Negotiations are all about leverage, and Tacomans pushing for a hike to minimum wage stand to lose a significant amount of it if the trend of invalid signatures submitted for 15 Now Tacoma’s ballot initiative continues.
As The News Tribune’s Kate Martin reported, Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson revealed Friday that more than 40 percent of signatures evaluated for a $15 minimum wage ballot issue in Tacoma had been deemed invalid. Volunteers with 15 Now Tacoma had submitted 4,747 signatures to the Tacoma city clerk — well above the 3,160 valid signatures the effort needs to make the ballot. But the number of “challenged” John Hancocks in the initial count, largely courtesy of unregistered voters, raises a few troubling possibilities for the grassroots movement.
Most obvious: If the current trend holds through the rest of the verification process, the measure would not have enough signatures to qualify for the fall ballot, though 15 Now Tacoma signature gatherers would have until June 17 to make up the difference.
More nuanced, however, is what this development might mean for Tacoma’s Minimum Wage Task Force.
The good news is Mayor Marilyn Strickland says the task force will “move ahead” regardless of the fate of the 15 Now Tacoma ballot initiative. The task force is scheduled to have its first meeting this week.
“We need to have a conversation about raising the minimum wage in Tacoma,” Strickland says.
I agree, but let’s call this “conversation” what it really is, at least as it applies to the task force.
And if there’s no threat of a ballot initiative raising the minimum wage in Tacoma to $15 an hour, then the willingness to compromise on the part of business interests effectively goes out the window.
What might that mean? For starters, regressive ideas like a tip credit, or a training wage for young or inexperienced workers, might suddenly gain steam. Without the prospect of a minimum wage ballot initiative looming over things, what’s to prevent a take-it-or-leave-it proposition that includes both?
My advice: At the risk of offending the Chamber of Commerce, if it turns out 15 Now Tacoma does need more names, and you see signature gatherers out and about, sign their petitions, even if it’s not the eventual outcome you’re hoping for.
Because without the threat of a ballot initiative, our “right-sized” Tacoma solution seems destined to be far less of a compromise.
That’s to be expected when weighing in on a hot-button local land-use issue. And my stance hasn’t changed: If Tacoma wants to be a real city — and I believe it must be — then developments like Proctor Station are a big part of how we get there. I don’t believe it will ruin the character of the neighborhood; I believe it will strengthen it.
Still, I received more than a few emails from readers upset with my position and the way I characterized their concerns.
In the interest of fostering a legitimate discussion about Tacoma’s future, and the role development will play, I thought I’d take a moment to share some of the more thoughtful responses I received (or at least a few of the ones that didn’t include expletives).
As one reader put it: “Your piece on Proctor Station and the unnamed new idea are good enough for the daily news, but you are missing something. What percentage of the units are for two and two-plus bedrooms? … It is pretty clear that a certain type of family is not welcome here, and the places are being designed to shape this outcome. This is not an accident.”
And as another reader wrote: “I think it is unfair for you to portray the Proctor community as one opposed to development, as if we are close minded and set in our ways. … Development is good, but when it reflects the vision of a small group of people, well I’m sure there a fancy word for that, but it’s not democratic. We want development, but we want it to reflect an aesthetic, and a functional vision that is well planned for the better of the community.”
Rest assured, plenty of more opinions on the matter will be shared this week when, on Wednesday, the Facebook group Residents and Friends of Proctor holds a 5:30 p.m. meeting at the Wheelock Library.