Tacoma Urbanist

Jan. 31, 2011 at 12:01am

Following the Mayors of NYC, Chicago, and SF, Mayor Strickland to Deliver Tacoma's First EVER State of the City Address Tonight!

What is the vision/goals  for Tacoma, if any? How will we get there? What can people do to help?

These are topics that may be addressed in tonight State of the City address by Mayor Strickland.

There are a lot of reasons why Tacoma fails to have the respect and "mojo" of other American cities.  One of them is that the Tacoma City Clock on Old City Hall has been stuck at 3:16 for 20 years. Not very inspiring!

Another reason has been that Tacoma has failed to deliver a State of the City for the last 134 years since the incorporation of the city.

The failure of Tacoma to deliver a State of the City addressed is attributed by some to be due to Tacoma's City Manager style government:

Historian and former Mayor Bill Baarsma said Tacoma mayors havent given State of the City addresses because those presentations usually accompany the proposal of a citys annual budget.

In Tacomas council-manager form of government, the city manager is chief executive officer and presents the budget, Baarsma said. Some of Tacomas past city managers have prepared year in review and goals for the coming year to deliver with the budget.

In contrast, the mayor in Seattle is the citys chief executive officer, prepares a budget proposal, and makes a State of the City address.

Yet, there is nothing in Tacoma's charter which limits mayors in this manner.  Tacoma's failure to deliver a State of the City address has been self imposed and has left a leadership vacuum. City managers can do a lot of things.  However, they are unelected and serve at the pleasure of the City Council to do their bidding.  Thus, by definition, City Managers cannot be expected to inspire and lead the City of Tacoma.

As we wait for Tacoma's History Making State of the City Address, here are some other State of the City addresses from New York, Newark, and San Francisco we can use as a reference and for inspiration:

"We are in a competitive struggle and the stakes couldn't be higher..."


"We never faltered in our mission to distinguish our city as the most dynamic..."

San Francisco mayor Newsom State of the City delivered from the Asian Art Museum

Regardless of how one voted in the mayoral election, tonight mayor Strickland speaks for all Tacomans.

More information on the Go Local/Shift Happens Event:

comments [15]  |  posted under tacoma


by Erik on 1/31/2011 @ 12:29am

by Erik on 1/31/2011 @ 12:31am

by Erik on 1/31/2011 @ 12:35am
Tacomans can implement the Shift Happens ethos in part by dining at the Villa Cafe and Imbibery at least once a week!

1328 Market Street (just a couple of block from the Shift Happens event!)


by NineInchNachos on 1/31/2011 @ 8:08am
If I can squeak out of work in time, The Tacomic Book will make an appearance at the KINGS BOOKS vendor booth. I also have a limited stock of THE FIRST TACOMIC/TAGRO eLetter-press posters to give out.

by Erik on 1/31/2011 @ 9:22am
If I can squeak out of work in time, The Tacomic Book will make an appearance at the KINGS BOOKS vendor booth

Awesome! That is as hyper local as you can get.

by fredo on 1/31/2011 @ 9:51am
"Tacoma's failure to deliver a State of the City address has been self imposed and has left a leadership vacuum"

Erik, that's too funny. The reason we have a leadership vacuum is because the Mayors have been failing to deliver State of the City speeches. I hope you're right! After tonights speech we should magically expect to have re invigorated city leadership beginning tomorrow morning.

by Erik on 1/31/2011 @ 10:07am
@Fredo: the purpose of the State of the City should be very similar to the purpose of the State of the Union but on a smaller scale:

What is the purpose of the State of the Union Address?

Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution provides that the President "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

While Presidents Washington and Adams were largely passive in their usage of this power, Jefferson saw it as an important tool in leading the nation. Where the previous two presidents had shied away from proposing specific policies and legislation, Jefferson saw it as his duty to do so.

As President, he believed he could see the nations problems from a wider view than could members of Congress preoccupied with the concerns of their local constituencies (see Forrest McDonald's American Presidency, p. 259-60).

Notwithstanding Jefferson's effective use of his annual messages to the Congress, the the State of the Union Address has not always been regarded an important presidential power. Indeed, following Andrew Jackson's unsuccessful efforts to reassert the President's role as an important participant in the legislative process, there ensued a seventy-year period during which annual presidential addresses to the Congress were "formulaic" and largely unimportant (see McDonald, p. 355). Lincoln was the lone exception among presidents during this period who took a more aggressive approach to his dealings with the Congress.

After Lincoln, it was not until Teddy Roosevelt occupied the Oval Office that presidential State of the Union Addresses once again became an important political event. Roosevelt, in fact, articulated and acted on a new vision of the role of the President in policy-making. As the single elected official called on to lead the entire nation, Roosevelt believed the Presidency ought to be used as a "bully pulpit" to convince and cajole the Congress and the rest of the nation to do the right thing (as he saw it).

Taking up where Roosevelt left off, Woodrow Wilson assumed the Office of the President with every intention of being the leader, not the follower, in the legislative process. He self-consciously used his State of the Union Addresses as opportunities to establish what his legislative agenda. Virtually every President during the 20th Century has done likewise, setting forth his policy objectives, sometimes even directly challenging the Congress to pass laws to enact those objectives within explicit time frames. Presidents Truman and Eisenhower instituted the practice of submitting a complete legislative agenda to the Congress in conjunction with their State of the Union Addresses, complete with proposed text for some of the specific bills they proposed (see McDonald, p. 368).

The most striking example of Presidential leadership in the legislative process remains Franklin Roosevelt's stewardship over an emergency 100-day session of the Congress in 1933 during which numerous pieces of landmark legislation aimed at combating the Great Depression were passed.

Presidents since FDR have sought to replicate his accomplishments. Ronald Reagan tried to push an ambitious legislative agenda through the Congress during his first few months as President. He succeeded in extracting significant tax cuts from the Congress, but his desired spending cuts were never approved by the legislative branch. Bill Clinton similarly called on the Congress to pass significant legislation during the first year of his first term as President, even using the image of FDR's "100-days" as rallying-point.

For a variety of reasons, Clinton's efforts were less successful than Reagan's. However, as Clinton's final State of the Union Address suggests, the opportunity to stand before the Congress on national television and articulate a vision for America is too much for Clinton--or any President for that matter--to pass by without a bit of boldness. Few if any of the initiatives proposed by Clinton will become law during his final year in office. By stating his legislative goals in his final annual address before the members of the House and the Senate, however, Clinton made it clear that he intends to remain an important participant in the legislative process. His success or failure, however, will ultimately depend not on his ability to give a moving speech, but to work with individual members of the Congress to make his policy preferences reality. Given the track-records of Presidents in the last years of their second terms of office, Clinton's chances of significant legislative success are not good.

The State of the Union Address to watch, the one that will likely have a profound impact on the direction of this nation and its policies for years to come, was not the one given last week, but the one that will be given a year from now, by the newly elected President of the United States.


by cisserosmiley on 1/31/2011 @ 11:27am
hmmm...seems to be a small debate...what exactly is shit happens?

by Erik on 1/31/2011 @ 12:33pm
It is official, the Shift Happens folks have somehow managed to recruit RR Anderson to be at the event, leveraging their Go Local Street Cred.


by fredo on 1/31/2011 @ 12:42pm
thanks Erik, well I enjoyed your description of what a State of the Union speech is. My earlier comment wasn't because I was curious about the speech, just that Tacomas lack of such a speech was creating a "leadership vacuum."

RE: tonights Shift Happens State of the City speech by Mayor Strickland.

I predict the speech will follow the general outline that we heard from President Obama just a few days ago. It will be long on feel-good generalities and grand visions, and short on specifics.

regardless, you can be assured that following the speech I will prepare a few comments in response. Keep your radio dialed into KFCA. That's Fredo City America!

by cisserosmiley on 1/31/2011 @ 1:42pm
i hope the mayor can meld tacoma towards a future of servicing the demographic that is already here instead of trying to change what tacoma is demographically.

by Erik on 1/31/2011 @ 3:52pm
The Tribune's Merryman weighs in on the State of the City Speech:

The state of the city could be a lot worse.

That is Tacomansí opinion of Grit City, according to an informal poll I took that would give a statistician fits.

I asked because Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland will deliver her first State of the City address at 7 p.m. today in the Greater Tacoma Trade & Convention Center.

Tapping into the opinion-gathering potential of Facebook, our Word on the Street Blog, a community meeting and interviews, Iíve learned itís not the city itself as much as peopleís involvement in it that shapes their opinions on municipal vitality.


by Erik on 1/31/2011 @ 4:09pm
Former Mayor Bill Baarsma weighs in via Facebook

"I am looking forward to it. Of course, we have had other mayors under other forms of goverment that may have delivered such an address in the city's past. Harry Caine and Angelo Fawcett come to mind. But this will be the first such address under the council-manager system. History in the making!"

by NineInchNachos on 1/31/2011 @ 4:55pm
you'll shift your pants!

by fredo on 2/1/2011 @ 7:37am
Summary of the mayors speech was in todays tribune.

So here is the response direct from the KFCA transmitter:

Nothing new was presented in the mayors speech, the subjects have all been covered extensively on Kevin Frietas Feedtacoma blog. She was able to interject the word "shift" into a few sentences and this brought laughter from the easily amused Stickland devotees. Even fredo had a smile on his face as Lil' Oprah had to step on a soap box to reach the microphone.