Are the Misnamed Friends of Puyallup playing on Class & Race in Our Election?

In its last attack on John Palmer, the misnamed Friends of Puyallup (FOP, which is a PAC of warehouse developers) said in a mailer that “The Mayor has quite a record of wasting tax dollars – two new Ric-Shaws (misspelled) takes (sic) the cake.” All seven council members, including the four Republican-leaning members, approved this purchase.

$10 million or Hundreds of Thousands – In 8 years?

Before we tackle the classist and racist nature of the rickshaw claim, let’s look at a couple other problems with FOP’s mailer. Next to its first “X” against the “mayor” (actually as explained below he’s just a District 2 council representative taking his turn as council facilitator since we don’t have a real mayoral system in Puyallup), their mailer claims “over $10 million in tax dollars lost to frivolous lawsuits” yet in the paragraph directly to the left it says “hundreds of thousands of dollars of Puyallup taxpayers (sic) money wasted on frivolous lawsuits” which is actually true – just about $1 million is the total amount over 4 successive councils combined (two-year cycles between elections).

Radical Increase in Water & Sewer Bills?

3% is radical? Another false claim the FOP mailer made was the next “X,” saying the “mayor” supported “radical and permanent increases in water and sewer bills” when in reality, the increases were gradual starting in 2013 to update 100 year old pipes, as well as an aging sewage treatment facility on the banks of the Puyallup River. Of course, their candidate Herrera could never lower rates because it would mean cutting service. Some city residents have seen their bills increase for this or other reasons, while many have actually seen lower bills due to personal and city-inspired water conservation efforts.

Candidates Should Be Declaring the Rickshaw Attack Mailer Classist & Racist.

Tying the purchase of two Triobikes (cab-style electric bikes from Copenhagen)based at the Puyallup Senior Center, also for downtown tourism development – to the new Shaw Road improvement project, FOP calls the rebuilt Shaw Road “ric-shaw road” due to the permeable pavement used to reduce run-off and improve traction.

There are quite a few Asian-American residents who live in neighborhoods off Shaw Road in Puyallup. This outside warehouse PAC pouring money into candidates Herrera, Gimmestad and Thiel plays on classist and racist sentiments in Puyallup, piling on top of groups like Clean Up Puyallup whose name is a dog whistle regarding the homeless on our streets.

These are not rickshaws. What does that word stir up in your mind? Disenfranchised classes of people often operated them, primarily in Asian countries, during the past century.

It’s true that a less expensive – and a more expensive four-lane option – were considered for Shaw Road, but all 7 council members agreed on what was built. Instead of being considered the most landscaped, safe, and environmentally friendly road in Puyallup, it is being bashed for political points … with possible lasting consequences regarding our perceptions of class and race.

Leadership with Vision?

Why aren’t FOP candidates like Paul Herrera, or Curt Gimmestad (who is vying to represent the Shaw Road area) calling out the classist, racist nature of the “ric-shaw” attack? Herrera’s campaign slogan is “Leadership with Vision.” What kind of leadership is it to not stand up to big outside money trying to buy influence? The attack came along with a slew (more than one every day) of mailers we in Puyallup’s District 2 received as FOP and other PACs try to distract voters from their true motive (warehouses) and towards Herrera who refuses to respond to media inquiries about the warehouse PACs: neither to The News Tribune nor Q13 News who reporting on the story this week.

That’s not leadership, and as for his vision, it’s purely Republican. Herrera is listed as the contact person on the 25th LD Republican Club website. The chairman, Dave Prutzman, along with the chairman of the Pierce County Republicans, Dave McMullan, briefly shared a video October 27th of the three together supporting the candidate on McMullan’s public Facebook feed. The really clarified what Herrera’s slogan “Leadership with Vision” really meant.

Along with apparently allowing free reign for warehouse development on Puyallup farmland, these Republicans want to change Puyallup’s form of government to a “strong mayor” system, knowing they have deep pockets from warehouse developers and other big PACS to win a city-wide mayoral race. In fact, it looks like the Facebook page that “Friends of Puyallup” PAC took over with 300 previous likes was originally called “Fix Puyallup NOW” on which Prutzman was promoting his strong mayor initiative: click on “posts” and look at “visitor posts.” The initiative only garnered a couple hundred votes (Prutzman won’t say exactly) of the 5,000 needed to be put on the ballot. When Republican-leaning council members tried to put Prutzman’s idea on the ballot anyway, council chambers were packed with citizens speaking in opposition to this expensive power grab.

For the final “X” on the false FOP attack mailer, check out our first blog post showing that it was Republican-leaning council members, not the “mayor,” who caused the (actually $219,000) city manager severance package. It was the Republican effort to fire the city manager, and change to a strong mayor system, that forced the resignation and severance package which all 7 council members had to approve for legal/contractual reasons.

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