West Seattle Blog... » West Seattle politics http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Sat, 30 Aug 2014 08:14:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 2 nights away: ‘Luau at the Lake’ with the 34th District Democrats http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/two-nights-away-luau-at-the-lake-with-the-34th-district-democrats/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/two-nights-away-luau-at-the-lake-with-the-34th-district-democrats/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 16:53:43 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=282376 We’ve had some tropical weather this week – warm, muggy – and sunshine should return in time for a tropical-themed event Friday night: The 34th District Democrats‘ annual Garden Party dinner/auction. This year, it’s the “Luau at the Lake,” in honor of its new location: The Technology Access Foundation‘s new Bethaday Community Space in Lakewood Park (605 SW 108th). The 34th DDs are advertising the event on WSB for one last ticket-sales push. See “10 reasons to go” here. Auction items include a flotilla of vacation possibilities on which you’ll be able to bid, including one week on Maui or Kauai; if you’d like to stay closer to home, how about three nights at Long Beach, Washington, or a getaway to Whistler, or even a quick jaunt over to Vashon Island for lunch with local legislators? The party starts at 6 pm Friday (August 15th) and you can RSVP online by going here, or call Karen Chilcutt at 206-935-3216.

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Sound Transit light rail for West Seattle? Another discussion, this time @ City Hall http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/sound-transit-light-rail-for-west-seattle-another-discussion-this-time-city-hall/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/sound-transit-light-rail-for-west-seattle-another-discussion-this-time-city-hall/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 21:48:36 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=282295

Cup-half-full version: West Seattle could have light rail as soon as 2026.

Cup-half-empty version: West Seattle won’t get light rail any sooner than 2026.

That was the bottom line of a briefing that was part of the City Council Transportation Committee‘s meeting this morning. Potential West Seattle light rail wasn’t the only topic – in fact, it was the last part of the Sound Transit guest appearance, which in turn was only part of a busy agenda (above is Seattle Channel‘s video of the entire meeting – the briefing starts 35 minutes in). The briefing followed the order of the slide deck. And however you view that potential date, it would depend on West Seattle being written into Sound Transit’s Long-Range Plan when it’s updated later this year; it didn’t make it into the plan previously, ST reiterated today, because of the since-scrapped plan for monorail service between West Seattle and downtown.

The slide deck itself didn’t contain the potential 2026 date – West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the committee, asked for a date, and all ST reps would give him was that 2016 would be the earliest a “Sound Transit 3″ measure could go before voters. Perhaps a “board member” could speculate further, they said, with all eyes turning to Councilmember Mike O’Brien, a board member who happened to be right there at the table.

He then said that in the most optimistic of scenarios, it would take another 10 years to build potential West Seattle service, if it was on the plan, then on a ballot measure, and approved.

Making it clear he wasn’t just describing West Seattle but also including other not-currently-served communities, O’Brien said, “we know people out there are screaming for it.”

When they got to the WS possibilities, ST briefers again went over the scenarios that have been presented in recent months, dating back to this Executive Committee briefing and two briefings in West Seattle, including the WS Chamber of Commerce luncheon we covered last month. As pointed out at those discussions, if there is a West Seattle proposal, it wouldn’t necessarily be one of these scenarios, but could combine elements of them. And ST is considering “bus rapid transit” as well as light rail (LRT). Routes for LRT could just go into West Seattle and White Center, transferring people to buses to get to Burien, Tukwila, and Renton from there, or might go all the way to Renton, stopping in eastern West Seattle along the way – or options inbetween.

Rasmussen asked how the city could request that ST be sure to include West Seattle; staffers at the table verified that they already had sent a letter to ST asking it to include Seattle corridors including ours “and others that are consistent with” the city’s transit plan.

Once the Long-Range Plan is updated – with or without West Seattle – ST would be in a position to “move into system planning,” in other words, coming up with a proposal that then could go to voters for funding, and that process would be expected to run through most of 2015. ST also called attention to King County launching its own long-range planning and a directive from County Executive Dow Constantine – who currently chairs the ST Executive Board – to make sure that Metro and ST plans are “not just coordinated, but deeply integrated.” A report on that, it was mentioned, is expected to be out next month.

P.S. The meeting also included the committee’s first guest appearance by SDOT director nominee Scott Kubly, as part of his confirmation process. A vote isn’t expected until next month. (Among other things, Kubly asked Councilmember Rasmussen to give him a guided tour of West Seattle sometime soon.)

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Election 2014: 2nd vote count widens lead for Park District measure http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/election-2014-2nd-vote-count-widens-lead-for-park-district-measure/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/election-2014-2nd-vote-count-widens-lead-for-park-district-measure/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 23:44:57 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=281802 Quick note in case you’re wondering: The second ballot-count update is out for the August 5th election, and the proposal to create a Seattle Park District has widened its lead a bit. Last night, the yes vote was 52.4 percent; today, it’s 52.7 percent. Next ballot-count update will be out by this time tomorrow.

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Election 2014: Seattle Park District, North Highline Fire District ballot measures passing http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/election-2014-park-district-ballot-measure-passing/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/election-2014-park-district-ballot-measure-passing/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 04:05:35 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=281665 While thousands partied in the streets for just-concluded Night Out 2014, the first round of election results came in. Seattle Proposition 1, to create a Park District, is passing, 52.4 percent to 47.6 percent:

Only a simple majority is needed for passage. Next door in North Highline (White Center and vicinity), the NH Fire District “benefit charge” measure is passing, 69.8 percent to 31.2 percent – this requires 60 percent approval. Here’s the full list of election results from around King County; next ballot count will be out ~4:30 pm tomorrow.

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17 questions from Councilmember Rasmussen for new SDOT boss Scott Kubly; anything missing? http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/17-questions-from-councilmember-rasmussen-for-new-sdot-boss-scott-kubly-anything-missing/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/17-questions-from-councilmember-rasmussen-for-new-sdot-boss-scott-kubly-anything-missing/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 22:11:42 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=280501 A short time ago, Scott Kubly, Mayor Murray’s choice for SDOT director, tweeted that he’s arrived:

Next month, he faces confirmation hearings before the City Council. The chair of its Transportation Committee, West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, shared with us the questions he wants Kubly to answer. See them here. You’ll note that they include a request for Kubly to review the June 10th five-hour, four-mile Highway 99 crash-investigation-related closure (here’s our most-recent followup) and whether policies should be changed as a result. But that’s just one of 17 questions Rasmussen has asked Kubly to answer by August 5th, in advance of his August 12th hearing. Anything you think he’s missing?

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After 2+ years, new monorail initiative reported to be ballot-bound http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/after-2-years-new-monorail-initiative-reported-to-be-ballot-bound/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/after-2-years-new-monorail-initiative-reported-to-be-ballot-bound/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 00:20:23 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=280424 In spring 2012, we reported on activist Elizabeth Campbell‘s proposal for a new monorail company, to be called the Century Transportation Authority, CenTran for short, with a line running from Ballard to West Seattle, like the last monorail proposal. Haven’t heard much about it in the interim, but today, PubliCola reports that Campbell has gathered enough valid signatures – just under 4,600 – to get this on the Seattle ballot in November. If voters say yes, CenTran’s website says, it would start out with a $5 license-tab tax to raise money to plan the monorail system.

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Election 2014: No minimum-wage referendum on November ballot; meantime, 2 weeks left to cast your August vote http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/election-2014-no-minimum-wage-referendum-on-november-ballot-meantime-2-weeks-left-to-cast-your-august-vote/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/election-2014-no-minimum-wage-referendum-on-november-ballot-meantime-2-weeks-left-to-cast-your-august-vote/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 02:55:42 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=280252 checkbox.jpgTwo election-related notes tonight:

First, King County Elections announced today that both proposed referendum measures related to the Seattle minimum-wage law have failed to make the ballot. 16,510 valid signatures were needed to make the ballot; the petitions by a group called Forward Seattle had 14,818, while another petition drive, by (corrected) Save Our Choice, had fewer than 500 valid signatures.

Second, ballots are due in two weeks for the August 5th election. Yours should have arrived by now – check with the county if you haven’t received it. It’s not just a primary – there is one major ballot measure, the proposal to create a Seattle Park District with permanent taxing authority for city-parks funding beyond the annual general-fund spending. The most recent forum on the measure in our area was at July’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting; here’s our coverage.

P.S. If you don’t want to spend postage money to send in your ballot, there are other options, including ballot-dropoff vans in West Seattle and White Center on August 2nd, 4th, and 5th.

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Updates: President Obama’s four-and-a-half-hour Seattle visit http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/president-obama-in-seattle-traffic-tracking-for-the-visit/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/president-obama-in-seattle-traffic-tracking-for-the-visit/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 22:00:58 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=280234 3 PM: President Obama is expected to land at nearby Boeing Field around 3:15 pm, according to regional media; if you recall, the Boeing Field advisory linked here Monday opened the window at 3 pm. There’s widespread confirmation today that he’ll be headed to two Democratic Party fundraisers. First one’s in Madrona, which means I-5 traffic stopdowns (including exits from the West Seattle Bridge to I-5); second one is in Hunts Point – The Seattle Times (WSB partner) even published the invitation. Then he is expected to fly out by about 7:30. We’ll add updates here.\

(Tweet from Times political reporter Jim Brunner)
3:07 PM UPDATE: Air Force One has just landed, per live TV streams. (Here’s the link to KING 5.)

3:17 PM UPDATE: A prominent West Seattleite is at Boeing Field to help greet the president, according to KING’s Linda Brill on the live feed linked above – King County Executive Dow Constantine.

3:26 PM UPDATE: Motorcade is on the move now, after the President spent a few minutes shaking hands at Boeing Field.

Here’s more info on the not-public party-fundraiser dinner that will be his second stop.

3:46 PM UPDATE: The presidential motorcade has arrived in Madrona.

His second event, dinner in Hunts Point, is scheduled to start at 5 pm, so we’ll update when we hear that move is on. His return to Boeing Field is likely ~7-ish.

5:04 PM UPDATE: That next motorcade move is reportedly about to start – Madrona to Hunts Point.

5:39 PM UPDATE: Apparently the preparedness starts way in advance. TV people on the ground are tweeting that the trip between locations is under way *now*. (Added: He is reported to have arrived in HP around 5:50 pm. Next leg of the motorcade will be back to Boeing Field in an hour or so.)

7:11 PM UPDATE: Per regional media, the motorcade is either on the move again or about to be. (Added: Now departing:)

7:32 PM UPDATE: The motorcade has arrived at Boeing Field.

7:43 PM UPDATE: And Air Force One is off, headed for San Francisco. As outlined in the Boeing Field advisory published Monday, he was on the ground here for four and a half hours.

9:42 PM UPDATE: For details of what the president said at his first stop, there’s a full report up on The Seattle Lesbian by its founder, West Seattle journalist Sarah Toce.

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Followup: Mayor tells police to stand down in post-foreclosure West Seattle eviction case of Byron and Jean Barton http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/followup-mayor-tells-police-to-stand-down-in-post-foreclosure-west-seattle-eviction-case-of-byron-and-jean-barton/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/followup-mayor-tells-police-to-stand-down-in-post-foreclosure-west-seattle-eviction-case-of-byron-and-jean-barton/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 03:51:38 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=280164

(Friday photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand: Above, deputies carrying Byron Barton from his home)
New development today in a West Seattle family’s quest to stay in their foreclosed-on-and-auctioned-off home. On Friday, we chronicled a day of tumultuous activity at the 41st/Holly home of disabled veteran Byron Barton and wife Jean Barton, a day that started with King County Sheriff’s Office reps removing them from the house, which they then defiantly re-entered, continuing to keep vigil with local activists. That evening, Seattle Police and the local City Attorney’s Office precinct liaison arrived, but ultimately left after concluding nothing would be done that night.

(Friday evening WSB photo)
This morning, the activists went to City Hall to ask the mayor and council to tell SPD to stand down – several also spoke during open-comment time at this afternoon’s City Council meeting – and this evening, Mayor Murray sent this statement:

We are attempting to understand all options that may exist in this situation and I have asked Chief O’Toole and the Seattle Police Department to stand by while the latest court proceedings unwind.

An interdepartmental team has been working on the issue of foreclosure and how the City of Seattle can proactively connect residents to resources early in the process. I’ve pledged the City of Seattle’s participation in the Mayors Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness in 2015, and will launch a separate process to address homelessness and increase housing affordability in the months ahead, one of my visions toward making Seattle an affordable city.

“In Washington State, we’ve seen recent victories such as the 2011 Washington State Foreclosure Fairness Act, which I worked on closely, designed to help homeowners and their lenders explore alternatives to foreclosure and reach a resolution when possible. I’m committed to working with all stakeholders, using this and other alternatives in the work Seattle does on housing affordability.”

The City of Seattle and Washington State have resources to help homeowners avoid default and work out repayment plans in order to stay in their homes, or gain enough time to sell their homes on their own terms: http://www.seattle.gov/housing/buying/ForeclosurePrevention.htm and commerce.wa.gov/Programs/housing/Foreclosure/Pages/default.aspx

The Bartons have a lawsuit pending, alleging the foreclosure – which had been in the works at least since 2012, according to court documents we have found so far – was illegal. The development company that bought their house in an April auction has sued for “unlawful detainer” – seeking to have the Bartons removed. The situation that led to foreclosure is complicated; while the house has been in Byron Barton’s family for more than 60 years, changes in the family put it back under a mortgage. P.S. How long this will take to play out in the courts is unknown – the civil system doesn’t always move quickly, and the current trial date for the Bartons’ lawsuit (filed in May) isn’t until June of next year.

TUESDAY MORNING, 9:22 AM: A commenter asked about the Sheriff’s Office role/responsibility at this point. We asked KCSO spokesperson Sgt. DB Gates, who replied:

The eviction was completed and our involvement in serving that eviction order is over.

The legal owners of the house are always able to return to court and get another civil order which would compel our department to act. I’m unaware of any filings or movement on that topic.

Our departments stand is the eviction was completed, anyone reoccupying that house is committing a crime. At least trespass, if not burglary.

It is now up to the local police agency to enforce those crimes.

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More information about President Obama’s Seattle visit Tuesday http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/more-information-about-president-obamas-seattle-visit-tomorrow/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/more-information-about-president-obamas-seattle-visit-tomorrow/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 22:37:38 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=280146 (LOOKING FOR NEWEST INFO ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL VISIT? GO HERE)

(WSB photo of Air Force One at Boeing Field, July 2012)
Even if they don’t include public events, presidential visits are usually of high interest for reasons including traffic effects and Air Force One sightings. So here’s the latest information about President Obama‘s planned Seattle visit tomorrow (Tuesday, July 22nd): Boeing Field has just published an advisory that confirms Air Force One will be landing there. While some of the ground and air restrictions in the advisory span the time period of noon to 8 pm, most of what’s listed suggests that the heart of the visit will be in the 3-7:30 pm vicinity. No open-to-the-public events have been announced; the visit is reported to be fundraising only, including, according to SeattleTimes.com, an event in Madrona. If any more information emerges tonight, we’ll update this item, and as always we’ll have the key points in our daily traffic watch first thing in the morning.

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More transit news: Seattle Metro-money measure is ballot-bound http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/more-transit-news-seattle-measure-for-metro-money-is-ballot-bound/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/more-transit-news-seattle-measure-for-metro-money-is-ballot-bound/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 23:56:00 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=279686 The City Council, wearing its Transportation Benefit District hat, voted this afternoon to ask voters to approve a sales-tax increase and car-tab fee to raise money to avoid Seattle Metro cuts. The alternate proposal by Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant, for a “head tax” and commercial-parking-tax increase, might be worth taking up in the future, they were told; Sawant retorted that if now isn’t the time for those “progressive” taxes, when is? The sales-tax/tab-fee measure is headed for the November 4th ballot is more or less the same one that lost April’s countywide vote despite winning two-thirds approval within the city limits.

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Create a Seattle Park District? Days before ballots arrive, yes/no sides make their cases to Admiral Neighborhood Association http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/create-a-seattle-park-district-days-before-ballots-arrive-yesno-sides-make-their-cases-to-admiral-neighborhood-association/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/create-a-seattle-park-district-days-before-ballots-arrive-yesno-sides-make-their-cases-to-admiral-neighborhood-association/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 00:48:47 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278733 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

When the August 5th ballot arrives in your mailbox next week, it will include one major issue for you to decide: How will the City of Seattle raise extra money for its park system from here on out?

In recent years, the city has done that by taking a levy/bond measure to the public every so often. The most recent one was the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy, which expires this year.

But what the city’s asking you to approve this time has no expiration date. If you approve Seattle Proposition 1, you’ll be voting to support creation of a permanent Park District with taxing authority – no further votes needed.

The Admiral Neighborhood Association spent most of its July meeting on a mini-forum about Proposition 1 – with some pointed questions, and responses.

Speaking for the Park District measure, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen and former Parks Board member Terry Holme, who also appeared when the Delridge District Council had its own mini-forum in May (here’s our coverage with video). Speaking against it, Don Harper from Our Parks Forever.

Rasmussen began by noting that while he chairs the Transportation Committee now, he chaired the Parks Committee when the 2008 levy campaign was under way. He contended that even if the Park District is created, “the parks will still be Seattle parks, you’ll still have the same kind of control, it’s simply a way of raising funds specifically to be used for the Parks department.” And he pointed out that the Council had created a Transportation Benefit District a few years ago, in the same vein. “In order to not be so limited, we are needing to create special taxing districts for what we used to be able to pay for out of our regular city budget.”

Holme, who’s been on the Parks Board for nine years, said the taxing rate envisioned for the Park District is only slightly higher than the current levy – $4 more if you have a house with a $400,000 valuation. He also was on the committee that reviewed options for finding extra funding once Parks and Green Spaces expired – the Legacy Committee – and said its members preferred creating the Park District instead of sending voters another levy.

According to Holme, every six years, a citizen committee will review the progress and set priorities for the years ahead, as set up in the “interlocal agreement” that is proposed as part of this (explained in the FAQ on Mayor Murray’s webpage about the proposal). That would ensure citizen participation and accountability, he contended.

Harper then gave his introduction, including his background with the Queen Anne Community Council, whose parks committee he chairs, and time on the city’s Levy Oversight Committee.

Levies are preferable, he said, because “you get to vote on levies – you get to look at the projects you’re getting … they are named projects ..there’ll be a dollar number assigned to them … so when you vote for them, you now you’re going to get them. and you’re part of the process of what’s going to go into them.” Voting on a levy, he suggested, also represents your review/opinion of how the city handled your money last time around.

Though Park District supporters are circulating a list of priority projects, Harper said, that’s not what voters are voting on – instead, he said, they’re voting for the district name, its boundaries (the Seattle city limits), who’s going to be on its board (the Seattle City Council), and its potential tax rate, which would raise about $100 million a year. “I don’t see why the council and mayor are so hellbent on taking away your right to vote,” Harper said. Observing that supporters have emphasized that a major plan for the first six years is to rustle up money for park maintenance, he said, “When Parks asked for more maintenance money, who didn’t give it to them? The city council and the mayor.” He wrapped up by saying it’s a matter of control – if you don’t mind just handing over some money from hereon out, this measure is fine, but “if you want to maintain some control,” creating a new taxing district is not the way to do that.

After both sides’ opening statements, ANA president David Whiting opened the discussion to Q/A.

Rasmussen stressed that creating a Park District would guarantee a permanent source of extra park funding, contending it’s not a given that the council would just keep sending levies to voters instead. He said the Parks and Green Spaces Levy almost didn’t happen, that its predecessor was expiring and that then-Mayor Greg Nickels didn’t want another park levy “so we almost didn’t have one.” (Here’s our coverage from 2008, when the council sent the levy to voters though the mayor had wanted to delay it at least two years.)

He also urged faith in the “interlocal agreement” that will govern how the money is spent, saying the city has many of them already. Ultimately, he said, councilmembers will be accountable, and if citizens don’t like the decisions they make with the Park District (or anything else), “vote us out of office.”

Harper at that point called attention to how other park districts are run, with their own elected boards – Tacoma, for example. He said he’s concerned that “the Council has so much else to worry about, how are they going to be able to concentrate on parks?” He also voiced concern that the only “named projects” are “landbanked sites” and Woodland Park Zoo. And then he said he has confidence that city leaders have “a Plan B if this gets voted down – there WILL be a levy, we WILL move forward, and we’ll move forward with our park system.”

Regarding concerns that somehow this will pave the way for city budget money that used to go toward parks instead getting “supplanted,” moved to something else, Holme pointed to the Intralocal Agreement, which will stipulate that Parks funding in the budget’s General Fund remains at least at its current level, $89 million.

Other questions/concerns voiced by ANA attendees included whether the upcoming changes in the council’s makeup – with all but two members elected by district starting next year – would affect the way the councilmembers planned to manage the potential Park District. Holme said he felt confident that the “public process … baked into this” would work. And he reiterated that the first list of priorities for the money included “major maintenance,” unlike the Parks and Green Spaces Levy, which was tilted more toward acquisition.

Harper said he was bothered by the fact that the general-fund money for Parks isn’t enough to maintain them – “Where is the $135 million [annual budget] going?” He said that while “(Rasmussen) is a good guy, what happens when it’s a different councilmember different mayor – this is ‘forever’.” Perhaps the Park system should be audited, he suggested. “We’re rushing into this.”

Rasmussen then described the audit suggestion as “a typical anti-government kind of response.”

Toward the end of the discussion, Harper protested that he hadn’t had as much of a chance to answer questions as the two Park District supporters had; ANA members pointed out that the questions were asked more from a skeptical viewpoint, so his side was already represented.

What you’ll see on the ballot, including the pro/con arguments and rebuttals, is here. Background from the process that led up to the Park District proposal is here.

ALSO AT ANA: Councilmember Rasmussen mentioned that the 47th/Admiral signal long sought by ANA should be built within a year; he was told that SDOT had promised to return with a design update in June but hadn’t contacted them yet, so he’ll check on it … The group celebrated its achievement of 501(c)3 tax-exempt status, long in the works … The concession sales at the 4th of July Kids’ Parade afterparty at Hamilton Viewpoint were hailed as a success again, with $1,000 raised after expenses, up from about two-thirds of that last year … ANA is working on a wintertime event – Santa Claus and more – details to come, but save the date, December 7th … No August meeting, as is the case for most community councils.

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Seattle tax alternatives for transit, North Highline ballot measure, more @ 34th District Democrats: http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/seattle-tax-alternatives-for-transit-north-highline-ballot-measure-more-34th-district-democrats/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/seattle-tax-alternatives-for-transit-north-highline-ballot-measure-more-34th-district-democrats/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 16:00:11 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278795 Toplines from last night’s 34th District Democrats meeting, from transit funding to ballot measures:

TRANSIT-TAX ALTERNATIVE: Councilmember Nick Licata pitched the proposal for an employer “head tax” and increased commercial-parking tax to raise money to prevent Metro cuts in Seattle, instead of a sales-tax hike. He said there are “three strong arguments” for it – first, reliability, since sales tax is vulnerable “to downturns in our economy” but the commercial-parking tax continued to grow even during the recession years; second, he said, “it’s a stronger connection” between saving transit and parking vehicles; third, the sales tax makes the already-regressive tax situation even more regressive, and Licata thinks the city “keeps going back and back” to the sales-tax well too often. The main argument against it, he said, is that “the business community will say, why are you burdening us?” when the minimum-wage increase already is going to affect businesses and when it might make Seattle look like a bad place to do business.

Licata countered that last one by pointing out that Seattle is the third-fastest-growing city and it would take a lot to slow that down. He says bottom line, his proposal would have less of an impact “on the average person” than the sales-tax hike currently proposed. He says the City Council will meet today as the Transportation Benefit District Board with transit money on the agenda, and that discussions also will continue later this month in the committee he chairs (Finance and Culture).

In Q/A, Licata was asked why another version of the “head tax” was repealed in 2009, three years after it was passed as part of the Bridging the Gap transportation-money measure. He blamed the recession and administrative costs – too complicated, but this time it won’t be, he said, and he noted that this time they’re proposing $18 per employee, while previously it was $25. Responding to another question, Licata said it will apply to the same category of employers as the B&O tax – $100,000 gross or more.

(Note that to raise enough money to avoid Metro cuts in Seattle, both the plan Licata proposes and the plan the mayor supposes would be accompanied by a $60 vehicle-tab tax, as was the measure rejected countywide – despite approval from two-thirds of Seattle voters – last spring.)

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen followed his colleague to the microphone, saying that additional transit funding to avoid cuts that will affect “almost every route in the 34th District” is vital, but he focused on the mayor-and-council-endorsed sales-tax-increase proposal, saying that the taxing alternatives supported by Licata could be used “for other needs” instead.

In the end, 34th Dems members voted to table the resolution proposing endorsement of Licata’s measure. Asked to explain the timetable, Rasmussen said they have to vote by August 5th on whether to send sales tax/car-tab fee plan to the ballot, but the Licata-supported money-raising options could be implemented without a ballot measure.

PARK DISTRICT BALLOT MEASURE: Ballots go out next week for the August 5th election, and the Seattle ballot is topped by the proposal to create a permanent Park District with taxing authority (sent to voters with a council vote back in March). Councilmembers Rasmussen and Licata both briefly spoke to urge support for it; the 34th Dems already have endorsed it and will advocate for it while boothing at West Seattle Summer Fest this weekend. Tom Rasmussen pitched it at the Admiral Neighborhood Association Tuesday night – WSB story still in the works – and again here, briefly, last night (Licata also voiced support). He was asked to take questions. First, it was pointed out from the audience that funding for community centers is a key part of what would be funded. Later in the meeting, it was noted that since the 34th Dems are backing the measure, they will be promoting it this weekend at West Seattle Summer Fest.

‘CLASS SIZE MATTERS’ INITIATIVE: Sanislo Elementary teacher Heather Woodruff talked about Initiative 1351, aimed at reducing class sizes in our state’s schools. Signatures are being gathered to try to get it on the statewide ballot this November. Read more about it here. She explained how her job as a teacher requires spending time checking in with her students each day. She has 23 students right now, but if this initiative passed, she said, the goal would be 15, and that would make a huge difference, she said. “We will not stay a well-educated state if we don’t do something to remedy this,” she concluded.

State Rep. Eileen Cody asked the big question: How would the state pay for it (especially in light of the school-funding court order that still hasn’t been fulfilled? Woodruff said the big point is to at least get people thinking and talking about this, that “class size matters.” (The cost would be $3.5 billion – more than a tenth of the entire state budget – it was noted.)

NORTH HIGHLINE FIRE DISTRICT BENEFIT CHARGE: If you live in White Center or elsewhere in unincorporated North Highline, this proposal will be on your August 5th ballot, and a pitch for support was made at the meeting, after which the 34th DDs voted to endorse it. Find out more about the proposal in this story on our partner site White Center Now (including video of an explanatory presentation at last month’s NH Unincorporated Area Council meeting).

STATE INITIATIVE 1329 UPDATE: Ann Martin, who’s been campaigning for the measure to “get big money out of politics,” says they didn’t get enough signatures to make the ballot but they did gather more than 170,000 and they will use that support base to work toward its ultimate goals. “We are not dead yet,” Martin declared.

COMING UP: July 30th, 6 pm, at Shelter 3 on the beach at Lincoln Park, it’s the 34th Dems’ summertime picnic – “no speeches,” promised chair Marcee Stone-Vekich when announcing this … August 15th, 6 pm, at the Technology Access Foundation‘s White Center facility in Lakewood Park, it’s this year’s Garden Party fundraiser … The organization plans to have a presence at most of the major events coming up in the West Seattle-White Center area, including parades and festivals … Info is online at 34dems.org.

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‘Head tax’ and parking tax for transit? Councilmember Licata pitches 34th District Democrats on Wednesday http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/head-tax-and-parking-tax-for-transit-councilmember-licata-pitches-34th-district-democrats-on-wednesday/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/head-tax-and-parking-tax-for-transit-councilmember-licata-pitches-34th-district-democrats-on-wednesday/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 05:38:32 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278711 If Seattle’s going to increase taxes to raise money to avoid bus cuts, which (if any) taxes would you prefer? As reported here two months ago, Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant are proposing commercial parking and employer “head” taxes instead of the sales-tax increase favored by Mayor Murray. Licata will be at the 34th District Democrats‘ meeting at The Hall at Fauntleroy tomorrow night to pitch the idea and seek the group’s endorsement, after the proposal comes up for a discussion and possible vote by the Council Finance and Culture Committee (which he chairs) at 2 pm – read the proposal here. In short, the proposal would raise commercial-parking taxes 5 percent, to 17.5%, and create a “head tax” of $18 per employee per year. The council could pass it without sending it to voters. Here’s the resolution the 34th Dems will consider at their meeting; the agenda is here.)

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Questions for local politicians and elected officials? West Seattle Chamber/GSBA event tomorrow http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/questions-for-local-politicians-and-elected-officials-west-seattle-chambergsba-event-tomorrow/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/questions-for-local-politicians-and-elected-officials-west-seattle-chambergsba-event-tomorrow/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 21:54:44 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278667 Today is the deadline for advance registration for an event tomorrow night offering you the chance to mix, mingle, and chat one-on-one with more than 20 candidates/elected officials from around the region. It’s co-presented by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Seattle Business Association, 5:30-7:30 pm Wednesday at The Sanctuary at Admiral (42nd/Lander). We checked with WS Chamber CEO Lynn Dennis to find out about the format and who has RSVP’d. She confirms, no political speeches – but if you want to do a bit more than just wander around the room, a “bingo-mingle card” will be offered with suggestions of who to look for, including West Seattle business owners (fill in 5 of the 9 bingo squares and you’ll be able to enter a drawing for free airline tickets from Alaska/Horizon Air, the event sponsor). Click ahead for the list of who’s RSVP’d, who’s likely, and how to get a ticket (with the discount rate for WSCC/GSBA members expiring end-of-day today):

Bellevue District Court Judge
Janet Garrow

LD 1, Pos. 2
Luis Moscoso

LD 11, Pos. 1
Zack Hudgins

LD 32, Senator
Maralyn Chase

LD 33, Senator
Marylin J. Taylor

LD 34, Pos. 2
Joe Fitzgibbon

LD 36, Pos. 2
Gael Tarleton

LD 37, Pos. 1
Daniel Bretzke

LD 37, Pos. 1
John Dickinson

LD 37, Senator
John Stafford

LD 43, Pos. 1
Brady Walkinshaw

LD 43, Pos. 2
Frank Chopp

LD 45, Senator
Matt Isenhower

LD 46, Senator
David Frockt

LD 47, Pos. 1
Chris Barringer

LD 47, Senator
Joe Fain

LD 48, Pos. 1
Ross Hunter

LD 48, Pos. 2
Joan McBride

LD 48, Pos. 2
Tim Turner

LD 5, Pos. 2
Chad Magendanz

NE Dist, Pos. 3
Ketu Shah

NE Dist., Judge Pos. 3
Rick Leo

Seattle Municipal Judge, Pos 7
Damon Shadid

“Hopefully” RSVPs include:

Justice, Pos. 1
Mary Yu

LD 21, Pos. 1
Justin McMahon

LD 21, Pos. 2
Lillian Ortiz-Self

LD 34, Senator
Sharon Nelson

LD 37, Senator
Pramila Jayapal

Registration info is on the GSBA website; if you’re a WSCC and/or GSBA member, $10 discount registration is available through the end of today, otherwise it’s $20 at the door for all.

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