Urban Politics #310: War Dollars Resolution


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UP #310 – July 11, 2011

By City Councilmember Nick Licata

with assistance from my L.A. Newell Aldrich

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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WAR DOLLARS RESOLUTION

I believe our excessive war spending has contributed to our nation’s substantial debt, and does not contribute to meeting our growing needs at home.

For these reasons, I introduced Resolution 31306, calling on Congress and the President to redirect war spending to domestic priorities, and to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as can be done safely for our troops.

The City Council today passed this resolution by a 9-0 vote.

The resolution states support for a similar resolution passed by the US Conference of Mayors last month. Resolution 31306 states, “The City Council supports the US Conference of Mayors resolution calling on the President and U.S. Congress to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as can be done safely for our troops and bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy and reduce the federal debt.”

On a national level, according to the March 29, 2011 Congressional Research Office report The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11, the people of the United States paid $165 billion in 2010 to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and since 2001 have paid $1.28 trillion; according to costofwar.com, Seattle taxpayers have paid $2.6 billion of these costs.

On a local level, we have felt the financial effect of these wars through federal budget cuts that most recently resulted in a 16% reduction in funding to the City’s Community Development Block Grant program, and a $2.1 million mid-year cut to the 2011 City of Seattle Adopted Budget.

I have been concerned with the impact of these overseas wars for several years, and in March 2007 I sponsored a Council resolution regarding the Iraq war. It recognized the human costs of the war, the loss of life, the sacrifices of men and women serving in the military, and called for an expedited and orderly withdrawal. The resolution however made no mention of the war in Afghanistan.

Taking into account the recession that this nation is in, this resolution focuses on the financial costs to the United States and local governments, and the need to bring war dollars home to meet the needs of our citizens.

In this spirit, the resolution references City Council actions that extended City benefits and wage supplements to employees called up to active duty military status.

In December, 2001 the City Council approved extending City benefits for employees called up to active military duty. The Council re-authorized benefits the following two years, and later added a wage supplement program to pay these employees the difference between their military and City wages, if higher.

In December 2004, the City Council extended the benefits for up to six years, through “December 31, 2010 or when the United States Armed Forces officially withdraws from military operations in Afghanistan or Iraq, whichever comes first”.  As we know, those six years have come and gone. Both wars still continue. In late 2010 the Council acted to extend these benefits through the end of 2012.

The resolution also notes Council legislation I sponsored prohibiting discrimination against persons with veteran or military status in employment, housing and other areas, as well as a resolution in support of the men and women in the Armed Forces of the United States, expressing pride in their service.

I hope other cities around the nation will also support the US Conference of Mayors action, so that we rebuild our cities and thereby fuel an economic revival that creates more productive jobs at decent wages.

I’ve copied the text of the resolution below.

Resolution 31306

A RESOLUTION calling on Congress and the President to redirect war spending to domestic priorities.

WHEREAS, on June 20, 2011 the US Conference of Mayors passed a resolution calling on the President and U.S. Congress to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq “as soon as strategically possible and bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy and reduce the federal debt,” with Seattle Mayor McGinn’s support; and

WHEREAS, in 2003 the Seattle City Council passed resolution 30594 “in support of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, expressing our pride in their service”; and

WHEREAS, in 2009 the Council passed Ordinance 123014, prohibiting discrimination against persons with veteran or military status, in employment, housing, and other areas; and

WHEREAS, on December 10, 2001, the Council passed Ordinance 120682, authorizing continued health care coverage for City of Seattle employees mobilized for active military duty through 2002, and renewed this commitment annually, through 2003 by passing Ordinance 120058, and through 2004 by passing Ordinance 120058; and

WHEREAS, in December, 2004 the Council passed Ordinance 121692, extending this commitment to “December 31, 2010 or when the United States Armed Forces officially withdraws from military operations in Afghanistan or Iraq, whichever comes first”; and

WHEREAS, in August, 2005 the Council passed Ordinance 121885, furthering its support for City of Seattle employees mobilized for active military duty by implementing a wage supplement program to pay these employees the difference between their base military wages and their base City wages, if higher through “December 31, 2010 or when the United States Armed Forces officially withdraws from military operations in Afghanistan or Iraq, whichever comes first”; and

WHEREAS, on December 13, 2010 the Council passed Ordinance 123506, renewing its commitment to provide health care benefits and the wage supplement through December 31, 2012, or when the United States Armed Forces officially withdraws from military operations in Afghanistan or Iraq, whichever comes first; and

WHEREAS, in 2007 the Council passed resolution 30969 “recognizing the human and financial costs of the Iraq War and supporting an end to the war in Iraq and a safe return home for our troops”; and

WHEREAS, according to the March 29, 2011 Congressional Research Office report The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11, the people of the United States paid $165 billion in 2010 to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and since 2001 have paid $1.28 trillion; according to costofwar.com, Seattle taxpayers have paid $2.6 billion of these costs; and

WHEREAS, during this war period, US government debt rose from $5.9 trillion at the end of 2001 to $14 trillion at the end of 2010; and

WHEREAS, the severity of the ongoing economic crisis has created budget shortfalls at all levels of government and requires us to re-examine our national spending priorities; and

WHEREAS, federal budget pressures impact the City of Seattle, most recently resulting in a 16% reduction in funding to the City’s Community Development Block Grant program, and a $2.1 million mid-year cut to the 2011 City of Seattle Adopted Budget; NOW THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SEATTLE, THE MAYOR CONCURRING:

Section 1. The City Council supports the US Conference of Mayors resolution calling on the President and U.S. Congress to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as can be done safely for our troops and bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy and reduce the federal debt.

COUNCIL MEMBERS & MAYOR’S EMAIL ADDRESSES

Sally.Bagshaw@seattle.gov

Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov

Sally.Clark@seattle.gov

Richard.Conlin@seattle.gov

Jean.Godden@seattle.gov

Bruce.Harrell@seattle.gov

Nick.Licata@seattle.gov

Mike.OBrien@seattle.gov

Tom.Rasmussen@seattle.gov

Citizens are directed to the following website to complete a form to send an email to the Mayor’s Office. http://www.cityofseattle.net/mayor/citizen_response.htm

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