Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

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May 17, 2011 at 6:27am

5 Things To Do Today: Booze and Tattoos, "Aura" chat, Elmo and more ...

Emily and Tessa will have your back tonight at the Gruv Lounge. Photography by Steve Dunkelberger

TUESDAY, MAY 17, 2011 >>>

1. Sweet mother of Minnie Pearl! The Gruv Lounge and Nightclub passes over the usual Tuesday night trivia/goldfish races high jinks in favor of some swinging live rockabilly, pin-up girls, and cheap booze. The music is a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll. Classic cars ride the sidewalk. Sailor Jerry rum is in the house. There's more go-cat-go than you can shake a stick at. We dare you to even try to shake a stick at it. It begins at 8 p.m. And the Gritty City Sirens burlesque show will drop by for a twirl. Click here to see photos from last week's Booze and Tattoos night.

2. Mexican Labor Minister Carlos Abascal claimed Carlos Fuentes's gothic novella Aura, first published in 1962, corrupted young women. Sounds like a read right up the Banned Book Club's alley. The club meets at 7 p.m. inside the Tempest Lounge to discuss said book and pound $3.75 wells.

3. Riki Ott, marine biologist and co-founder of Move to Amend, Craig Salins, director of Washington Public Campaigns, and Sen. Adam Kline, 37th District, lead the community forum "Democracy Hijacked - and How to Fix It" beginning at 7 p.m. inside The Evergreen State College Longhouse in Olympia.

4. Join Elmo, Zoe, Abby Cadabby, Teddy Monster, Zoe's pet rock Rocco and thousands of kids just losing it when Sesame Street Live hits the Tacoma Dome at 7 p.m.

LINK: More arts and entertainment events in the South Sound

LINK: Catch a movie!

May 13, 2011 at 3:49pm

TACOMA WEEK IN REVIEW: Utility workers get a raise, Pierce Transit does half the dirty work, and David Boe’s campaign kick-off party

Pierce Transit made some cuts this week, but not all of them ...

In search of some local political scensterism I stopped by Tacoma City Councilman David Boe's campaign kick-off party at the Maritime Museum Wednesday evening. Listening to the night's speeches made two things clear: apparently urban-focused architects make fantastic city council members (makes sense), and David Boe is an alternative brand of local politician. Since being appointed in 2010 it had been unclear until recently if Boe would run for Position 7 once the time came. A visual artist, thespian and musician, Boe is a pleasant, albeit quirky, break from the political norm.

Fellow council members Woodards, Fey, Campbell, Walker and Mello all addressed the crowd, in addition to Boe. Walker also read a praise-laden statement from Mayor Strickland, calling Boe's appointment "one of the smartest decisions we've (the council) ever made."

To read the full Tacoma Week in Review column, click here.

May 6, 2011 at 3:33pm

TACOMA WEEK IN REVIEW: "Yes we canabis!"


Around 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning I was woken by the sound of chanting protestors gathering across the street from my apartment in front of the City of Tacoma Municipal Building. "Yes we cannabis!" was the rallying call of day (a not-so-subtle nod to President Obama's election slogan, if you're new to America). Many held signs with slogans like "Marijuana is safer than alcohol," "Pain or Pot?" or my personal favorite for its frank honesty, "Need my Weed."

As you'll recall, Tacoma has been dragging its feet making a determination about what to do with the medical marijuana dispensaries, and in ruling on civil suits filed by local cannabis dispensaries, as it waits for potential policy setting legislation from the Legislature in Olympia. Thursday, Tacoma City Hearing Examiner Rodney Kerslake granted a 60-day continuance on the appeals cases of dozens local medical marijuana dispensaries facing the possible revocation of their city business licenses.

If the Legislature fails to accomplish anything during this year's session, the problem will be right back where it started.  Tacoma has been banking on Olympia clarifying our state's well-meaning but poorly written medical marijuana law since at least last October, when all medical marijuana dispensaries in the city received cease and desist letters citing licensing violations, only to have the City Council issue a last-minute stay of execution under enormous pressure from dispensary proponents and medical marijuana patients.

To read the full column by Zach Powers click here.

Filed under: Tacoma, Community, Politics,

May 3, 2011 at 4:41pm

There’s no party like a Pierce County Executive kick-off party

Norm Dicks and Pat McCarthy


Last Wednesday, April 27, a crowd gathered at the Varsity Grill in downtown Tacoma for the kick-off of Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy's campaign for re-election.

I know what you're you thinking, and yes, you're correct - McCarthy isn't up for re-election until 2012. However, her campaign appeared to be fully operational (Star Wars voice) as staff paced around the event greeting and planning with guests and kicking off what will be a 17-month campaign. 

Although no candidate has yet filed to challenge McCarthy, the event may have been held early as a display of strength and community support to intimidate potential challengers. County Councilman Dick Muri, coming off an "L" in 2010 at the hands of Congressman Adam Smith, is rumored to be considering a run.

Click here to read Zach Powers's full review of the Pat McCarthy campaign kick-off party.

Filed under: Politics, Tacoma,

April 29, 2011 at 3:13pm

TACOMA WEEK IN REVIEW: Cover-ups, retirements, Sustainability Reports, bike helmets and fear over medical marijuana

The third annual Tacoma Bike Swap is Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the University of Puget Sound Memorial Fieldhouse.


State Senator Debbie Regala has announced she won't be running for re-election, meaning the good people of the 27th Legislative District (much of Tacoma, the City of Ruston and part of Fife) will be electing her replacement in 2012. Regala has held the seat for 17 years and has been widely popular amongst her constituency. Any guesses as to who will run to replace her?

To read the full "Tacoma Week in Review" by Zach Powers, including the Zina Linnik Amber Alert cover up, a Sustainability Report for Pierce County and Governor Gregoire being too scared to sign the medical marijuana bill, click here.

Filed under: Community, Politics, Crime, Tacoma,

April 24, 2011 at 11:10am

COVER STORY: Ken Balsley loves Lacey

Ken Balsley


I'd never heard of Ken Balsley when I was assigned this interview, but that was my fault, not his. He's been doing everything he can to get his name out there. If you grew up in this area, you know him from his commentaries on KGY AM 1240. Or you might read his blog, Ken's Corner, at kenbalsley.com. Or perhaps you live in Lacey, where he's all but ubiquitous. Ken Balsley is a very big fish in a growing pond. And yes, if you voted in our Best of Olympia poll, he thinks you, Gentle Reader, are full of shit.

Oh, we'll get to that, I promise.

To read Christian Carvajal's full story on Lacey's Ken Balsley, click here.

Filed under: Community, Lacey, Politics,

April 22, 2011 at 1:23pm

TACOMA WEEK IN REVIEW: Farmers markets return, Pierce County signs up for two “eco challenges,” the shopping cart problem and incumbents who want to keep their job

PAT MCCARTHY: She likes her job

We all know presidential campaigns are marathons, spanning multiple years. But so to, apparently, are Pierce County Executive races. County Executive Pat McCarthy recently launched a new website and is holding a campaign kickoff event April 27 at the Varsity Grill. On her website McCarthy touts having "re-prioritized the delivery of core government services, trimmed the size of government, consolidated programs, and challenged managers to find operational efficiencies while improving the quality of public service."

Currently no other candidates have filed to oppose McCarthy, but they still have roughly a year and two months to do so.

To read the full column by Zach Powers click here.

April 18, 2011 at 4:37pm

TACOMA: Celebrations, gardens, green policies and elections

LIFE IN THE 253 >>>

Community Events

There are few things the City of Tacoma enjoys more than commemorative celebrations. A new school, a second grand opening to a museum, or maybe even a new tree in Wright Park: if an argument can be made something makes the city a better place common practice is to make sure it receives a ceremony of some kind.

So true to form, a groundbreaking ceremony is being held Tuesday at 9 a.m. to commemorate the next phase of work on the Murray Morgan Bridge.

You read that right. We're not celebrating the bridge's actual reopening... only a new step of its rehabilitation.

BUT jokes aside, it should be a great opportunity to hear city officials speak on the bridge and the bright future of downtown Tacoma.

According to Mayor Strickland's January "State of the City" address, Tacoma will soon have the most community garden space per capita in the country (take that, Portland, Bellingham and Berkley!).

That's undeniably cool, but I'd wager I'm not the only person in town without a clue as to how to get involved in a community garden. I'd also wager I'm not the only person to lack basic gardening skills.

Next Saturday, Tacoma-Pierce County Community Garden Project and Cascade Land Conservatory are sponsoring the second annual Community Garden Summit. The free event will provide insight into how to grow food and how to get involved with a community garden. It's happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 23 at the Manitou Community Center (4806 S. 66th St., Tacoma). Children are welcome.

City Policy

This Tuesday the City Council will introduce two new sustainable policies, both designed to make sure the City of Tacoma leads by example as it encourages business and residents to live more sustainably. One policy will mandate City of Tacoma departments purchase more sustainable goods (light bulbs, paper, vehicles, etc). The other will make sure all new buildings, as well as the refurbishment of existing buildings, meet LEED or comparable standards. The full story is part the Volcano's special Green Issue this week.

Local Elections

Karen Smitherman, a Tacoma Public Schools teacher, officially announced her run for Tacoma City Council, Position 1 last week.

"I want to create an environment that listens to our constituents, increases local jobs, improves public safety, promotes transparency in government, improves transportation mobility, and creates effective policies that protect our environment," Smitherman said in press release issued by her campaign Friday.

In addition to professional experience teaching and directing educational programs, Smitherman has an impressive resume of community involvement, highlighted by her current work on the boards of the Tacoma Urban Network and Pierce County Juvenile Justice Coalition. The wife of former State Senator Bill Smitherman also has worked as a board member of the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts.

Tacoma City Council Position 1 is being vacated by Spiro Manthou who has served two terms - the maximum. Two other candidates have also filled for this seat, Joseph Atkinson, a real estate agent and legislative aide toState Rep. Katrina Asay (R), and Anders Ibsen, supervisor and vice-chair of Pierce Conservation District and also a legislative aide to State Rep. Cindy Ryu (D).

Expect more on this race in the coming months, as the battle for Position 1 may be the only Tacoma City Council seat of the three on the ballot this fall to be closely contested. Incumbents Ryan Mello and David Boe have yet to draw formidable opponents.

April 12, 2011 at 4:44pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: What the Boe!?!


Today's comment comes from BonBon45 in regard to our recent story on efforts by Tacoma City Councilmembers David Boe and Ryan Mello to stop a street-level parking lot from being built at 12th and Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma.

BonBon45 writes,

Maybe the city could run a competitive process for ideas to fill that space, and David Boe could act as a consultant to a group of bidders and then try to steer the council towards awarding the project to his group - just like he did with Cheney Stadium. I am a little tired of many who post here acting like, because he is an architect, he is the "expert" at urban planning and will be Tacoma's saviour.

April 11, 2011 at 4:06pm

Mello and Boe: “Just what Tacoma needs, another parking lot”

DISAPPOINTMENT: Ryan Mello and David Boe look on as the hole gets filled.

Four months ago the Tacoma City Council voted 6-3 to build a surface parking lot at the vacant property on the corner of Pacific Avenue and 12th Avenue. The parking lot is being constructed at the request of DaVita Inc. with the help of state grants from Governor Christine Gregoire originally intended to help keep Russell Investments in Tacoma. The site, formerly Sauro's Cleanerama, is unique because of its prime location and also because it is dug out, sitting nearly 25 feet underground - a feature that might have been appealing to developers despite the site's history as an unintentional toxic dump for perchloroethylene, a dry cleaning chemical found there in dangerous levels until a joint effort between Tacoma and the Washington State Department of Ecology to clean up the mess. Last week construction crews began filling the enormous hole with dirt. Once the hole is filled, the surface parking lot will be installed.

Throughout the process of approving the parking lot project councilmen Ryan Mello and David Boe have been vocal in their opposition of the plan and what they perceive as a lack of economic and urban design foresight by fellow council members and City Manager Eric Anderson. As crews worked to fill the hole Friday the two men stopped by to marvel at what they see as a travesty and a blown opportunity.

"Here we have a site that has alley access that's right off the 705 exit, (with) an entrance onto 705 a half block away, a light rail station a block away, a convention center and a hotel," observes Boe. "This place is screaming out for development. This is an urban design crime."

To read the full interview by Zach Powers, click here.

Filed under: Business, Tacoma, Politics,

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