Urban Politics #14: Seahawks In The Legislature


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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.

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CONTENTS:

  • Seahawks In The Legislature
  • Testify at the House Trade and Economic Development Committee
  • Initiative 16 And The Courts
  • Local Candidates Lining Up To Run
  • Former Radical Links Clinton To The Unibomber
  • Campaign Finance Reform Report

Seahawks In The Legislature

Governor Gary Locke’s office has been calling on House Democrats to support the Seahawks legislation. House leaders have been skittish. Most do not want to vote for the bill but feel obligated to support the Governor in case the Republicans are pressured by big business to support the Seahawks. Nevertheless it took over a dozen calls to finally locate a House Democrat willing to sponsor the bill. No wonder, building a new football stadium was not even listed in the top ten items of the House Democratic Agenda for 1997.

Meanwhile it appears that Gogerty and Co., the Seahawks political handlers, have once again proved to be one of the slickest strategists around. Voters are being called and asked if they support a new football stadium for the Seahawks. If they answer no, it’s “Thank you” and good bye.

But if they answer affirmatively, “If you hold on for a moment you can tell your legislator directly”. The caller is then automatically switched to their legislator’s phone line where they can utter a few words of support. At least three legislators have received such calls. Democrat Rep. Frank Chopp of the 43rd alone received about 25 calls. Who knows how many folks had to be called to get those 25?

Testify at the House Trade and Economic Development Committee

Monday evening’s public hearing at 8 P.M. O’Brien Bldg. Hearing Rm. A to speak on tearing down the Kingdome and building a new open-air football stadium in Seattle.

Call 528-8457 (Citizens for More Important Things) before 1 P.M. on Monday if you want to reserve a ride on a van to that hearing. Arrive before 5 P.M. at CMIT’s office, 557 Roy St. suite 175 (near Tower Records on Mercer).

Initiative 16 And The Courts

Over 70,000 signatures were turned into the county and initial counting shows that 90% are valid, 49,000 were needed, so the initiative will qualify for the ballot. However, Superior Court Judge Kathleen Learned ruled that Initiative 16 would not apply to the stadium bonds. In her defense of the state’s Stadium Act and the county’s ordinance she wrote: “Again the Constitution does not exist to protect the public from the weakness or failings of its public officials.” Makes you wonder, what’s it for then?

As a result Citizens for More Important Things will file a state wide initiative to revoke the Stadium Act. King County Council Members Maggi Famia and Brian Derdowski have endorsed it. A state initiative would seem to be acceptable to the courts. A prior State Supreme Court decision stated in a foot note: “Although not discussed in any of the briefs, the opponents of this measure are not precluded from seeking repeal of the Stadium Act by initiative, the first power of the people. Wash. Const. Art. II, Sec. 1 (a).”

Even this approach would not necessarily stop the stadium, particularly if the County issues their bonds before the 220,000 signatures are gathered. To expedite their issuance, the County has requested and been granted a rare and unusual request from the court that CMIT’s brief to the Appellate Court be filed within 7 days. In their request the County states: “Any delay, including the 30 day period for filing notice of an appeal, (which is usually granted – ed.) will jeopardize the project and de facto grant the delay that Taxpayers (CMIT – ed) have sought throughout this litigation.”

The County Council has said they will not make any more loans to the Public Facilities District which is building the stadium. The PFD will probably run out of funds by mid-April if new loans or the bonds are not issued. When that happens, the construction stops.

The Supreme Court, which ultimately hears the appeal, may not act so quickly. It took them eleven months to issue a decision in the CLEAN case which challenged the legality of the Stadium Act. While the County is scrambling for a quick solution, it appears that the finance community, i.e. Wall Street, those who will buy the bonds, will not back the stadium’s construction bonds until it’s clear that Initiative 16 will not impact them.

And finally the City has yet to agree to the Mariner’s demands. Stay tuned. There will be further developments next week

Local Candidates Lining Up To Run

Sharon Tomico Santos will be challenging newly appointed County Council Member Dwight Pelz in the 5th District. Pelz was serving as State Senator in the 37th District until he was appointed by the Democrats to fill Ron Sims’ seat when Sims moved up to County Executive.

Three term City Council Member Jane Noland has begun calling around lining up endorsements for her challenge to Mayor Norm Rice. Other potential candidates are sitting on the sidelines until Rice decides whether to run again. If Norm does decide to run again, Noland has an uphill battle – in the last forty years there hasn’t been a sitting Mayor beaten. But if Norm doesn’t run, her chances improve – two of the last six mayors (including Norm) have been former City Council Members. Noland’s challenge leaves her City Council seat open. Richard Conlin, a founder of Sustainable Seattle, is planning to formally launch his campaign in mid-March. He was one of the five finalists for John Manning’s vacant seat appointment. Brian Peyton, president of the Civic Foundation, is also seriously considering a run for her seat. Former City Council Member Sherry Harris says she is going to run and word is out that she will be challenging newly appointed Council Member Richard McIver.

Former Radical Links Clinton To The Unibomber

David Horowitz, ex-editor of the Ramparts, at one time the most prominent left-wing magazine in America, came to town on a book tour touting his “Radical Son” memoirs which atones for his former beliefs. Sponsored by John Carlson’s Washington Institute for Policy Studies, Horowitz gave a speech accusing “Progressives” of being “much more dangerous than the Communists of the ’50’s, because they’re everywhere.” Didn’t see any press and wonder if WIPS had even wanted any there given the content of his speech.

According to Horowitz, Progressives like, Stalin, the Unibomber and President Clinton, have been responsible for killing millions of people throughout the world because they believed in the false premise that man could improve his human condition. How much of Horowitz’s logic reflects WIPS’s political agenda?

Campaign Finance Reform Report

The Institute for Washington’s Future updated their report on the above topic and found that campaign contributions have been circumventing the limits imposed by Initiative 134. Spending by legislative campaigns rose by 22% from 1994 to 1996. Spending by both labor and business PAC’s both increased, with business PAC’s raising and spending money at over twice the level of labor PAC’s.

Most significantly the growth of Independent Expenditure Committees (IEC’s) exploded, with 29 of the total of 30 “being straight forward creations of UFW (United For Washington, the most prominent business PAC – ed.) or builder PAC’s. There are absolutely no constraints whatsoever on contributions to or spending by IEC’s.” The report concluded that I-134 has made it more difficult to trace the source of money in legislative campaigns, largely because of IEC’s. To request a copy of the 27 page report call Tom Barnard at 324- 7324.

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