We did not get to Beacon Hill last night for the first City Council/Mayor public hearing on the city budget, but monitored more than an hour and a half of testimony via a live stream (which ended before the hearing did). Most of it focused on citizens’ pleas to spare Seattle Parks facilities and programs from the deep cuts that have been rumored, and warned of, as city departments face “midyear” cuts shortly, as well as the plan for next year’s budget. One of the most impassioned voices was that of Alki’s Jackie Ramels – prefacing her remarks by noting she was speaking as a private citizen and not in her role as chair of the Seattle Parks Board – all but telling the council and mayor they had no right to even think about slashing parks, given how much public support they have: “How can you even think about closing parks and community centers, when the public has approved parks levies time and time again? The public gives and gives and gives, and the electeds take and take and take. … Fund parks, fully, now.” The image above, by the way, is our screen grab from the aforementioned live feed; Ramels tells WSB she got the EPIC FAIL T-shirt specifically for the occasion. (She also provided the crowd shot we used above.) Liesa Rose from Alki Community Center‘s Advisory Council spoke of the value of Parks programs such as after-school care, saying she could not work if there wasn’t someplace safe, affordable and convenient – the community center is adjacent to Alki Elementary – for her child to go. West Seattle’s Bruce Bentley (screen-grab image at right), on the board of the Associated Recreation Council that runs many programs at Parks facilities, said its revenue is $11 million, more than it’s ever been, because of the value citizens find: “We touch so many different lives across this process.” If you could not be at this hearing, another one is set for May 5 in North Seattle – details on the City Council’s page – where you’ll find council contact info (mayor contact info here) – even more budget info on the Budget Committee‘s page. Side note: We haven’t seen a comprehensive article about last night’s hearing from any regional-news sites yet, but will add a link if/when we do.
One other Parks note, in case you hadn’t already heard: Deputy Superintendent Christopher Williams was named Acting Superintendent on Wednesday, two days after Superintendent Tim Gallagher announced he’s resigning. Delridge Neighborhood Services Coordinator Ron Angeles, when forwarding this announcement to his mailing list, pointed out that Williams is a graduate of Chief Sealth High School (as noted in the last line of the official city news release about the appointment).