, but it still shows some big differences between us.

League of Women Voters logo

League of Women Voters

Once again, Heather offers happy thoughts but no actual plans. She also takes a couple of strange, ill-informed shots at me. The League’s candidate guide is available at www.vote411.org. You have to drill in by street address, which is handy because you can see our answers side-by-side. I plugged in the address for City Hall and provide the link here. Or, here’s a link to Heather’s answers, and mine are pasted below.

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Oddz & Endz (lame, I know, but it’s all I got)

Two readers – well, both readers – noted today that this space has been neglected for far too long, especially since the city had to cut its “Town Topics” newsletter to save money. I’ve only been a councilmember for, like, 5 minutes, so I’ve been trying to get further up to speed on issues around the city. It’s similar to the deep-rooted fear that journalists have – I don’t want to write a front page story that’s completely freakin’ wrong.

Still, in my first few weeks, I’ve come to appreciate the “Council packet” that’s dropped off at my house every Friday. It contains reports from City Manager Rick Rosenbladt, Police Chief John Cheesman and other department heads. It often contains little nuggets of news that could be of interest to folks. I hope to share those regularly in this space. I’ll call this feature Oddz and Endz for now because I can’t think of a clever news name that incorporates fir trees or chainsaw bear carvings.

Some recent items of interest:

Storm debris: The snowmageddon and surprise ice storm left lots of trees, branches and other debris all over the place. U.P. Refuse has agreed to allow residents to dump large storm debris (yard waste items) at a reduced rate of $5 per yard. The best option is to collect wood debris and cut them to fit inside curbside yard waste toters. If the debris is too large or heavy for the curbside toter, residents can take the debris to U.S. Refuse, 2815 Rochester (off 27th Street) in University Place. Residents can also drop off storm debris for free at Pierce County transfer stations.

Storm response: The city’s Public Works crew did an outstanding job of responding to the snow and ice conditions. They plowed the streets, removed snowpiles at key locations, repaired potholes, unplugged storm drains, repaired damaged streetlights and wiring, and collected a large amount of debris. There were no reports of significant damage to any city property.

Streets: The Public Works crew is preparing for crack sealing this summer to help prolong the time before reconstruction or other rehabilitation work is necessary. This year’s plan covers:

  • All streets in sweeping zone 1, located in the northeast corner of Fircrest (boundaries are from South 19th to Regents Blvd, and from Orchard Street to Alameda Ave.)
  • Electron Way, from Alameda Ave. to Regents Blvd.
  • Alameda Ave., from South 19th to 44th Street W.

New business: The bankrupt skate rink formerly known as “Wheelz” is set to reopen under new management as “Rollin’ 253 Skate & Community Center.” It’s nice to have a family venue in town, so we wish them luck. They are located at Sunrise Center, just off Mildred Street.

Parks: Tickets are on sale for the 6th annual Daddy-Daughter Dance. I think I’ve been to most of these. It’s an awesome evening. I keep threatening to embarrass my daughter by busting out my old break-dancing moves, except I’m worried I’ll bust more than a move. Also, planning is under way for the second Derby Day!

Wainwright: The city manager asked Tacoma Public Schools to clean the dingy sign outside the now-closed Wainwright Elementary, and to remove the outdated message on it. The school district said they would do so. The vacant school property will be the subject of a future post here. What are the possibilities for that site?

Property taxes: The Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer’s Office has announced that property owners can look up their 2012 taxes after 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 3 at www.piercecountywa.org/atr.

Police I: Police arrested a woman after a high speed chase, and she’s been tied to a recent burglary in Fircrest. She was charged with possession of stolen property and identity theft. Police also are seeking two men who pick-pocketed a wallet from a local coffee shop and an iPhone from a local law office.

Police II: The department’s radar detectors were recently recalibrated. Hey, speeders, you’ve been warned.

How Fircrest residents voted Nov. 8

First of all, I want to thank Fircrest voters for casting a vote for me. My friends have good-naturedly teased me about my uncontested run for office (voter mandate?!?; OK, maybe not), but it’s definitely a humbling experience to see more than 1,200 1,500 people put a mark by my name.

Now I’d like to get to the heart of why I created this site. We’re such a small ‘burb that we generally get overlooked by media, unless a car thief is found hiding naked in a hot tub or it takes police 9 hours to coax a suspect out of a tree. (This is where I give another shout-out to TNT reporter Christian Hill for his recent story about the volunteer who gave a facelift to the Tot Lot’s Fred Flintstone.)

I took a look tonight at how the three precincts in Fircrest voted on three key issues. Election results always provide an interesting glimpse into the thoughts of a community. In this case, I find it interesting that Fircrest supported the tax increase for South Sound 911 at a rate that’s 8 percentage points higher than the countywide result. We also didn’t care much for the latest offering from Tim Eyman’s initiative factory.

Results as of Nov. 9:

Pierce County Proposition 1 (South Sound 911)

Approved: 1065 (62.6%)

Rejected: 636 (37.3)

Initiative 1183 (liquor privatization):

Approved: 1010 (57.6%)

Rejected: 742 (42.3%)

Initiative 1125 (Tim Eyman’s transportation measure)

Approved: 747 (43.6%)

Rejected: 964 (56.3%)