Now that both John Simpson and Bryan Thomas have published their reviews (those reviews found by clicking on their respective names) of the forum hosted by the Tillicum Woodbrook Neighborhood Association this past Thursday evening in which the two candidates for Lakewood City Council Position 5 graciously participated, as President of the Tillicum Woodbrook Neighborhood Association I want to again both thank them for attending and also reflect on their answers to some of the questions they were asked.
First, with regards the Lakewood Police Department, it is more than a mystery to me to understand the reticence on the part of the Public Safety Advisory Committee, of which Brian Thomas is chair, to advocate on behalf of the citizens of Lakewood such that a clear, compelling set of statements valuing so dear and precious a commodity as life itself be included and emphasized in the LPD Use of Force Policy (UFP).
Not found in the 16-page UFP is any statement “that communicates both to the community and to police officers that the preservation of human life is at all times a central tenet of the policy agency.”
Neither is there a declaration instructing officers “that the use of deadly force is an extreme measure to be employed only in the most limited and extraordinary of circumstances.”
Both these most-fundamental-of-values are recommendations by the ACLU as a result of its 2012 investigation of police departments across the country.
That the Public Safety Advisory Board has been instructed by the Lakewood City Council to continue deliberations as to what constitutes a weapon in light of recent incidents, certainly it would seem beholden upon the members of this board that their discussions include these bedrock matters as well.
Simpson stated that indeed those statements should be included. Thomas expressed his belief the police department generally and the UFP specifically were fine the way they were.
As to bikini barista stands, you can read Simpson’s position here. Thomas took the opposite view saying such businesses were revenue generators for the city.
Both candidates opposed raising taxes on gambling as a means to help pay for road maintenance.
A bit of history here however reveals that it is the casinos, backed by the Lakewood Chamber, that lobby for just the opposite.
On March 12, 2007, Greg Bakamis – then a former general manager for Lakewood’s Great American Casino, following which he became Regional Director for the Grand Central Casinos – “told the City Council that a sliding scale tax (allowed by law to 20% and then utilized by the Council) makes his business more hesitant to donate to charities and other community causes because it doesn’t know for sure how much discretionary income it will have” (TNT, 3/14/07).
The Lakewood Chamber supported Bakamis’s contention.
Not surprisingly Bakamis was Vice Chair of the 2007-2008 Executive Committee of the Lakewood Chamber.
Belying the gambling-business-as-benefactor-in-doubt claim made by Bakamis, a review of Lakewood’s entire history, from 1996 to 2012, shows that Lakewood’s gambling industry together with its partner the city has increased revenue at a steady rate. The City’s website – from which the numbers were obtained - projected over $3 million in gambling tax revenue just last year alone.
Both Simpson and Thomas touted transparency. Rightly so. That being the case, the taxpayers of Lakewood should be happy to know that Simpson promised an inquiry as to whether in fact, under the previous city manager, road maintenance funds were moved from “designated” to “general” and thus may have been left unprotected from the city’s budgeting discussions and diverted instead to plug other holes in the regular city operations budget rather than used solely for street repairs.
Also under open government it would appear likewise obligatory – although both candidates declined themselves to do so – to inquire as to where Lakewood ranks state-wide in the ratio of city employee salaries, including benefits, relative to household income. While it is true that as Thomas suggested salaries are published by the Tacoma News Tribune, the specific question concerned the relationship between those salaries and household income. My call to the Office of Financial Management for the State of Washington regarding this matter was not returned except to point me in the direction of median household income by county.
This is as legitimate a question of elected representatives to discover and disclose their findings as any other inquiry concerning “the city’s budget,” that Simpson said “should be examined for more savings from top-to-bottom and from bottom-to-top.”