Tacoma Urbanist

Nov. 17, 2009 at 12:43am

Peter Callaghan: Neither Election Losers Nor Encumbants Should Be Appointed to Tacoma City Council

Is the Tribune's Peter Callaghan Right Regarding the Appointment Process?

Peter Callaghan weighs in heavily today on the upcoming appointment process to the Tacoma City Council and argues against two groups being appointed.

First Group that should not be appointed: Current members of the Tacoma City Council

The argument for such a plan is that the council could use some seasoned pros to help the newly elected and recently elected members.

The spirit of the charter is for the extra two years come at the start of a council member�s service, not the end.

Second Group that should not be appointed: Losers in this year's election:

So what should the council look for instead? First it should politely rebuff the movement by some to appoint candidates who just lost elections.

Sorry, it is harsh but these people didnt finish second, they finished last. Voters decided not to put them on the council and the incumbent members should respect that.

According to Callaghan, the Tacoma City Council should appoint members of the "farm team":

They should have a farm team.

If done right, thats what bodies like the Planning Commission, the utility board and the parks board can be. Its also a function neighborhood councils can perform. All are places where people can get some experience wrestling with issues, understanding how policy is formed.

Is Callaghan right or wrong? You know my opinion.

comments [25]  |  posted under Tacoma


by Erik on 11/17/2009 @ 1:27am
Also see prior article:

Term limits: Tacoma council members may seek other vacancies

“There would be a community uproar,” Baarsma said. “Even with the best of intentions, I think it would cloud the council.”

Baarsma, a Tacoma politics buff, said while there have been past appointments of former council members to fill open seats, he knows of no instance when a member facing term limits on his or her own seat immediately moved into an open seat to serve out an unexpired term.


(in reference to a similar case)

“It created such an uproar and so much opposition that the council quickly backed off and Brian quickly backed off,” Baarsma said. “I suspect we would see something similar.


“But the perception here would be this would be a way to subvert term limits on a technicality.”


by fredo on 11/17/2009 @ 7:37am
"Voters decided not to put them (losers in this year's election) on the council and incumbent members should respect that." Callahan.

Yes and no. The voters rejected both Merritt and Rojecki on a city wide basis. Summers-Kirby and Murphy were not rejected by the city voters but only by the district voters in the district they were running for. Also (and not to split hairs), the voters only rejected Merritt as their Mayor, they were not given the opportunity to weigh in on his feasibility as a council member.

by dltooley on 11/17/2009 @ 8:01am
Though I haven't joined the FB page for Ladenberg or Talbert as a resident of the South End seeing both of them appointed to at large seats doesn't seem like a disaster!


by Chris.Tacoma on 11/17/2009 @ 9:12am
Mr. Callaghan also took aim at anyone trying to get their name out on Facebook in a post via Twitter, yesterday:

"@CallaghanPeter: My rules for Tacoma city council vacancies: no incumbents, no recent losers, no one campaigning via Facebook"

Many of the candidates who have put their name out thus far using that medium have had experience on appointed and elected commissions, committees, Neighborhood Councils, and organizing boards of all sorts and kinds in Tacoma. They have farmed out their labor with no compensation for years. It's disrespectful to take a swipe at those people, given all their countless hours of hard work.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/17/2009 @ 9:20am
Do not be too hard on Callaghan. Unemployment is always looming just ahead of him if he's working for the Tribune. Perhaps he wants a seat on the city council to cushion the blow should he find himself in the unemployment line.

by jenyum on 11/17/2009 @ 9:28am
Is the objection to campaigning via Facebook specifically or campaigning at all for an appointed position?

If campaigning is okay, at this point in 2009 I don't think anyone who does so in a halfway serious fashion doesn't have some kind of Facebook presence. Sorry if that's irritating to some, it's reality.

by Erik on 11/17/2009 @ 10:00am
"@CallaghanPeter: My rules for Tacoma city council vacancies: no incumbents, no recent losers, no one campaigning via Facebook"

Thanks for monitoring Twitter for us Chris. That's funny.

I note that the News Tribune has both a Facebook page and Twitter account to leverage their paper. I would hope it would be ok for the rest of us to use FB and Twitter too since we can't vote for our preferred candidate and we don't own a newspaper.

Also, all or nearly all of the candidates used Facebook in the campaign.

(Is it ok if we text or friends as to our preferred candidate?)

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/17/2009 @ 10:13am
I'm with Callaghan on the no losers, no incumbents. Losers are, face it, losers, no need to have them around. The incumbents by virtue of term limits are losers also unless they can get elected to something else.

Erik is right, if the Tribune can leverage Facebook and Twitter why not the common person supporting someone for appointment or perhaps someone wanting an appointment to press their case. Surely the officials will not just pick some names out of a hat for the vacant seats.

by thriceallamerican on 11/17/2009 @ 10:25am
I'd add that I don't think anyone is advocating that we use Facebook to turn the selection into a popularity contest wherein we see who has the most fans and appoint them. I'm not a user of The Facebooks myself, but it's clearly a networking tool to create awareness and rally supporters to write to their councilpeople and such. Ain't nothing wrong with that, and in fact is an excellent example of giving people a sense of having a voice in a participatory democracy when they don't have a direct vote on the matter.

by jenyum on 11/17/2009 @ 11:24am
I asked him to clarify the facebook comment via Twitter, but he hasn't followed me back and I don't know how often he checks his @replies.

by Erik Hanberg on 11/17/2009 @ 11:36am
I think it's entirely possible that he was just trying to be funny, too.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/17/2009 @ 12:44pm
If he's trying to be funny it is not working.

by Erik on 11/17/2009 @ 12:48pm
I suppose one could argue that no one should be on or appointed to Tacoma City Council who has a Facebook or Twitter account but that would narrow the field greatly.

Perhaps it is simply a request for more "Letters to the Editor" to the Tribune.

by Nick on 11/17/2009 @ 1:11pm
Interesting read, for sure. I'd say I agree with the no campaign losers idea, with the added qualification that it be losers on that specific office. I'm specifically thinking of Merritt, who was not a loser for an at-large council position, but a loser for mayor. To me, that is an important distinction to make, especially given that almost half of Tacoma wanted him as mayor.

The Facebook thing is just silly, though I understand the sentiment against out-of-touch people just jumping on a bandwagon. If a candidate is genuinely embracing new tech to reach an audience, I'd have to say in my book that's almost a requirement.

by tacoma1 on 11/17/2009 @ 2:55pm
Personally, I can't see how anyone can make a good decision, or even have an informed opinion until we know who all of the candidates are. How can you say who the best two candidates are, until we know who has applied?

I do know the qualities and skills that I want to see in the person. That would be someone that can help guide the council with the streetcar and lightrail planning decisions. And in particular, someone that is not infatuated with parking structures or parking lots like Mr Anderson is.

As long as they have the proper qualifications, I don't care if they have a facebook page or not, but if they start twittering...............now that might be a deal breaker.

by izenmania on 11/17/2009 @ 3:10pm
John Hathaway has applied for consideration.

by morgan on 11/17/2009 @ 3:10pm
Here's one: If appointed, I promise to write more letters to the editor!

But why pick on Facebook? Why not pick on political signs in public right-of-way? Or political tatoos?

by Erik Hanberg on 11/17/2009 @ 3:40pm
I still say it's structured like a quip. Put two reasonable qualifications out followed by one that is bugging you, and exaggerate it. "I don't want to live in Seattle because of the traffic, the pollution, and the Seattle Mariners."

If he really felt like Facebook campaigners shouldn't be eligible it would be in the column.

It's a joke.

by Erik on 11/17/2009 @ 4:23pm
At any rate, it may be the most spirited response to a Twitter post in the history of Tacoma.

See also the reaction to the Twitter post on Exit 133:


by NineInchNachos on 11/17/2009 @ 6:36pm
I most sincerely hope the TNT is not paying Mr. Callaghan for his perverse and often baffling sense of humor. Personally I am filled with such a fake-rage that I am beside myself.

You know, Hitler didn't have a facebook. Mr. Callaghan are you sincerely implying that HITLER would be qualified to be appointed on Tacoma City Council?

I sincerely hope that your "mockery of journalistic twittering crime spree" impels you to apologize not just to ME but to the entire internet and facebook community.

good day.

by Erik on 11/17/2009 @ 6:59pm
I still say it's structured like a quip. Put two reasonable qualifications out followed by one that is bugging you, and exaggerate it.

Perhaps you are right. On the other hand, this may be one of those "Twitter is better than Facebook" arguments that Peter is weighing in on.

by narndt on 11/18/2009 @ 9:41am
I heard Callaghan has an intern at the TNT print and collate all of his "Tweeters" from the previous day so he can sit and digest them on real tree paper, a day late, just as it should be.

by jenyum on 11/18/2009 @ 9:53am
I can't tell if that's a joke or not...

by Erik on 11/18/2009 @ 10:11am

by Erik on 11/19/2009 @ 9:56pm

Applications for appointment to Tacoma City Council are now available on the City of Tacoma website.


May process to select our next two city council members begin!