Saturday, December 31, 2011

Predictions for 2012

This is my third year making predictions. What I have learned from previous years is that the future is difficult to predict. I try to be as specific as possible, and hopefully entertaining.
I will re-use some predictions that were ahead of their time.

I called 2011 the "Year of the Hollow Victory". It just looked to me that so many public figures were waging battle that they may be missing the war. The microscope the media places on everything takes some getting use to seeing. The fact of the matter is that some media reports are informational, some news, and some simply wrong. Not every report deserves a full measure of rebuke.

2012 will be the year of people looking back at 2011 and 2012 becoming the Year of Buyer's Remorse

Here we go:
Obama wins re-election.
The Republican splinter is a fissure. A Republican will run as an "Independent". When the circus music stops, and some selfish book whore has sunk his (or her) party's hopes, it will leave some of the far Right on an every shrinking island.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn will lose the 2013 election in 2012.
I know it looks like it is already over, but he still has parts of a fragile coelition that he has yet to break apart. He's got a basketball Jones, but doing the right thing for the right reasons isn't good enough for the rabid sports haters that have pooled up as one of McGinn's groups of support.

Initiative 502 will pass, legalizing marijuana at the state level.

Smoking in public places of medicinal marijuana will ironically be against the law.

A rerun from 2011: 1.b. Congressional Democrats will champion state's rights [for marijuana use].

Another rerun from 2011: 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, and property tax limit, counties and cities could use.

The Sacramento Kings will make plans to relocate to Washington State (no insider info here, just a straight prediction), prompting another team to beat hem to the market.

A third option, not Key Arena, will emerge as another multi-purpose arena location (again, no insider info here, just a prediction). This is a real estate problem.

Rob McKenna will be elected Governor of the State of Washington, and will instantly disappoint the Republican Party with his first proposed budget.

Bob Ferguson will win the race to be Washington State's Attourney General.

People living in Medina, Washington, will refer to the people living in Bellevue, Washington's 9th Congressional District as living in "District 9".

Dow Constantine will be the front runner to replace Rob McKenna as 2012 comes to a close.

Suzan DelBene will be elected to congress in the 1st Congressional District.

The color for 2012 will be a very dark green, almost black.

And now a little music, The Walkmen, In the New Year

Friday, December 23, 2011

Seattle Times: Wealthy ex-Seattle man behind NBA arena proposal

The story from KING 5's Chris Daniels was light on details and heavy on innuendo. I had thought at the time that if there was a story that could be told via land acquisitions in Seattle that the Seattle Times would have the reach to put it together. In fact, I now regularly look at the Seattle Times business section to see if there are any more land transactions that could have something to do with locating an arena.

The Seattle Times is on the story. Between them and KING 5 I expect that if there is a story to be told that they will find it and tell it.

A wealthy San Francisco hedge-fund manager is the lead investor seeking to build a sports arena south of Safeco Field to lure an NBA basketball team back to Seattle, according to two sources briefed on the effort.

Christopher Hansen, 43, who has roots in Seattle and now heads Valiant Capital Management LLC, in San Francisco, is working with an investor group whose proposal has yet to be publicly unveiled.
. . .
McGinn, an avid basketball fan, has been working with the Sodo investor group for several months to explore how the city can assist, including help with financing, according to sources. As part of the effort, McGinn hired an arena consultant, sources said.
. . .
The group behind the Sodo effort is separate from a recently publicized campaign being led by longtime Sonics fan Brian Robinson and his organization, Arena Solution, to secure a new arena and an NBA team.

Among those involved in the Sodo plan is Wally Walker, the former Seattle Sonics player and team executive, sources said. Walker was a minority owner of the Sonics, serving as the team's president and general manager from 1994 until the team was sold to Clay Bennett in 2006.
. . .

Seattle Times: Local News | Wealthy ex-Seattle man behind NBA arena proposal

I think the media is missing the point of That effort is to support an arena solution, not any one particular solution.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Seattle Times, Politics Northwest: Steinbrueck eyeing mayor's race

First, Steinbrueck should run, absolutely. I think he would be considered in the top 3 among the contenders no matter who people considered the other 2.
I think that gets him into the general election.

He also doesn't have the stink of the deep bore tunnel on him. He doesn't have the stench of being the champion of the losing side of that vote, and the de-facto loser of Prop 1 vote.

Former Seattle City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck says he may run for mayor in 2013.

"I am seriously thinking about Seattle's future in a way that I have never thought of it in the past," he said. "It's two years out, so it's a little early to be making announcements."
. . .
As a citizen activist and then two-term City Councilmember, Steinbrueck focused often on land-use, fighting to preserve industrial land and limit building heights downtown. He was often a pointed critic of the Greg Nickels administration.

Steinbrueck's father, Victor Steinbrueck, is known for his work in land use, as well: fighting for almost a decade to save the Pike Place Market.

For years, speculation in political circles was that Steinbrueck's wife didn't want him to run. He wouldn't comment directly about personal matters, but said Friday that he and his wife were getting a divorce.

Tension between family and public life "often is unavoidable," he said, adding: "family and personal matters have always been important in my decision-making."

Since he has been back in town, Steinbrueck has made a few appearances in political life, including moderating a City Council candidate forum this summer. "There's a lot of talk going on around town," he said. "I've been hearing a lot of dissatisfaction, frankly, a lot of frustrations."

The right time for an announcement, he suggested, might be in about six months.
Seattle Times, Politics Northwest: Steinbrueck eyeing mayor's race

In no particular order:
Ed, tunnel champion, Murray
Peter, the boy who would be king, Steinbrueck

I think those two would make it through a primary, but not nessisarily together. They would split some faux green yuppie votes, and money, and old Seattle money.
Either one would then crush whoever noted below cobbled together enough splinter sub-groups to end up in the general election.

Then in order:
Mike, upzone cheerleader, McGinn
Tim, it's good to not be a cop right now, Burgess
wRong Sims
Sally, sometimes invisible, Clark
Bruce, I really do live in Seattle, Harrell

Peter, I hope you like hockey and basketball, taxing professional athletes, and not spending general fund money on anything except basic services we are struggling with. Otherwise,you will struggle finding the voters.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Seattle Times Editorials: Region's NBA dreams shouldn't involve public investment

Leave it to the Seattle Times to point out the extremely obvious, we are not going to spend existing tax money on an arena.

SEATTLE basketball fans are excited by news that two different investor groups are trying to bring NBA basketball back to the region — either to the Eastside or Sodo area of Seattle.

But the idea will not go far unless the latest groups trying to replace the departed Seattle SuperSonics are willing to invest huge sums of private money in a team and an arena.

The current economic climate precludes public investment from any existing or new revenue sources, including the recently expired sales tax on bars and restaurants in King County.

An investor is acquiring property in the stadium area of Seattle and talks have taken place with Mayor Mike McGinn about efforts to attract a new NBA franchise and facility. Hockey is apparently part of the planning.

If the city wants to fast-track permits or make minor transportation adjustments to accommodate a job creating endeavor, that would be fine.

But with the state, county and city cutting numerous basic services, public investment cannot be part of the equation.

An investor is acquiring property in the stadium area of Seattle and talks have taken place with Mayor Mike McGinn about efforts to attract a new NBA franchise and facility. Hockey is apparently part of the planning.

If the city wants to fast-track permits or make minor transportation adjustments to accommodate a job creating endeavor, that would be fine.

But with the state, county and city cutting numerous basic services, public investment cannot be part of the equation.
. . .

But spending new taxes that only exist because professional athletes exists, that looks like a yes, as long as the tax can only be contained to those athletes and not spread to the rest of the population as an income tax.

One idea under consideration is to mix sizable private investment with some sort of tax on players or teams in all major league sports to cover the cost of building a new arena and future repairs to existing stadiums. This approach is used in a few other NBA locales.

If this becomes a prelude to an income tax, forget it. Voters are an unequivocal no on that idea. If it becomes something more creative, skepticism is the first reaction, but we need to hear more.
Seattle Times Editorials: Region's NBA dreams shouldn't involve public investment

Well, I think we all need to hear more about this "creative" idea. The sooner, the better.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Seattle Times: News: City approached about basketball arena near Safeco Field

Seattle city officials have been approached by a private group looking to build a basketball arena in the Sodo District near Safeco Field in the hopes of attracting an NBA franchise, according to two sources who have been briefed on the talks.
. . .
McGinn's office confirmed Friday night that it is examining an "opportunity," but declined to provide specific information.
. . .
"Our office has had many enthusiastic overtures concerning the return of an NBA franchise to Seattle," the statement said. "Some of these offers have been serious. Some have not been serious. And the current speculation is over one of these proposals. We are looking at this opportunity, examining its specifics and how it fits our city. At this point, we have not received a concrete offer."

The statement added: "When we do reach that point, the City Council will be our first step in moving forward and then there will be an open process to evaluate that offer before we move forward. We would welcome a serious commitment from the NBA to re-establish a franchise with responsible ownership, to our community."
. . .
The group behind the Sodo effort is separate from a recently publicized campaign being led by longtime Sonics fan Brian Robinson and his organization, Arena Solution, to secure a new arena and an NBA team.

Among those involved in the Sodo plan is Wally Walker, the former Seattle Sonics player and team executive, the sources said. . .
Seattle Times: News: City approached about basketball arena near Safeco Field

The effort lead by Brian Robinson is a much broader effort, uses a different approach, and isn't actually in competition with the SODO effort.

The television report last Thursday was accurate:
“Everywhere I go people want it.  If you talk to contractors, plumbers, electricians, they want it. If you go to the Bellevue Athletic Club, people want it.  If you go to Rainier Beach HS, people want it.”

The group “Arena Solution” – which he calls a “group of people who want to talk about solving this critical problem” - lists an impressive collection of names.  Former Sonics CEO Bob Whitsitt and local developer Craig Kinzer are part of the group.

“There are a number of people both private and public trying to make this work,” says Kinzer, who helped broker the deal for Benaroya Hall, Safeco Field, and the Children’s Hospital expansion, among others. 
“Let’s make this more transparent,” says the CEO of Kinzer Real Estate Services.  “We’re much further along than people realize.”

Kinzer, also a former Sonics minority owner, says there are “three or four” spots which have been seriously considered for an arena. 
“I’m helping (Arena Solution) talk with all the jurisdictions and let them each know the things they can do.” Group of civic, business leaders attempt 'Arena Solution'

The facts are, there is more than 1 group interested in building an arena, more than 1 site is a prospective site. What is attempting to do is to perform a civic action, how can they help make an arena happen? Reaching out to these different groups and people isn't quite the same as leading a group of potential team owners that want to figure out an arena solution for their specific purposes. is interested in working with any and all potential owners of teams, facilities, leaders public and private.

I support the efforts of

The more, the merrier.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

City of Seattle leadership structure survey

Posted Wed, Nov 23, 2:20 p.m.

City of Seattle leadership structure:
1. How useful would Councilmembers elected by district be to you?

2. Compared to actual democracy, is our service quality better, worse, or about the same?

3. Compared to actual democracy, how effective is our service?

City of Seattle leadership structure survey

— Mr Baker

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Seattle Times Newspaper Editorials: Bill to tap into online sales-tax revenue makes sense

As the Seattle Times phases in and out of reality I thought I would highlight one of their editorials that makes sense.

The Seattle Times in favor of closing a tax loophole that should be regulated by federal law under the commerce clause of the Constitution.
WASHINGTON'S delegation in Congress, Democrat and Republican, should support the Marketplace Fairness Act, a bipartisan Senate bill that would allow states to collect sales taxes on online and catalog purchases across state lines.

For years, Washington residents have escaped sales taxes by buying online. People have enjoyed doing this, brushing aside the irksome thought that they were shortchanging local merchants, wiping out local jobs and undermining local governments. When the Internet was small and times were good, their irresponsibility could be overlooked. No longer.

Most states have an income tax. Our state does not, and has voted four times against one. If a sales tax is what the people want, they must update it for the 21st century — and in an Internet world, that means collecting the tax across state lines.
. . .
Seattle Times Newspaper Editorials: Bill to tap into online sales-tax revenue makes sense

This has been a loophole large enough to drive a UPS truck through the Washington State economy for a decade.
This is one of many distortions to the economy that need to be resolved.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bike License Application

How hard could it be?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lawmaker drafts plan to bring NBA, NHL to new Seattle arena | Seattle

It will be interesting to see which politicians get out in front and support, which line up to follow, and if any pose genuine opposition. Mike Hope, a Republican, is running for Snohomish County Executive. Don't expect a bunch of Democrats to drop their own campaigns for re-election or support for other candidates to pick up this cause before the November elections are over. I have not seen the draft legislation yet, when I do I will post my thoughts here and/or at the Arena Solution website. To connect with the effort go to
Representative Mike Hope (R, Lake Stevens) has drafted legislation that will fund a new arena. He believes it will not only bring an NBA team to Seattle, but a professional hockey team as well. . . . Brian Robinson, co-founder of the organization Save our Sonics, is on a task force with Hope aiming to bring the NBA back to Seattle, but in a new venue. "It's affected a lot of people who used to watch these games with their kids," said Robinson. "The fact that we could see politicians actually get something done would bring a lot of excitement to a lot of people." The proposed legislation would require local and visiting professional athletes in the NBA, NFL and MLB to pay a fee for every game they play in Seattle. He says a lot of other cities already have similar laws built into their tax revenue. Hope says it would levy $140 million towards a new sports arena. He's also proposing specialty license plates for Sonics fans, generating another $10 million for bonds.

Michael J. Baker
Seattle, Wa

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sept. 22: King County Executive reaches creative solution that moves forward North Lot development

No multi-use arena on the parking lot north of Seahawks Stadium.
King County Executive Dow Constantine today announced an agreement that will allow for the long-held goal of constructing a mixed-use development with affordable housing to begin in Seattle's Pioneer Square, on the parking lot just north of the old Kingdome site.
Unfortunately, the county found a way to resolve a conflict. Darn meddling government.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Google+ = AOL 1997

If you want to take a giant step backward in the social consciousness of the Internet then just become a Google+ user. And yet it is worse than that, Google+ isn't just the worst work party you have ever skipped, it is also an unending telemarketer.

Sounds enticing? No?

All you have to do is always use your personal identity everywhere on the Internet and grant Google the rights to everything you say and do, as well as everything anybody you know says or does anything that is even remotely connected to you for their commercial gain, "We will record information about your activity - such as posts you comment on and the other users with whom you interact - in order to provide you and other users with a better experience on Google services.."

Google+, Googles version of Facebook, has come under fire not only for it's insistence on you submitting government identification as a condition of participation, but for its failure to engage in meaningful dialog on what they are wanting people to do.
Google Plus: no stupider moment for Google to subscribe to the gospel of Zuckerberg.

Google Plus's controversial identity policy requires all users to use their "real names". Commentators have pointed to problems with this, including the implausibility of Google being able to determine correctly which names are real and which ones are fake. Other problems include the absurdity of Google's demand for scans of government ID to accomplish this task and the fractal implausibility of Google being able to discern real from fake in all forms of government ID.

Google argues that people behave better when they use their real names. Google also states it is offering an identity service, not a social network, and therefore needs to know who you are and, thirdly, that no one is forcing you to use Google Plus.

However valid the first two points may be, they are eclipsed by the monumental intellectual dishonesty of that last one – no one's holding a gun to your head, so shut up if you don't like it.

Because when Google's chairman, Eric Schmidt, told NPR's Andy Carvin, "G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it", he implied the only time a service should come under critical scrutiny is when it is mandatory.

This simplistic theory of critical discourse is perfectly incoherent, implying that in a marketplace, the only role "consumers" have is to buy things or not buy things, use things or not use things, and that these decisions should not be informed by vigorous debate and discussion, but only by marketing messages.
. . .
Read the rest of Cory Doctorow's, Google Plus forces us to discuss identity: Google's Real Name policy embodies a theory that states the way to maximise civility is to abolish anonymity, here.

The Stasi were less intrusive.

Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, has this nutty idea that if people had to use their real names then they would not be as mean. That's absurd, I know plenty of real assholes in real life, and I know their real names, but that hasn't prevented them from being assholes.

For that matter, I know Eric Schmidt used his real name and is using his company's position and power to stamp out anonymity. He's a real asshole, and I don't feel one bit better that I know his real name.

What the real world will miss out on by extinguishing anonymity is the kindness of strangers, expressed to strangers, in public forums, with the security of knowing that an expression of genuine human emotion is unconstrained by what somebody looks like or they have a name difficult to pronounce.

Worse yet, the Internet in many ways is still an expression of the written form of communication, where anyone and everyone is the writer. Some writers, sometimes, in some situations, want to be anonymous. They have their reasons. No one is forcing you to read them.

Eric Schmidt's desire to extinguish the nom de guerre is a affront to liberty, and is bound to be an epic failure.
This Internet bubble society has been tried before, it was called America On-Line. Welcome to your future Google+, AOL 1997.

In the mean time many well meaning and naive people will stuff your servers full of their personal information to be used against them later in their lives, under the guise of a "better user experience".

In Eric Schmidt's Google+ world N.W. Clerk doesn't exist, and that is a world not living in.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Seattle Times: Seattle's $60 car-tab fee: where it could go

In an uncertain world there are few things harder to sell than higher taxes with an uncertain plan for those taxes.

As Seattle voters ponder whether to boost car-tab fees another $60, they can't peruse a simple list of projects and decide if they want to pay to have them done.

Instead, if they agree to pay an estimated $204 million over 10 years, the City Council would later make decisions about how to spend it.

The measure on the Nov. 8 ballot is different from a typical school or parks construction levy.

There's only a general plan for the money, but most of it would support transit, cycling and pedestrian projects. About one-fifth is earmarked for pavement repair or replacement.
. . .

Seattle Times Newspaper, Seattle's $60 car-tab fee: where it could go

When you can write a headline as an open question in reference to $200 million dollars, you have to wonder just how much effort will have to be made to get this tax to pass.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Seattle Times: Parking spat may stall project at CenturyLink Field

The story about the parking lot north of Seahawks stadium that is slowly being sold by King County to a condo/apartment developer has reached the Seattle Times.

The problem: Developer Daniels Real Estate and the owner of the stadium, known until recently as Qwest Field, haven't reached agreement on replacing 491 premium parking stalls the development would displace.

King County owns the property, nearly 4 acres covering the northern half of the parking lot. The sale to Daniels is to close Sept. 12. Work on the first phase — 444 apartments in 10- and 25-story towers, plus retail — is expected to start days later.

But one of Daniels' prospective construction lenders put a hold on the loan last week, citing the dispute over replacement parking.

. . .
A series of inter-government agreements allowed the PSA and First & Goal to continue free use of the 491 stalls and all the revenue they generate until redevelopment happened.

Then the developer was to provide a replacement parking structure.

Those agreements also included language allowing the PSA to "seek transfer" of the 4 acres from the county if redevelopment hadn't begun by July 2008, and if the board determined it needed the property.

That's the provision the authority cited in its Aug. 11 resolution threatening to seek ownership.

It's unclear how far the PSA can push that. The panel can't condemn property, Hine said.

The sale contract the county signed with Daniels in 2007 included language requiring the developer to provide replacement parking both during construction and permanently, adding that it "must be acceptable to the PSA."

Yang said the county and Daniels both have lived up to their legal obligations. Daniels has offered to build a replacement garage on two sites, or to pay cash to settle the issue, he said.

PSA officials wouldn't discuss details of those offers. But Hine said none fully replaces what the stadium would be losing.

There's money involved here. The county expects to get $10 million from Daniels when the sale closes.

First & Goal collects $2 million a year in revenue from the 491 parking stalls, Postman said; a 1 percent parking tax the PSA collects on that goes to help pay off bonds sold to build the stadium.

But "it's not a question of revenue," said another Allen representative, Lyn Tangen. "It's a question of having adequate parking."

Seattle Times, Parking spat may stall project at CenturyLink Field

First and Goal, the stadium authority, whoever, should take control of the property, pay the county the 10 million dollars, build an underground garage, restaurants and shops on the street level and an arena on top.

He would make a killing, Seattle would get an indoor facility that would have the least involvement from the City of Seattle, and people that can afford an NBA ticket would flood local businesses 41 nights a year (and/or NHL).

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Psychic friends connection: Malcolm Gladwell on 'Psychic Benefits' and the NBA Lockout

Malcolm Gladwell does a fine job if telling one side of the story with fairly old information and remarkably little insight into the decline of the psychic friends network between sports professional sports are the public in general.
Here is Gladwell explaining the NBA as if this were 2007.

Psychic benefits describe the pleasure that someone gets from owning something — over and above economic returns . . .

The rationale for the NBA lockout, from the owner's perspective, goes something like this. Basketball is a business. Businesses are supposed to make money. And when profits are falling, as they are now for basketball teams, a business is obliged to cut costs — which in this case means the amount of money paid to players. In response, the players' association has said two things. First, basketball teams actually do make money. And second, if they don't, it's not the players' fault. When the two sides get together, this is what they fight about. But both arguments miss the point. The issue isn't how much money the business of basketball makes. The issue is that basketball isn't a business in the first place — and for things that aren't businesses how much money is, or isn't, made is largely irrelevant.

Basketball teams, of course, look like businesses. They have employees and customers and offices and a product, and they tend to be owned, in the manner of most American businesses, by rich white men. But scratch the surface and the similarities disappear. Pro sports teams don't operate in a free market, the way real businesses do. Their employees are 25 years old and make millions of dollars a year. Their customers are obsessively loyal and emotionally engaged in their fortunes to the point that — were the business in question, say, discount retailing or lawn products — it would be considered psychologically unhealthy. They get to control their labor through the draft in a way that would be the envy of other private sector owners, at least since the Civil War. And they are treated by governments with unmatched generosity. Congress gives professional baseball an antitrust exemption. Since 2000, there have been eight basketball stadiums either built or renovated for NBA teams at a cost of $2 billion — and $1.75 billion of that came from public funds.4 And did you know that under the federal tax code the NFL is classified as a nonprofit organization?5 Big genial Roger Goodell, he of the almost $4 billion in television contracts, makes like he's the United Way.
. . .

The best illustration of psychic benefits is the art market. Art collectors buy paintings for two reasons. They are interested in the painting as an investment — the same way they would view buying stock in General Motors. And they are interested in the painting as a painting — as a beautiful object. In a recent paper in Economics Bulletin, the economists Erdal Atukeren and Aylin Seçkin used a variety of clever ways to figure out just how large the second psychic benefit is, and they put it at 28 percent.7 In other words, if you pay $100 million for a Van Gogh, $28 million of that is for the joy of looking at it every morning. If that seems like a lot, it shouldn't. There aren't many Van Goghs out there, and they are very beautiful. If you care passionately about art, paying that kind of premium makes perfect sense.
. . .

The big difference between art and sports, of course, is that art collectors are honest about psychic benefits. They do not wake up one day, pretend that looking at a Van Gogh leaves them cold, and demand a $27 million refund from their art dealer. But that is exactly what the NBA owners are doing. They are indulging in the fantasy that what they run are ordinary businesses — when they never were. And they are asking us to believe that these "businesses" lose money. But of course an owner is only losing money if he values the psychic benefits of owning an NBA franchise at zero — and if you value psychic benefits at zero, then you shouldn't own an NBA franchise in the first place. You should sell your "business" — at what is sure to be a healthy premium — to someone who actually likes basketball.
Malcolm Gladwell on Malcolm Gladwell on 'Psychic Benefits' and the NBA Lockout

A couple things, the Hornets sold below market rate to prevent a sale at a massive loss (more or less a repo by the NBA), the Bobcats sold at a massive loss.
Never, ever, compare the NBA with the NFL. The NFL makes money, no matter how badly they try to screw it up. The NBA has high revenue but that doesn't always mean profit, and absolutely not profits on the scale the has anybody in the NBA acting like Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys. Remarkably few NBA team owners could whip out a checkbook and build an area knowing that they will make freakish amounts of actual, honest to goodness, profit from that investment in facilities. Know why? Because the actual value of an NFL team still puts it in the realm of being a profitable business.

The bulk of NBA franchise do not exist on the same financial planet as the bulk if NFL teams. The Dan Snyder reference is absurd in its meaninglessness to the NBA owner situation.

The bulk of the latest NBA franchise sales have more to do with the profitability of their associated arenas than with the actual NBA team. If the Memphis Grizzlies owner controlled all of the revenue in his building then he could have sold his team 4 years ago for $400 million dollars with very little effort. But he doesn't, so he bleeds money.

The public has stopped giving away brand new arenas.

The reality is that the NBA is a business because people borrow money to buy teams, and the lenders expect to get repaid. The cities that most of these franchises exist can no longer afford to play along in feeding this broken business.

Wealthy individuals owning teams has been on the decline for years, and lately so has the publics desire to fund sports facilities.

The fact is that in order for the NBA owners to keep this art form going they are going to have to pitch in on building facilities, borrow large sums of money to do it, and have to run their hobbies like businesses, or you end up like 1/4 of the teams, bleeding money while trapped in an arena lease that can't be justified by the profits the these teams are making.

As local theater stages went dark over the past year was it that wealthy people just didn't love them enough? I think not. Was it that they, too, were in a broken business model, that despite the psychic value, there still needed to be a viable business underneath?

That is more likely a better comparison, local live theater and the NBA, and neither is like the NFL.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Seattle Times Newspaper's Danny Westneat: Digging into Seattle's century-old debate

Seattle, vote Yes on Referendum 1.

In 1904, the Great Northern Tunnel, although not the longest, was the highest, 28 feet, and widest, 30 feet, in the United States. The finished tunnel was lighted by electricity, well ventilated and large enough to accommodate a double line of tracks. In constructing the tunnel, $1,000,000 was spent on labor alone and $500,000 was spent for materials and other costs. The tunnel was intended for use by both the Great Northern and the Northern Pacific Railroads, who split the cost of construction.

Today, in the Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat points out that we have a tunnel already, it is 100 years old, and was constructed to reduce traffic congestion.
I think it is odd that a journalist has to point something out to the anti-tunnel folks, including the mayor.

In part, here is Danny Wesrtneat:
Mayor Mike McGinn mostly opposes digging a tunnel for financial and environmental reasons, but he has also called the project "unacceptably risky." He cited how it will be dug through "extreme soil conditions" beneath a major American city.

But nobody ever seems to mention that we already have a tunnel down there. It was dug through these same soils. It's no minor tube, either. It's a mile long and 30 feet in diameter (enough room for two train ways). In places, it is 140 feet below the surface.

And here's the thing that gets me: They dug it by hand.

In April 1903, "an army of 350 workers with pickaxes, shovels and wheelbarrows began digging into the hillside" at the foot of Virginia Street, according to theSeattle history website

The Great Northern Tunnel is smaller — it's 60 percent of the length of today's proposed 1.7 mile-long tunnel, and only about half as wide. Still, at the time it was the largest train tunnel ever attempted (again — sound familiar?). Yet it took two work crews digging from opposite ends only 17 months to chisel the entire thing out by hand.

That's about the time it takes us to convene an advisory commission.

According to newspaper reports at the time, incessant water seepage hampered work, as did soil cave-ins, boulders and the discovery of a prehistoric forest. Yet the entire project cost only $1.5 million. Plus it's still in heavy use 108 years later. The last earthquake, in 2001, didn't crack it or move it an inch.

In today's dollars, the old train tunnel cost about $40 million — fifty times less than what we're projected to pay for the new tunnel.

"I don't think that train tunnel has ever missed a day of service," says Ron Paananen, manager of the state's team planning the current tunnel. "It changed the face of Seattle, and it doesn't get a lot of notice."

How can we be so freaked out by something when we did a version of the same thing more than a hundred years ago?

Danny Westneat | Digging into Seattle's century-old debate | Seattle Times Newspaper

I have mentioned it, many times, and so the joke goes like this:
1 hundred years ago, hundreds of pickaxes, hundreds of men, 10's of jackasses, were used to build the tunnel we already have.
Now we have 1 machine, hundreds of men and women, and 1 jackass - Mike McGinn, will be used to build this tunnel.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Regarding the $80 VLF, rail transit

To: the Seattle City Council [sent via email, 8/12/2011]
Please, do not write an unending blank check for a light rail "idea". There isn't a plan, plans have defined duration and resources. Light rail in Seattle has neither, yet. You have a map.

Light rail should be, as the mayor said during his campaign, put to a vote. It should be better defined, and a separate ballot measure.

It is simply absurd to have the mayor "ask the hard questions" asking for a blank check for light rail.

Show that plan, let the people decide.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker
Seattle, WA

On Aug 11, 2011, at 12:30 PM, "Office of the Mayor" <> wrote:

City logo
Office of the Mayor
City of Seattle

Last night, supporters of an $80 vehicle license fee showed up at City Council chambers and asked Councilmembers to support the proposal previously recommended by Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee. People in support of an $80 fee included rail supporters, neighborhood advocates for rail, for transit reliability and transportation choices, advocates for pedestrian infrastructure, supporters of job creation, and other people from a wide variety of backgrounds. The Stranger characterized testimony as "overwhelmingly lopsided in favor of sending an $80 fee to the voters".
If you weren't in attendance, you can listen to public comment on the Seattle Channel, or read about the hearing here or here.
The community is making its voice heard in other ways. A group of leading environmental advocates wrote to the City Council in support of the $80 fee, writing "We ask you to place this measure before the voters. We are eager to support it. Polls show that the citizens of Seattle want this."

Momentum for rail is growing, but the Council is still deliberating this proposal. If you haven't shared your thoughts about this proposal with the City Council yet, please do so today. The Council will make their final decision on Monday. Simply email Councilmembers:;;;;;;;;

Read the Mayor's Blog Post: "For Rail, Be Bold"
Watch public testimony from last night's Transportation Benefit District Public Hearing
Read more about emailing City Council
Read The Stranger's post about the hearing
Read the Fremont Universe post about the proposal
Read the Ballard KOMO post on the debate

Subscribe to Mayor McGinn's newsletter "The Reader"

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Chesapeake Energy and Aubrey McClendon can burn in Hell

It is always interesting to see the ads that get placed on my personal blog. Usually, the ads are loosely tied to the content of the blog, Seattle, Washington State, King County, Arts, Sports ... Once in a while an advertisement will show up and I feel compelled to comment.

Today's gem, Chesapeake Energy.

I am not sure how this got here. I am able to filter this out in the future. For now, let me say this: Aubrey McClendon, the owner of Chesapeake Energy, can burn in Hell for eternity, the sooner, the better.

And as it turns out, July has set a record as the hottest month ever recorded in Oklahoma.

The line that I hope eventually forms of those that wish to kick him in the crotch, let me be first.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Seattle Times, Editorials: Republican budget drama comes at a real cost for taxpayers

The Republican establishment supporting, big business championing, Seattle Times Editorial Board is throwing the Tea Party Republicans to the wolves (in this case, that's you). The facts are that the Congress has already committed, and in most cases spent, the money they are failing to borrow. The federal government passes a budget to appropriate (buy) funds beyond the amour of money it will take in so it can give billionaires a tax cut they didn't earn by providing the jobs they claim they are using the money for, and to fund two long wars.

The bills are coming due, pay them, or nobody will lend you money (or charge us more in interest to borrow money we are transferring to billionaires).

HOUSE Republicans favoring gimmicks over governance pushed the federal government to the brink of default on U.S. debt and obligations.

Self-righteous political partisans might find virtue in plunging the economy into a deadline-focused discussion of excess spending — if not skimpy revenue measures — but the theatrics come at a cost.
Editorials | Republican budget drama comes at a real cost for taxpayers | Seattle Times Newspaper

The Tea Party Republicans are jumping off head first into an imaginary pool of economics that doesn't exist. They have it half right, families pay their bills, where they have it completely wrong is that (unlike the Tea Party Republicans) when the bills are due for payment on the things they appropriate money for, we pay those bills, or our credit rating goes down.

It is pretty simple, the Tea Party Republicans didn't get way in the budget process and are now wanting another chance at the budget process. But they failed to notice that a majority of Congress voted for the COMPROMISE budget this borrowing is supposed to pay for. And a majority of Congress will raise the debt ceiling to pay for that budget.
The establishment Republicans (that includes the Seattle Times Newspaper) are siding with reality, and not with you.

The pendulum swings back from the crazy conservative side.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Seattle Times: Anti-tunnel campaign apologizes for attack on pro-tunnel environmentalists [perpetrated by Ben Schiendelman ]

Ben Schiendelman gets the brushback pitch from environmentalists.
Goldman, a big contributor to progressive political candidates, including former Sierra Club activists Mayor Mike McGinn and O'Brien, chalked up the comments to "this kid" who "made a mistake."

Still, Goldman said, it was "totally inappropriate" to challenge the credentials and environmental experience of tunnel backers because they disagreed about the project.

The environmental community has been sharply divided over the $2 billion tunnel. The Sierra Club, Sightline Institute and Earth Day co-founder Denis Hayes have all blasted the project for encouraging driving, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and squandering transportation dollars that could be better spent on less-polluting alternatives.

But other environmentalists, including Fletcher and Goldman, argue that removal of the viaduct allows for the creation of an appealing green space along the waterfront, restoration of shoreline habitat, reduction of auto emissions and storm-water runoff, and the elimination of a huge source of noise pollution.

"There's an honest difference of opinion whether this is the best environmental solution," said Goldman.
Seattle Times, Anti-tunnel campaign apologizes for attack on pro-tunnel environmentalists

Ben Schiendelman is not helping the debate with the comments he and his minions, have made in regard to other environmentalists.
Who is Ben Sciendelman?
Acceding to the blog he has contributed to over the past 4 years, Seattle Transit Blog, it says this:
Contributor Ben Schiendelman joined in 2007 to better consolidate news and information about our upcoming transit expansions, and to build a better base to further grow our system. He previously wrote the blog Higher Frequency, and worked on the 2008 Mass Transit Now campaign. Ben refuses to own a driver’s license.

He found his love for transit, density and walkability in Japan, on the Shinkansen and in Kyoto, and later cemented it in France, both Strasbourg and Paris.

Ben is deeply involved in political activism for transit.

So, he isn't just "some kid". He is promoted by very minor media outlets as somebody that has written extensively on mass transit, is an activist, and apparently is well known enough to appear on KUOW as some sort of authoritative voice on the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project that is capable of forming a knowledgable opinion and participating in a debate.

Well, maybe he isn't an authority on every aspect of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project, and maybe the media should stop acting as if he is.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Al Franken says, "It's time"

Listen up. This doesn't mean that Al Franken and I will be forced to leave our respective (and wonderful) wives and marry each other. It means that another married couple will not be denied the rights and privileges that other married couples have.

Begin forwarded message:

From: Al Franken <>
Date: July 22, 2011 2:59:47 PM PDT
To: Michael Baker
Subject: It's time

Al Franken - U.S. Senator, Minnesota

Dear Michael,

There's no good argument against marriage equality. There's no good argument for the Defense of Marriage Act, one of the most unfair laws passed in my lifetime. And there's no good argument for leaving it on the books.

What are we waiting for? The country has evolved -- Americans support the repeal of DOMA. So does President Obama. So does President Clinton, who signed it into law in 1996. So does Bob Barr, the Republican who wrote the darn thing.

I say it's time. It's time for gay and lesbian Americans to enjoy the same rights as the rest of us. It's time to toss the bigotry and the fear into the dumpster of embarrassing history where they belong. And you know what? It's time for progressives like you and me to stop waiting around for someone else to make this country what it ought to be.

It's time to repeal DOMA. Let's start right now, you and me. I've written a petition to get the ball rolling -- click here to add your name now!

Marrying Franni was the best thing that ever happened to me. And it's always pained me to know that our country denies that right to millions of gays and lesbians.

Over the years, those of us who support marriage equality have had to put up with a series of nonsensical arguments from those who support marriage discrimination. And, one by one, their ridiculous objections have been proven wrong.

Same-sex marriage doesn't hurt straight couples. It doesn't hurt kids who grow up in loving same-sex families. It doesn't hurt anyone. DOMA, on the other hand, is an ugly stain on our country. And every day we don't repeal it is another day we're making millions of Americans second-class citizens.

Let's make today the day -- sign my petition to repeal DOMA and let's get this done already.

I think we can do this, and I think we can do it now. But we can only do it if we convince decision-makers in the Obama administration and Congress that we won't shut up until this gets done.

So let's show them how many of us are prepared to fight for this -- right now. Sign my petition and tell Washington it's time to repeal DOMA.

This is going to be a tough fight. But it's a matter of simple fairness. We're right. And we can win. Are you ready to fight alongside me?


Al Franken

P.S.: The first step is signing our petition. But if you're ready to do more right now, how about forwarding this email to ten people or sharing it with your friends on Facebook? Or Tweet about it -- and make sure to use the hashtag #itstime.

Paid for and authorized by Al Franken for Senate 2014

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Seattle Times: Seattle arts patron Bagley Wright dies at 87

Artsfund, Seattle Arts Museum, the Reparatory Theater, Space Needle and World's Fair; keep in mind that it isn't always a matter of wealth but a vision of what you want your community to be. Seattle was fortunate to have someone that possessed both wealth and vision.

Bagley Wright, the influential Seattle arts patron, philanthropist, and one of the original investors in the Space Needle, died Monday following a heart attack. He was 87.
Seattle Times: Seattle arts patron Bagley Wright dies at 87

Friday, July 15, 2011

Village Voice Media, Seattle Weekly's parent company, is on the wrong side of child sexual exploitation

Seattle Weekly is on the wrong side of child sexual exploitation. It's that simple.

[this is a long story for a blog page, get over it]
From the mayor:
News Releases

Mayor Mike McGinn meets with Village Voice Media to discuss underage sex trafficking
Asks to pull down their ads until they put stronger
safeguards in place

SEATTLE - Mayor Mike McGinn, Councilmember Tim Burgess, and Assistant Chief Jim Pugel of the Seattle Police Department met today with representatives of Village Voice Media, which owns the Seattle Weekly and, to impress upon them the seriousness of underage sex trafficking and the need for them to act now.

"We specifically asked them to pull down all their adult ads until they have safeguards in place against underage trafficking. That should include a model presenting photo ID in person showing that they are of legal age, said Mayor Mike McGinn. "They were not prepared to agree to that request immediately, they indicated that they were taking that request seriously and would respond within 1-2 weeks. We have made our position clear and we expect them to take the actions we requested immediately. They need to clean up their act."

Underage sex trafficking is a serious problem in Seattle. A City of Seattle Human Services Department report published in 2008 estimated there are 300 to 500 children being exploited for commercial sex each year. In the last 12 months, 185 cases of underage sex trafficking were identified in King County. is a well-known accelerant of underage sex trafficking. Since the beginning of 2010, 22 children advertised on were recovered by the Seattle Police Department. No juveniles were discovered on any other sites in that time - that includes ads on craigslist, The Stranger, and other adult sites. The problem is specific to The Aim Group estimated that Backpage made $2.1 million in revenue off of erotic services since January 2011.

# # #

Office of the Mayor
And this, from Seattle Councilman Tim Burgess:
More Facts on the Sexual Exploitation of Seattle Children

I acknowledge, this is not a pretty subject, nor is it one we enjoy talking about.  Many would rather never deal with it.  We certainly don't want to acknowledge that it occurs in our city. But the facts are irrefuteable. 

Some children in Seattle and King County are forced into street and Internet prostitution.  It is an ugly, violent and totally degrading experience for the victims of the predatory men who use and abuse these kids.  And this terrible crime is being facilitated by a company that claims it is only defending the First Amendment: Village Voice Media/

Over the past three years, 18 criminal investigations, all resulting in criminal charges being filed in King County Superior Court, have produced evidence that Village Voice Media/ has been used as a vehicle in the prostitution of  children.  Five of these cases have resulted in trial convictions. Seven resulted in plea convictions.  Six are pending trial.

First, some background.  I’ve been deeply involved in the issue of prostituted children since the beginning of my Council term back in 2008.  We know the facts. (You can read all of my earlier posts on this topic here.)
And because we do know the facts, we are intensely focused on rescuing these kids and protecting them and caring for them.

Our police officers in Seattle have shifted from their traditional approach; now they view these kids as victims, not criminals.  Their effectiveness is evident.  For each of the past three years, we have led the nation in the number of children rescued from prostitution as reported by the FBI. 

Village Voice Media/ may want to debate the scope of the problem, but that’s nothing but a massive distraction.  We know the facts, the reality on the street.  We’re not debating whether it’s a problem or not, we’re working hard to stop it and help these kids.

In fact, 13 months ago, Seattle became just the fourth city in the United States to establish a safe-haven, a residential facility run by YouthCare where these children can receive the care, therapy, education and love they need. 

And the need for all of us to stay engaged and united on this topic continues. Over the past 13 months, YouthCare has engaged with 185 children—some referred to YouthCare by police and other organizations, others identified by YouthCare staff involved in outreach efforts—who acknowledged being commercially sexually exploited through prostitution.  Of this total, 119 enrolled in a YouthCare program and 23 of these reported being prostituted through Village Voice Media/ 

So Village Voice Media/ can try to minimize the problem if they want, but we know the facts.  Mayor McGinn knows the facts.  My Council colleagues know the facts.  The detectives who work in our High Risk Victims Unit know the facts.  I know the facts. City government is united and resolute.  We will act to protect our children and we will speak the truth about those who assist and facilitate harm upon our children. The facts compell this reponse.

Village Voice Media/ knows the facts, too!  

Everyone can see the facts because they are held in the case files in the King County Superior Court.  They are clear and irrefutable. In case after case over the past three years, Dan Satterberg's prosecutors have established that Village Voice Media/ is used to assist and facilitate the commercial sexual exploitation of children. 

It doesn't have to continue. Village Voice Media/ could chose to follow the very simple steps that other publishers follow that would make it almost impossible for this exploitation of children to take place.  Their corporate irresponsibility is harming our community; it’s harming our children.  That’s a fact.

I have headline news feeds on the right hand side of my web page, Seattle Weekly is no longer one of the sites listed. I encourage you to be on the correct side of child exploitation, and not support businesses that choose to minimize and deflect. Newspapers are a reflection of community standards, I am counting on the community to have higher standards.

It's that simple.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 (@grist) replied to one of your Tweets!

I'm good either way.

Begin forwarded message:

From: Twitter
Date: June 29, 2011 9:53:45 AM PDT
To: Communicate.with.Mike
Subject: (@grist) replied to one of your Tweets!


Grist @grist replied to you:

@tweetmrbaker We loved your response so much, we had to put it in our latest post! Check it out:
In reply to…
@grist @michelebachmann #tellgrist It's run for the presidency, or I sell clothing for pets on QVC. I'm good either way.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Seattle Times: High School Sports, Ingraham High School will get extreme makeover treatment — from ESPN

First, the school wins a battle to replace portable classrooms with an actual building, scraggly trees and a crappy neighbor stood in the way.
Second, the school principal was fired! Then unfired!
And now this. . .

Ingraham High School learned Thursday that ESPN will renovate its athletic facilities this summer, and feature that project in a series called "RISE UP" this fall. Think "Extreme Makeover" — school gym edition.
. . .
ESPN, along with its sponsors and local partners, will supply the labor and materials. At Ingraham, plans call for refinishing the gym floor, redoing the old lighting, repairing the bleachers and work in the weight-room and locker-room areas.
High School Sports | Ingraham High School will get extreme makeover treatment — from ESPN | Seattle Times Newspaper


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

McGinn, 1 hour and 23 minutes, never said "tunnel"

Tonight I was at Seattle's Bitter Lake Community Center. It was, more or less, retail politics. The Q & A with the Mayor Mike McGinn was literally and figuratively pedestrian. Northeast Seattle is where the sidewalks end, and open rainwater ditched are more common than sidewalks, and we've noticed.

After 1 hour and 23 minutes of Q & A the mayor was not asked about the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the Tunnel Option, the impending vote on the city council's mechanics of expressing approval, and McGinn did not offer any. It might have helped that media people were not asking the questions, and we are in the "other" Seattle, far, far away from downtown.

At one point I could see how somebody could actually vote for him, but it was a fleeting moment, temporary, like the temporary break from Tunnel talk for much more simple topics, actual needs.

On July 1st the city will start putting a mechanical boot on vehicles that have 4 or more outstanding parking tickets. That is a great idea, unless you live in your car, with your kids, and that is your home. When staffers that leave to work on campaigns against the tunnel i am convinced that their time and your energy could have your efforts better spent on things your are actually responsible for, that you have some direct control over.

No public official can come to northeast Seattle without getting asked about sidewalks.

Mike McGinn keeps getting asked about licenses on bicycles. He says that implementing a licensing scheme would actually cost more than the revenue it would actually collect. I have tried to explain this to my cat, she must have a license, and bicyclists must not. But finally, the mayor quipped that he might consider a bicycle license of some kind just so people would stop asking about it.
Well, meow?

A fleeting moment, I am sure.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What will Dean Carlson do?

There is no good reason that should know the name, Dean Carlson (no offense). But it appears that I have seen Mr. Carlson read bill reports to legislators for the past few years, most of them saying almost the same thing about Lodging taxes and arts funding.

Then, I would see either the Senate spreadsheet of columns in blank and white, or the house spreadsheet with the red and blue arrows showing the endings and beginnings of funds.

At some point there would be a question about rental car tax credits. Folks from Yakima would testify and request inclusion in the bill, since they participate in using the "stadium" tax in Yakima. Yakima got screwed.

On Wednesday, June 15th, the governor is scheduled to sign the Arts funding bill, SB 5834.

What will Dean Carlson do now that he doesn't have the recurring arts bill and stadium funding spreadsheets?
I'm thinking I'm going to see Mr. Carlson, or somebody else from committee Staff, read the new Professional Athlete's Fee bill next session (and hopefully just next session).

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Seattle Times: City tunnel feedback has state bristling

The important part of this story is that it is the state's decision on the state's highway. Who do they choose to partner with, to include in developing the environmental review, or not include, that is up to them.
The comments so alarmed state transportation officials that in April they asked the Federal Highway Administration to dismiss the city as a colead on the project. They also weighed not giving the city a copy of the proposed final environmental-impact statement for fear of getting more comments in the same vein.

Ultimately, the state decided in consultation with the feds that after 10 years of active cooperation, the city should be included in the final review, Hammond said.
City tunnel feedback has state bristling, Seattle Times Newspaper

I am of the opinion that over the 100 year lifespan of the viaduct replacement (any of them) we will need a by-pass of some sort, improvements to our street grid, and more mass transit. The answer, eventually, is "all of the above", Tunnel+I-5 Improvements+Street Grid+Transit.

A million people will move into King County within my lifetime. Most will have to use transit, many will have to use cars, all of then will depend on trucks delivering goods to local markets and to our port. This is a port city, facilitating transportation movement is a requirement for the city, and of overriding interest to the state.

We are getting the state's tunnel, on our terms, or in spite of what we really need?
Flirting with eminent domain with the state is dumb, Mayor Mike McGinn is acting dumb. He should be leveraging this situation to get more transit to mitigate the impending traffic issues, instead he is compounding them, in a lose-lose situation.

At this time the only portion of this we have a commitment from the state to pay for is the Tunnel as a by-pass. Looking at this economy, and transportation revenues, this opportunity to have the state pay this much toward any portion of Seattle's transportation infrastructure is a limited time offer.

The by-pass tunnel is before us now, keep moving it forward.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fwd: Constituent: About the Sonics

You wish you lived in my Legislative District.

Rep. David Frockt replied to my email (below).


Thanks for your note.  We are looking at all options.

My last memorable Sonics game was the clincher in game 5 of the 2005 Western Conference series against the Kings.  My wife and I were there and it was fantastic.  (We don't need to talk about the years after that.)  Sports are a big part of the civic life of a region and I think we need to have NBA basketball back in the Puget Sound.  This was our original team.  Imagine Boston without the Red Sox or Chicago without the Cubs.  I think for many of us, that is what it feels like here without a team.

As was reported, Rep. Mike Hope and I are planning to work with community groups and civic and business leaders to lay the groundwork for a team when one becomes available.   We have had good responses from a number of elected officials  and civic leaders already.  The past is the past, and I think there is a feeling that it is time to renew this effort.

As you know, our state and region are facing major budget and economic pressures.  So we have to be realistic about what is politically possible.  That said, where there is a will there is a way.   Even in this economic climate, other regions are finding ways to build or renovate arenas in ways that are sensitive to taxpayers by leveraging private sector resources . We have to be creative and we are going to need big time support from the private sector - a deep private pocket to make this thing a reality.   

I was really encouraged by the supportive emails on this.   We'll be in touch as things develop.

David Frockt
State Representative, 46th Legislative District Assistant Floor Leader Serving on Judiciary, Education Appropriations, Technology, Energy, and Communications, and Rules Committees
Telephone: 360.786.7886
Toll Free: 800.562.6000
TTY: 800.635.9993
Office: Modular D, Office 104
Subscribe to my E-Newsletter: Click here

-----Original Message-----
From: communicate.with.mike
Sent: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 7:19 PM
To: Frockt, Rep. David
Subject: Constituent: About the Sonics


TO:  Representative David Frockt

FROM: Mr. Michael Baker(Constituent)


Seattle, WA

E-MAIL:  Communicate.with.mike

PHONE:  (206) nnn-nnnn

SUBJECT:  About the Sonics


A friend sent me an email indicating that you and Rep. Hope have an interest in finding a way to return the NBA to Seattle.
I would be interested in what your ideas are on this.
In the end I think we end up with another PFD, or expanding the role of the Convention Center PFD.
One of the few revenue streams other states or municipalities have used is a "jock tax". Rodney Tom sank HB 2912 with a dozen amendments, ironically, one of those amendments would have fully funded a new arena.
I do not see the legislature mustering the votes for a B&O tax, but a "fee" of some kind would be worth considering.
Having Kobe Bryant pay for a new arena is an easier sell than Just about anything I have heard.

Anyway, I've been following this for a few years. Keep me informed.

NOTE:  We are 99% sure that this constituent is in your district

RESPONSE REQUESTED:  Mr. Baker has requested a response to this message.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Green and Gold Community Coalition

This is what is next, a modern multipurpose arena in King County.

The outside sports and entertainment venues are covered. The inside theater infrastructure is covered, but the larger scale sports and entertainment is lacking.
Key Arena ice is too small for NHL hockey, its concourses, seats, retail footprint, all too small. Does that mean Seattle Center is out? No, no location in the Puget sound media market is out. But, anybody that thinks Key Arena is "good enough" should keep in mind that the Seattle Thunderbirds junior hockey team moved to Kent. It's not good enough for junior hockey. It may be fine for other events, but its competitive advantage is that it is the only indoor facility of its size in or near Seattle, that's it.

Faced with direct competition what will Seattle do?
Well, so far they have been fighting it.
That fight is not in harmony with the desires of the primary consumers of the sports and entertainment that occupies such facilities.

Existing taxes and general fund revenues are off the table. The reemergence of the "Jock Tax" may not be the way to get this done, but it will drive the discussion much closer to what the public could support, as well as align with private funding interests.

A popular argument against extending the "stadium taxes" was that if there was something new that somebody wanted to fund then they should make a new effort and let the existing taxes expire as was promised. Another argument was that the citizens are taxed enough already. Another argument was that some of the taxes were being extended to support something that sone said had nothing to do with tourism (affordable housing).
All that points you toward the "Jock Tax" in a hurry. The question becomes: will the opposition to extending the stadium taxes actually support a "Jock Tax" or were those all arguments of convinience?

There are people that will say no, to any tax, to sports, so don't waste your time getting them to say yes, but do understand their reasons for saying no.
There are people that think a billionaire can build it if they want it. True, but I am not a billionaire, I want it, and I do not see a billionaire building an arena. I do see millionaires coming to town to benefit from the infrastructure we have already built.

The question is: who is saying yes?
If there is going to be a meaningful effort to create a "Jock Tax" then you are going to have to get a supermajority of the legislature to vote for it, or find an existing fee on out of state workers that could be amended to include professional athletes, and deposited in an account (how about the Public Facilities District account the the Convention Center has, and designate the funds fir sports facilities infrastructure only).

Any way you slice it, I need to understand how this kind of fee/tax has been presented before, who supported it in the legislature, and why it failed before.