Meeting Information

Meeting Type
Friday Coalition Meeting
Friday, 7/6/2018
9:00 AM
11:00 AM
Ricky's Law, the City of Tacoma Artists in Residence program update, Miracle Message, Candidate forum discussion, and Continuum of Care Notice of Funding Availability Presentation
The Salvation Army Church


(Wow, lots of words spoken at the meeting – if something sounds off, blame the scribe, not the speaker –ed.)

  • James Pogue, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Thanks everyone for coming.
  • Review Goals on the back of the agenda. 
  • Next three week we have candidate forums. 


Ricky’s Law

  • Nathan Hinrichs, Multicare, Pierce County Designated Crisis Responder (DCR) – formerly called Designated Mental Health Professionals (DMHP). 
  • Ricky’s law filled a gap – we could detain folks with mental health, but we ran into issues where folks were dangerous because of chemical dependency.  Ricky’s law plugs that gap by allowing us to detain individuals for chemical dependency. 
  • Years ago, Pierce County did have involuntary commitment for chemical dependency.  The new Ricky’s Law is more restrictive than the past law. 
  • Criteria used when determining if someone can be involuntarily committed because of chemical dependency. 
    • Have a substance use disorder based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)  (funny how the chemical dependency definition is in a manual on mental disorders, but that Ricky’s law was needed to authorized detention for chemical dependency because the mental health detention rules didn’t cover chemical dependency –ed.)
    • Can detain Because of chemical use disorder only when there is imminent risk, such as:
      • someone is an IV drug user that is constantly getting abscesses and not seeking treatment
      • Someone not eating and drinking and losing significant weight
      • Someone who is suicidal when they use, but not suicidal when sober
  • As with any new regulation, implementation will probably change as needs are better understood and process mature.
  • Only two facilities allow can be used to detain individuals –one in Spokane and one in Vancouver, Washington.  If no beds are available, the individual cannot be detained and must be released.  With mental health, we can do single bed certifications (temporary detention in a facility not certified for detention – boring details at –ed.)
  • The State is looking to open more detention centers over the years.
  • When an attempt is made to send someone to a detention center and there is no space available, a report is sent to the state.  This information will be used to (along with other data) to add detention space.
  • Depending on where they are with substance use withdrawals (for instance, if they need medical detox), people may not be detainable under Ricky’s law.  Benzos and alcohol withdrawal can be troublesome.  Meth and heroin withdrawals are not so lethal. 
  • Under Ricky’s law, we have detained a couple folks – and there have been beds available so far. 
  • If a person is referred for a Ricky’s law evaluation, we do also evaluate for mental health issues.
  • with folks that have chemical use disorder, often there is a mood disorder driving the use.
  • If no substance use beds are available, we do try for a mental health detention.  Conversely, we will also look at criteria for Ricky’s law when doing Mental Health evaluations.
  • Prior to Ricky’s law, we couldn’t evaluate when intoxicated (I’m assuming he meant when the client was intoxicated… –ed).  Under Ricky’s law, we can now see folks when they are intoxicated.
  • Brian Wilson – how long is the involuntary commitment?  Nathan - 72 hours initially, and then up to 14 days.  It may be able to extend to 90 days, but that is still not clear.  We aren’t involved in the subsequent filings for detention because there is no facility in our County where we would get involved with this work.
  • Brian Wilson – is there talk of requiring a payee or navigator to prevent future detainments? Nathan - I’m not sure.  The goal is to go from detention into inpatient substance use program.
  • Maureen – is the treatment plan in Spokane or Vancouver?  Nathan –  after detention, the plan is for folks to get treatment back in their home county.
  • Question - how many beds?  Nathan – 16 in Spokane and 16 in Vancouver - that is for the whole state. (wow 32 beds, that seems like a lot – are there even 32 people in the state with a substance use disorder… -ed.)
  • Question - what do we do to get referral?  Nathan – call Pierce County Crisis Line (800-576-7764) and ask for a DCR.  Should get a call back from one of us and we’ll screen the case.  Always prior to jumping into detention we make sure the client is offered voluntary services.  An emergency room worker may offer treatment to a patient, and only if they refuse can detention be considered.
  • Brian Wilson – Are these purpose built facilities?  Nathan-  Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) (I’m not positive he said DSHS –ed.) contracted with someone to run the centers.  Brian -What would it take to get a facility in Pierce County?  Nathan – when we can’t detain someone, we try our hardest to make it a mental health determination.  Sometimes folks don’t have a mental health issue, and they get stuck where you can’t detain them.  Detention center locations are up to DSHS. 
  • Brian – any pending funding to increase the Ricky’s law funding for facilities.  Nathan – these statutes evolve over time – we see the pitfalls, what works, what doesn’t.  Brian – are there any bills to add funding?  Nathan – No, but the state is tracking the number of referrals returned because of full beds, as well as other indicators to determine if additional beds will be necessary.  Brian – I could fill those beds all up in a day. (or something like that exchange took place, I momentarily got caught up in the excitement and forgot to take notes –ed.)
  • Maureen – how do you physically transport someone from Pierce County to the detention facility?  Nathan – we send folks restrained in an ambulance to the facility.  We use the same process with mental health patients transported out of county.  (this was a hard image to get out of my head. –ed.)
  • Question – does the substance use detention use the same mental health court?  Nathan - same involuntary commitment court as used for mental health.  The existing RCW 71.05 ( ) was added to by Ricky’s law.  Added to an existing statute allowed the the same mental health court rules to apply to the substance use laws.
  • Let me review the mental health Involuntary commitment criteria:
    • Criteria
      • imminently dangerous
        • Danger to self – suicidal = we believe they are going to try to commit suicide or do harm in 72 hours or less. 
        • Danger to others – paranoid – concerns people will hurt them and will injure others so they directly threatening people around them.
        • Grave Disability – do a large volume of detentions under this criteria, which includes:
          • Inability to meet health and safety needs
            • For instance, client has delusions that say food is radioactive so they stop eating.  If we have physical evidence of not eating – can get from lab test in ER – we use that physical evidence and witnesses to document the need for detention.
          • Escalating loss of cognitive and emotional control –
            • For example, voices inside their head are preventing them from functioning – but we do still have to prove imminent risk.  Detaining folks for being out in the weather and getting frostbite is another example. 
            • Can be in an extremely manic state – where they convince themselves they can safely do very dangerous things (like walking on a deck railing on a 7 story building).
            • Must have evidence = often talk to family and friends to get better picture – can rely on witnesses – professionals or neighbors.  Can still detain if someone does still present well
  • Brian – client in winter wearing sandals in winter getting frostbite but not willing to get services. How to help?  Nathan – when
  • Maureen – how do you work with law enforcement and jails.  Nathan – we do evaluations anywhere in Pierce County – including jails (I’m sure this makes perfect sense, but I can’t help wonder why we are evaluating someone to determine if we should detain them if they are already being detained. –ed).  If feel folks are unsafe, we come where they are to do evaluations.  Criminal court, under RCW 10.77 ( ), can refer to involuntary – often they contact Designated Crisis Responder (DCR). 
  • Maureen – has law enforcement received training in Ricky’s law?  Nathan - We are looking to educate the police. We have Designated Crisis Responders (DCRs) working for the Tacoma Police Department – currently they have 4 positions.  They are dedicated only to calls from the Tacoma Police Department.  Those 4 DCRs provide training to the officers.  Recently we started hiring 4 co-responders who are DCRs who will work with the Pierce County Sheriff’s office focusing on East Pierce County.  Law enforcement and DCRs cross paths a lot (well maybe the DCRs should obey the speed limit better or whatever it is that draws police attention…-ed.) Law enforcement gets a lot of crisis calls that should be handled by DCRs.  Many families are unaware that crisis line can be contacted instead of calling the police.  Lakewood Police have their own co-responders – although they not DCRs.  Puyallup is looking to have a co-responder as well.  (with everyone getting them, you’re going to feel silly not having your own co-responder pretty soon. –ed)
  • Question - how do you get clients from detainment to treatment?  Nathan – I don’t know – my work is on the front-end – getting folks into involuntary treatment.  If someone is detained for mental health, we can’t convert it to chemical dependency. 
  • Question - lots of folks get stable on mental health issues in detainment but when they exit the program, they use again and end up detained again.  Nathan – After 14 day commitment, court can dictate meds to take and such.
  • Paul – Talking about locking folks up involuntarily is concerning – many people don’t like to take medical advice that would increase their lifespan (case in point, I’m drinking bourbon and eating cookie dough right now. –ed.) What are the safeguards of the rights of individuals?  We see folk with abscesses - there are reasons folks don’t go to the doctor.  Nathan – I’ve had people refuse kidney dialysis – they don’t want to deal with the pain and are choosing not to do the dialysis.  That sort of a thought out decision is different from someone hearing voices that are telling them unhealthy things.  We approach those two situations differently.  We detain less than 50% of folks we see.  The hard part of the job is to ferret out the reasons people are behaving in a certain way (I sort of think there are probably not any easy parts to the DCR job – just sayin’ -ed).  We work hard to protect rights.  After 72 hours, need to show evidence to a judge to show danger in order to keep people detained.  People often show distinctive patterns over time.  The imminent risk standard is high – if they simply refuse psychiatric meds – we can’t detain.  But, if in the past, they did something dangerous when not taking meds, it might be a different story on whether we detain or not.   Paul – I understand the reasons – but want a thoughtful process before someone is detained.  James – we must show significant evidence.  It is a tough threshold and we are often frustrated that someone is not quite meeting the criteria for detention. 
  • Brian – in California, it is much easier to detain.  Later on, people are often thankful for this type of forced intervention – it can help them get out of a life where they are dying.  Nathan – yes, it is much easier in California. 
  • During the investigation – we look at 10 year of history – including acts of violence and mental health history.  We look at Western State forensic reports and review them prior to detaining an individual.  We also reach out to available witnesses.  Often neighbors swarm to tell you things.  In addition to the investigation, we do offer them voluntary options and do a face-to-face medical analysis.
  • Al – if you encounter a person who is already enrolled in a treatment program of some kind, does the law permit you to consult that program before making a decision?  Nathan – Designated Crisis Responders (DCRs) are able to get information without consent of the client.  DCRs can talk to anyone who has credible information.  Whenever I find a crisis plan, I call the case manager to find out how they have been  doing on it.  We reach out to treatment providers all the time.  Crisis plans are very helpful – because they often document how folks behave normally so we can compare that to their behavior during their crisis.
  • Janet – on the referral side, librarians, community center mangers - when they are not sure about behavior going on, I recommend 211 to connect them to a mental health professional.  Does that them to the Crisis Line?  Nathan – I’m not sure – we get our referrals from the crisis line.  Out crisis team does outreach – accessed through the crisis line.  Hopefully 211 would connect the call to the crisis line.  DCRs will do regular crisis calls when the crisis team is backed up.
  • Patricia – some of your consultations are with folks who are homeless on the streets?  Nathan – yes, in cars, camped out, etc.  Patricia – what happens to their stuff and their pets?  Nathan -we have to protect their belongings.  If a case manager or family member is around, we’ll have them take those possessions.  Pets are tough.  We’ll work with the person to find a family member or a neighbor.  Will work hard to find solutions.  When taking someone to detention, we make sure the home they are leaving is safe – things are turned off, windows are shut – and make sure the keys go with the clients – that is our responsibility.
  • David – what is this going to do for folks on the street who are non-US citizens? Nathan – that is a touch question.  I have detained non-US citizens – the court system doesn’t treat them any differently?  David – does ICE get involved?  Nathan – we’ve detained folks from the ICE facility, although the state now forbids that.  The only process that is different for immigrants that we’d get involved in is that certain countries require a call to their consulate to let them know one of their citizens is detained and why.  Otherwise, for undocumented folks, we don’t really have a different process.  We don’t call ICE on anyone. 
  • (Lots of clapping. –ed
  • James – Again, the Pierce County crisis number is 1-800-576-7764 – a person will ask you  a variety of questions.  Depending on your answers, you can get a different responder.  Voluntary center in Fife allows you to do all the work to get a client to a facility.  There is little housing available – once folks are restored with treatment – most clients exit to homelessness because there are not adequate resources in the community to house them.
  • Maureen – you are a great presenter – you might consider a video or webinar for librarians or community members – this is valuable information.  Nathan – if you want training – I’ll give you my supervisor name.  We’d love to educate you all on the process.  That helps us serve folks better.  Ian Callahan (253.301-5203 or ) is my supervisor.   We are happy to have someone come out and meet with any group. 


Artist in Residence

  • Roni Chelben, City of Tacoma artist in residence.  Lives in Austin Texas – but is here for the summer.
  • Working on a community engagement art project with people experiencing homelessness
  • Project name is “In our backyard’. 
    • Trying to look at backyards in a different way.  Some folks have physical backyards, some are more figurative.
    • Goal is to educate the community about homelessness through events and art elements
  • 5 public events – each event has a performance of “Room for Rent” – performed by Nativity House and Tacoma Rescue Mission residents (and others).  The story is about stereotyping and about rejections.  It contains the stories of the residents.  University of Washington Tacoma is involved in making some masks.  The performance Includes a participatory part for the audience, through facilitation, to share thoughts and questions and have a dialog. 
  • Also creating videos by filming people in their backyards, pairing folks who are homeless and who are not homeless in conversations.  Hoping the videos involve everyone in the conversation.  Videos are in editing right now and will be shown at the events and also will be available online. 
  • Event locations
    • Tacoma Rescue Mission - July 25th
    • Blueberry park – Saturday, August 4th, 3-5pm
    • Eastside Portland community centers
    • Downtown in a central location
    • TCC collaboration
  • (Roni sent out some additional information, including the following 3 event dates- August 7th, 12th and 16th.  I’m not sure locations and times.-ed)
  • In the events themselves there will be folks who have experienced homelessness watching and participating.  It is very hard to bring people experiencing homelessness to attend these types of events.  We are working to arrange a shuttle.  Do you have any general questions or thoughts on a good way to get folks to attend?  (everyone likes gift cards…-ed).
  • Brian – are the homeless performing?  Roni - The whole performance is made up of Tacoma Rescue Mission and Nativity House clients.  Some of the clients came from the stability site, as well.
  • Sherri – publicity? Roni - first event on July 25th – waiting on poster from the City (hoping to get them today).  Will visit some community gatherings to distribute flyers and posters. The outreach person just started to work on this.  Will distribute across many channels and social media platforms and such.  Hopefully, before every performance, prior to the event, they will go to each site with breakfast hoping to get folks to attend the event. 
  • Martha – you can use the shuttle the City of Tacoma pays for.  If you get flyers, you should take them to art on the Ave this Sunday – I’m sure some table will let you set them on there. 
  • Josh – I worked with one of the artist selected who is also a Spartan race participant.  He has reported that what he’s learned from this program has been valuable – really learned a lot about how art business works and how to  get the message out.  What happens once the program is done?  Any on-going mentoring after the program is done?  Roni – everyone was invited to participate.  It isn’t a mentorship program.  Josh – this isn’t the artist program?  Roni – different artist program.  I worked with a volunteer named Maureen (Coleen?) and a Nativity House employee Maggy – possibly the group could continue on with their work with those folks.  
  • Joseph – want to express appreciation – two formally homeless clients, working with Roni and Susah, clients really appreciated the opportunity to express themselves.  Thank you.
  • Sherri – want to add on – these clients have developed new confidence – it is great to see the clients come in and talk about their experience. 
  • Kenneth – can we refer folks to you?  Roni – the performance is the part I’m working on and it is in its last phases.  We can always have more folks join in and add more small parts.  Yes, engage more clients.  I’ll leave my number (I sort of lost her card so I can’t help much here – sorry –ed.) and e-mail ( ) and you can contact me so more folks can join in.
  • Patricia – are performances going to be at different times and different days?  Roni – yes.  The rescue mission is in the evening.  Two are during the day during the week.  TCC in the evening after school.  Some are weekends some are workdays. 
  • Send me ideas and mailing lists about how to distribute.  I’ll provide a flyer electronically that you can use to promote the event. 
  • Patricia – how about an event at People’s Park.  Roni – others said that the hilltop is addressed so much, and with only 5 events, thought we’d share the message around to other parts of the City. 
  • Please show up to some of the events so you can take part in the dialog.
  • James – originally there was some controversy around the artist in residency programs focused on homelessness – specifically if this is a good use of our funds.  I Have only heard good things about this their work so far. 


The “Services were Offered” Myth

  • James – please help me dispel the rumors that homeless people are being “offered resources” and then refusing them – especially as related to visits by social service providers to encampments prior to cleaning them up, but in general as well.  We want to reframe our language so we stop blaming the victim. (James said this much more eloquently than I was able to record it – so ask James to say it again – if past experience is any indicator of future performances, he’ll be more than happy to do so.  And I also very much agree that the “services were offered” narrative is both untrue and counterproductive. – ed.)


Miracle Message -

  • Valeri Knight, Pierce County Human Services,
  • Miracle Message, based in California somewhere,  homeless outreach where they ask if the folks have family they want to connect to. If so, they make a video of them and put it on social media targeted at where there family are located. 
  • The ask from the County is if this is something that will be useful to you.  This serves folks who are 10 or 15 years homeless.  The program provides transportation and some help with after care as well.
  • Marybeth – they ask “is there someone in your life who would be interested in helping you”.  
  • Martha – we run 2 different types of shelters – one with single women.  That is a huge need for many of our single women.  Many folks didn’t have family to go to, but spent the 4th of July in the shelter.  The Salvation Army spends money on transporting folks already, probably around 20k per year.  If someone else paid to transport, we could use that money for other needs.  We are currently transporting a family back to American Samoa – they couldn’t afford the ticket – so 3 agencies went together to transport them. 
  • Miracle Messages does a video and shares it on facebook and hopes to make the connection with their family.
  • Maureen – how does this work.  Does the organization come here?  What is the cost, and what pot of money will it come from.  Valeri – they bring staff to recruit and train volunteers.  Money will come out of document reporting fees (State money-ed) – if it is successful, we can look for other funding.  Costs is about $5k per person per placement.  That is expensive, so we are pushing back on that.
  • This program seems like a great way to get the community involved in.
  • Donald - Had a young lady in another state who is pregnant and homeless but is from here, can we do a reverse?.  Valeri - Yes, if we had a permanent home for her here.  Donald – it is my own daughter, and I’m just trying to get her back home.  Valeri - You and I will connect afterwards and try to get her back home (this is why we love Valeri.-ed).  ? 2nd question – I work in gang prevention.  If I know someone is trafficking someone, who to I contact?  Valeri – we have RAIN and other resources in the community – we can discuss this afterwards as well. 
  • Miracle Message applied for a grant – they request $50k.  they would only do 10 households.  Family has to be willing to do the program. 
  • James – what if other resources are needed, not just transportation?
  • Marybeth – if I have a match for Miracle Messaging, how to connect?  Contact Miracle Messaging .  They go where the client is located.  Phone number is 1-800-miss-you (collective ahhhh from the audience-ed.)


Candidate Forum Overview

  • Al Ratcliffe, and Brandon Chun, MDC,
  • Having 3 candidate forums.  Trying a different forum approach.  Typically the forum is elevator speeches followed with short responses to questions.  Our approach will be: 
    • Candidates get to say their elevator speech (I doubt they will be as entertaining as Remi Gaillard’s elevator pranks videos - Other than the word elevator, that’s totally unrelated to anything, really.  Sorry... –ed).  .        
    • Ask the candidates to sit down with a circle of us (separate circles for each candidate) and have us talk to the candidate about our understanding of homelessness, the challenges, and what we think government can do.  The candidate’s job is to listen and engage in the conversation. 
    • The candidates will report on what they heard, what they learned, what they think government can do, and what they will pursue if elected. 
    • This approach was tried in Massachusetts (yet another word where my first 4 attempts at spelling it were all wrong…-ed), candidates liked it.
    • Question - will the candidates rotate through the small groups? Al – no. 
  • There are lots of us and few candidates.  We will figure out how to make this work for us.  We’ll probably have an inner circle in a discussion, and others watching from outside that circle.
  • Question - could we have us report out what the candidate said?  Al – we don’t want truth-telling; we want to find out if the candidates can listen to what we are saying. 
  • Theresa – I really like the idea of the candidates summarizing what we say and what they think they can do to improve the situation. 
  • Greg – after the listening session at the table, candidates will report out to the larger group, correct?  Al – yes.
  • We’ll have a handout for everyone describing the process – for us and the candidates ahead of time. 
  • I’d like us, at the end of this, to critique the process. 
  • Maureen – I’d suggest you provide a simple evaluation for everyone to fill out at the end.
  • Brandon – in the next week we are working with League of Women Voters to get everything ready. 
  • The three forums:
  • This will only be as robust as the small group conversation makes it.  Bring your questions.
  • Al – ground rules
    • don’t have one person dominate the conversation.
    • Don’t push a solution
  • Josh – if we have a question but are in the outer circle, what do we do?  Al - if you choose to sit out and want to ask a question, pass the question to someone or raise your hand.
  • Maureen – if you’ve done these type of conversation with politicians a lot, maybe leave room for the folks who are new to engaging candidates. 
  • Al- Need a leaders, conveners and discussers.  Brandon – The advocacy group will coordinate this. 


Continuum of Care (CoC) Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) coming out soon

  • Valeri Knight, Pierce County,
  • CoC federal funding is coming available for next year.  We only increase dollars in the community if we submit new projects.  Our community has not done a good job over time in bringing bonus dollars to our community.  For comparison, Snohomish County has some $7.9m in CoC funding but only $3.3 comes to Pierce County. Snohomish County applies for new projects every single year. 
  • Ask us questions now before the NOFA comes out (it is coming out soon).  After not NOFA comes out, we can’t respond to individual questions.
  • Question – when is the workshop date?  Valeri – the workshop date for the NOFA isn’t yet announced – that is part of the NOFA announcement.
  • The workshop on the 11th is not for this Continuum of Care funding. 
  • Continuum of Care is for Permanent Housing programs. 
    • Some $3.3m available  in renewal projects.
    • $200k in overall bonus funding
    • $400k in Domestic Violence bonus funding – this covers programs serving folks experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and includes Rapid Rehousing, Permanent Support Housing or joint Transitional Housing to Rapid Rehousing programs. 
  • Ask questions and have conversations now, we need lots of new projects.
  • If we get bonus round funding from HUD, that new funding that will then continue every year. 
  • Need a new project or adding additional units.
  • Kenneth – before the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) comes out, we have some new projects – can you help us figure out how the project can get funded.?  Valeri – yes, if you contact us before the NOFA
  • Marybeth – Donald was interested in help with writing grants – does the County help?  Valeri – no the county doesn’t help, but there are lots of other agencies in the area with expertise.  Donald – we have lots of opportunities.  Valeri – e-mail the group for help on grant writing. 
  • Martha – the NOFA workshops are very useful on how do to things – don’t miss the workshops.
  • With the Continuum of Care grants – the funding will be for next year. 
  • Martha – can you explain more about the Transitional to RRH
  • Al  - can two group collaborate on this? Valeri – yes.  Clients are able to be in the program 2 years, and do the mix of transitional housing and rapid rehousing that is right for them (it can even be all transitional or all rapid rehousing). 
  • Gerrit – I was under the impression the RRH to Transitional Housing model was designed around the efficiency of one case manager working with clients in both their transitional housing and through the rapid rehousing intervention.
  • Valeri – That was the model as presented by HUD, but it  is a new model and HUD allows flexibility to have two agencies collaborate if that will work well for a community.

Good of the Order

  • Janet – there is a network of hospital suppliers with a program to reduce waste – we are able to use new things that would go to the landfill .  Have 600 personal hygiene kits that are available – let me know if you can use the.
  • House of Prayer Foundation – Lit Youth Explosion – July 7th.  If you want a table or booth for your program, it is free.
  • James – if you suggest some training for this Friday Group, let us know what an issue or agency you’d like to know more about, and we’ll bring them in. 
  • If you are looking at some suicide prevention training, I’d be happy to arrange something. 

Restaurant Review

I love living in a city of immigrants.  Whether folks arrive legally or illegally, as refugees or just seeking more opportunity, I know they add to our community.  One amazing way they make Tacoma better is with a bevy of inexpensive restaurants with amazing food.  Variety is the spice of life, and that maxim has no higher calling than describing the joy you can find in immigrant run restaurants.  I especially appreciate food that sticks to traditional method of preparation.  I’ve been on a long term quest for the best tacos in Tacoma.  And by best taco, I mean what you get at a taco stand in Mexico – freshly made corn tortilla, meat, minced onion and cilantro, red and green salsa in squeeze bottles to add on your own.  My favorite Mexican stand is this place in a little village north of Zihuatenejo that opens up each night after dusk.  They only do tacos, and they know what they are about.  Domestically, I loved the tacos at “Los Reyes Del Taco” (the Taco Kings), over on East McKinley.  Sadly, they closed a few years back, but that place rocked.  English was occasionally spoken there, so it was pretty much up to my rather rudimentary Spanish to get the meal ordered.  But the tortillas were hand formed and the tacos were spot on.  We used to come all the time when our kids were infants, and if things were a bit slow, the waitress would grab my 9 month old and disappear into the back to play with him, giving my wife and I some peace and quiet (except for the telenovela blaring on the TV, of course) to enjoy our meal.  They had like 9 tables, maybe.  We bumped into one of the waitresses a year or two back at Taste of Tacoma, and it was like seeing a long lost friend.  I also loved El Compadre – I think they only served tacos (in addition to a little Mexican market) – and their carnitas tacos were sublime.  These days, I don’t have a set taco spot.  Taqueria El Sabor (1636 S Mildred – across from TCC) has some great tacos.  I probably go to El Antojo (38th and McKinley Ave E) the most.  Great tacos – they make their own tortillas too.  They started as a taco truck, and now have 4 or 5 proper restaurants up and down I-5.  Tacos Guaymas (2630 S 38th St) is a fun spot – it is a chain as well, but the same folks have been cooking and waiting tables for at least the last 15 years, it seems.  They make big tacos – not proper Mexican street tacos – but they are great.  The shrimp taco is divine, and they have, by far, the best vegetarian taco in town.  You eat it with a fork, but it’s the bomb.  There are a couple Americanized taco joints I like as well.  They serve proper tacos (soft corn tortilla), but fancied up quite a bit.  If you’ve never been to Top of Tacoma (3529 E McKinley) for Taco Tuesday, you’re missing out.  Try the pork belly taco – you won’t regret it.  Brewers Row (3205 N 26th) also has some good tacos – although they always feel like they are trying just a bit too hard to be edgy.  The menu doesn’t list a “fish taco”, it is “ancho chile & cumin dusted grilled fresh pacific rockfish”.  Yes, the grated radish is an amazing garnish, and the fish is sublime, but you can just say fish taco and I’ll buy it just the same.  I mention these last two, which aren’t (to my knowledge) immigrant run restaurants, because their amazing tacos wouldn’t be possible without the influence and competition from the tacos at the more authentic Mexican restaurants.  Immigration bring us all up – and that is the truth.  I try not to pry into people’s lives, but I really enjoy hearing stories of migration, so I do have a bit of habit of steering the conversation that way when folks seem chatty.  Whether people or grandparents or whoever arrive from Amman or Hue or Guadalajara, I’m endlessly fascinated.  My father-in-law has worked with quite a few refuge families in Tacoma over the years, and when you listen to their stories and see how they are rebuilding their lives, I find it hard to argue that we should slow down the flow of immigrants.  Our County’s goal shouldn’t be to stop the “illegals”, but to make it much easier to be legal.  I lift my lamp beside the golden door – I hope our Country can find the strength to do so for far greater numbers than we do now.  Alas.    


  • Kelly Blucher, Goodwill
  • Brandon Chun, Metropolitan Development Council
  • Dru Gonia, Tacoma Salvation Army
  • Marybeth McCarthy, Tacoma Community College
  • Someone from Salvation Army who I missed
  • Jan Runbeck, Medical Reserve Corp
  • Carrie Ching, Molina Healthcare
  • Duke Paulson, Tacoma Rescue Mission
  • Marilyn Duran, Tacoma Rescue Mission
  • Byron Corzo, Tacoma Rescue Mission
  • William Stinson, Catholic Community Services
  • Roseanne Martinez, University of Washington Tacoma
  • Maureen Howard, Howard Consulting
  • Sheila Miraflor, Sound Outreach
  • Melissa Moss, Catholic Community Services
  • Brian Wilson, Catholic Community Services
  • Brian McQuay, Catholic Community Services
  • Lynn Jones, Catholic Community Services
  • Alexis Eykel, Associated Ministries
  • Stephanie Herrman, Better Properties Soundview (did you know that if you google Stephanie Herman to see if you spelled her name right, the snippet on the first google search results asks “Do you know you have 6 deep Butt muscles that you might not even be using?  First off, the MLA does not specify that we need to capitialize   Second off, I hadn’t realized people were categorizing butt muscles as deep or shallow. And third, the only butt muscle I really remember from high school anatomy is gluteus maximus, and only because it was a main character in one of the Asterix comics – a great series of French comics from the 60’s and 70’s, which I recommend you check out from the library if you have an 8 year old milling about the house that like to read/be read to silly comics.  -ed).     
  • Paul Lakosky, Tacoma Needle Exchange
  • Joe Lewis, Associated Ministries
  • Valeri Knight, Pierce County Human Services
  • Charleen Fitzgerald, Coordinated Care
  • Rachael Woolf, UK NAEH,/ Homeless Link Researcher
  • William Rose, Community Healthcare
  • Lisa Race, House of Prayer Foundation
  • Donald Pitchbord, House of Prayer Foundation
  • Martha Sheppard, Tacoma Salvation Army
  • Carolyn Weisz, University of Puget Sound
  • Cynthia Stewart, League of Women Voters
  • Wes Bailey, Metropolitan Development Council
  • Dawna Bryant, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Liz Murphy, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Al Ratcliffe, me (well, not me, me, but that is him saying me, ‘cause I’m not Al. –ed)
  • David Venes, Point Defiance Aides Project
  • Daryl Jones, Recovery Foundation
  • Kenneth Moultry, Recovery Foundation
  • Joseph Denton, Sound Outreach
  • Sherri Jensen, Valeo Vocation
  • Rowan (I’m not sure who this was – sorry –ed.)
  • Greg Walker, Valeo Vocation
  • Zachary Granstrom, Metropolitan Development Council
  • Jeanette R. Granstrom, Metropolitan Development Council
  • Nathan Hinrichs, Multicare
  • Faatima Lawrence, Catholic Community Services
  • Richard Berghammer, Fellowship Bible Church
  • Josh Waguespack, Catholic Community Services
  • Bobby Ocasio, City of Tacoma Homeless Outreach
  • Matthew Jorgensen, City of Tacoma Homeless Outreach
  • Patricia Menzies, Tent City Tacoma
  • Gerrit Nyland, Catholic Community Services
  • Calvin Kennon Sr., Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Victoria Vass, Habitat for Humanity
  • R Spielmann, Metropolitan Development Council
  • Roger someone (maybe Spielmann? –ed.)
  • Effran Davis, Pierce County District Court
  • Valentinya Germer, Community Youth Services