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Group wants to pay to get Lacey plastic bag ban before voters

Lacey Fred Meyer cashier Kim Williams loads customer Becky Russell's cart during a visit May 18. A group has asked the Lacey City Council to allow it to pay for the cost of putting the city’s plastic bag ban on the ballot.
Lacey Fred Meyer cashier Kim Williams loads customer Becky Russell's cart during a visit May 18. A group has asked the Lacey City Council to allow it to pay for the cost of putting the city’s plastic bag ban on the ballot. Staff photographer

The issue of whether Lacey City Council will accept a private group’s money to place a plastic bag ban proposal on the November ballot was kept alive Thursday after a representative of the group testified during public comment.

Speaking was Justin Kover, chairman of the Effective Self-Governance Association, a political action committee that is prepared to donate about $2,500 to get the plastic bag ban before voters this fall.

“We want to get it on the ballot,” he told the council Thursday night.

But Kover’s comments were met with silence.

At the council meeting June 25, when a different member of the ESGA testified, the comments triggered a debate among the council members that resulted in a discussion about whether to accept the money. That topic will now be on the agenda for the 6:30 p.m. July 16 council meeting at Mountain View Elementary in Lacey.

Letting Lacey residents vote on the plastic bag ban is something council members Lenny Greenstein, Virgil Clarkson and Jason Hearn have wanted from the beginning.

The council voted 4-3 to approve the ban in early 2014, joining Olympia, Tumwater and unincorporated Thurston County. Voting for it were Mayor Andy Ryder, Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt and council members Jeff Gadman and Michael Steadman.

The ban, for those jurisdictions that approved it, took effect in July 2014. That was followed by a county survey six months later that showed that 57 percent of Lacey residents want the ban lifted.

Based on that data, Greenstein made a motion in May to get the bag ban before voters, but the ban was upheld by a 4-3 vote.

Steadman defended his vote on Facebook, but Kover challenged him online, asking whether he would support putting the issue before voters if Kover could raise the money.

Kover recently sent a screenshot of that conversation to The Olympian, which appears to show Steadman agreeing to support him.

After Thursday’s meeting, Steadman declined to comment, saying he prefers to save his comments for the July 16 meeting.

Also Thursday night:

▪ The council voted to approve a five-year contract with Tacoma-based Columbia Bank to serve the city’s banking needs. That decision ends more than 30 years of the city doing business with a bank in Lacey that eventually became Venture Bank and then First Citizens Bank.

First Citizens acquired Venture after it failed in September 2009. Finance Director Troy Woo said the city puts its banking services out to bid every five years. The latest request for proposals attracted bids from Columbia Bank, First Citizens, Heritage Bank, Umpqua Bank, Washington Federal and Wells Fargo. The bids were evaluated on six criteria and Columbia Bank had the best overall proposal, he said.

▪ City Manager Scott Spence announced a major milestone for the city: Its “interchange justification report” for improvements to the Marvin Road interchange at Exit 111 has been approved by several parties, including the state Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

Once the state Legislature approves a transportation package, the early steps of the $72 million project can begin, Public Works Director Scott Egger said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

rboone@theolympian.com

@rolf_boone

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