Clemencia Castro-Woolery, partner, Ledger Square Law
“When I walk out the door of my office, I’m in my community, not a crowded elevator or parking garage.”
“I love working here,” said Castro-Woolery, a longtime Lakewood resident. “The community, especially the local Bar community, is far more collegial than in King County. It makes it much easier to negotiate deals and settle disputes.”
Being in Pierce County isn’t just about the legal stuff, she said. It’s also about having opportunities to make her community a better place. Castro-Woolery has served on boards for multiple organizations, including the YWCA Pierce County, Asia Pacific Cultural Center, and more. She was also board chair of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce amid the pandemic and in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the ensuing racial protests.
“It was momentous in terms of the changes we made,” she said. Those changes included altering the Chamber’s mission statement to emphasize it as an antiracist organization. “We helped make the South Sound the most equitable and inclusive place to do business in Washington state.”
The “Hand of Ivan” took a vacation to the Lakewood History Museum for the City of Lakewood’s 25th Anniversary celebration on Saturday, 25, 2021. Ledger Square Law partner and City of Lakewood Deputy Mayor Jason Whalen (right) joined the director of the Ivan Foundation, Earl Bogert (left), at the exhibit featuring Ivan the Gorilla’s life and times at the B & I in Lakewood.
Ledger Square Lawyer Jason Whalen represented the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County in a joint rebuke of the State of Washington’s misguided effort to sanction the EDB, Port of Tacoma, and the Chamber of Commerce for purported violations of the State’s campaign finance disclosure law, following their successful, joint litigation against the facially invalid local ballot propositions promulgated by Save Tacoma Water citizens.
Concluding that the State’s campaign finance disclosure law did not require the EDB, Port or Chamber to report, as independent expenditures, their legal fees incurred in seeking judicial review of the local ballot propositions, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ron Culpepper granted the EDB/Port/Chamber motions for summary judgment, dismissing all claims brought by the State of Washington. Ledger Square Law will now seek reimbursement of its reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred, as authorized by statute.
Enjoying a sunny Tacoma afternoon aboard the Commencement, the lawyers and staff of Ledger Square Law toasted the success of Mike Vlahovich, a 2016 NEA National Heritage Fellow. Born in Tacoma to Croatian immigrants, Mike is a master shipwright and third-generation fisherman who has dedicated his life’s work to the preservation of the heritage of fisheries of the Northwest and the Chesapeake Bay. During an afternoon outing, Mike provided Ledger Square lawyers and staff a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the Coastal Heritage Alliance, www.coastalheritage.org. Ledger Square Law salutes Mike and his tremendous accomplishment!
Seeking to influence the administration of water rights for future development, a group of concerned Tacoma citizens (organized as “Save Tacoma Water” or STW) sought to place local initiatives on the ballot to amend Tacoma City Code and the Tacoma City Charter to require a public vote for any future water use application exceeding one million gallons per day (“STW Initiatives”). Because the proposed STW Initiatives were facially invalid under established state law, Ledger Square Law attorney Jason Whalen, representing member investors of the Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County, teamed with attorneys representing the City of Tacoma, the Port of Tacoma, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce (collectively, as Plaintiffs), to score a significant legal victory which sustains the rule of law regarding appropriate, pre-ballot court review of local citizen initiatives. Today’s ruling provides certainty for the Port of Tacoma, the EDB, and the Chamber over the City’s administration of water and water rights for prudent economic development in our community. The ruling also saves the citizens of Tacoma thousands of dollars in unnecessary expense in placing unlawful measures on the ballot.
After significant briefing and lengthy oral argument, the Pierce County Superior Court Judge Jack Nevin granted Plaintiffs declaratory and permanent injunctive relief, finding that the STW Initiatives, as written, exceeded the permissible scope of local initiative power and were therefore invalid, as a matter of law. By court order, the STW Initiatives are now precluded from placement on the November 2016 ballot—or any other ballot in the future, regardless of the signature validation by the County Auditor.
We had a great time hosting the BelovedIvan Project a few weeks ago for the Third Thursday Art Walk. Check out their Indiegogo page and learn more about what they are doing to bring Ivan the Gorilla back to Tacoma!
Wage and overtime laws are changing once again. In May 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor announced its Final Rule updating the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Final Rule takes effect December 1, 2016, and will update the minimum salary level every three years for the executive, administrative, and professional employees exemption. Key provisions of the Final Rule are:
The minimum standard salary increased from $23,660 to $47,476 annually (from $455 to $913 per week), which is the current salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region – which is currently the South.
The minimum annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees increased from $100,000 to $134,004, which is the annual equivalent of the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally.
The salary and compensation levels will be automatically updated every three years to maintain the levels at the above percentiles. The initial salary increases take effect on December 1, 2016, and the first update will occur on January 1, 2020.
Employers may now use non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level. Payments must be paid on a quarterly or more frequent basis.
The Final Rule makes no changes to the duties tests for highly compensated employees or employees under the executive, administrative or professional exemption.
All employers should review their handbooks and polices to ensure they are consistent with applicable law. Changes to the foregoing wage and overtime laws take effect December 1, 2016. If you have any questions or concerns regarding employee overtime or any other employment issues, please call us at Ledger Square Law.