Working Toward Equity in Tacoma

Earlier this year the Tacoma City Council identified implementing a community and organizational equity and empowerment initiative as a top strategic objective for 2014. The intent is to develop the initiative with two parallel efforts: one internally facing, the other external.

Internally, the City would review its operations, looking for opportunities to improve equity and empowerment in its policies, programs, initiatives, workforce, and budget decisions.

Externally, the City would address issues around equitable access to its assets and services for residents, visitors, neighborhoods, and businesses.

An early draft document included in last week's City Council packet from the City manager and staff gave us a peek at some of the language that could define the initiative. (Download the City Manager's report below - find the equity and empowerment documents on pages 4 through 6.)

The document includes a list of guiding principles and intended outcomes. 


  • To lead with race in the effort to drive structural inclusion and equity for all groups including across gender, sexual orientation, ability and age. 
  • To address the structural components keeping inequity in place 
  • To engage those most impacted by potential changes to create the future together 
  • To keep a broad perspective of how inequity appears in our community 
  • To understand every interaction can create equity or inequity, and to strive for equity

Maybe it's a typo, but the first principle reads a little odd to us - the City is going to "lead with race" to drive inclusion and equity?


  1. Equitable access and proximity by residents of diverse income levels, race, ethnicity, and abilities, to community facilities, services and infrastructure. 
  2. Partnerships that engage key community groups and stakeholders in activities to advance equitable access and proximity to facilities, services, and infrastructure. 
  3. A clear commitment to equity in local government decision-making, activities, and investments. 
  4. The City of Tacoma workforce will understand the difference between institutional and individual racism and have tools to eliminate both. 
  5. A workforce that more effectively interacts with the community it serves because of its raised awareness of equity, including racial equity. 
  6. A workforce within the City of Tacoma that reflects the community it serves

So, what do you think of the first draft of principles and outcomes? Do these cover the bases for equity? 

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I cannot believe the amount of fluff this city puts out.  What in the world are they talking about?  To begin with, if you are going to cater to all, please start using language that everyone can understand.  We need enforcement to bring people back to reality in this city and I mean landlords and tenants that abuse public property, businesses as in the Lincoln District that abuse the ignorance of the city to do as they please and treat our district like a garbage can.  The people of Tacoma know that our city lacks standards and city employees are not held no any standards.  Excellence can be accomplished by motivating people and setting high standards, a way to measure quality.  Our city employees are not motivated, our leadership fails to motivate them and we have no real standards, therefore lack excellence.  We need ordinances that hold people responsible for the mess that they create in this city, enough with the hearts and minds crap.  Pick up the phone and ask code enforcement what happens when a person randomly cuts a tree on city property, or what happens when your neighbors grass is up to chest level, or when there is illegal dumping going on, or when there is a junkyard next door to you.  The answer is nothing, because we have no ordinances in place to enforce compliance, none.  All we have are pamphlets that ask people not to do these things.  We are a city of cowards that refuse to do what is right by the people that work their butt off to make it a great city, in the interest of political correctness.  Our neighborhood is full of hard working people willing to make a difference and how does the city reward us, by having a methadone clinic right smack in the middle of it, or by having a half way house less than 100 meters from Lincoln High School, or by allowing businesses to litter and destroy our area.  We are talking about hardened criminals a stones throw away from a school.  Ask the city why this is happening and they will have no answer for you, because they are caught up with a different agenda, one that does not involve you, or me.  It involves their jobs, their vision and their own personal legacy.

May 20, 2014 at 9:43 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jenny JRegistered

While I applaud the Council for wanting to take on issues of equity, I hope this document gets some serious revisions before its adopted.

I’m uncomfortable with the City seeming to position race as the primary concern around equity. It’s an incredibly important component, yes, and certainly one of the most visible factors of inequality in our society, but this document seems to focus on race in a way that demotes the other considerations - gender, sexual orientation, ability, etc - to a kind of secondary status.

And something about that seems ironic and wrong - particularly in a document that claims to want to work towards equity.

May 20, 2014 at 11:03 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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May 20, 2014 at 11:57 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Don’t ask for peoples’ opinion that are in the trenches everyday dealing with the garbage and the none sense that gets thrown our way by drug addicts, criminals and degenerates and then respond with a sigh…  What does equity even mean within this context, this whole thing reads like a kid in high school put it together.  Wake up and do something that matters at the core and get off the intellectual bandwagon.  It’s going to take a whole lot more than micro brews, burger joints and museums to change this city.  It will take a fortitude that our city leaders just don’t have, period.  The city needs to stop the none sense and you need to get some intestinal fortitude and stand up for the people that are also in Tacoma by choice, but don’t get to live in Stadium, or the North End.  When are you going to write a piece on the things that need to be fixed in the other districts and make a difference.  Empowerment, equity, all words that are way overused and trendy, that mean nothing.  Purpose, direction and motivation will give you excellence, the rest is just fluff.

May 20, 2014 at 1:25 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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May 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Good, now you can start shaking your hand and start writing something that benefits all the other exits in Tacoma and stop cheerleading documents that are obsolete by the time they are printed.

May 20, 2014 at 2:39 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Peter PeterRegistered

Who are you arguing with?

May 20, 2014 at 3:43 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Equity begins with judging people by their demographic.  Got it.  Thanks for clearing that up.

May 20, 2014 at 5:28 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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The city definiately has equity issues.  Historically, with the Chinese and local tribes.  Fast forward to today and it is Eastern Europeans and African Americans.  I wouldn’t consider this topic fluff, but a cultural shift in thinking at the city.

May 21, 2014 at 8:54 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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