Following an opinion piece that was published here in The Suburban Times January 17, Tacoma News Tribune’s Melissa Santos, January 18, writes that Lakewood is in affect ground zero targeted by State Rep. David Sawyer, D-Parkland for “ignoring the will of the voters,” given city leader’s fence-sitting on marijuana.
Per Sawyer, co-sponsor of House Bill 1099, ‘allow marijuana retail – as the people in Lakewood voted for – or lose over a half-million dollars in liquor sales revenue.’
How ironic that Lakewood is the same city that is ignoring the time-and-again expressed voice of the people in opposition to the City’s Rental Inspection Program (RIP).
Despite overwhelming angst concerning the insertion of city-approved inspectors into private rental properties under the guise of ensuring safety, Lakewood’s Ordinance No. 644 will require per unit fees, rental property registration fees, inspection fees and late fees for – with few exceptions – every single rental, some 14,000 in the entire city even though the city acknowledges less than 15 percent will be found deficient of the city standards as found in the seven-page, 69-box checklist carried by clipboard toting inspectors – accompanied by police should renters and their landlords insist on a warrant.
‘Comply or die’ is the heavy-handed message of Lakewood’s Ordinance No. 644.
‘Comply or die’ is the heavy-handed message of the State’s HB 1099.
Government does, as Rudyard Kipling wrote of wolves in “The Law of the Pack”, what government wants to do and the public be damned.
According to Santos’ article, City Manager John Caulfield said losing the liquor money would cause the city to have to lay off four or five police officers, because liquor revenues are earmarked for public safety programs.
“We have an overarching policy with the state Legislature: Please don’t do anything that harms us,” Caulfield said. “Certainly, taking state revenues that are for public safety purposes harms us.”
Rewind the tape to September 2, 2003. Then Lakewood City Manager Scott Rohlfs sent a letter to the State Gambling Commission expressing concerns that the agency’s research project concerning gambling taxes “would undermine Lakewood’s gambling tax authority thereby reducing revenue for the police department.”
Why does it seem that public safety – an essential service of any municipality – is the first kicked to the curb, the first thrown under the bus, when funds are threatened?
The city loses liquor revenue and that “would cause the city to have to lay off four or five police officers”?
Because “liquor revenues are earmarked for public safety programs”?
There does not appear to be any iron-clad, non-negotiable, non-transferable requirement such that the loss of liquor dollars necessitates the loss of law enforcement officers.
In fact, page 247 (of 302) of the October 10, 2016 Lakewood City Council Study Session concerns the distribution of “state-shared revenues from taxes and fees collected by the State and disbursed to municipalities. The source of these shared revenues include: sales tax mitigation, criminal justice, leasehold excise tax, state lodging tax sharing, liquor excise tax and liquor profits, and motor vehicle excise tax.”
Only the last, motor vehicle excise taxes, is specifically referenced as being deposited into any specific fund, in this case “the transportation capital fund.”
Even the criminal justice revenue from the State that is distributed to cities that is deposited in the City’s General Fund “must be used for criminal justice purposes as activities that substantially assist the criminal justice system.”
There appears to be no such “must be used” stipulation attached to the receipt of liquor revenue.
In fact, to show how fluid are so-called “earmarked” funds, when Lakewood was the recipient in 2012 of $55,503 thanks to a Federal Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) to treat problem gamblers, the police department used the money in part to buy a Sea-doo to ply the waters of Lake Steilacoom.