Urban Politics #16: Westlake And Dogs And Discovery Park


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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:

  • Westlake And Dogs And Discovery Park
  • People News
  • Seahawks In The Senate
  • Public Vote On Only Part Of The Seahawks Bill
  • Young Democrats Support Seahawks Plan

Westlake And Dogs And Discovery Park

On Wednesday, March 26th at 2PM, there will be joint working meeting – not a public hearing – of Jan Drago’s Economic Development Committee and Sue Donaldson’s Park Committee in the City Council Chambers to work on the future of Westlake Park and the Unleashed Dog Areas in city parks.

What’s the connection? Jan Drago. As Council President, she has been the major player in shaping solutions to both issues. Normally Donaldson’s committee would handle them, but Drago, has taken to championing both downtown retailers and dog owners. Is there a connection there?

Meanwhile, where is the citizen’s Park Board? According to Board Chair Margaret Ceis they were by-passed on the plan to hand Westlake Park over to Westlake Park Inc. a non-profit subsidiary of the Downtown Seattle Association, to keep it clean and tidy, and perhaps free of messy demonstrations. Mayor Norm Rice figures the city can’t afford to clean our most prominent park but it can pay $500,000 a year to clean up after the Mariner’s games. Although the Park Board had also been by-passed on Sandpoint and the Commons, they intend to have a say on the pending proposal to build a bigger and better Daybreak Star Center, (including a possible school for Native Americans) in Discovery Park. The EIS is out in April.

This issue could pit park advocates against the United Indians of all Tribes, which has provided the Center for many a Democratic Party fund-raiser, e.g. Mike Lowry’s last shrimp feed was held there. This could be a repeat of the Sandpoint conflict which saw traditional liberals (in this case low-income housing advocate groups) opposite single family neighborhood residents? The City appears to be meeting the need for locating more social service facilities, like schools, community centers and low- income housing, in park space because of it provides below market land acquisition costs. The subsequent neighborhood conflicts are sowing the seeds of distrust towards liberals and city hall. This resentment could affect the city elections this fall.

People News

Mike Mann, Norm Rice’s ’93 Mayoral Campaign Manager and before that Mike Lowry’s field director for his ’92 Governor’s campaign is now City Council Member Richard McIver’s Administrative Assistant. Should Rice decide to run again, McIver will prove to be a useful ally on the council. Master Builders just conducted a poll and to the surprise of some politicos, Maggi Fimia is doing better in her district than Cynthia Sullivan and Larry Phillips are in theirs. Could they be catching some flak for their pro-stadium votes? Terry Lewis, Boeing Co. spokesman, says they don’t have a position on either stadium. They may contribute money but how politicians vote on stadiums will not determine who Boeing will support.

Drive-Through Baseball Stadium

Citizens for More Important Things (CMIT) filed Seattle city initiative # 43, which calls for a city vote on whether Occidental Street should be vacated. The street which runs right through the owner’s box in the projected stadium design. Without the vacancy permit, the Mariner’s could have the first drive through stadium in the country.

The initiative has 120 days to collect the needed 18,000 signatures. The ballot title reads: “Shall the City of Seattle be prohibited from vacating any portion of Occidental Avenue South between South Massachusetts Street and South King Street for a baseball stadium or any other purpose during the next ten (10) years?”

E-mail Chris Van Dyk for more information at crvandyk@ix.netcom.com or call CMIT at 528-8457.

Seahawks In The Senate

Even though the Seahawks Stadium bill (SB 5999) was amended to eliminate the hike in rental-car taxes and double the admissions tax, it still was overwhelmingly defeated with only Seattle Sen. Jean Kohl and two others voting to save it. The other Seattle Senator on the committee, Pat Thibaudeau voted against it on the first round.

Tellingly, another first round no vote was Senate Majority Leader Dan McDonald (R-Redmond/Bellevue). Is he positioning himself as an anti-seahawks stadium candidate should he challenge Democrat King County Executive Ron Sims this fall? According to the Republican County headquarters, other Republican politicians are waiting for McDonald to declare his intentions before they jump in the race. Waiting next in line is Rep. Steve Van Luven (R-Redmond/Bellevue). Van Luven was the prime sponsor of the Mariner’s Stadium Act and is currently the strongest promoter of the Seahawks bill, so he couldn’t distinguish himself from Sims on the stadiums issue.

Van Luven has also refused to bring HB 1062, sponsored by Rep. Tim Sheldon (D- Mason County) to a vote in his Trade and Economic Dev. Committee. The bill would divide the revenue generated from the sale of the Mariner’s stadium naming rights proportionately among the state, county, and the Mariners, based on the percentage of their contribution toward the construction of the baseball stadium. This would force the Mariners to contribute some of their own money to build the stadium if they were to get any benefit from the sale of the stadium’s naming rights.

Public Vote On Only Part Of The Seahawks Bill

Shawn Newman, president of CLEAN, points out that the only provision of the bill that goes to a vote is a proposed statewide 10 percent wholesale tax on sports memorabilia. The other various tax increases, give-aways, new lottery games, do not go to a public vote.

According to him the bill contains an “emergency clause” which makes it effective immediately upon the Governor’s signature, and denies the public the right to submit it to a referendum. An emergency clause makes building a new Seahawks stadium a necessity for the “immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety.” This was the same clause that was attached to the Mariner’s Stadium Act. The Washington Supreme Court, in a 6 to 3 decision, said that the state legislature could essentially call what ever they wanted “an emergency” and there by deny a public vote on the legislation.

Young Democrats Support Seahawks Plan

In an undemocratic maneuver, the King County Young Democrats invited only Football Northwest and not Citizens for More Important Things nor stadium critic County Council Member Maggi Fimia, to discuss the need for a new publicly built football stadium.

After hearing their pitch, Javier Valdez, the Chair of the 43rd District Democrats, moved that the group become the first Democratic organization in the state to endorse Gov. Gary Locke’s Seahawk stadium proposal, which includes the sports memorabilia “kiddy” tax.

Their resolution claimed, “The economic future of King County and our reputation as a world-class region are inexorably linked to the future of professional sports and first-class stadium facilities within King County”.

Governor Locke sent the group a letter supporting the resolution saying, “The Whole thing boils down to one question: Do the people of our sate want professional football to remain in Washington?” That answer might well be yes, but if they were asked “Do you want public funds to build them a stadium?” the answer would be no.

Not a single vote was cast against the measure even though significant economic studies have repeatedly shown that professional sports stadiums generate less economic activity than retail stores or parking garages, which are not publicly subsidized. Too bad the Young Democrats didn’t want hear those details. Unlike their counter-parts, the Young Republicans in King County have yet to take a position on this issue.

With Locke leading the charge to “save” the Seahawks, the Democrat Party is being drawn into the fray as their advocate. Ironically, the traditional pro-business Republican Party, appears in no hurry to join them in advocating this particular corporate welfare scheme.

Keep in touch…

 

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