Tacoma City Council

I-5 Design and Manufacture / Flickr

Tacoma is ground zero for the state's next big minimum wage battle.

The city council voted 7-1 to put an initiative on the November ballot to hike the minimum wage in phases over the next three years, reaching $12 an hour in January 2018. After that, the minimum wage would rise every year at the rate of inflation.

Paula Wissel

They arrive at nearly every city or county council meeting. The regulars. The gadflies. The people who, no matter the topic, seize the microphone during the public comment period and say things like:

“You’re all criminals,” or “ I’m looking at you being an extraordinary, abusive, pathological liar,” or “I would think that this council would have some pretty high priced heads on spikes when all this clears.”

And so on.

While a member of the public has a right right to say such things – off-topic, on-point, sometimes insulting – that right isn’t unlimited.  In the interest of civility, some local governments have been tightening the rules for public comment speakers.

It becomes a balancing act between protecting people’s free speech rights and moving a meeting along.   

Tacoma city officials knew they had a gang problem, and a survey published this week has brought out new worries.

The survey, called The Tacoma Gang Project, found 651 active gang members and associates within the city. The survey also uncovered that gang recruitment happens as early as middle school. North of Tacoma, King County reports 10,000 gang members within 140 active criminal street gangs and an increase of 165 percent in gang related crimes.

“There is lots of gang activity up and down the I-5 corridor,” said King County Councilman Reagan Dunn.

KPLU Photo

Kids start joining gangs in middle school, according to a year long assessment of gang activity in Tacoma. The  gang assessment report was presented to the Tacoma City Council on Tuesday.