Urban Politics #30: Culture, Arts And Parks Committee Mtg.

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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.



·  Culture, Arts And Parks Committee Mtg.

·  Monorail’s Etc Authority Questioned

·  Public Art And The New Football Stadium

·  Auditor Faults City’s Contracting Procedures

Culture, Arts And Parks Committee Mtg.

Meeting is Wednesday, 3/25/98, at 2PM. Meeting begins with Bob Redmond curating Words Worth, spotlighting local poet work Phoebe Bosche’s work “Tall Tale”.

Woodland Park Zoo Briefing by Dave Towne, and Phil Nudelman.
Seattle Center Flag Pavilion Briefing by Ex. Dir. Virginia Anderson, and her Sea. Center staff. Material to discuss plans to either replace or renovate the pavilion.
Monorail’s Etc Authority Questioned

In a letter dated 3/13/98 to Mayor Paul Schell, King County Executive Ron Sims alerts the city that “By grant of specific legislative authority, King County and the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority share responsibility to provide mass transit within and around King County.”

Sims cautions the city to not count on having its ETC doing much without the County’s approval. He writes , “Since all rights and responsibilities of Metro were assumed by the County, the City would be required to obtain King County’s consent before it can build and operate an elevated mass transit system.” Sims goes on to venture that the RTA might actually have final authority to operate any high capacity transit within the city.
Sims assures the City that his office would not withhold approval if the City seeks permission from the County to build the monorail, but that the County does not plan to fund such an effort. He concludes that if requested he would ask the County Council to grant the City permission to proceed with its elevated transit program.
The letter highlights the City’s precarious position is trying to tackle its transit problems, be it constructing a monorail or providing an intra-city transit system. When the City entered into a “Transit Transfer Agreement” in Dec. of 1972, it kissed its independence goodbye. The agreement clearly states that “Metro shall have the right, responsibility and authority to operate public transit within the City of Seattle.”
Despite all the campaign talk last summer by the candidates on how Seattle needs to create just such a system, in fact it does not have the authority. And given how the State Legislature almost passed legislation telling Seattle how to elect it’s City Council by districts, it is unlikely that they are going to allow Seattle any authority to operate its own transit system.
This situation sets the stage for a much longer discussion which must take place down the road: how to merge this region’s multiple political authorities, including both cities and the county, into a unified entity that can allow maximum local control over land use and transit issues, that is now being denied.
Public Art And The New Football Stadium

Representatives from five arts organizations met with First and Goal/ Public Stadium Authority (PSA) staff regarding the “public” art program of the new football stadium. In attendance were Jack Mackie as SAC rep, Cath Brunner of KCAC, Patricia Ryan of Allied Arts, Rolon Garner of WSAC, and Heather Dwyer of Artist Trust. They asked that the stadium like all other new public facilities, adhere to King County’s “One Percent For Art Program” and devote 1% of the construction budget, which would amount to $4 million be spent on art in and around the new facility.
Current plans call for considerably less since First and Goal contend that one quarter of the stadium’s cost is being paid for with private funds. Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck and I have written to Lorraine Hine, PSA’s Chair, supporting the arts organizations positions.
It’s bad enough that this football behemoth is smack up against the City’s fragile historic Pioneer Square District. Spending only a fraction of what they should on art to mitigate the impact only accentuates its presence.
The Public Stadium Authority meets this Thursday and has an open period for public comment. Representatives from the arts organizations plan on attending. I could not locate their web site or email address this evening, but if anyone is interested in contacting them, call my office at 684-8803 and I should be able to find it.
Auditor Faults City’s Contracting Proceedures
The City Council accepted two reports from the Auditor’s Office this week which gingerly walked around the issue of how poorly the city monitors its contracts. The two reports are titled: “City’s Management of Contract Amendments And Change Orders Needs Improvement” and “Improvements at Purchasing Services”.
The first report focused mostly on architectural and engineering consultant contracts. It found that amendments to these contracts have generally gone over budget with change orders for construction contracts averaging between 10-25% over the original cost. The Auditor’s study evaluated City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and the Parks Dept. Together the three departments represent almost three-quarters of current and anticipated spending for capital improvement contracts.
Some specific problems found were:

  • Need to define the scope of services and estimated costs prior to requesting a consultant’s proposed price.
  • Need to review invoices against contract terms and conditions.
  • Need to use competitive selection rather than contract amendment for new design services.


The second report looked at the Purchasing Services section of the Department of Administrative Services. The Auditor found the following:

  • Inadequate documentation of compliance with competitive bidding and WMBE requirements to hire women and minority contractors.
  • Failure to file timely contract documentation.
  • Need to update the listing of current and expired contacts on the City’s In-Web.
  • Need to have an up-to-date and consistent operating manual to guide the city’s purchasing procedures.


The Auditor’s Office, upon my request, has created a checklist that Purchasing Services staff will be using from now on to track their contracts so they conform to the City’s WMBE and competitive bidding requirements.

Keep in touch…


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