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Strickland lands top gig at Seattle Chamber

The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce has selected former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland to head the regional business association. Strickland served eight years as mayor of Tacoma, during which she was a leader on regional transportation, education and economic development issues.

“We are delighted to welcome Marilyn as the next president and CEO of the Seattle Metro Chamber,” said Heather Redman, chair of the Chamber’s Board of Trustees. “Marilyn is known and respected throughout the Puget Sound region as an effective advocate for economic competitiveness. She’s fearless about taking on challenges in a collaborative way – a trait that will be essential as our region works through issues such as education, housing, and transportation, all of which have big implications for our long-term prosperity. Marilyn will be a strong voice for the economic conditions necessary for continued job growth for people in our region, especially as we face growing competition from around the globe.”

Strickland was selected following an extensive process that identified more than 50 prospective candidates from throughout the United States.

“I am incredibly excited to take on this role,” Strickland said. “One of my top priorities will be working with business, government and non-profit leaders toward solutions that keep our region globally competitive.” She added, “A strong, vibrant business environment is key to addressing the challenges that we face. Businesses of all sizes are an essential part of our community: in addition to the jobs they create and their place in the fabric of our neighborhoods, they drive investments that benefit us all. For example, in the city of Seattle, businesses generate over 50 percent of the tax revenue for the general fund.”

Before her election as mayor, Strickland served on the Tacoma City Council.  Prior to public service, she held management positions with the American Cancer Society, Starbucks Coffee Company and JayRay Communications. Strickland was born in Seoul, South Korea and graduated from the University of Washington and then earned a master’s degree in business administration from Clark-Atlanta University.

Strickland will start as president and CEO the week of Feb. 19.

PROSECUTOR RELEASES TEXT MESSAGES

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist released the now infamous nine text messages that have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside legal fees since a lawsuit over them was filed in 2011.

The suit called for Lindquist to release all personal phone and text messages from his personal cell phone. His office challenged the request as overreaching, an invasion of privacy and would set the precedent of public records abuses.

“When they ask for ‘all,’ you have no choice but to litigate,” Lindquist said.

The first trial court dismissed the suit but that decision was appealed up to the State Supreme Court.

“My focus has always been on keeping our community safe,” said Lindquist in a Facebook message from his office Wednesday night. “Keeping our community safe is about more than just putting away the bad guys. It’s also about fighting for constitutional principles that are fundamental to everyone’s safety. We have done that. Now I’m turning over nine insignificant text messages to prove what we’ve always said: this case was about safety, privacy, and constitutional principles.”

The background for the text messages is that on Aug. 1, 2011, Deputy Prosecutor Bryce Nelson sent the following four text messages. Lindquist never responded.

There’s a rumor going round that this d-bag DAC attorney [name redacted] met w/Benton to try and get us to hire him. Don’t do it!!!!!!

I was talking with Neil and told him that [name redacted] was supposedly met with Benton. Neil’s head basically exploded. It was awesome. 

“An evil Harry Potter” is the phrase I believe Neil coined

Neil thinks he’d try and work here to sabotage us from the inside

The person in question never applied for a job at the Prosecutor’s Office. He no longer works in the county.

“Merely talking about work does not make something a public record,” Lindquist said, noting that had the person applied for the job, however, the text messages would have been public records because they involved information that could have led to a decision.

On Aug. 3, 2011, Deputy Prosecutor Mike Sommerfeld sent the following text message: It is posted now.

Lindquist responded: Doesn’t come up. What’s the name?

Sommerfeld replied: It’s there now 3rd from top.

On Aug. 4, Sheriff’s Department Detective Ed Troyer sent the following text message: Check your work email. Also I got a nasty letter from [name redacted].

Lindquist responded: Call me.

“That is all of them,” the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office post stated. “Out of hundreds of personal records and personal messages the plaintiff sought, those nine trivial messages are the only ones somehow found to be public records. As is clear from the messages, no government business was conducted by these texts.”

DENTAL SOCIETY ANNOUNCES FREE CHILDREN’S DENTAL DAY

The Pierce County Dental Society is proud to sponsor its 27th annual Children’s Dental Health Day to celebrate Dental Health Month. The event will be held on Saturday, Feb.24, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It will take place at the South Hill Mall, 3500 South Meridian, Puyallup.

Children age infant to 18 years old are welcome and will receive free dental screenings, free fluoride varnish applications, free mouth guards, free gifts, face painting and other fun stuff. Come see the Tooth Fairy and get your tooth box. There will be special appearances by Chompy the Carrot and Super Tooth. There will also be other allied health organizations participating that day. Admission to the event is free for all. This is a great family fun event.

Dental Health Day is being held courtesy of Pierce County Dental Society, Pierce County Dental Foundation, Washington Dental Service Foundation and other local agencies.

For more information, contact Cheryl Jenkins or Cindy Stephen at (253) 274-9722.

COME AND SEE WHAT IS IN STORE FOR OWEN BEACH

Metro Parks Tacoma planners will present the latest plans to upgrade amenities and improve access to Owen Beach during an open house Feb. 10 at Point Defiance Park’s new Environmental Learning Center.

The Owen Beach presentation is first on the agenda of the open house, which runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The learning center, located just outside Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, is a shared facility with Tacoma Public Schools. The open house will focus on Metro Parks Tacoma capital improvements and programs.

“Metro Parks hopes that having the open house on a Saturday will be convenient timing for citizens,” said Park Board President Andrea Smith. “Many of our public meetings take place on weeknights, but we know they sometimes introduce schedule conflicts and child-care issues. You can bring your whole family to this open house, and enjoy the park afterward.”

On hot summer days, Owen Beach is a magnet for swimmers, sunbathers, picnickers, kayakers and others who just want to dip their toes in Puget Sound.

To make visits more enjoyable and accessible for all, planners propose to:

  • Reconfigure the parking lot
  • Build new restrooms
  • Upgrade and expand the existing picnic shelter
  • Improve waterfront access for kayakers and to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards
  • Add several nature-based play features similar to those at Tacoma Nature Center’s Discovery Park.

Metro Parks Tacoma project administrator Kristi Evans and a team of consultants from Site Workshop landscape architects will answer questions and discuss the proposal with members of the public. An online survey will be posted to DestinationPointDefiance.org for those who can’t attend.

Evans said the plans were designed with both people and habitat in mind. The aim is to build something sustainable; one factor that has influenced the design is the likelihood of future sea-level rise.

Owen Beach improvements were among the plans promised to Metro Parks voters who in 2014 approved a $198 million bond issue for multiple capital projects. A total of $4.6 million has been set aside for Owen Beach, including $2.25 million from the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office. Construction is not likely to take place before 2020.

At the start of the open house, one of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s animal ambassadors and their handlers will greet people. Besides Owen Beach, the open house also will address:

  • Parking and circulation
  • Wilson Way, the bicycle-pedestrian bridge that will link the park’s trails to Ruston Way
  • A new multi-use parking area close to the boat launches
  • The 11-acre recreation area on top of the park’s breakwater peninsula
  • The Point Defiance roundabout project
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Summer camps

A Pierce Transit representative also will be on hand to talk about a high-capacity transit initiative for the system’s busiest route.

The day’s full schedule will be posted to DestinationPointDefiance.org and to Facebook close to the event.

AMERICAN LEGION POST HOLDS OPEN HOUSE

American Legion Post #187 and American Legion Auxiliary Unit #187 are holding an open house for the public to come and see how the Legion and its volunteers are there for veterans and spouses seeking assistance with benefits. The organization serves veterans, military and families both at home and overseas. Some of its programs include VA American Lake Hospital, creative arts, children and youth, Boys and Girls State and the Poppy Project. The open house will run from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 9315 Gravelly Lake Dr., Ste. 102, Lakewood. There will also be a social on Feb. 21, 6 p.m. For more information, call (253) 589-0187.

SHOW SOME PUPPY LOVE ON FEB. 11

Puppy Love is a silent auction created to raise money for Sunny Sky’s Animal Rescue, a 501(C)(3) no kill animal rescue and shelter that finds forever homes for more than 800 dogs and cats every year, all without the help of public funding. The rescue operation relies completely on the generosity of people like you. This year the event will be held on Sunday, Feb. 11, 4-7 p.m. at The Club at The Boatyard, 3117 Harborview Dr. in Gig Harbor.

Your ticket purchase, $35-$50, includes event admission, heavy appetizers, complimentary drinks, a well-rounded collection of auction items to bid on, a parade featuring Sunny Sky’s Animal Rescue alumni, and an assortment of adorable dogs available for adoption. You will also allow Sunny Sky’s Animal Rescue to keep saving dogs and cats by providing the much-needed funds to feed, house and provide them with veterinary care until the furry friends place them in their forever home.

All donations are tax deductible. For tickets, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/puppy-love-tickets-39481963616. If you can’t attend, you can still help by clicking on the ticket button and go to the donation only option.

O’BAN BILL TARGETS CRIMINALS WEARING BODY ARMOR

Sen. Steve O’Ban (R-University Place) has introduced legislation that would mean longer sentences for criminals who wear body armor while committing a crime. The bill’s title honors fallen Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel McCartney, who was fatally wounded in a Jan. 8 shootout involving at least one suspect wearing body armor.

According to media reports, McCartney heroically chased and exchanged fire with two burglary suspects, striking one suspect five times. However, that suspect’s body armor deflected the bullets, allowing the gunfire to continue and McCartney was fatally wounded.

Senate Bill 4353 would add to the sentences handed down to offenders who wear body armor and carry a firearm while committing a crime. A minimum of five years or twice the amount listed below (whichever is greater) would be added to the standard sentence range:

  • five years for a class A felony; or a maximum sentence of at least 20 years, or both
  • three years for a class B felony, or a maximum sentence for 10 years, or both and;
  • 18 months for class C felony, or with a maximum sentence of five years, or both.

“This bill is essential for public safety,” said O’Ban. “Criminals wear body armor because they are engaging in violent activity and this bill would discourage that. This will protect our officers and save lives.”

HELP LIBRARY SYSTEM MEET NEEDS OF GROWING COMMUNITY

Pierce County Library System is committed to serving growing communities and it wants to know residents’ top priorities for library services. This winter, the Library System is seeking the public’s input to learn the public’s top priorities for library services.

“We are talking with people about the Library’s funding constraints, which stem from costs to run the Library System growing at a faster and higher rate than revenues,” said Georgia Lomax, executive director of the Library System. “In the past 12 years, our service area has grown by 82,000 people, straining resources to serve growing communities.”

In recent years, costs to run the Library System have increased by an average of 4-7 percent a year, while property tax revenues have increased at an average rate of 1-3 percent. Property taxes make up approximately 94 percent of Pierce County Library’s revenue.

Population surges and significant use have outgrown many library buildings. At the same time, many library buildings are aging. Since 2006 the population in the Library’s service area has grown from 518,000 to 600,000 people. Whereas the population increased by 16 percent, the number of people with Pierce County Library cards grew by a significant amount: 63 percent. At the end of 2017, 323,000 people were active cardholders.

While more people have been moving into the Library’s service area, the public’s request and expectation for services have been growing.

The use of library materials – checkouts of books, movies, music and other items – has grown by 33 percent since 2006. During that same time, attendance in classes and events – such as story times and block play for kids, and technology and job readiness courses for adults – has surged by 700 percent.

In addition to the mounting population and significant use of library services, the Library System has out-lived the re-authorized levy voters passed in 2006. The Library has met or surpassed all four levy promises: more books and materials, hours, services for kids and teenagers, and technology services. The Library projected the 2006 levy would meet service needs for up to six years. The Library has stretched that funding for 12 years.

Since 2009 the gap between service needs and available funding averaged about $2 million a year, for a total of $20 million. To balance its budget and sustain services, the Library has eliminated or reduced services. Most notably in 2018, it cut spending on books and other materials; deferred major facility investments and software system upgrades; eliminated hoopla, a service that provided downloadable and streaming movies, TV shows and audiobooks; and ended the public’s use of meeting rooms when the libraries are closed.

The Library wants to hear the public’s priorities for library services at open houses at Pierce County Libraries in February:

  • Monday, Feb. 12, 5-7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 21, 3-5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 17 locations; except Tillicum Pierce County Library at 1-3 p.m.

The Library is also asking for input via an online survey, now through March 10, at www.surveymonkey.com/r/7D75VJ9.

Library leaders will share the public’s ideas with a community advisory committee, which the Library is forming to review and assess funding library services. The committee is expected to make a recommendation about funding for the Library to the Library’s Board of Trustees this summer.

Options to manage funding might include asking voters to increase property taxes to serve the area’s growing communities or further decreasing library services.

By state law, library districts, such as Pierce County Library, may receive property taxes for up to 50 cents per every $1,000 in assessed property value. The Library’s current tax rate is 42.94 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value that is projected to decrease to 41.50 cents in 2019.

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