Editorials

A medley of voter verdicts on Tuesday’s ballot

Election workers scan ballots Tuesday in the tabulation area of the Pierce County Elections Center.
Election workers scan ballots Tuesday in the tabulation area of the Pierce County Elections Center. Staff photographer

The results are still trickling in, thanks to our glacial approach to counting ballots, but here are a few quick takes on Tuesday’s election:

Puyallup comes through: Voters in the Puyallup School District covered themselves in glory by giving a monster supermajority to the $292.5 million school construction bonds on the ballot. The city may soon lose its title as the Portable Classroom Capital of the Northwest.

Fool’s gold: Tacoma voters drop-kicked the $15 minimum wage initiative into Commencement Bay, sparing the city a storm surge of economic grief. Instead of the magic money measure, they went for the City Council’s phased-in $12 an hour alternative. Tacoma’s electorate is liberal, not crazy.

Political science: Tacoma’s street improvement package — a sales tax measure, and a property and utility tax measure — wound up as a study of public perceptions of revenue alternatives. Citizens turned out to be considerately more willing to pay a somewhat higher sales tax than a higher property tax. People get the heebie-jeebies when their homestead’s at stake.

Give it up: The folks who tried to give Tacoma a “strong mayor” with Proposition 2 — which got dunked — are talking about coming back a better written proposal. We’d much rather they give the whole idea a rest. The grand vision an elected executive would supposedly bring to the city is likely to involve a lot of tax money flowing into the coffers of municipal unions.

Unforced Error: The crashing sound heard from the Narrows to Mount Rainier on Tuesday was the collapse of the plan to build a nine-story, $127 million building to consolidate Pierce County’s county services. The concept — trading expensive office leases for eventual ownership — was sound, but the process was botched. Tuesday’s rejection of the project was the ultimate result of not getting enough outside advice in the earliest stages of planning and site location.

The bigger the decision, the greater the need to tap the best minds available — even if they aren’t county employees.

Free stuff: Washingtonians once again voted themselves easy money by passing Initiative 1366, which proposes to take a penny off the sales tax unless lawmakers put an anti-tax constitutional amendment on the ballot. This is not likely to survive contact with the courts, especially given its potential hit on public school funding, but it will keep Tim Eyman in business as the state’s pre-eminent tax opponent.

Human nature: In theory, Washingtonians voted to legalize regulated sales of marijuana in 2012. In theory, so did the voters of Federal Way.

But wait. Federal Way’s ballot this year included a measure to advise the City Council on whether to lift its moratorium on retail marijuana stores. A big majority told the council to keep the pot shops out. Many voters seem to be good with allowing marijuana sales somewhere — but not in their back yards.

This appears to be the case in Puyallup and a lot of other places. NORML, meet NIMBY.

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