Matt Driscoll

Proctor man loses respect for Driscoll. Our columnist responds.

Does columnist Matt Driscoll still live in his mom’s basement?

In the July edition of "You rip, I respond," News Tribune columnist Matt Driscoll answers reader email about whether he still lives in his mom's basement and if publicly funding the construction of sports stadium is really a good idea.
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In the July edition of "You rip, I respond," News Tribune columnist Matt Driscoll answers reader email about whether he still lives in his mom's basement and if publicly funding the construction of sports stadium is really a good idea.

It’s time, once again, for my monthly, “You rip, I respond,” column.

You know how it works: Folks write or call, and I respond. Then hilarity and an occasional expletive ensues.

I hope you enjoy.

Please don’t breed. Enforcing immigration law is a tragedy? Wow. You are clueless. Are you still living in your mom’s basement? Rainbows and unicorns? Let me guess … I’m a racist because I’m against people violating immigration law and living here illegally? — GB

Too late, GB. The Driscolls have already procreated. Three times. And, believe me, there are certainly moments when I wish you would have reached me with this advice sooner.

Based on the timing of your email, I assume you’re writing in response to my recent column after police shooting death of 69-year-old Willem Van Spronsen outside the Northwest Detention Center on Tacoma’s Tideflats. I just reread it. I used the word tragedy once, describing a death and the use of deadly force. Just so we’re clear.

I also assume we have very different views on immigration and the enforcement policy pursued by the Trump administration.

I’ve been doing this long enough to know engaging with you on the subject, especially point by point, probably won’t do much good. Besides, my mom just baked cookies and I should really get going.

But still, because you brought it up, here are some things I believe:

We need a secure southern border.

We need immigration reform that protects DREAMers, avoids tearing families in the United States apart and creates a fair and realistic way for people to immigrate here from Mexico and elsewhere.

Seeking asylum isn’t a crime, and there are very real reasons why people from Mexico and Central America risk coming here. If you’re skeptical, spend a day talking to the boys at the Selma Carson Home in Fife, nearly all of whom traversed more than a thousand miles — most as unaccompanied minors — because they believed making it to the United States represented their only shot at survival.

We shouldn’t be deporting refugees we welcomed here as small children to countries they’ve never known. That absolutely is a tragedy. It’s also reprehensible.

Finally, President Trump is using immigrants as a scapegoat for a whole slew of real problems in this country, and too many people are eagerly eating it up. He’s espousing racism and effectively tapping into existing societal racism to a point that’s terrifying.

Sometimes it is enough to make me wish we never had children, because watching the country’s descent into darkness and bigotry makes me fear for the future they’ll inhabit.

Hi Matt, I was an ESL teacher in Tacoma for 20 years and the majority of my students were Cambodian or Vietnamese. I’m sick at heart to think that any of them would be subject to deportation. I still have a collection of their personal stories of coming to America. They had been through so much and were truly good kids. — Dan

Thanks, Dan. Well said. See number four above.

Amazing, I finally agree with something you wrote. — Tom

Thanks, Tom. First time for everything, I suppose. Let’s not make a habit out of this.

I am writing to correct the lopsided view you gave of the residents’ feelings about the planned building program here at (Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community). My husband and I have been residents here for three years and had to make the move from one of the six-plexes slated for demolition. …TLRC bent over backwards to make our new six-plex unit just the way we wanted it. ... I am very happy to be where I am right now! — Donna

Thanks for reaching out, Donna. I appreciate it.

Donna was actually one of a handful of residents who launched a letter-writing campaign recently to tell me how much they enjoy living at the Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community.

Their beef: My column focused too much on the unrest over development plans and displacements at TLRC and not enough on those who are happy.

Clearly, choices were made. That’s always the case.

I found a story in Ron Ford, the 80-year-old military vet scrapping to hold onto the small bit of certainty he thought he was paying for nearly a decade ago when he moved in to TLRC.

Ford isn’t alone, and his conviction is compelling. Whether the law ultimately agrees or not, he’s got a point to make.

However, I also — as always — tried to be fair. I reached out and had a lengthy conversation with TLRC president and CEO Kevin McFeely, who told me 6 of 10 affected households had already made the move, and all were happy. I reported this.

I also interviewed David Quiring, one of those residents, who confirmed his satisfaction. I reported this as well.

Clearly, as is almost always the case, the situation is complicated, and opinions differ.

In the end, however, the human drama — Ford, and the three other strong-willed retirement home residents refusing to bow in the face of development — was the angle I focused on.

I am happy to hear you’ve been pleased with your move, Donna, and glad this mailbag column provided an opportunity to share your perspective.

Your condescending tone and lack of consideration of any other options is regrettable. You have lost my respect. — Tony

Tony was responding to my latest column on Proctor development, for those playing at home.

Again, choices were made. And, admittedly, it’s hard to argue with him on the issue of tone. My column was dismissive of North Enders who are up in arms about development in Proctor.

The thing is ... that’s how I feel. So, sorry not sorry?

That said, I do understand how it probably came off and the irritation it causes. I could have been softer, or padded my blows, that’s for sure. I also could have spent more column space — or any, really — validating some of the concerns I am sympathetic to (believe it or not).

For instance, the local bookstore is closing, citing a significant rent increase. The building the bookstore calls home recently sold for $2.7 million, after previously selling for $213,000 in 2005.

While you can’t hold the new, dense developments in Proctor entirely responsible for this property value increase, it surely played a part. Things like this do represent a change in the neighborhood, and I get why that stinks.

I maintain that, as a city, Tacoma has to plan thoughtfully for growth. And one of the best ways to protect against sprawl, climate change, the loss of farmland, and the loss of single-family neighborhoods is to create dense living opportunities — for those who want them — in all of the city’s urban centers.

Still, here’s the bottom line: If you’re going to advocate for density in intentionally zoned urban centers — like I am — you have to own some of the real bummers about it. Because it’s not all rainbows and unicorns (Right, GB?)

That’s also capitalism and relying on the private market for you. People love capitalism when it works in their favor, but when it bites them — or bites their favorite used book stores — they can turn quickly.

Thanks for the commentary, Matt. Books have been written regarding public funding and building stadiums for professional sports teams with sometimes disastrous results for the taxpayers. — Robert

Appreciate the note, Robert, regarding my column on the proposed soccer stadium for Reign FC and the Tacoma Defiance.

For the most part, I’m right there with you. Like many, I’ve had it with for-profit sports teams milking the public for stadiums. There are far better things to do with public money than handing it over to private sports interests.

At the same time, some perspective: This isn’t an NFL team asking taxpayers for millions in subsidies. The price for the proposed soccer stadium is $60 million. The $300 million total you’ve probably heard a lot about includes the creation of an entire development complex, including housing, food and retail. At this point, it’s unclear how much public money might be involved in any of it, though the $60 million stadium — and a public-private split of some sort — is all that’s really being discussed.

Clearly, how much the public is being asked to spend and how much the private interests are willing to put on the table are the biggest outstanding question. Until we know that for certain, the deal is hard to judge.

Still, Robert also included a list of public benefits he’d like to see in any such deal. That’s where I am as well. As it stands, I’m whelmed — not overwhelmed and not underwhelmed — with the soccer fields, stadium access, and tax revenue that’s being touted as benefits for Tacoma.

In short, I think Tacoma, Metro Parks and the private soccer interest can get creative and come up with something that’s better.

What might that look like?

If the development of housing is part of the deal, how much of it will be truly affordable, and could it be part of the city’s affordable housing action plan?

What does the future revenue stream look like, and could Metro Parks or the city get a piece of it to help sustain and expand needed services throughout the city — particularly in under-served neighborhoods?

What if the living-wage construction jobs associated with building the stadium and the surrounding development went to Tacoma and Pierce County laborers?

Those are just three ideas, and surely there are more — and potentially better ones — out there. I’d urge all parties involved to think seriously about them.

Why? Because I there’s a lot to work with here, and reason to be excited. If we eschew the usual public-private stadium deal — which typically involves municipalities being coerced into spending public dollars for the promise of tax revenue down the road — this project could be a real winner.

Time will tell.

Matt Driscoll is a reporter and The News Tribune’s metro news columnist. A McClatchy President’s Award winner, Driscoll lives in Central Tacoma with his wife and three children. He’s passionate about the City of Destiny and strives to tell stories that might otherwise go untold.
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