Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tribune's Peter Callaghan on Ruston's Gambling Tax

Peter Callaghan has an interesting column today on Ruston's survival and taxing issues, specifically the gambling tax increase. He has some interesting points. Read more here...

Point Defiance Casino Hearing

There will be a hearing tomorrow for Point Defiance Cafe and Casino's lawsuit against the Town of Ruston at 10 am in Judge Hogan's courtroom (Room 2-C). Joan Mell, attorney for the casino, said they are asking the judge void the tax increase imposed by the council.

If you have some free time tomorrow, stop in. It should be interesting to hear the arguments and see how the new town attorney does in court. ~ Karen

Ruston Debate

Ruston voters will decide on August 19th if they want to change the town's form of government from an elected mayor who runs the executive branch to a council-manager structure, where a paid manager runs the town.

Here are both the pro and con brochures that have gone out to town residents. As usual, I didn't get the material from the Ruston Connection group, who are running the "pro" campaign. But a friend snagged one. I thought you'd like to see both arguments. If you'd like to have your opinion on this issue posted to this main page, please email me at ~ Karen

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What Others Think

I find it truly odd that the appointed mayor (who quit the council) wants to hire a city manager when he is retired and available to work. Sure the mayor has a life outside the town's business. What with his resume stating all that he could do back when he was elected to council, I would think he could do all things mayoral standing on his head.

Also, the "mayors corner" blurb in the town newsletter only repeated a portion of Steve Marcotte's assessment of the Ruston financial future. Mr. Marcotte also stated that while the reserves would indeed be depleted over time, the revenue coming in from the Point Ruston project and the hated condo would also be ramping up in later years.

Much like a household, to use the mayor's analogy, we would have to tighten the budget and look at possible income sources. But, in my house, I certainly would not hire an expensive manager to handle my precious dwindling cash until I found another job. I expect I would use my own skills to manage the situation for a considerable savings.

Mr Mayor, it is time to step up and live up to your resume. Do your duty and go to work. Hiring a city manager is admitting that your experience is not up to handling two construction projects and this tiny town.

Craig Fletcher

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Stack Hill Admendments: Opinion

Council Member Bradley Huson gave a stirring speech at the special meeting last week just before losing a critical vote on the Stack Hill amendments. He was especially concerned about the contentious view corridor . Several people wanted his comments documented. With his permission, here is Mr. Huson's speech:

Is this our legacy? Is this how we move forward?

This is ridiculous.

This is the reason that the Master Development Plan is being replaced with a new development plan for the lower ASARCO site. The old plan is outdated, full of contradictions and assumes many things that are just not relevant to the way that Ruston is changing.

The last thing (most unlikely) that was envisioned on any of the ASARCO site was single family residential, yet that what we are getting on Stack Hill. A view corridor was relevant with a different type of development. One that was far less harmonious than the one that is currently being built. The old plan with its suggestion of 30 foot high buildings on top of the existing grade (which was 20+ feet higher than the current grade) needed view corridors to help break up what could have been a massive structure. That is why the view corridor was there.

We do not have one massive structure or two massive structures which would be so out of character up here on the the hill (as the monstrosity is behind me). We have 30+ single family homes which are dispersed over the site adding to the character of the neighborhood, not detracting from it. Of course Mr. Cohen graded the site to his own advantage. Of course he decided to build singe family homes here, which is one of his strong suits. What we as a town got from this is a better net view for everyone, and an addition to the neighborhood that we can all be proud of.

People have asked, but what has Mr. Cohen given to the town? That Mr. Cohen has any kind of good will left for the Town of Ruston is a miracle in itself. Through inept and lackadaisical leadership and aggressive planning by Huitt-Zollars, Mr. Cohen has paid over $400,000 to develop this property. And we have all been discussing this for over 2 years with no end in sight. The reason the discussion continues - we are trying to force incompatible items from the Master Development Plan onto Stack Hill.

The process bodes very unwell for the next several weeks of presentations and meetings by Point Ruston. If we can't move forward with a simple single family residential plan, how will it be possible to deal with the complexities of a hotel, Shoreline permits, 200 residential units, 200,000 square feet of commercial space, the LID and all of the parking, infrastructure, traffic and services that go with it?

I hate to lose when I think that I am right, but what is equally frustrating is the fact that those who vote against me have absolutely no strategy for moving forward. Once they vote no, that is the end of the subject. There is no plan to compromise or move the matter forward in any way shape or form.

I only ask that common sense prevail and that we can move this matter forward in a way that is fair to everyone.

Mother of Ruston

Jim Wingard, who grew up in Ruston, had this farewell message for Mary Joyce after the dedication ceremony on Saturday...

Mary, you are already sorely missed! Not that everything always went smoothly. After all, Ruston is a small town and big personalities tend to clash. But somehow through it all you managed to steer an even keel and help to right the ship when things were going awry.

I especially remember when my Dad, Leo, recorder/microphone in hand would get especially excited he would get a call the next day inviting him to breakfast. He thoroughly enjoyed breakfast with you and Bert and your family and ruffled feathers seemed to be assuaged.

But over the period of 38 years this became almost a routine occurrence. I am finally getting it now he may have contrived, at least semi-consciously, to get invited to breakfast with the Joyces. We will never know but somehow I think he is smiling right now.

We cannot tell you enough what a treasure you are and sadly I don't think you can be replaced.

Happy retirement and please pray for us as a town we can pull together not apart.

Monday, July 28, 2008

AWC Presentation: July 28, 2008

Stan Finkelstein, Executive Director for AWC gave a presentation tonight about all the reasons why Ruston should change its form of government. His handouts are available on Ruston Reports here...

In addition to leading AWC, Mr. Finkelstein teaches public administration courses at Seattle University. It was clear he strongly supported this change in form of government. Most of the audience was the usual crowd (and already decided on the issue).

His presentation read like the "pro-manager" brochure that is getting hand delivered around town, so I won't repeat the arguments here. Of interest to me, he did confirm there is only 1 other town our size (of 700) in the state with a city manager. There are only 7 municipalities under 1500 that have this form of government.

The strong mayor-council (like Ruston now has) is predominate in Washington, especially since most cities have a population of less than 5,000. About one-third of all cities have a manager or administrator. He did not like the idea of an administrator, which he felt was beholden to only the mayor rather than a larger group such as the council majority (in Ruston's case, 3 people).

He noted that it is unusual for a town this size to have professional staff, but we are facing unusual circumstances with our current development needs. He did admit that this change would be permanent, unless we voted again to switch back to the mayor-council format later once the development is done in a few years. He still felt a manager would be best even after Ruston was built out.

He also confirmed that although the passage of this measure would entail electing a full slate of new council members, that would not occur until November 2009, when the majority of the council members and the mayor are up for election anyway. He felt the transition to this new form of government (if approved) would take about a year.

I've shared what I found interesting from the meeting tonight. This is a complex issue that will have big implications on the character and sustainability of our future. I encourage everyone to research this issue carefully and make an informed vote on August 19th. If you want a copy of the audio from tonight's meeting, I'm happy to provide a copy. ~ Karen

Change Ruston's Form of Government?

If you have any questions, concerns or want to learn more about the proposal that Ruston voters will decide on August 19th, please attend the special meeting tonight. Stan Finkelstein, director for the Association of Washington Cities, will explain the differences between the current form of government and what the town council has proposed.

We get to ask questions ~ a major shift in policy for the council. So please attend, listen, ask and gather all the information you need to make the best decision. Tonight, 7 pm in the council chambers (Ruston School, 5219 N. Shirley, Room 101).

Protection Order Granted Against Civil Service Member

Shirley Jones obtained a sexual assault protection order last Friday against Bill Walker, Ruston's newest civil service commissioner. Here is a link to the Superior Court notice here...

Although I have been aware of these allegations for some time, I have been reluctant to discuss them here. But the issue has moved into the public realm now and Ruston's citizens are both capable and deserve the right to sort out this situation for themselves.

The police department said this morning they will not discuss their investigation on this matter. I encourage our blog commenters to please refrain from spreading rumors and to keep the comments here honest, but civil. This is a very serious situation for all the people involved and since Bill is an appointed official for the town, a serious situation for Ruston as well. ~ Karen

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thank You For 38 Years

The dedication ceremony for Mary Krillich Joyce was held today. Mary is our longtime former council member who retired at the end of last year after almost 40 years of council service.

Mary told us about how she was able to get the Tacoma School District to give Ruston back the school building in the 1980's, one of the many reasons the former gym in this great building is named in her honor. A great walk down memory lane with lots of Joyce family and longtime Rustonites....
Mary and her husband Bert
Mary and longtime resident Jim Wingard

Mary receiving her plaque from Mayor Everding
Mary telling us about how she convinced the Tacoma School board to give Ruston the school property
Council Member Bradley Huson's remarks

Council Member Jim Hedrick's remarks

Council Member Dan Albertson's remarks
The resolution from Tacoma Schools giving the building back to Ruston, along with photos from that day and gifts of Mary's council name plate and a brick from the former Asarco stack

Mary and one of her sons along with Mrs. Hill, former teacher at the Ruston School

National Geographic Traveler in Ruston

Don's Ruston Market got a kudos this week from National Geographic Traveler as they made their way through Ruston, sipping on a Green River. It's posted on their travel blog here... Way to go guys!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Nice Shots

Some interesting photos are posted here titled "DT Megalopolis RUSTON with Tacoma on the side". Only a few shots are actually within our boundaries, but some nice documentation of the drive into Tacoma and through Ruston on a beautiful summer day.

Leadership, Blogs and Ruston

A new comment came in today an old post on January 19th, shortly after the rancorous fire department study session. I want to share the full dialogue because the sentiment here is even more poignant today after the last couple of council meetings. I'm not going to try to defend what we do here on this blog ~ it is what is and provides an important venue for communicating. I deeply appreciate everyone's input, especially those who don't agree with me. It's that dialogue that holds the potential for making us a better community. ~ Karen
Posted by Ruston Home at 10:16:00 PM (January 19, 2008)
I wanted to post this anonymous comment because it reflects much of my personal feelings. I hope and pray our elected officials can find the strength to lead us through these troubled times. We all hope for better days ahead. Thank you for this thoughtful comment....

We encourage a variety of opinion. If anyone wants to post on this main page, please email me at

I would like to look at this recent change as an opportunity for all of us to set differences aside: Ruston blog and Ruston connection. I want Ruston to remain Ruston. I fear we are on the verge of loosing that, then we become a nonfactor in any decisions/discussions affecting our future.

I would ask for our Council members to lead us in the right direction. I did not vote for all of you, and I certainly don't agree with the opinions you all might have expressed, but I must trust you at this time. It saddens me that I fear what my trust might deliver, but I simply do not have the time to give to fight.

Please. Understand that the majority of us in Ruston don't care about who is with which "group", we care about keeping our town our town. Too many of us are tired. We are tired from working full time to support out families. We are tired because that is just the world we live in. That is why we vote for you. And I, at this time, trust, and pray, for all of you to overcome your differences to represent and develop a sense of community we once had and need again.

Thank you for serving us. I know it is not an easy task for any of you. And I appreciate you all. We are in your hands. Please remember this.

Karen said...
I appreciate this thoughtful comment. There is much I agree with here. But I don't think we have to set aside our differences to reach compromise. I think we need to hear and understand each other, not stop expressing our opinions. The current 'hostile' environment that Everding deplores is created by the council majority (and often the mayor) not hearing other points of view. People have turned up the volume in an attempt to be heard. Not being heard on the fire department issue is a clear indication of this trend. Expressing ourselves, both here and the Ruston Connection, are good things. Hearing each other is more difficult, but vital to our survival. Let's hope we can take this next step...

January 19, 2008 10:53 PM
Ruston Resident said...
"Set aside differences:" How would you propose doing that under these circumstances. The differences are fundamental to our future. One side, the Connection folks, want us to annex to Tacoma. They made that very clear when Stebner went and met with Tacoma's mayor with that very topic on the agenda. FOIA requests produced the proof. The other side, who seem to be congregating on the blog, wants to preserve our town. Where would you propose to compromise on that?

I can appreciate that the fight is wearing you out. I wish there were a better way to achieve goals. But when you want to keep something that others are trying to take away, there will always be a fight. There's no way around it. It is my belief that, given their past behavior, the worse thing we can do right now is trust the connection folks. If a thief tried to steal your money and you fought him off, would you be inclined to trust him the next time you saw him? I think trust is a very bad idea right now. I'm sorry you're tired. It's the nature of being human. But, as the saying goes, anything worth having is worth fighting for. Take a break, my friend. There are others of us who are willing to keep up the fight while you rest. Perhaps when one of us needs a break, you will be in better shape to step up and fill in the ranks.

Another point I'd like to make here. You have identified the two sides as blog and connection. There's no doubt that the Ruston Connection was organized to promote a political agenda and their candidates. But the blog seems to be merely for the purpose of putting out information that's not otherwise getting out there. It also provides a forum for the free exchange of ideas. The blog is not trying to lead a movement.And finally, you mentioned you want to hope and pray. Those are good things. I agree completely that we could use some prayer right now. That alone is a valuable contribution to the situation and I appreciate it. Thanks for writing.

January 20, 2008 9:23 AM
KarMichael said...
First let me say that I'm very disappointed with the workgroup session and what it was reduced to because of the tone set by Dan Albertson. This is not to point fingers, but rather to state a fact based upon his mandates to all of us at the beginning of the meeting. I believe our Council members suffer from confusion as to what is their responsibility and what belongs to the Mayor. It was clear before the meeting even started that there was considerable friction between Councilman Albertson and the Mayor, which then carried over to us by Councilman Albertson lecturing us as if we were bad students and the principal needed to punish us. That’s my personal take on how the meeting opened, which then lead to further deterioration and a newly elected council person walking out in a snit making a snide comment. I don't think that's why he was elected to office and certainly didn't run his campaign on this basis.

In addition to setting the tone for the meeting, I was further disappointed by the format of the workgroup. I fully expected that we would have an informal workgroup, where attendees could sit in a circle (to facilitate communication among everyone) along with our town council and mayor to review the fire committee report. The report completed by the fire committee has been distributed and presented several times already, yet we never seem to come to any resolution of the information presented. It appears that each time it comes up for discussion someone wants more information. What specifically is there left to report on? The report is very comprehensive, and we have to recognize that the town council does not have the medical background or expertise to make independent decisions that affect the residents of our town .

While there obviously is an agenda shared by a few council members, the town as a majority has made its wishes known and very clear: Keep Ruston and the Ruston Fire Department. To me the issue is pretty simple. Has Ruston had a catastrophe in the past few years that we haven't addressed? Are there concerns for the near future that our fire department and the report from the fire committee didn't address, and if so, what are they? Who is dissatisfied with the current level of service, and what specifically are they dissatisfied with? Let’s deal with realities not innuendos, lies and rumors. This is our town and our fire department. We should be able to discuss concerns without having our council members go behind our backs and meet with the City of Tacoma to forge a contract that the majority of us don’t want. I believe it’s time for us to call for a vote to affirm our fire department, put the nonsense with Tacoma to bed, and get on with the issues that require our immediate attention.

Having said this, these are my concerns. Our Council keeps spending our money frivolously while at the same time professing to be financially responsible and frugal. I believe Councilman Albertson was adamant while campaigning for office that the money should not be touched! However, we keep spending this money and soon Ruston won’t be financially viable, causing bankruptcy and annexation to Tacoma. All this after several of these council members pledged otherwise. While I firmly believe the Ruston Fire Department is a non-issue and should be put to rest with a straight up vote, there are other issues that I believe require our immediate attention and yet no one to date has presented a clear statement that outlines the vision for Ruston within the next year and into the next 5 and10 years. We haven’t established any goals for the next year, and we still don't have a road map of how to get anywhere because we don't have a strategic plan. How are we going to approach the issues facing our community and prioritize the issues facing our community? Which items do we address first? We know our infrastructure is crumbling, we know we need some new/used fire equipment, expand personnel, etc, but no one has articulated a plan to address anything. We keep reacting to fires, and that's not management.

Leadership and integrity is another issue I’m concerned with. We currently have only one Council member who operates from a position of integrity, honesty, and conducts himself with dignity and fairness. We may not be able to prove that the open meeting laws have been broken, or at least the spirit of the law broken, but it’s clear that discussions have taken place prior to the public meetings and agendas have been marked out. This is too small a community to be conducting town business behind closed doors. We expect better from our council. I would suggest that council members could take a few lessons from Councilman Hedrick and be forthright in conducting town business. I recognize that we won’t all see eye to eye on every issue and I don’t expect that we’re all going to get along all the time. What I do expect is that our council will listen to what we have to say since you work for all of us not just a few. I also expect that each of you will bring your skills and knowledge to the table, and recognize when you don’t have the expertise, and rely on those who do. Let’s deal with the big stuff and not sweat the small stuff.

And lastly, this isn’t about the RC vs. the RustonBlog. This is about our town and the issues that can no longer be ignored. We are your constituents and your first allegiance is to listen to us. Treat us respectfully, and we will do the same. These are our meetings: Not yours. Let’s stay focused on the issues and make f this town proud of how we deal with issues and set an example for others to follow. Karen King

January 21, 2008 8:48 PM
Karen said...
Well said, Karen! Thank you for putting things so concisely. I hope our leaders are listening. At least Everding won’t be sitting in his council seat any more saying that he doesn’t like you.

January 21, 2008 9:00 PM
Anonymous said...
Actually, the comment is anything but thoughtful - just another biased one-sided name calling opinion designed to foster the Pickett agenda to sow as much discontent as possible. How many votes did you get in the last 2 elections? Less than 1/3 of the vote? So you and your supporters spend your time engaging in your version of "civil" discussion - calling people Nazis, questioning their sexuality, and making implied threats. It's what people do when they can't talk about real matters of policy. You like Councilmember Hedrick so he can do no wrong. But what has he done for the town? What has he ever proposed? He violated his campaign theme of bringing a positive voice in his very first comment as a new councilmember and now routinely criticizes his fellow councilmembers without offering any proposals. The rest of the council is actually trying to make up for the years of bad leadership, bad management, and inattention that got the town here. And stop talking about not being able to express your opinions. YOU are the ones who yell your opinions and disrupt meetings. YOU are the ones attacking anyone who disagrees with you. YOU are the ones who are making any positive change difficult. YOU are the ones who are giving the town a bad name but you get such enjoyment out of anonymously trashing your neighbors while writing sappy stories about how much you care about Ruston.
July 25, 2008 10:33 AM

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Special Meeting: July 24, 2008

This meeting tonight was to address Ordinance 1261 and Resolution 429 dealing with Stack Hill's final plat and the requested amendments from the developer. I should preface this review with a clarification that the town attorney stated at the last meeting that since the vote on this issue had been taken (and failed), the quasi-judicial nature of the issue was closed and council members were free to talk to anyone with no restrictions. ~ Karen

The meeting began at 7 pm with all council members present. After agenda approval, the mayor and town attorney began a lengthy discussion with the council on the proper procedure to reconsider Ordinance 1261. It was clear there had been a lot of discussion and research on this prior to the meeting.

Alberston felt that the quasi-judicial restrictions still applied to the council members after the vote on Monday. The town attorney outlined two scenarios 1) one approach was as he had advised the council on Monday (the matter was closed and restrictions had been lifted) or 2) the same process was on-going and council members should disclose exparte (private) communications and get them on the record before the vote. He now wanted to err on the side of caution and go through the appearance of fairness procedures. Huson felt if there was anyone at fault about exparte communications misunderstandings, it was the attorney's fault.

The vote for reconsideration received a second and the vote was 3-2 with Alberston and Stebner voting no. The motion to accept Ordinance 1261 was made and seconded. The town attorney read the appearance of fairness questions to the council, including asking them to outline any exparte communication they have had with anyone on this issue. Everyone but Alberston said they had communicated with someone on the issue. Each council member gave details of their communication with community members and the developer.

Then any community member was given a chance to challenge any of the council members ability to vote fairly. Bill Walker challenged only Hunt based on her disclosures. After Mr. Cohen acknowledged communication with each council member (including Albertson) Point Ruston formally challenged each of the council members. They pointed out a state law that said that if council members recusing (excusing) themselves from a vote (based on an appearance of fairness challenge) caused a loss of quorum, the restrictions did not apply and challenged council members should vote. If all exparte communication was disclosed they are allowed to vote.

Hunt stated she would recuse herself from the vote based on advice from the town attorney. Cohen felt it was not fair for the town attorney to advise one member to recuse themselves when every single member of the council had exparte communication on the same issue. After the challenges had been heard, the mayor opened discussion on the ordinance. Huson and Hedrick joined Hunt in recusing themselves. The mayor acknowledged that a quorum had been lost, so all three should stay and vote.

Albertson felt that 3 members of the council had been influenced improperly by exparte contact. An audience member commented at this point and was loudly graveled down by the mayor. Albertson felt the disclosures tonight were too vague. The exparte communication could have been something like if there was a change in a vote, there would be some consideration given by Point Ruston or some dedication of park space for that change of a vote.

Huson then read a statement stating his reasons for supporting this ordinance. He expressed his frustration with the council's struggle with this simple part of the development compared to the more complex lower part of the site. He was also frustrated that those voting no had no plan for compromise or moving the issues forward. Hedrick explained his reasons for supporting, which included his belief that the view corridor requirement was a taking of private property without a corresponding public benefit. Alberston stated why he was opposed.

Hunt apologized for causing all the trouble. She had second thoughts after her vote on Monday and told the mayor she would change her vote if she had the chance to vote again. She spoke to Cohen and many citizens on this issue since Monday. She said she would still recuse herself from the vote and left the room. Stebner wanted more training for the council on quasi-judicial issues.

The mayor called for the vote, which was 2-2. The town attorney asked him all the appearance of fairness questions, with the mayor stating he had not talked to anyone about this issue since the public hearing. Since the mayor did not acknowledge any exparte communication, no challenges were allowed. The mayor then cast the deciding vote, voting no.

Resolution 429 was placed on the table. This would finalize the Stack Hill plat without granting either of the two amendments (including the 7.5 ' side yard set backs that had been requested). The council discussed allowing this change and how to proceed. The mayor said Ordinance 1261 would have to reconsidered and the ordinance changed to allow that one amendment before the final plat was approved. The meeting adjourned without any action on the final plat.

Mary Joyce

There was a short mention of Mary Joyce and the celebration planned for this Saturday in the "In Brief" section of today's News Tribune. Check it out here... and join the party on Saturday from 2 until 5 pm at the school.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Point Ruston Notice

My guess is everyone in town got this notice in the mail today. We are in the formal public comment period now, so anyone can provide written comment about this development plan to Ruston Town Hall (5117 N. Winnifred, Ruston, WA 98407) in addition to attending the planning commission's public hearing on August 7th. Written comments have to be received at Town Hall by 4:30 pm on August 6th. ~ Karen

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Casino Sues Ruston

UPDATE Wednesday July 23rd: The News Tribune had a brief mention of this on their political blog yesterday.

Here is what was filed in court by Point Defiance Cafe and Casino trying to stop the tax increase imposed by the Ruston Council on July 7th. It it addressed to the Town of Ruston begins with "A lawsuit has been started against you..."

We're Almost Done!

We are finally at the last few steps! Here is the long-awaited Point Ruston Master Development Plan for the Ruston portion of the former Asarco property. The full document is available on Ruston Reports here... This plan will have a public hearing before the planning commission on August 7th at 7 pm.

It's human nature to not get involved when we don't care, or not take the time or energy to comment if we are happy with a plan like this. And in our politically charged little town, having an opinion can seem like you are risking your life (or at least your peace of mind). So we end up with the negative voices being heard, and fear guiding these important decisions.

This is the single most important issue facing our future and will determine Ruston's survival, in my opinion. After last night's council vote on the Stack Hill development, we could very easily loose this vital development.

I strongly encourage everyone to take time to read this (its only 18 pages) and take the time to provide your input; whether you are worried, angry or maybe even supportive. ~ Karen

Monday, July 21, 2008

Council Meeting: July 21, 2008 (Opinion)

One brief highlight for tonight – I’ll get the rest of the meeting summarized in the next day or so. This is just my opinion of what I saw tonight. ~ Karen

It was like watching a very sorry 3-ring circus tonight as the council dealt with the plat amendment for Stack Hill. Recall that Cohen (the developer) asked for two changes that were forced on him by the previous town planner – to make the side yard set back the same as the rest of the town and to build a house on Lot 12 rather than preserve a southern view of the trees along the Ruston Way hillside. At the public hearing a few weeks ago, after there was clear support for approving Cohen’s request, Council Member Huson offered a compromise.

That compromise was presented tonight in the form of Ordinance 1261. It would have applied the same residential zoning code that everyone else in town lives with to the Stack Hill development. Cohen would have to give up 5 feet in building height, increase his front yard set backs, decrease side yard set backs but he would have been allowed to build on Lot 12 (which is now 21’ lower than when the Asarco Master Plan was written).

The council members each gave their view points on the issue and 3 (Hunt, Albertson and Stebner) felt the old Master Plan requirement of a view corridor should remain (no home on Lot 12). After the vote, Hunt moved for reconsideration and wanted to strike just the portion of this ordinance that dealt with the view corridor. After some confusion, she withdrew her reconsideration so the issue could be discussed in conjunction with the development application for the lower part of the site.

When the issue came up again, Hunt again moved for reconsideration so the council hear from Cohen. It was decided to allow the public to also comment.

Cohen was very polite, considering this is the second go around on these issues. He likened this debate to the saying “If you live by the sword, you die by the sword”. Treating people unfairly hurts everyone. This view corridor takes his private property but does not provide a benefit to the town. He is only asking to use his property the same way anyone else is allowed to. He can’t “keep getting screwed every step of the way”. He encouraged the council to save the battles for the big issues.

When it was time for the public to speak, Stebner wanted only the Anderson’s to speak (who agree with him and support the view corridor). Albertson said it was fundamentally unfair to only allow some of the public to speak but not others. There were 10 comments, 4 wanting the view corridor and 6 wanting it developed. Of those comments, 3 were from folks whose view would be directly impacted by this house. 2 supported it being built, 1 did not.

The council refused to move on the reconsideration and the issue died. There was a lot of confusion on what to do next. Hunt wanted to give Cohen the 7.5’ side yard setbacks. After some discussion, Huson called for a special meeting on Thursday night to consider a new plat amendment ordinance and Resolution 429 so the final plat could be approved.

I’ve only highlighted some of the confusion and fumbling we watched tonight. It was painful, embarrassing and the decision fundamentally unfair. For a council that comes to many meetings with their minds made up, ready to vote without any discussion, this was hard to witness. I hope we can find the balance between seemingly predetermined votes and the circus we saw tonight.

Casino Files Complaint

The Point Defiance Cafe and Casino filed a complaint against the Town of Ruston in Pierce County Superior court on Friday. There are not many details yet, but we'll keep you posted as this develops. ~ Karen

Meeting Tonight

The 70 pages of background material for tonight's meeting is now available on Ruston Reports, including the resume for the new planner, the budget ordinance for hiring a secretary for the civil service commission and more material on Point Ruston's plat amendment request along with other material.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Point Ruston Development Agreement Complete?

UPDATE, Sunday July 20th: Loren Cohen let me know today that the public hearing has been rescheduled for Wednesday, August 6th. I hope to have more details on the development plan soon. ~ Karen
I got this notice in the mail last week. It doesn't say much, but the issue is vital to Ruston's survival. My best guess is that the council has completed negotiations with Point Ruston for development of the lower property. There hasn't been any discussion in the public meetings other than negotiations were on-going.

If anyone has more details on this issue, let us know. It would be nice to review such important information before we comment at the public hearing. But regardless, please attend the hearing and give your input this Wednesday, July 23rd at 7 pm in the council chambers. ~ Karen

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Have Some Fun

Bev from Ladies Workout Express wanted to share some upcoming events. You can contact Bev at

On Aug. 2nd the following events are happening. In the morning there is a half-marathon going from the Harbor area to downtown Tacoma. We are doing a water station and need 5-6 people to help. At this time I do not know where the location is but it will be on this side of the bridge.

The other one is for fun. The first ever "Goldfish Gallop" at Pt. Defiance Park. Come join us as we walk, run, crawl or whatever over 3.2 miles through the park. Afterwards you can join us at the Goldfish Tavern for beverages, food and fun. Event starts at 7 p.m. and the park part ends at 9 p.m. and the rest is up to you. You can go online to to register. They are only taking 100 so don't wait too long.

Council Meeting: July 21, 2008

Point Ruston's Stack Hill plat might finally be finalized at Monday's council meeting, it appears Huson and Hunt have found a town planner, and Mayor Everding is planning a major staff restructuring (including personnel changes) if we don't change our form of government in a few weeks. I'll have all the background information posted later this weekend on Ruston Reports. ~ Karen

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ruston School Reunion August 9th

Just a reminder that the Ruston School reunion is only 3 weeks away on Saturday August 9th. See the details under Upcoming Events to the right. It should be a grand celebration of Ruston's past and revisiting of childhood connections.

A bit of history... Ruston once had its own school district for its elementary school. In the 1960's the school was absorbed into the Tacoma District. Ruston lost control and ownership of the school and adjacent land. Tacoma made the decision to shut down Ruston Elementary School in the early 1980's. After great effort by former Council Member Mary Joyce and others, the school property was returned to Ruston. Mary's contributions are to be celebrated in a week when the school is renamed in her honor.

So much has changed in town, there will be lots to talk about!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Civil Service Meeting Canceled

Civil service commission chairperson Connie Maglione had called a special meeting for the commission tonight. The agenda was for the commission to adopt neutral rules so the commission could begin functioning. She had suggested using Tacoma's civil service rules as a starting point.

The commission is supposed to function as an independent third party, completely separate from the mayor and police department. The duties of the commission are outlined in state law (read them here). One of those duties is to organize immediately: It shall be the duty of each commission appointed subject to the provisions of this chapter, to immediately organize and see to it that the provisions thereof are carried into effect, and to this end to make suitable rules and regulations not inconsistent with the purpose of this chapter, for the purpose of carrying the provisions thereof into effect; and the failure upon the part of said commission, or any individual member thereof to do so, shall be deemed a violation of this chapter, and shall be punishable as such. RCW 41.12.185

The meeting was canceled tonight at the strong suggestion of Mayor Everding. Ms. Maglione has been informed that the town's personnel attorney is working with the mayor on a set of rules for the commission to consider.

Ruston to Sell Off Another Service to Tacoma?

It appears Tacoma and Ruston have agreed to negotiate a deal where Tacoma would provide building and planning services to Ruston. Let's hope they can compare apples to apples and that reasonable heads will prevail. The News Tribune has a short article today.


The Ruston Superfund Cleanup is complete! The Ruston Foundry in Louisiana that is. EPA issued this press release detailing the celebration. We are almost there in Ruston, Washington too. Hopefully new buildings will rise soon on the former smelter site, bringing life to this vacant dirt once again.

Childhood Summers

Wiley Hilburn has a blog post on the Shreveport Times web site about his childhood memories catching lightening bugs in Ruston, Louisiana. His reminiscing doesn't have much to do with our Ruston, but it was a nice meander to more innocent times.

Candace Brown shared some poignant and nostalgic memories of childhood summers in her post Dandelion Summers. Candace is great writer and lover of the South Sound. Her blog Good Life Northwest is linked to the right.

For those who grew up in Ruston, life revolved around the smelter whistle. The afternoon shift change blast would signal the kids to come home for dinner, a special series would signal a fire call for the volunteers and was a constant reminder of the town's substance at the bottom of the hill.

Childhood is fleeting. As I watch my grandchild grow up much too quickly, I envy the slower pace and simple focus of those years. May the summer of 2008 bring that clarity of purpose for all of us. Let's enjoy a Popsicle, take time to watch a lazy butterfly and kiss a child's dirty, summer-stained face this summer.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Civil Service Terms of Office

UPDATE, Wednesday July 16, 8 am: Proof once again that I should check my facts. I apologize for not clarifying this before I posted this first discussion. Mayor Everding has responded with this information about who he appointed to the civil service commission :

Connie 2 yrs
Bill 4 yrs
Jon 6 yrs
Mayor Everding has apparently appointed Bill Walker to a 6 year term on the civil service commission, Jon Anderson to 4 years and Connie Maglione to 2 years.

Commissioners are to be appointed to 6 year terms, but since this is the first set of commissioners, the staggered terms are needed. Former Mayor Transue had appointed three members, but without the staggered terms. It appears Everding has re-appointed Anderson and Maglione with the above terms, and his new appointment (Walker) to the longest term.

Few issues have generated as much comment on this blog as the previous post about Bill Walker's appointment. I found this comment especially interesting. I've confirmed the RCW quote is correct, but not researched the court cases listed. Perhaps some of these issues will be raised or questions asked at the meeting tomorrow night. ~ Karen

These are things that "Wild Bill" will be able to do in his position as Civil Service Commissioner; Discharge "for cause" any civil service employee ~

What is "for cause"? Each of the three civil service statutes sets out grounds for discharge, reductions or deprivation of privilege, which include:
(1) Incompetency, inefficiency or inattention to or dereliction of duty;
(2) Dishonesty, intemperance, immoral conduct, insubordination, discourteous treatment of the public or a fellow employee, or any other act of omission or commission tending to injure the public service; or any other willful failure on the part of the employee to properly conduct himself; or any willful violation of civil service statutes, rules, or regulations;
(3) Mental or physical unfitness for the position which the employee holds;
(4) Dishonest, disgraceful, immoral or prejudicial conduct;
(5) Drunkenness or use of intoxicating liquors, narcotics, or any other habit forming drug, liquid or preparation to such extent the use interferes with the efficiency or mental or physical fitness of the employee, or which precludes the employee from properly performing the functions and duties of any position under civil service;
(6) Conviction of a felony, or a misdemeanor, involving moral turpitude;
(7) Any other act or failure to act which in the judgment of the civil service commissioners is sufficient to show the offender to be an unsuitable and unfit person to be employed in the public service. See RCW §§ 41.08.080, 41.12.080, and 41.14.110.

The courts have given guidance, construing several of the terms set out in the above statutory excerpt. In Eiden v. Snohomish Civil Service Commission, 13 Wn. App. 32 (1975), for example, the court concluded a sheriff deputy who had jokingly answered the phone using another deputy's name was not "incompetent," as he otherwise performed his duties.

The court, quoting from a Florida decision, offered the following definition for the term "incompetent": "Incompetency as a ground for suspension and removal has reference to any physical, moral or intellectual quality, the lack of which incapacitate[s] one to perform the duties of his office. Incompetency may arise from gross ignorance of official duties or gross carelessness in the discharge of them. It may also arise from lack of judgment and discretion or from a serious physical or mental effect not present at the time of election, though we do not imply that all physical and mental defects so arising would give ground for suspension."

In Nickerson v. Anacortes, 45 Wn. App. 432, 725 P.2d 1027 (1986) the court upheld a decision of the civil service commission that held the possession and use of marijuana constituted "for cause."

The court in Danielson v. Seattle, 45 Wn. App. 235, 724 P.2d 1115 (1986) upheld a determination by the civil service commission that a police officer, who unlawfully used a credit card of another, was properly discharged for incompetency, insubordination, and conduct unbecoming a police officer.

Reference Sources
Statutes Court Decisions

Should our commissioners be less then whom they are judging?

UPDATE, 7:50 pm: Someone has commented that I should check the references, specifically the terms of service. I'm happy to do so. Below is the RCW reference on that issue and I have asked for an official response on the terms of office for the Ruston commissioners from Mayor Everding. Information can sometimes be slow in coming, but I'll post that response as soon as I get it. ~ Karen

There is hereby created in every city, town or municipality except those referred to in RCW 41.12.010, having fully paid police officers a civil service commission which shall be composed of three persons.

The members of such commission shall be appointed by the person or group of persons who, acting singly or in conjunction, as a mayor, city manager, council, common council, commission, or otherwise, is or are vested by law with the power and authority to select, appoint, or employ the chief of a police department in any such city, prior to the enactment of this chapter. The members of such commission shall serve without compensation. No person shall be appointed a member of such commission who is not a citizen of the United States, a resident of such city for at least three years immediately preceding such appointment, and an elector of the county wherein he or she resides. The term of office of such commissioners shall be for six years, except that the first three members of such commission shall be appointed for different terms, as follows: One to serve for a period of two years, one to serve for a period of four years, and one to serve for a period of six years. Any member of such commission may be removed from office for incompetency, incompatibility or dereliction of duty, or malfeasance in office, or other good cause: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That no member of the commission shall be removed until charges have been preferred, in writing, due notice and a full hearing had. The members of such commission shall devote due time and attention to the performance of the duties hereinafter specified and imposed upon them by this chapter. Two members of such commission shall constitute a quorum and the votes of any two members of such commission concurring shall be sufficient for the decision of all matters and the transaction of all business to be decided or transacted by the commission under or by virtue of the provisions of this chapter. Confirmation of said appointment or appointments of commissioners by any legislative body shall not be required. At the time of any appointment not more than two commissioners shall be adherents of the same political party.
[2007 c 218 § 11; 1937 c 13 § 3; RRS § 9558a-3.]

Civil Service Commission

A special Civil Service Commission meeting has been called for Wednesday night at 7 pm at the Ruston School building. It should be short, but one of the commission members has some questions.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Study Session: July 14, 2008

These are the comments and issues I found interesting tonight. I encourage everyone to attend the meetings yourself. I have a recording of the meeting available. ~ Karen

The study session began at 7 pm with all council members and mayor present. After the flag salute and agenda approval, the police chief handed out some material to the council (but not to the audience). She highlighted some of Ruston's challenges such how often we often send people for training at the police academy. The academy is 5½ months long. There is salary reimbursement for the person that is coving for the officer in training, but Ruston must pay their officer’s salary while they are at the academy. The reimbursement is only available if the officer is sent for training within 6 months of hire. Most departments want lateral transfers, where an officer that has already been trained is hired. Lateral hires are a very competitive market and Ruston likely cannot compete.

The chief encouraged the council to just accept that Ruston will always be a “pass through” place for new officers. The goal is to be able to keep someone who is good for 2 to 5 years. To do that, we need to look at things like making our wages competitive, provide step increases (tied to performance evaluations), stop making Ruston officers buy their own weapons or pay for their own background checks and polygraphs, provide more for their uniforms and other benefits such as vacation or sick time accrual and pay a shift differential (where swing and graveyard get a higher pay).

Ruston has 24 hour coverage by our police with 4 full time and 5 paid reserve officers. The chief discussed some of the related scheduling/coverage challenges. Hedrick asked if Ruston was the only non-union agency in Pierce County. The chief said there are associations that help bargain for officers. Hunt wanted a number for what would be needed to make the department function properly. Albertson wanted to see what Tacoma would charge and felt the council had to consider outsourcing police coverage. After further discussion, the chief reiterated that she just wants Ruston to get into the game on salary. She noted that the new billing clerk makes only a $1 less than her officers. Huson made a disparaging comment about the new clerk, to the laughter of some fellow council members.

Huson, Albertson and Stebner also wanted to see numbers. Huson said as far as he is concerned, every public service is up for negotiation in this town as a way to stave off bankruptcy. He asked if the reserve officers could be hired to replace the 2 full time officers that are potentially leaving for new jobs. The chief noted that most of them have full time jobs that pay much better than Ruston’s police wages. Stebner asked if retired officers could be hired (they are generally not available because of restrictions with their pension).

The chief noted she had spoken to Tacoma’s chief and they can fill in if Ruston has any staff shortages before new hires are made (if needed). She noted she had not heard back yet on “the initial inquiry” (I think this was regarding Tacoma providing full time coverage).

The mayor then reviewed the maintenance department memo and his efforts with Steve and Steve. They are great guys who work hard to maintain the town. What you see is what they don’t do; curb and sidewalks that need painting, street lights that need repair, alleys that are unkept. He thinks the street signs are an embarrassment to the town. He recommended a new half time person. He spent several minutes outlining why the department needs more “supervision” than a part-time mayor can provide. An interesting Everding quote, “I think for decades when we were a mill town and the post mill town, the issues were small and a part time mayor worked…”

He felt the $4.25 million for the sale of the school lower lot should be spent on infrastructure improvements. Another quote, “You’d be hard pressed to put anything on a blog or newsletter that would show we spent any of that money on infrastructure.” Hunt felt The Commencement condos should be paying for half of the maintenance on the school building. Albertson felt residents want tangible, real things from the money paid for the school lots.

Stebner mentioned an AWC study that was in the council packets that may require the fire department to develop operating procedures that may cost money also. He wanted to see all the expenditure proposals at once. Huson noted that when the council hires a new planner (hopefully at the next meeting), the planning commission should meet monthly. There are many issues for them to address. A budget for this work also needs to be developed.

The mayor noted that he will ask all department heads to get their 2009 budget requests to him by August 1st, so the process could start early this year. The meeting adjourned about 8 pm.

Changing Ruston's Form of Government (Opinion)

It appears the town council has invited Stan Finkelstein to address them at the study session on July 28 regarding the ballot measure to change the form of government. Mr. Finkelstein was recommended by former Mayor Transue as someone who could help Ruston sort some of the current challenges. Finkelstein is executive director of the Washington Association of Cities. The public is not allowed to comment or ask questions during study sessions, but perhaps the council will make an exception on this important issue.

One background note, I thought it was a great political move for Council Member Hunt to include a longtime resident (Sherri Forch) on the voters pamphlet committee supporting this measure. Since our committee only had 4 days to pull together a statement (read more of the misunderstanding here), I didn't think to list the names (or gather their permission to do so) of the many folks who provided input into our "Against" statements.

Here is are the statements. Please take time to research this important issue before voting in about 3 weeks. And attend the meeting next week to listen to an unbiased, outside expert as he answers questions from a very biased council majority. ~ Karen

Study Session: July 14, 2008

Here is tonight's meeting materials. The council will be discussing future needs of the police and maintenance department. See you there at 7 pm! ~ Karen

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Newest Appointment

Wild Bill Walker was appointed as the newest civil service commissioner tonight by Mayor Everding. Bill is known around town as the guy on the scooter who likes to chat with just about anyone (although he told me a long time ago I was his political enemy and we couldn't talk). He really does seems comfortable with the nick name Wild Bill (at least it's part of his email address).

Bill's wife, Virginia Carpio was taking pictures of Bill in his new post tonight. Virginia is co-editor of the Ruston Connection newsletter. I expect there will be a story soon. It should be an interesting ride.


Civil Service Commission Meeting Tonight

The new civil service commission will hold their first meeting tonight at 6 pm in the council chambers at the Ruston School (5219 N. Shirley, Room 101). Unfortunately, one of their first issues will be the need to find a replacement for my seat. I am going to be working on a project in Arizona for the next several months and felt the commission deserved someone with more time to devote to the many pressing issues at hand.

But attend the meeting tonight if you can and get a better understanding of the role of this important group.


What Are Your Ideas?

The sunshine brings us out of our houses and gives rise to some neighborly conversations. A couple recent conversations have included ideas for visual improvements around town. I'll share them here and invite you to share your priorities. ~ Karen
  • Top the trees on BNSF hillsides: It's clear that many residents are very concerned about their views these days. Many years ago a group of residents got permission from the town and the railroad to top the trees on the hillside outside the playfield fence (at their expense). These scrub trees have continued to grow. Maybe its time to ask again. Its wonderful to have this green belt in the middle of Ruston, but these trees are one of the biggest view-blockers in town. A compromise is possible, with green, shorter trees along that whole corridor.
  • Re-paint "no parking" curbs, especially in high traffic areas: Some of our heavy construction areas are facing on-going parking challenges. Many years ago we had a volunteer effort from residents where curbs were painted and street numbers added. That effort has long faded and our town maintenance men are busy with other projects. Volunteer groups have planted trees and put on egg hunts and parties the last few years. Maybe its time to expand that effort to some paint parties.
  • Pedestrian-friendly lighting: This suggestion came from a former professor of mine with an architectural background. Consistent lighting that illuminates the sidewalk rather than the road encourages interaction between people, not cars. Having a consistent, lower lighting system would also help tie the streets together and create a stronger sense of place.
  • What are your ideas? How can we make Ruston better?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How High Will It Go?

The Commencement building is almost to full height. There will be one more story over most of the building, but the southern area (the corner of the building pictured here) will not be any higher. This portion will be a rooftop plaza. The project is still expecting completion by early spring next year.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

In The News

The News Tribune has more on the tax hike imposed by Ruston's council on Point Defiance Cafe and Casino. Read more here...

Point Defiance Fire

There was a small fire on one of the cliffs at Point Defiance Park last night (near Salmon Beach). There are some interesting photos on the Tribune blog here and a run down of the event here. It appears the fire was quickly contained with the help of one of the fire boats.

Council Meeting: July 7, 2008

The council meeting began at 7 pm with Council Member Stebner absent. The first several business items went quickly. Several folks that had been appointed by the previous mayor to various committees had resigned recently. The council confirmed Bryan Ficiala as a new planning commission member and Robin Zehel, Lynette Hopkins and Sue Heinz are now on the Tree Committee with Ginger Kryger appointed as the chair.

Council Member Hunt will replace Stebner on the Rainer Communication Commission (a regulatory group for cable companies, among other things). The school boy patrol was removed from Ruston’s code (with a second reading waived). The loading zone in front of the Ruston school building will be brought back to the council once an exact footage is identified. The pay increase for the interim police chief passed (with the second reading waived).

The motion to pass the gambling tax increase (ordinance) and to waive the second reading (so the final vote would be made immediately) was made by Council Member Albertson. Council Member Hedrick objected; he felt the issue was controversial and warranted further research and allowing the public to comment at the end of the meeting. He said the removing the schoolboy patrol was logical to pass in one meeting, but passing this kind of tax increase on Ruston’s biggest tax payer and largest employer should at least wait until the public had a chance to speak. Albertson thought there had been plenty of opportunity to hear from the public at prior meetings. Hunt gained approval to change the tax rate to 12% (rather than 20% as proposed). The final vote on the issue was 3-1 with Hedrick voting no.

The agreement for countywide planning policies was approved. Council Member Huson said he and Hunt had met with a potential planner, but she disqualified herself because of a conflict of interest with Point Ruston. They will continue to work on finding someone soon. Huson named 3 of the engineering applicants that he felt were well qualified. The mayor will present a rate schedule for each of these engineering firms at the next meeting.

The town maintenance department had recommended UBS for locating services. The council endorsed that choice 4-0. The council also approved the interlocal agreement for the police task force. The chief pointed out an ordinance or resolution is required. She will bring one to the next meeting.

The council approved the closure of a portion of N. 51st Street on September 6th for the business district’s community music fest. The police chief noted the home alarm ordinance needs to be updated. She will work with the town attorney and bring something back to the council. The study session next week will address the future needs of the police and maintenance departments.

Huson had provided an ordinance tonight to the council on the Stack Hill plat amendments that encompassed his suggestions made at the end of the public hearing. Because it was presented so late, the ordinance will be given its first reading at the July 21st meeting. Hunt wanted to know if the council could talk to the developer about this new ordinance, since there were some new stipulations added. She was reminded that no communication was allowed with anyone now that the public hearing was closed. The new town attorney thought the developer could be invited to address the council tonight, but both Hedrick and Albertson felt that any presentation would be new evidence outside of the public hearing that should not be allowed. The attorney will research the issue and see if the public hearing needed to be opened again since this ordinance was different than what had been considered at the last hearing.

Claims and payroll were approved after the last bill from Hulitt Zollars was removed (and will not be paid until some questions are answered). The mayor pointed out that the files from the former planner would not be released until this final bill was paid. Huson said his clerk was going to their office to pick up the files tomorrow, perhaps if they hurry they could get them.

There were several public comments, which I did not track well. Most comments were from folks connected to the casino telling the council why their tax increase was wrong. During mayor’s time, Everding said he is exploring a fire impact fee that would be charged for every 3rd floor or higher based on square footage; and that the web site committee should have a basic town web site up by the end of the month.

During council time, Huson responded to some of the public comments. Hedrick complimented the new fire engine. Albertson also responded to some of the public comments, as did Hunt. An interesting quote from Albertson, “…because we have a few people in town that think its hilarious and fun and great to get onto the front page of the newspaper fighting and all that does is drive people away from Ruston. All that does is makes it harder for people with businesses in Ruston to get customers. All that does is makes it harder for people to sell their homes in Ruston. And you can slap each other on the back and feel so good about it but the reality is that you’re hurting the town.”

The meeting moved into executive session at about 9 pm but I didn’t stay. I assume they adjourned the meeting after the 30 minutes of executive session. If anyone stuck around, let me know. As always, I encourage you to attend the meetings for yourself. If you’d like a CD recording of the meeting, I’d be happy to supply one.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Gambling Tax Raised to 12%

The Ruston council voted tonight to raise the gambling tax to a flat rate of 12% rather than the current graduated scale. Point Defiance Cafe and Casino is the only business in Ruston with gaming and was paying the lowest tax rate on that scale (1%) due to very low volume so far this year.

This ordinance was scheduled for its first reading tonight. Under council rules, ordinances are required to have 2 readings at consecutive meetings. The council waived the second reading of this ordinance, so the ordinance was passed tonight without any public comment. Many casino employees attended the meeting tonight hoping to address the council during public comment at the end of the meeting prior to their final vote in 2 weeks.

The casino owner has acknowledged that he can no longer afford to operate the casino at a higher tax rate (see previous post). He says he will close the gaming portion of the business and all employees will be laid off. If he does so, any tax Ruston hoped to gain from this business will be lost.

More Ruston Focus

Here is a rundown of the South Sound programming for KXOT – 91.7 FM or KXOT.ORG, which includes a walking tour interview with yours truly. ~ Karen

Monday 7th July –
* Tacoma Tall Ships interview - Beth Sylves and Dominic Black on location by the Waterway.
* From 1996, Murray Morgan speaking about his book Puget’s Sound – interviewed by Marcie Sillman for KUOW’s Weekday.
*An interview with Sister Peg Murphy about the work of Catherine Place in Tacoma, and the challenges and rewards of her personal spiritual calling.

Tuesday 8th July –
* The first of three poems to air on successive days this week – Cushman Substation by William J Kupinse, Poet Laureate of Tacoma.
*A walkabout Ruston with Ruston Home’s Karen Pickett, discussing local life and her views on political discourse in the town.
*A couple of short news features, one on Gubernatorial Campaign ads, the other on Oregon ballot proposals.
* A new Dave Beck interview with a Tacoma woman who spent a long time in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.

Wednesday 9th July –
* The second of Bill Kupinse’s poems – Point Defiance.
* A two part interview with Tad Munroe, Pastor of Urban Grace in Tacoma, talking about his path to religious faith.

The New Engine Has Arrived!

Ruston's completely refurbished fire engine (that our fire chief was able to secure at below cost) arrived this morning. It will be on display outside before the council meeting tonight at 7 pm (5219 N. Shirley), so stop by and take a look. Chief Torbet says it will be operational within a few days.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Special Meeting: June 27, 2008

Mayor Everding opened the meeting by announcing that he and Council Members Hunt and Huson had met with City of Tacoma planning staff that Monday. He felt it was a good discussion, but they left the meeting with the sense that Tacoma would not act very quickly to take over Ruston’s planning and building services. He felt Ruston needed to hire someone to staff the newly functioning planning commission and perhaps help find a permanent planner for the town.

The mayor suggested that Huson be tasked with finding someone by the next council meeting on July 7th. Huson said some of the Point Ruston team had suggested Kari Hayashi, who had recently retired as a planner for Tacoma. Point Ruston has spoken to her about the potential of working as Ruston’s interim planner. Once they clarified the work would be primarily focused on Point Ruston and helping find a new planner, she sounded agreeable. She was very familiar with the Point Ruston project.

Huson said he would contact Hayashi to confirm she was interested and bring a contract to the next meeting. Council Member Stebner cautioned that Point Ruston should not be involved in the negotiations for her services.

The meeting adjourned with jokes from some council members about the shortest meeting on record.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Council Meeting: July 7, 2008

It's going to be a busy Monday night for the Ruston council. There are 16 business items on the agenda, including the first reading for a major increase in the gambling tax rate, a pay increase for the interim police chief, filling more vacancies on various committees, a contract for a new town planner, looking at the applicants for town engineer, and especially the Stack Hill plat.

There is also the now routine executive session to discuss potential litigation and real estate. Please stop in at 7 pm at the Ruston School building (5219 N. Shirley, Room 101). The full packet of information is available on Ruston Reports.