Friday, December 31, 2010

Dow Constantine had the Best Year of Any Local Politician

There have been a few "Year in Review", or "2011 Predictions" made in the local media that curiously show Dow Constantine's picture and then their story runs off to the Seattle mayor and other local issues (yes, the mayor is treated as an issue).

I suppose it is implied that the King County Executive had a good year while some of the stories rehash the City of Seattle Executive's public conflicts. I know that it is not an exciting story, having to ask all of your county employees to give up pay to help balance the county budget.
It isn't as exciting as, say, having the new mayor grilled by the city council (so, no follow-up meeting?)

Well, the list of accomplishments is worth repeating linked here, listed below.
Full funding for the long-awaited replacement of the South Park Bridge, in collaboration with federal, state and local leaders.
Federal funding for long-term interim repair of the ailing Howard Hanson Dam to reduce the flood risk in the Green River Valley, in collaboration with federal, state and local leaders.
A regional partnership with cities on a new model for animal services.
A regional partnership with cities on jail planning, to avoid unnecessary construction of new city jails.
A consensus with regional leaders on reforms in theprovision of Metro bus service.
The purchase of 250 acres of Maury Island, including a mile of shoreline, that completes the Executive's 12-year effort to preserve the longest remaining undeveloped Puget Sound shoreline in King County.
Completion and adoption of the first-ever countywide strategic plan.
Completion of the first phase of an upgrade to the County's human resources business processes, replacing manual practices from the 1970's with more efficient automated workflows that provide critical access to real-time data.
Creation of a new County energy policy to achieve even greater energy efficiency, reduce operational costs, and curtail greenhouse gas emissions.
Reform of DDES permitting to a fixed fee model rather than hourly rates, and creation of a customer service unit for rural owners.
Adoption of a new King County budget, one week ahead of schedule, achieved several of the Executive's goals by:
Consolidating his effort to put County government back on sound financial footing by creating annual efficiencies of three percent, leading to budgets that will be sustainable over time,
Sticking to his principle of maintaining reserves without resorting to one-time gimmicks,
Working with more than 90-percent of the County's employees to preserve services to the public by forgoing a cost-of-living adjustment for next year, and
Preserving the principle of restoring services, to the extent possible, in those areas where employees have sacrificed their COLA.

The county is bleeding money, fact.
Without major changes in local tax structure the county, including Metro bus service, will see major cuts in every budget going foreword, fact.
The state legislature has resisted action to help the county because of the many budget problems the county has failed to begin to address in the past, fact.
This year the county pulled together to seriously begin to address major budget issues, including demonstrating leadership by example (except the King County Sheriff Deputies, and their shameless County Council weasel Reagan Dunn), fact.

So, with that I will state, Dow Constantine had the Best Year of Any Local Politician

Dow Constantine

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Predictions for 2011, the Year of the Hollow Victory

Last year my predictions revolved around Seattle's new mayor, Mike McGinn. McGinn was the outsider urban density lobbyist change agent (not much really changed).

It can be difficult to predict likely outcomes of a strong willed individual transitioning from random populist ideas to the cold reality of having to be the mayor of an entire city. As entertaining as it was, the world and my 2011 predictions will not revolve around the Mayor (you're welcome).
Feel free to review my 2010 Predictions.

2011 will be the Year of the Hollow Victory

I'll work my way from the outside in to Seattle.

1.a. Congressional Republicans will back their way into championing a Public Option and Universal Healthcare, thinking Medicare will become privatized at the state level.
1.b. Congressional Democrats will champion state's rights.

2. King County will represent those that "have" in Olympia, and they will gain control of what the state will stop doing. Yes, this is the year an arts bill passes in Olympia.
The state will stop spending $6 million dollars a year on arts programs, passing the responsibility to counties.
The Washington State Legislators will get out of the business of "One Washington" politics, where everyone either gets or is denied what somebody else in the state either gets or is denied. You don't want to be taxed so you don't want the mean old state to force services on you, good luck to the "red" counties. (not really a prediction, but a point of fact).

3. The state will take all municipalities "off the hook" for paying for state roads.
Mike McGinn gets his way, sort of.

4. The deep bore tunnel starts, Mike McGinn supporters go looking for a new mayoral candidate.

5. The state will grant counties the power and authority to raise taxes to pay for transit by popular vote, adding an increase to the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax limit counties and cities can have.

6. Seattle will lead the vote on increased MVET taxes in King County.

7. I predict a more practical challenge for one of 5 Seattle City Council seats will be from somebody not so identified with the tunnel, will have name recognition, and champion the lessor Seattle themes and memes. It looks like tunnel opposition, without the stink of losing that argument.

8. Bellevue will reveal a major public works proposal for a regional center, with a public/private proposal that only missing one thing, public money.

9. King County will revisit the plans for the expansion of the Washington State Convention Center (now a Public Facilities District), with a public/private proposal that is only missing one thing, the private business.

10. Seattle Center's Key Arena will become the worlds largest planter, much like people sometimes do with old boots, or toilets, as they prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the World's Fair with a ferris wheel and urban blight.

11. Oil prices will rise (not that kind of oil). This will be a record harvest for Washington State high quality mint oil.

12. The redistricting will split the 8th Congressional District, causing a major shift in King County Democrats from Olympia Washington to Washington D.C.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

As gasoline use drops, so does state revenue | Seattle Times Newspaper

Better gas milage = less gas tax, because less gas is purchased, so there is less tax... Surprise!

The trend toward lower gasoline consumption is like a flashing yellow light in the new 20-year plan from the Washington Transportation Commission.

To improve or even maintain mobility in the state, the commission is recommending new ways to raise money beyond the gas tax: wider use of toll charges, a new vehicle excise tax, local tax options and a tax on alternative- fuel vehicles.
. . .
As gasoline use drops, so does state revenue, Seattle Times Newspaper

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rep. Ross Hunter named chairman of House Ways and Means Committee | Seattle Times Newspaper

Congratulations to Ross Hunter.

State Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, is the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. He replaces Rep. Kelli Linville, D-Bellingham, who lost to a Republican challenger in the November election.

The House Ways and Means chair is one of the most powerful jobs in the state Legislature, serving as one of the lead architects of the state budget. Hunter, in a way, gets to keep his old job as chairman of the House Finance Committee as well. That panel was eliminated and absorbed into Ways and Means.

Hunter's counterpart in the Senate is Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, chairman of that chamber's Ways and Means Committee. Both men will play key roles in figuring out a way to close a projected $4.6 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget. The Legislature will meet in January to start working on closing that gap.

You can see all the committee assignments here.

Politics Northwest | Rep. Ross Hunter named chairman of House Ways and Means Committee | Seattle Times Newspaper

Ways & Means
Rep. Ross Hunter (Medina) - Chair
Darneille - Vice Chair, Appropriations
Hasegawa - Vice Chair, Finance

All of the Democratic committee members of the Washington State House Ways & Means Committee voted in favor of House Bill 2912 last year, a bill that would redirect control of King County lodging taxes from the state to the control of King County, for use in arts, heritage, youth athletics, regional centers, arts centers.
Hopefully a similar bill is introduced this 2011 Session.
Who is the chairman of the Senate Ways & Means Committee? Ed Murray.
I think our questions will eventually revolve around floor votes in the House and Senate.

Monday, December 20, 2010

America's thirst for gasoline is dropping for the long haul | Seattle Times Newspaper

Less gas consumption, less gass tax, less revenue to maintain our roads. The first Nissan Leaf was delivered to a driver in Seattle last Friday.
Expect tolling, and MVET taxes to make up some of the difference, which can compete with mass transit revenue sources.

Nation & World | America's thirst for gasoline is dropping for the long haul | Seattle Times Newspaper

Friday, December 17, 2010

Debaters find little agreement on Hwy. 99 tunnel plan | Seattle Times Newspaper

This is the most accurate and concise news report the political conflict over the Deep Bore Tunnel replacement for the Alaska Way Viaduct, that is part of Washington State Highway system.

Politics | Debaters find little agreement on Hwy. 99 tunnel plan | Seattle Times Newspaper

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Seattle Times: State lawmakers skip drama, cut budget by millions

In a rare one day Special Session the Washington State Legislature met on Saturday to cut the budget.
The State Senate did meet on the floor, suspended rules intended to slow things down, referred the bills to the Ways & Means Committee for brief public testimony, and executive session to vote on passing the bills back out of committee. The House did the same, strangely quick. outgoing House Ways & Means Chair Kelli Linville remarked during the testimony in committee that it was going so quickly. She looked around the committee meeting room after the speakers that had signed up had already spoken to see if there was anybody else that wanted to testify. A few lobbyists went on record, almost apologetically, pointing out that we all know where we are and what is happening.
Quick and painful.

As the 4Culture, Arts and Heritage, as well as others that are wanting the King County hotel taxes to be given to the county, and the county and city governments go ask for more taxing authority for transportation, be sensitive to the situation many small communities find themselves in.

Below is a summary of what was cut, expect more when the legislature begins the 2011 session on January 10th.

State budget cuts

State budget cuts approved by the Legislature on Saturday include:
$50 million from public schools, including the elimination of funding to keep class sizes smaller in K-4 classrooms.

$51 million from higher education, including $11.4 million from the University of Washington, $7.5 million from Washington State University, $2 million from Western Washington University and $26.4 million from community and technical colleges.

$12.3 million from Disability Lifeline, a program that provides cash payments to the disabled poor. Monthly payments will drop from $339 to $258.

$27.7 million by reducing enrollment in the Basic Health Plan, a subsidized insurance program for the working poor. The state won't fill slots as they come open.

$48.4 million from the Department of Corrections, including the closure of the McNeil Island Corrections Center.

Reducing payments to health-care centers that receive federal money.

Reducing emergency payments to families in need but not on welfare. One-time payments will drop from $1,250 to $1,000.

Eliminating nonemergency adult dental care for the poor.

$13.8 million by extending last year's furloughs for state employees to include all Department of Social and Health Services employees, and requiring them to take two additional furlough days.

$17 million from natural-resources programs, including $5.8 million from the Department of Ecology.

A 6.2 percent across-the-board reduction in the governor's office, the budget office, the Legislature, the judiciary and the offices of separately elected statewide officials.

Source: Washington State Senate Democrats,

Washington State Legislature
Local News | State lawmakers skip drama, cut budget by millions | Seattle Times Newspaper

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Washington State Legislature Special Session is Saturday, 9am (aka, One Day Sale)

This Saturday the Washngton State Kegislature will stop their ongoing regular meetings in order to have a Spevial Session.
That's right, the legislature is in Olympia to have regularly scheduled committee meetings during the week, but on Saturday there is a one day fire sale of state programs in order to chop almost a billion dollars out of the current state budget that runs through June 2911. The budget that starts in July 2011 will also need significant cuts in order to have a balanced budget through June 2013.

What is cut on Saturday will set the stage for what stays cut, and what else is cut. The state will stop doing all kinds of things that counties can not afford to pick up, and large cities are just now figuring out is not there anymore.

I wish you all the best of luck.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 | Local Sports, Local Writers

About a eighteen months ago I had a chat with Art Thiel. Our discussion was about the end of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. On that day, June 1, 2009, announced that its online political newsy publication had secured financial backing. Mr. Thiel told me about his idea to try an online sports publication.
Here is a bit of that 2009 conversation:
Mike: At the same time, if you step away from here, and create your own, you are then competing with the PI or Hearst as an online entity, if you go that direction. So, people choosing to go that direction, it seems to me, that they, were, were people breaking into specialty subjects, or how did that come about?

Art: There was nothing that organized. It was just everybody who just thought that they had a talent or a skill who wanted to try to pursue it, who were looking at options. But, I mean, there’s maybe a collection of 15 to 20 people contributing to Seattle Post-Globe, which is the biggest group. But there is another group just started, just today, called investigate west ( launches July 8th), which is lead by assistant metro editor Rita Hibbard and has several people who made their living investigative reporting, are together, for a website, that they hope will be sponsored. And, I think they had affiliation with University of Washington grant money that will help sustain them for a while. That’s another experiment. I’m working on a website with my colleague Steve Rudman that will off sports commentary, per haps, on a subscription basis (
So, everybody’s got a different agenda, and a different timeline. And, obviously, it varies with urgency, a lot of people with younger kids are saying I’ll take any job I can get; PR, or construction.

Mike: But that’s not your position, that’s not where you’re at?

Art: Right, I want to continue in journalism, and I want to continue with this website. And the PI, also, Hearst did not fully commit to the electronic version until early in March. So, we didn’t know if they were going to pull this trigger, and they finally did. And they belatedly, at the end of that period, said ok, “you, you, you, and you”, and these steps [gestures] go up to the second floor where they were meeting everyone and making their proposals. And so, it was a very strange period there in mid-March where the phone would ring, and somebody would say, “come up stairs to the meeting room”. So, you’d watch who would go up the stairs to see who got the job, or, they came back down and said “no”, ‘cause some people did turn it down.
I did not follow-up and post the rest of our conversation, and at some point it migrated to the back burner.

It is good to see this come to life. It reminds me of what I haven't done, and what a benefit it is to have more voices in the local sports media.

Here is is, | Local Sports, Local Writers
About Sportspress Northwest

From Art Thiel and Steve Rudman, co-founders:

The coin of the realm, we are told regarding online content, is traffic. And traffic, it is said, travels best on the big, lower road.

So if success is sought, we are informed, we will pursue stories such as this:



Welcome to Sportspress Northwest, where insight is our focus and content is king.

That’s not to say we aren’t having fun. But we’ve chosen the highway.

We’re covering Northwest sports with local writers, videographers and photographers who enjoy journalism’s standards, technology’s opportunities and users’ passion. We enjoy good writing and clear thinking. We like to look ahead, and look back, to get a clue about where we are today.

The media biz is in tumult, but that doesn’t mean there’s been much change in sports fans’ desires to be well-informed, amused, provoked and inspired.

We co-founded Sportspress Northwest Inc., and assembled a staff of savvy, credentialed journalists, in the belief that there are decent livings to be made on the web providing quality commentary, reporting and research for a large, local market of sports passionates. Yes, it’s a niche appeal, but with more than 50 years of combined journalism experience between us, we know this place has the capital, advertisers, sponsors and consumers to help experienced local journalists sustain a new effort at entrepreneurial journalism for a popular subject.

So we’re taking a little risk — free, fresh, familiar and, we hope, fun for Seattle and the Northwest.

Twenty-one months after the demise of the print paper where we worked, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, we start again with contemporary commentary, news, biography and history on platforms of audio and video as well as text and photos, using an able stable of pros who provide original reporting with minimal aggregation of content from other sources.

At the beginning, Sportspress Northwest is devoted to the how and why, not the what, of our five most popular teams –- Seahawks, Sounders, Mariners and University of Washington football and basketball.

Our main home-page feature, Pressing the Point, contains a rotation of our best stuff – columns, analyses and major features on events, issues, personalities and trends. Next door is Daily Beat, stories about the most significant developments on the teams in their seasons.

The primary navigation bar provides drop-down menus for each team that contain the most comprehensive seasonal information found under a single click in any local medium.

Under Rosters, you will find biographies of every current major league player in town. Read up on the playing histories of Ichiro, Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck, and you will win so many bets you will face the threat of banishment from the bar.

So too with Timelines, which chronicle all the teams’ non-game developments. Nowhere else will you find all 250-plus transactions the Seahawks have made since Pete Carroll became coach.

The bottom half of the home page is The Field of Play, where a collection of wry, informed takes, especially including the Exit 164 column by Seth Kolloen, will provide you the edge in every sports conversation.

Because our emphasis in Pressing the Point is on the how and why, game stories are secondary – most fans these days know outcomes instantly. But an account of every game in 2010 is available under Recaps, so you can grasp the sweep of a season and find key trends, moments and records in a single file.

Now and in the coming months we will roll out The Vault, the most comprehensive almanac and reference work ever assembled for a local market. It will be part of a collection of new, premium features that will include a modest annual membership in the Sportspress Northwest community.

With success, we will expand coverage to more sports – Storm, Seattle U. and Gonzaga basketball, Washington State University sports, preps, horse racing, motor sports, etc. Much of our faith in success rests with you, the discerning fans of sports and our region who have followed our previous work. Joining our new conversation here, through site visits and sharing via social media, will help us connect our sports community locally and around the globe.

We are at the beginning, far from complete. Free of the costs of print, helped by the availability of local media vets and new aces from blogosphere, and inspired by people willing to invest in the aspiration to quality journalism, Sportspress Northwest will grow and flourish — with your help.

New day. Pro standards. Cool tools.


Art Thiel


I just get this feeling that something is missing, but not ever forgotten.