The tangled tale of voters guide statements concerning the Feb. 12 Tacoma school bond vote has one more twist.
Not only did jailed activist Robert “The Traveller” Hill miss a Dec. 31 deadline for filing his opposition statement with the county auditor by minutes, but it turns out the Tacoma School Board missed a previous ballot statement deadline by more than a week.
Both school district officials and Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson acknowledged this week that the school board failed to appoint writers of voter pamphlet statements in time to meet their deadline outlined in state law.
But the school board’s mistake made no difference in what voters got to see in their election guide in the end, officials contend.
The law states that members of a local government body must appoint a committee to prepare arguments both for and against a ballot proposal “not later than 45 days before the publication of the pamphlet.”
If they don’t, then that responsibility falls to the auditor.
The school board didn’t name a committee until Dec. 20, when the board held a special meeting seeking both proponents and opponents of the measure. That was only 37 days (counting weekends and holidays) before the guide was scheduled to go out later this month.
“The school district clearly missed their deadline for appointing committees,” Anderson said. “They knew it. They don’t dispute it.”
School district attorney Shannon McMinimee said the missed deadline was a result of “oversight and our one-meeting December schedule.”
The school board, she said, knew about the pro-levy citizens committee, so it forwarded the committee members’ names to the auditor. But no bond opponents had appeared before the board.
Anderson then issued a call for opponents to write a voters guide statement. That’s when Hill volunteered to write the statement from jail. But because he missed his deadline to submit a statement by 12 minutes, his statement never made it into the voters guide.
Hill said in a voice mail to The News Tribune that he believes he was treated unfairly.
“How come I can be 12 minutes late and that’s bad, and the board is nine days late and the ‘Yes’ statement gets to be put in?” he asked.
Hill also complained that Anderson was late in getting materials to him so that he could write his ‘No’ statement. He said he plans to challenge her actions.
The Feb. 12 election includes only two items — Tacoma’s $500 million bond request and a $279.6 million bond request from the Puyallup School District. Anderson said voters guides will be mailed with ballots late this month.
Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635