Why no candidate comparison for the Puyallup City Council At-Large race?

We only have time to focus on candidates being promoted by the Friends of Puyallup (FOP) PAC of warehouse developers. Although incumbent at-large council member Dean Johnson has received more direct contributions than any candidate running, much of it from big business donors, he says he turned down money from warehouse developers, and the FOP PAC has not mentioned or promoted him on Facebook, or elsewhere to our knowledge.

This is the first time in memory that a political party recruited a slate of candidates in an effort to take over Puyallup City Council. At first, they filed Paul Herrera to run against Mr. Johnson because the incumbent opposed their pet issue of changing the city’s form of government without a public vote. Republicans must have thought twice when they saw how much money the incumbent was raising, or could not find someone more viable to run against John Palmer (currently taking his rotation as mayor, and the PAC’s biggest target) in District 2. So, Herrera switched to that race which has a smaller footprint.

Mr. Johnson has not opposed environmental review of the proposed warehouses. That said, his opponent, former District 2 council member Heather Shadko, has worked since her many years on Planning Commission against warehouses. We were alarmed by Johnson’s ill-conceived effort to put farmer’s market out to bid, but his council coalition retreated (due largely to the community push-back that Shadko helped lead) and the issue now seems like water under the bridge. He also eventually reversed course on defending an ordinance he helped enact with all incumbents and former council members currently running for office – the overbearing restrictions on non-profit churches from helping the homeless (something that cost $1 million to defend when it was doomed to lose in court). There are new iterations of that illegal ordinance (some overly-restrictive zoning that was rejected by the state growth management commission, and a “nuisance law” the city won’t be able to defend when/if it is inevitably used in a selective manner) that he and a mix of incumbents have enacted. The mix of gray areas above puts the at-large race outside of our main scope.

What about the conflict of interest regarding Charla Neuman running for Sumner City Council while an officer of the Friends of Puyallup PAC?

Yes, there is a real appearance of conflict of interest, and that should be enough for an elected official to recuse herself from participating in activities regarding businesses she’s influencing. And, yes, although Charla Neuman is running on a platform of transparency (https://youtu.be/1lapYCCNJHI?t=73) while starting a misleading PAC with a name and Facebook page whose true purpose is totally opaque, Sumner is currently outside of our scope.

And, yes, we assume as an officer of the FOP PAC, she got hired by a big outside developer from St. Louis, MO which is using its misnamed Facebook page to bash Puyallup City Council members and candidates wanting environmental review and infrastructure to mitigate the 1,750 new semi-trucks daily they propose on already-congested Puyallup and Sumner roads. That’s what the errant Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision allowed: insiders and outsiders to fund political action committees with unlimited money, easily overwhelming towns like ours.

As long as Ms. Neuman isn’t found to be feeding information from her PAC’s polling to their puppet FOP candidates, or coordinating with them in any other way, or turn the attention of her PAC upon Sumner where she’s running for council, then these gray areas are outside of our resource area unless volunteers from Sumner want to join us. We have to say that it’s also ironic that in her voter guide write-up, Ms. Neuman states that “Traffic is taking a toll on all of us…. Fixing traffic will improve our quality of life (italics original), especially for Sumner’s working families.” The warehouses she promotes as spokesperson for FOP will pour 1,750 semi-trucks every day onto the Main Street – Hwy 410 intersection. The intersection is slated for renovation next year, but the plan doesn’t look like it takes into consideration relieving congestion for an additional 1,750 semi-trucks per day.

How about pointing out that the Pierce County Affordable Housing Council is also a misnomer, and is really the Tacoma-Pierce County Business Alliance PAC?

We’re on it. The Pierce County Affordable Housing Council is anything but that. It’s actually the Tacoma-Pierce County Business Alliance PAC. Builders around the state use this naming trick to make endorsements and donations to candidates so it looks like support comes from affordable housing non-profits. Check out these similar PACs which are registered with the PDC:

In no way should the Affordable Housing Council be confused with the Tacoma-Pierce County Affordable Housing Consortium which is a true affordable housing non-profit. Of note, there have been no affordable housing units developed in unincorporated Pierce County since a mechanism for that was enacted over a decade ago. The Tacoma-Pierce County Business Alliance PAC has no business touting itself as an Affordable Housing Council.

Whenever you see that someone has the endorsement of the Affordable Housing Council, such as Puyallup city council candidates Thiel, Herrera and Gimmestad, report it to the PDC and tell the candidate they should name it as it is: the Tacoma-Pierce County Business Alliance PAC.

Please consider a donation of any amount, and invite your friends to like the Real Friends of Puyallup facebook page.   Puyallup Voters for Integrity does not accept contributions at this time outside of Puyallup, Sumner & Orting zip codes whose residents will feel the effects of FOP warehouse traffic. No candidate or party contributes to, authorizes or controls this Political Action Committee which is registered at the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, with first contribution/expenditure filing date of Oct 18, 2019 when website was launched by volunteers. Opinions and subjective characterizations are included in the text, but when facts are presented, we want them to be accurate. If you find any errors, please email us with original-source evidence for correction.

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