Urban Politics #20: News On Local Candidates


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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:

  • News On Local Candidates
  • Meet The Candidates
  • The Disappearing Kingdome Report
  • Learning About Citizen Participation

News On Local Candidates

Is Jessie Wineberry really running again? He ran against Tina Podlowdowski for the last Council open seat in 1995 garnering 36% of the vote. That was the same year that Charlie Chong received only 31% against Margaret Pageler. If Chong could run again and win from a smaller base of votes than Wineberry had in 95, Wineberry must figure he has a good shot at winning. Others speculate that he has revived his campaign committee to raise funds to pay off debts left from his last campaign. Peter Steinbrueck, architect and civic activist, holds his first exploratory meeting Monday 4/21 with supporters to see if they can raise $50,000 in pledges by mid-May. If they can, he ‘s in the Mayoral race.

Walt Crowley, one of the semi-finalists for filling John Manning’s seat on the Council, says he ‘s still “keeping his powder dry” and considering a run for the council this fall. Others still eyeing but not yet declaring a run for public office this fall are Fred Buhl, who is president of the Wash. chapter of ACORN (an association of community organizations) and Doug Kelbaugh, UW professor of architecture of urban design. Charlie Chong holds his kick-off this coming Friday 7:30 at the West Seattle Senior Center, 4217 SW Oregon, where California Ave. SW intersects SW Oregon. Although he had just won a seat on the Council this past fall, he needs to run again for a full 4 year term.

Chong continues to set precedents. In his kick-off letter he recognizes the contribution made by his two legislative assistants, Jay Sauceda and Matthew Fox. Both were major community activists before joining Chong’s staff. When was the last time a politician acknowledged his or her staff by name, in campaign literature?

Meet The Candidates

The Civic Foundation (fax 282-1248) holds its Spring Convention this coming Saturday at the Fairview Club (Denny Way and Fairview Ave.) at 9:30 A.M. It is open to the public. Registration at the door is $18 and it includes luncheon, beverages, tax and tip. Mayoral and City Council candidates will give brief presentations. Two incumbent County Council Members up for re-election, Dwight Pelz (Southeast Seattle) and Maggi Fimia (North Seattle) will also address the convention.

A straw vote of foundation members will select which candidates to be interviewed further for an Endorsement Convention on August 16th.

The Civic Foundation is a nonpartisan group of Seattle neighborhood and small-business leaders who endorse local candidates and issues, and watchdog local government. It emphasizes: 1) government decisions should be open to public input and review, and 2) government services and investments should be fairly distributed throughout Seattle and not concentrated within any one area nor to the advantage to any one group, and 3) keep government expenditures lean and cost effective.

The Disappearing Kingdome Report

The Kingdome staff presented a draft report to County Executive Ron Sims during the first full week in April showing that the facility could operate in the black without pro sports. This position seems to be supported by statements from Mike Kalian who represents an association of ‘flat show’ producers. These are the folks who present the Home Shows, the Auto Dealer Shows, RV Shows, Marine Trade Shows. Kalian said they found the Kingdome to be a perfect venue for them and he felt that these shows could double their attendance (and thereby revenue to the Kingdome) without any problem if more dates were made available. Unfortunately, the report is not being allowed out. Although Sims wants the public to decide the Kingdome’s fate he is currently not releasing the report either to the public or to the State Legislators who are currently debating whether the Kingdome should be demolished as part of the Seahawks’ proposed legislation. But don’t think about trying to pry the report loose for public viewing. Ohma Lamont (296-9015) of the County Prosecutor’s office said, “Drafts of such reports (internal Executive Department reports) are exempt from public disclosure until such time as a final product is completed. At that time all drafts are released.” She said of course if you wanted to you could file a public disclosure request, but “Written public disclosure requests will result in the same response.” Thanks for the accommodation. Pat Steele, Dir. of Budg. and Strategic Planning received the report on 4/11 and is still conducting a national search for a firm to evaluate it. She hopes to choose one by the end of this week – just after the State Legislature will probably decide to demolish the Kingdome.

I pointed out to Steele that this process would imply that Sims favors demolishing the Kingdome since that is what the Seahawks want and that’s what is the proposal before the State Legislature. This report would obviously bolster the opponents of the Seahawk legislation since the Seahawks are arguing that the Kingdome is not economically viable.

Steele strongly pointed out that “Ron has not said that the Kingdome should be torn down. And you will not find him saying that anywhere in the press.”

Steele maintains that “Our real interest is in translating a very draft report into something that resembles a business plan. We want to look at what level of capital investments it requires to keep it operating profitably. We have questions about some of the assumptions. How many cars will use the lots? How do you deal with concurrent use of Kingdome and the new baseball stadium? How do you deal with capital support? How does that fit with money available for capital improvements and the replacement of major systems in the Kingdome.”

These all seem like good solid questions to explore. But wasn’t that what the Kingdome Renovation (ha-ha) Task Force was supposed to find out. After the Seahawks announced that they might leave Seattle for a warmer climate, the taskforce was renamed Seahawks/Kingdome Renovation Task Force and the focus shifted from renovated the Kingdome to saving the Seahawks. As P-I sports columnist, Art Thiel, wrote back in February, “The task force never gave serious consideration to the building’s conversion to a public assembly building, convention center or other useful functions.”

Former Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman, co-chair of that task force said at the beginning of it’s 11 month search for a solution, that ‘We have a 20-year-old child, and she needs new clothes.’ Once Paul Allen told the task force that he wouldn’t spend a dime on any new clothes for the Kingdome, the citizen advisory board voted to pitch the kid along with the old clothes. Which might lead one to ask, How does a citizen go about getting on these type groups?

Learning About Citizen Participation

Received the following query from a W. Uhlman after the last Urban Politics:

Nick: I’ve heard good things about the newsletter. Can you put me aboard? I want to learn about how to participate in local government. Thanks.

I’m not sure if this was the former Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman but if it was I offered him an opportunity to write a little piece for Urban Politics on how one can get appointed to “citizen advisory” groups, like the Seahawks/Kingdome Renovation Task Force. I haven’t heard back yet.

Keep in touch…

 

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