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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Senate Bill 5834 passed the Washington State Legislature, now what?

First off, and straight up, I am very happy for 4Culture. They worked very hard to get this bill passed, thanks for asking for a little advice, I'm glad to give it, but it was all you (as was mentioned by some legislators on the House floor).
Well done.

King County is better because of your good work and we might all benefit.

To the sports fans that appear to be heavy readers of my blog, whatcha gonna do now?
The 2% Hotel/motel tax goes back to the control of King County after Qwest Field is paid off in 2021. 1/4 of the tax revenue is to be used for tourism infrastructure.
(vi) . . . On and after January 1, 2021, the revenues under this section must be used as follows:
(i) At least thirty-seven and one-half percent of the revenues under this section must be deposited in the special account under (e) of this subsection. [that's arts, heritage, 4Culture, etc]
(ii) At least thirty-seven and one-half percent of the revenues under this section must be used for nonprofit organizations or public housing authorities for affordable workforce housing within one-half of a mile of a transit station, as described under RCW 9.91.025 or for services for homeless youth. [just as it says, though I expect King County to use part of this to fund the program that gets teenage prostitutes off the streets]
(iii) The remainder must be used for capital or operating programs that promote tourism and attract tourists to the county. [well, that is 25% of $25 million dollars, and rises with inflation] SB 5834

So, will there be a battle over the 25% (iii) to be the public portion of an arena in Bellevue, Seattle, new or remodel, slow on the uptake Seattle, or overreaching Bellevue.

Sung Yang, you might not remember this, but, when we all had lunch last Fall I mentioned to you that I would support my friends in the arts community.
Dow Constantine might not have gotten what he wanted, but he got something to work with. I trust him to make the most of it.

Lastly, I have had the opportunity to give a few people words of encouragement in reference to these many bills, over the past couple years. All are meaning well, all hoping for anything, well, this is something.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

An Amended Senate Bill SSB 5834 Passes the Senate, on to the House

An Amended Senate Bill SSB 5834 passed the Senate, on to the House.

As it stands, after Seahawks Stadium is paid off in 2021 (or sooner), 1/3 of the money goes to arts and heritage, 1/3 goes to workforce housing and/or to support homeless youth, and 1/3 goes to promoting tourism that attracts people to the county.

In 2021 that revenue is projected to be $25,567,000 (cut it up into 3rds).
To see what the 2% hotel tax looks like going into the future, please check out the spreadsheet used to explain (the now dead) HB 1997 here.
7th column from the right, under the blue HB 1997 bar is a bright red arrow pointing to $25,567,000 in 2021.
Yes, that is a lot of money.
No, there isn't a sunset clause in the bill.

Yes, it still goes to the House for a vote.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


What is more likely: this bill passing, or that the Washington State Legislature is just fucking with me?
There could be a third answer, it will come to me later, when I stop thinking that everything is about me.... Wait, that's it.

Advocates 4Culture are not taking "no" for an answer, so, come on, say "yes".

Ok, this bill (SB 5961) is somehow different than SB 5958 and HB 1997. It still has the no "new stadium" bit in there, but there is something else I can't quite yet put my finger on.

They need one more vote in the Senate.
The bill has not gone through a committee yet, and the Special Session could end Wednesday.

Begin forwarded message:

From: Advocate4Culture
Date: May 21, 2011 4:40:07 PM PDT
To: mike
Reply-To: advocate4culture




There's a new bill for 4Culture, which actually sweetens the deal for the arts. This is a direct outcome of your advocacy. We are being rewarded in this next attempt to pass a coalition bill.


The new bill, SB 5961 is dropping in the Senate today. We all need to send two emails immediately. The special session ends on Wednesday, so this is one of our last chance efforts. Lists and text suggestions below.


1. An email to people who voted yes for SB 5958.


Subject: Thank you and Yes on SB 5961


"Dear Senator,


Thank you for voting yes on SB 5958. I was saddened by its failure, but I noticed and am grateful for your support. Please now vote yes on SB 5961, which will fund 4Culture, saving jobs and growing our economy.


Thank you again."



Copy these email addresses into the BCC field for the above message. These are the nice people that voted yes on SB 5958.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


2. Send this email to Senators who didn't vote yes on SB 5958:


Subject: Vote YES on SB 5961!


"Dear Senator,


As a strong supporter of arts and heritage, I was hurt by the failure of SB 5958. I noticed you were not among the yes voters. With SB 5961, you have another chance to create jobs, grow our economy and keep our region competitive in the new economy. Failure to pass SB 5961 will kill jobs and stunt our area's economic growth.


Please vote yes on SB 5961. Thank you."



And here's the list for the no voters:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,



Okay, here we go folks. This is the next stage in our fight. Nobody said this was going to be easy. We're not giving up, and neither are you. We will get this done together.

Advocate4Culture Coalition



Advocate4Culture logo 





Click here to join the Advocate4Culture Coalition!


Advocate4Culture | 523 Broadway E | #350 | Seattle | WA | 98102

Sports Stadium and Arena Funding, User Pays (and I don't mean the fans)

One year ago there was a King5/SurveyUSA poll that asked, "If an arena could be built for a new NBA team without using any taxpayer dollars, would you support? or oppose? building an arena?".

This past week two lawmakers, Mark Hope (R-Lake Stevens) and David Frockt (D-Seattle), have proposed revisiting a "Jock Tax" this summer, after the legislative session ends.

Lets's look at the survey, then see if the Jock Tax fits in the survey results.

Do you want a professional NBA basketball team in Seattle? Do you want Seattle to NOT have a professional basketball team? Or do you not care one way or the other?

Want team 41 percent

No team 18 percent

Don’t care 42 percent
Pie Chart here
If an arena could be built for a new NBA team without using any taxpayer dollars, would you support? or oppose? building an arena?

Support 72 percent

Oppose 20 percent

Not sure 18 percent
pie chart here
If an NBA team did come to Seattle, how likely would you be to go to a game? Very likely? Somewhat likely? Not very likely? Or not at all likely?

Very likely 19

Somewhat likely 22

Not very likely 26

Not at all likely 31

Not sure 1
pie chart here
How likely would you be to go to a game if an NBA team played in the Bellevue area instead of in Seattle?

Very likely 13 percent

Somewhat likely 16 percent

Not very likely 28 percent

Not at all likely 42 percent

Not sure 1 percent
pie chart here

This poll was reported on in a Publicola story last year.

Here are some assumptions and a few questions worth asking.
There is a group of people that hate sports, all sports questions are answered "NO" (see question 2).
There is a group of people that love sports, all questions are answered "YES".

A supermajority support a free arena (again, question 2). The other questions in the survey center on NBA teams, and see that those answers are less than a supermajority. That may be because not everybody is an NBA fan, I'll call them hockey fans, or free facility fans.

Watching the perpetual struggle of 4Culture, and sports fans, struggle to get control of Tourism Taxes to fund Tourism related infrastructure is frustrating. The majority of Washington State Legislature is less than interested in helping. It will take a major effort for 4Culture to get an existing tax that is not part of the general fund partially dedicated to arts.

Imagine trying to raise a new tax for sports facilities... Looks impossible.
Imagine limiting that tax to tourists (people not living in Washington)... Next to impossible.
Imagine limiting the tax to just millionaires that directly benefit from the existence of the facility... I think we are heading into the "free arena" zone.

I think you could retain the tax advantage of athletes that live here by exempting them from this B&O tax because they pay residency taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes, real estate and property taxes.
I think you could retain the taxes from those that would buy a cheap condo here, but do not qualify for state residency.

I think this is the path of least resistance, in fact, I think there would be a small portion of sports haters that could support the taxing of athletes just because they dislike them that much.

It's worth pursuing.
I think the B&O tax on athletes should be based on a multiple of Poverty.

Numbers change with location and the economy, but lets pick a number for conversation sake. In 2007, a couple with an infant living in Bellevue would need to make (roughly) $31,000 a year to be self sustaining.
What if an out-of-state athlete was charged a B&O tax if they made $620,000 or more a year? Too low?
How about $960,000 a year?
The WNBA TEAM salary cap in 2010 was $775,000. The entire Storm team wouldn't make enough to qualify for that tax. The Seattle Sounders have had one player that could qualify, barely.
The "average" salary in the NBA this season is $5.765 million

Whenever is see arena funding debates revolving around ticket taxes, parking taxes, fan taxes, I like to come back to the NBA average salary and ask, why not them?

I am not seeing a private arena being built, that looks just as impossible. Residents are not paying for this.
Figure it out.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I see no good reason to not have Kobe Bryant pay for the building of a new Sonics arena.

Washington State Representative Mark Hope (R-Lake Stevens) and David Frockt (D-Seattle) are hoping to form a Task Force this summer to develop a plan for funding sports arenas and stadiums.

“I think it’s an economic issue,” said Rep. Mike Hope, R- Lake Stevens. He believes the state should be involved in building an arena to lure a franchise back. He also believes it can be done without using Washington taxpayer money.
That’s why he and State Rep. David Frockt, D-Seattle plan to lead a task force this summer to come up with a solution.
“It’s time to revisit the issue,” said Frockt, who also acknowledges there is “no appetite for a public subsidy." Frockt believes the state needs to look at all the financing options on the table.
Hope suggests the state pursue a “Jock Tax” on visiting athletes to partially pay for a new NBA-ready building. It’s a type of tax already in place in several states.
“Right now, you have the Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks going to California to play games, going to Cleveland, Ohio to play games and Cleveland is getting money from our players,” said Hope.
Chris Daniels, Could 'Jock Tax' help bring Sonics back?, KING5 News

This really isn't a new idea, the last time this idea appeared was last year when it was included in a dozen amendments Washington State Senator Rodney Tom sandbagged House Bill HB 2912 with (David Frocht, I sent a link to this amendment to you a few days ago).
2912-S.E2 AMS TOM CARL 101

2ESHB 2912 - S AMD TO  S AMD (S-5336.1) 316
By Senator Tom
    On page 13, after line 28, insert the following:
"NEW SECTION. Sec. 1.  A new section is added to chapter 82.04 RCW to read as follows:
    (1) A rate of tax under this chapter equal to ten percent is imposed on the gross income of a professional athlete derived from Washington sources.
    (2) "Professional athlete" means:
    (a) a resident or nonresident athlete who renders labor or services to a professional athletic team that plays ina sports facility financed with ten percent or more public funds; and
    (b) A resident or nonresident athlete who has a gross annual income that is ten times the first-year base salary of a public school teacher in Washington state."
    Renumber the sections consecutively and correct any internal references accordingly.
2ESHB 2912 - S AMD TO  S AMD (S-5336.1) 316
By Senator Tom
    In the title after "36.100.020;" insert "and adding a new section;"
           EFFECT: Applies a 10% B&O tax on professional athletes.
HB 2912, Amendment 316

10% looks a little high, and it is until you consider that Seahawks, Sounders, and Mariners pay California State Income Tax on the wages earned during that game, when they play there. Most of those athletes are in the 11% tax bracket. Still, the point isn't to tax professional athletes just for the fun of it, it's purpose is to fund sports facilities.

A story written in the LA Times back in 2009 does an excellent job of describing the situation, application, and examples.
If opening day is the best day of the year for professional athletes, then April 15 -- tax day -- is probably the worst. Especially now that 20 of the 24 states with franchises in at least one of the four major pro leagues -- the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball -- have laws that require visiting athletes to pay state income tax for each game they play there.

Considering that top-level athletes in football, basketball, hockey and baseball now make an annual average salary of $2.9 million, that means big bucks for states such as California. Home to 15 major professional teams, the state raked in $102 million in taxes from visiting athletes in 2006-07, the last year for which records are available.
. . .
Athletes are taxed based on "duty days" they spend in each state. In baseball, there are approximately 181 "duty days," meaning a player earning $1.81 million would make $10,000 each duty day. Therefore, if that player's team had three games in California, he would be responsible for taxes on $30,000 of income.
. . .
At that point, all the tax collectors have left is a math problem to figure out that Ichiro Suzuki, the highest-paid baseball player in Washington, a tax-free state, will have to pay more than $218,000 in California taxes for the 25 games the Mariners will play there this summer.[2009]
. . .
The advent of the jock tax is commonly traced to the 1991 NBA Finals in which the Chicago Bulls beat the Lakers, then received tax bills from California for the three games played in Los Angeles. However, nonresident tax laws have been on the books in the state since the 1950s. . . .
When the Seahawks played the Steelers in the title game three years ago in Detroit, Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck reportedly had to pay about $10,000 in taxes to Michigan, a state with which he has no ties. If that game had been played in Florida, as two of the last three Super Bowls were, he could have kept the money.

The taxing life of a pro athlete: It's one of life's certainties: Athletes have to pay for income earned on the road., Kevin Baxter, LA Times (2009)
Please, read the entire story.

Understand this, our professional athletes are paying taxes in other states. As I write this, the Seattle Mariners are just about to start playing a game against the San Diego Padres, in California, and pay income tax. When the A's, Padres, Angels play in Seattle they do not pay an income tax, B&O tax.

I see no good reason to not have Kobe Bryant pay for the building of a new Sonics arena.

The only question I have is how much?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

SB 5958, King County bill for Arts and Convention Center funding Fails in Senate, 24 to 22

Failed. The people of Yakima County can thank Republican Senator Curtis King for the loss of tax revenue for your fairgrounds.
The people of King County can thank The Demicrats that voted with the Republicans for the loss of tax revenue for your convention center, Kastima, Sheldon (Roll Call).

SB 5834 is still on the Senate Floor Calendar. That bill does not have "stadium" taxes in it. That bill passed the Senate once already, during the Regular Session.

I think Senate will pass SB 5834 again.
It should be clear to the House that if SB 5958 failed then it is essentially pointless to pass HB 1997 again. Those two bills are darn near the same, the Senate bill being slightly more conservative.

If the House has any desire to pass anything they probably should minimize over prescribing the uses of the Hotel tax, and maybe just pass the bill as is.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SB 5958 Passed out of the Senate Committee: Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Elections

Well done, on to the Senate Rules Committee.

Today at 1:30, it went on for about an hour, facts, stories, business and arts, former legislators testifying in favor (giving Republicans a good name), opponents not wanting to carry the tax, a young Republican cutting off his nose to spite his face, Chris Van Dyke returning to the scene of the crime, and lastly... those poor folks from Spokane that somehow are left off of the initial bill almost every time (giving good names to grandpas).

Public Hearing:  SB 5958 - Providing local government funding of tourism promotion, workforce housing, art and heritage programs, and community development.

After testimony the committee took a breath, and declared themselves to be in Executive Session, where the bill was put before the committee, seconded, voice voted unanimously in the affirmative.
Executive:  SB 5958 - Providing local government funding of tourism promotion, workforce housing, art and heritage programs, and community development.

Then there was applause, and a deadpan reminder from the committee chairman, Senator Pridemore, that there are to be no demonstrations in the committee room.

Always go big, 4Culture, always.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Another King County arts bill, SB 5958

[self-editor's note, I'm recycling a prior post, get over it]
The Special Session rewound the clock. Here are a couple bills I am watching.

The first bill is the the Hotel Tax (only) version of the Arts bill, SSB 5834.
The reality is that the hotel tax keeps going with or without this legislation. What this bill does do is allow 4Culture to bridge its operating budget by spending down part of its endowment until Qwest (yes, I still call it Qwest) Stadium is paid off in 2021, then 4Culture gets a slice of the revenue after that. King County controls the rest of the revenue, for tourism investments.

What I like about this bill is its brevity. This bill gives King County some discretion (within existing state law) to make tourism investments around King County. I'm not sure why legislators from around the state think they know the best uses for these taxes starting a DECADE from now, and feel compelled to prescribe how every penny is spent, forever.
If a bill does not pass, then the revenue keeps going and control shift to the cities first, then the county. The revenue would get splintered, and 4Culture would pretty much die.

The second bill is a King County stimulus bill, SB 5958 (another version of HB 1997, HB 2912, etc). It is the dressed up as the arts bill, the Convention Center bill, what it is at its most basic element is a stimulus bill.
This bill extends the Food and Beverage tax to 2015, and that money accelerates the start of the Washington State Convention Center's expansion. The bill also provides funding for workforce housing in and around transit centers (the convention center expands over the Metro Transit property).

I would rather have SB give up $100,000 to the state affordable housing fund, and $100,000 to the state arts and heritage fund, both drawn from the state tax credit on the car rental tax.

I would prefer that SB 5958 were simplified so that over the next decade King County had the flexibility to determine for itself what tourism related infrastructure investments to make, and not have their hands tied by some state representative from some other part of the state that really doesn't care what happens in King County.

SB 5958 has a hearing on May 17, 2011, Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Government Operations and Tribal Relations & Elections at 1:30 PM. (Subject to change)

Advocates4Culture will be there to testify.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

RSA - Language as a Window into Human Nature

While waiting for something or nothing to happen watch this video.

This was well done. Some key concepts in communication theory are explained, as well as a textbook quality explanation of what a "speech-act" is.

The speech-act is at the heart of most comedy.


RSA - Language as a Window into Human Nature