Pierce County Behavioral Health Tax Approved - Conversation with Councilmember Dave Morell
By Cynthia Stewart as reviewed and approved by Councilmember Morell
The League of Women Voters has advocated for several years for Pierce County to adopt the 1/10 of one percent local option sales tax for behavioral health. At the end of December, the County did just that. However, one of the provisions of the ordinance is this requirement:
The Finance Director shall certify that the state Health Care Authority or other relevant state entity has provided the County with:
Written approval of the Pierce County Accountable Care Organization Medicaid Pilot in the form presented to it by local providers through Elevate Health;
Indication that approval has been requested for the Pierce County ACO Medicaid Pilot from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and
Assurance that the state Health Care Authority or other relevant entity will take all necessary steps to fully implement the pilot by January 1, 2022, to include but not be limited to re-procurement of Medicaid managed care in Pierce County.
This seemed to be an unusual requirement, so to understand it better, I requested a conversation with Councilmember Dave Morell, prime sponsor of the ordinance. Here is what he explained in a conversation on January 5, 2021.
Integration of behavioral health with physical health has been mandated for several years and has intensified as part of the expanded Medicaid system allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act. However, in general, the Council has a perception that provision of behavioral health care remains siloed and fragmented in Pierce County.
Councilmember Morell’s key points about the current system and this proposal: Continued, here.
Stay Informed with our Observer Reports
Our Observer Corps volunteers attend meetings of elected officials and appointed Boards and Commissions and report on what they are doing. Find out what is going on in local governments within the county by reading our Observer reports. These reports have been published since the last Voter. These and prior reports are found here.
There is a lot going on in each of our municipalities and in Pierce County. Our Observer Corps is more important than ever, since we have so little local journalism. In some jurisdictions, the League Observers have been called the "conscience" of the Council. If you would like to contribute to the community by serving as an Observer, only a brief training is required. Please contact Cynthia Stewart, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are our recent observer's notes, with thanks to Liz Knox.
Note: We also post these on Facebook when we get them, so you can read them sooner there.
Member Spotlight -
My involvement with the League of Women Voters has only been in the last few years. I grew up with parents who considered voting a privilege and responsibility. That ethic still prevails, and I believe rings stronger in my ears this last year. Though I’d attended LWV meetings, my active participation began when approached to coordinate the relatively new program of Ballot Observation that Sharon Wilhelm was overseeing. I was told that I’d said something in a meeting
that drew attention to me as a possible candidate for the position. (Indeed it is not the first time opening my mouth has gotten me in trouble). This time, however, it’s brought “good trouble”!
I moved to Tacoma in 1997 to work with the Frank Russell Company. My two children were grown and out of the home pursuing their lives in New York City and Mesa, Arizona. We’d been the “three musketeers” since my divorce in their early grade school years, so I began considering changes in my career and a move from the home they’d always known, not only to aid my adaptation to this new stage of life, but also to reassure them that “mom” would be fine.
Though my BA was in History and Economics, my first job after graduating was as a social worker in Topeka, KS working with families receiving ADC (Aid to Dependent Children). I worked in that role for the county for two years, then moved to the state level to be a Quality Control Investigator where I worked until my daughter, whom we’d adopted at the age of 6 days, reached 2, and was so cute I could not stand to have the babysitter telling me of her “firsts”….so I quit.
Continued; read more of Nan's fascinating story here.
Applicants sought for the City of Tacoma Human Rights Commission
The Tacoma City Council is looking to fill six positions on the Human Rights Commission. The Commission is comprised of fifteen members serving three year terms; representatives of the general public and the employer,
labor, religious, racial, ethnic, disabled, and women's groups in the city. The Commission studies, investigates and mediates community issues that may result from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, marital status, familial status, honorably discharged veteran or military status, or disability.
To create an equitable and anti-racist community and reflect the city' diverse community, they are especially seeking Black and Indigenous community members, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, individuals with disabilities, seniors, immigrants, and refugees applicants.
Additional information on the Human Rights Commission is available here. Applications must be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office by Sunday, January 31, 2021. To apply, please visit cityoftacoma.org/cbcapplication. For questions about the application process, to request the application in an alternate format, or to submit additional documents please contact Michelle Emery in the City Clerk’s Office at email@example.com or (253) 591-5505.
Racism in Transportation Policy
Where the Sidewalks End: Racist Urban Design and Crime Prevention
What if crime prevention could be built into cities? A panel of local leaders will discuss how urban design meant to
prevent crime instead reinforces systemic inequalities and racism, and how Tacoma is planning to avoid this.
The panel will be held as a free virtual event on January 22, 2021 from noon – 1:00 p.m. and will feature panelists Nick Bayard (Tacoma’s Office of Equity and Human Rights), Lauren Flemister (Community Planning Manager for the City of Seattle), Krystal Monteros (Vice Chair of the Commission on Disabilities) and moderator Tanisha Jumper (City of Tacoma Media and Communications Director).
Register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. You can also view the event on Facebook live. Listen to a recording of the forum and hear a follow-up discussion on Channel 253’s Crossing Division podcast.
Save the date for future Friday Forum discussions on February 26 and March 26 focused on Racism in Transportation Policy.
The Downtown On the Go’s annual Friday Forum series is an opportunity to learn about transportation issues and opportunities in Tacoma, to discuss real challenges facing downtown commuters and residents, and to hear about new ideas in the transportation world.
League Letter to Pierce County Council
Adopt the Housing Tax
Continuing our LWVTPC Action program related to affordable housing and homelessness, LWVTPC President Cynthia Stewart sent a letter to the Pierce county Council on January 5, the first regular meeting of the new Council. She and many others contributed to a petition sponsored by St. Leo's Church, which was also presented. The ask is that the Pierce County Council adopt the 1/10 of one percent local option sales tax for affordable housing. Read the letter here.
Tacoma Housing - Get Involved
Getting Housing Growth Right for Tacoma
Friday, January 29, 2021, noon
This is the third discussion in this series. It continues the conversation about how the city can get housing growth right. The conversation will explore ideas about what can be changed to increase affordability and supply. Learn more and find the recordings of the first two conversations here. RSVP to the event on facebook or join here. The discussion will be translated live into Spanish.
February Forum Date Change
- February 17, 2021
February 2021 will begin a short forum series dedicated to racism, its history in Washington State, and how to shift to an anti-racist culture. The first event in this series will be a discussion by Mary Fertakis, who has conducted a study of racism in Washington state; with an introduction by Kimi Ginn, former Executive Director of Vibrant Schools.
Scheduled for 7:00 pm, Wednesday 17, 2021, by zoom, the registration information will be provided soon. In the meantime, save the date. Co-sponsored by NAACP and Vibrant Schools.
Welcome New Member
Thank You to Our Generous Donors
"Ufimata/Put It On..."
This fall, Tacoma Refugee Choir has been working on a project in partnership with Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to create culturally-grounded public health messaging. They commissioned three original songs to be written and recorded and then created music videos with members of the Latinx, Pacific Islander, and African immigrant communities. These songs express important messages in a hopeful and upbeat way and we are proud of how each song speaks to the culture and specific concerns of these three communities.
These songs have led to powerful conversations in the community about health inequity and how we can keep our loved ones safe and healthy during this pandemic. In addition to creating the three videos, TRC distributed over 400 masks, held several special community events online and more.
Read more here. Watch the video of "Ufimata/Put it On" here.