What is the quickest way to get angry phone calls from readers of The News Tribune in print and online?
I mean other than calling an airman a soldier.
Or printing the wrong Lottery numbers.
Or forgetting to print Dilbert.
But other than those mistakes — oh, and not printing a Merry Christmas banner on Dec. 25 — one thing that is sure to elicit angry reader calls is saying that something that is really in the South End is instead in South Tacoma.
A close second is proclaiming that something in the East Side of Tacoma is really in the South End, or identifying a West End person, place or thing as being in the North End.
Some of this might be lost on more-recent arrivals who try to get by with a North Tacoma-South Tacoma separation. But the longer you’ve been here — and especially if you have been here a long time — this stuff matters.
Part of it is pride of place. Part of it is sibling rivalry. Lincoln High grads know that the school is in the South End and you’d better know it, too (though its students come from the East Side as well). And even though it is just barely over the boundary line, be careful about saying that Stadium High is anywhere but the North End.
These part-of-town designations aren’t vague areas. Each has a specific boundary and if you miss it by half-a-block, you might as well have missed it by a mile. Interstate 5 separates South Tacoma from the South End, for example. And while some think Pacific Avenue divides the South End from the East Side, it is really A Street.
I grew up here and have trouble getting it all right, but I know well the consequences of getting it wrong.
It’s a Tacoma thing.
With that as background, you might see why Marilyn Peterson was unhappy when she opened the brochures promoting the upcoming Tacoma School District bond measure. Similar mailings have been arriving from the school district itself and from a citizen’s committee called Tacoma Citizens for Schools.
Peterson is a proud graduate of the old Park Avenue Elementary, Stewart Middle and Lincoln High School, Class of 1952. She received an education that prepared her to go on to Stanford and Johns Hopkins as well as study at Cornell and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Not bad for a South End girl who returned to Tacoma after she retired.
But nowhere on the maps that show which schools will get improved by the $500 million bond measure is any reference to the South End.
Stewart is shown in something called “East Tacoma.” Lincoln is displayed in – maybe you’d best be sitting down for this – in “South Tacoma.” And Stadium is in what is designated as “Central Tacoma.”
Peterson said she was not pleased being “socked with the obliteration of a historic neighborhood.
“I’m not against renovating Stewart but I don’t want it poached out of our area,” Peterson said of its cartographic exportation to “East Tacoma.”
Following up on the maps became a News Tribune columnist reunion. Former news columnist Kathleen Merryman is co-chair of the Yes on Prop. 1 committee. She said the purpose of the map was to show how broadly the money would be distributed.
“One of the points of this is no one area gets all the benefit everybody gets something,” Merryman said. Future mailings will include more-accurate maps, she said.
School district spokesman Dan Voelpel, a onetime News Tribune business columnist, said he approved the map and should have checked it more closely.
“I should have used the (City of Tacoma’s) neighborhood council boundaries and called it good,” Voelpel said. “I hope people will make their voting decision based on the needs of the kids, and not on how this map was printed.”
Peterson was satisfied after a call from district chief operations officer Sam Bell. And I’ll be voting yes on the bonds as well, just as long as the district doesn’t move Stadium out of the North End again.Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657