Urban Politics #41: Technical Difficulties – Way Beyond My Control


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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:

  • Technical Difficulties – Way Beyond My Control
  • Initiative 45 – What Is It And What Will It Do?
  • Pike Place Market Pda And The Hildt Agreement
  • Cap) Culture, Arts And Parks Committee Mtg.
  • Neighborhood Matching Fund Celebration
    Technical Difficulties – Way Beyond My Control
    Urban Politics has not been published for the last several weeks because my computer tried to head south for the summer. After countless of hours, I’ve succeeded in keeping around. Why is it that we readily expect auto mechanics to fix our autos but we suffer under the illusion (at least I do) that we can fix our computers because it’s just a “software” problem. It may be software on a computer, but it’s a hard ware on one’s patience.
    Some messages sent to me may have been lost, so I apologize if anyone is receiving U.P. after requesting to be unsubscribed.
    Now that it is officially summer and that my Toshiba computer is still kicking out from time to time, I’ve resigned myself to only sporadically sending out Urban Politics during July and August.
    Initiative 45 – What Is It And What Will It Do?
    Citizen activist Jordan Brower collected 22,000 signatures, with the help of paid signature gatherers, to place his Initiative 45 on the ballot. From personal experience of having met signature gatherers and listened to their pitch, I believe a number of people signed it under the impression that it was supported by the Library Board and was a pro-library measure. It is neither.
    Initiative is primarily an anti-property tax initiative that could require the $14 million to $21 million for the construction and operation of both branch libraries and the central library to be funded from general revenues.
    If Initiative 45 passes a number of departments’ budgets would likely need to be cut, particularly police and parks and fire protection since these make up over 60% of the budget. Obviously many things would be affected and it is unlikely that the cuts would come out of any one department’s staff or budget. Even without cuts, we have the type of following items that we need to seriously consider funding.
    The Fire Dept. is asking for 65 new positions because of new federally mandated employee safety regulations. The Police Dept. is understaffed by at least that many positions. Meanwhile, Seattle’s parks have expanded by 1,000 acres in the past 8 years while its maintenance budget has remained flat.
    I agree with Jordan Brower that the city’s funding arrangements for Pine St. Garage and the Concert Hall were wrong, but paying for all the new libraries from the general fund is fiscally irresponsible. One doesn’t correct having done something stupid in the past, by doing something stupid in the future.
    I believe and hope that a number of community leaders will come out to oppose Int. 45 because it could kill the library bond. The first library proposal weighed too heavily toward a downtown library. The citizens protested and the library board, and in particular the new librarian, Deborah Jacobs, heard those complaints and came back with a better plan. Neighborhood library spending was increased by 70% and spending on the downtown branch remained flat.
    So, when the plan comes back better, much better, why in the heck oppose it, unless one is simply against property taxes being used for anything. Libraries should be funded from property taxes. I was against last years street levy because it would have raised property taxes and auto use related expenses should come from gas and parking taxes, not from property taxes. Capital construction projects, like libraries, should be funded from property taxes.
    Pike Place Market Pda And The Hildt Agreement
    In 1983 City Council Member Michael Hildt negotiated an agreement with the Pike Place Market PDA to determine, among other things, the allocation of the Market’s space assignments. The Agreement came up for renewal this August. Either the City or the PDA could abandon the agreement if they gave the other party a 30 day notice prior to the August 1st renewal. Ten years ago, the PDA’s governing body, the twelve member PPM PDA Council, had over a six month process of evaluating some proposed changes. In the end, the PPM PDA Council decided not to submit any changes to the City and the Hildt Agreement renewed as is.
    This year the PPM PDA Council circulated a draft for review less than 3 months before the notification deadline. The draft was met with a great deal of resistance, particularly from those who operate craft tables, but also from farmers. One of their main complaints was that the amendments to the Hildt Agreement would weaken the City’s oversight of the PPM PDA.
    Public Development Authorities are created by the City. Each receives a charter noting their responsibilities to the public, the City and their membership. The City has an obligation to assure that each PDA is acting in accordance with its Charter, otherwise City government does not get involved in trying to manage the internal affairs of each PDA.
    The City received the proposed amendments to the Hildt Agreement less than 5 working days before the notification deadline. In other words, there would be no time for the City to act on the recommended changes without the Hildt Agreement automatically expiring on August 1st. Their amendments will come before my committee for review in late August. We may respond by accepting all or part of them, rejecting them entirely or proposing other changes to the Hildt Agreement.
    My main concern is that the Market serve all producers and artisans fairly, and that the proposed changes do not harm the ability of any group to earn a living. I particularly do not wish to see the Hildt Agreement abandoned without some formal guarantee that the Market’s governance will remain responsive to all of its various constituent groups.
    Until the City formally responds, the PPM PDA executive director, Shelly Yapp, has assured the city in writing that the current conditions of the Hildt Agreement will remain in force until March ’99. Unless the City and the PPM PDA come to an agreement on alternative changes, the proposed changes become effective at that time.
    Culture, Arts And Parks (CAP) Committee Meeting
    Wednesday, July 8th, at 2:00 PM Meeting in the Council Chambers, 11th Floor, 600 4th Ave.
    Items of Interest:

    • Words’ Worth. Curated By: Bob Redmond Poem “Hollow Streets” by Michael Hood, who is a commentator for NPR’s “All Things Considered” and a writer for Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”
    • Description of Parks Department’s Budget, presented by Ken Bounds – Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, and city staff.
    • A Resolution affirming the desire an independent Park and Recreation Foundation to increase resources available for parks and recreation purposes in Seattle. Presentation by Ken Bounds – Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, parks staff and Margaret Ceis – Board of Park Commissioners President.
    • Appointment of Robert Hale, Tyler Moriguchi and Andy Mizuki to the International District Special Review Board. First two have terms ending November 30, 1998, Mizuki’s term will end December 31, 1999

     

    Neighborhood Matching Fund Celebration
    The first ten years of the Neighborhood Matching Fund will have a birthday party at the Volunteer Park Playground this Saturday from 12:00 noon – 1:30 complete with cake, ice cream, and entertainment. Councilmember Richard Conlin and I will both be attending.
    Since playgrounds are probably the single most visible impact of the first ten years of the Neighborhood Matching Fund it’s appropriate that the party be held at one. A tour of 6 playgrounds built through the fund will begin at 9:30 AM. Please call Laurie Ames at 684-0320 for more information about the tour and locations.

    Keep in touch…

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