Saturday, January 28, 2012

HB 2612 Enacting the Washington voting rights act of 2012

Do we really have to go to court to get rid of at large city councils?
I don't think so.

By definition, “at-large” elections are those in which public officials are elected to represent the entire city, county or state rather than a particular district.
“At-large elections systematically discriminate against minority populations,” said Matt Loretta, a political science professer from the University of Washington testifying on Thursday before the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee, “although that does not imply anything about the residents of that district. It does not suggest anyone is a racist.”
Backers of the bill cited the case of Yakima, whose population is 45 percent Latino but whose city council has never elected a Latino member, as evidence of racially polarized voting.
“The members of the Latino community may vote disproportionately for a Latino candidate, but their votes are not enough to overcome those of the city as a whole,” Loretta said. “Consequently, a substantial percentage of the population finds itself politically under-represented.”
According to the bill, following such an election members of the community could file a lawsuit against the city or county and demand to have districts redrawn to more accurately reflect the minority population and/or require representatives to be elected by district rather than at large.
In some cases, the outcome could even be overturned and a new election ordered as soon as feasible.
Rep. Jason Overstreet (R-Blaine), said he was confused by the bill’s assumptions.
“What are you inferring,” he asked. “People get to vote. People get to attend forums and learn about the candidates. Are you saying every election (in which a minority candidate loses) is racially motivated?”
“It doesn’t matter what their motivations are,” Loretta said. “They vote in racially polarized ways whether they’re racists or not. That’s why Latinos and other minorities are under-represented in the process.”, Bill would allow minority groups to contest elections in court

The following message was sent to Representative Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney (D), Representative Gerry Pollet (D) and Senator David Frockt (D) of the 46th district.
TO:   Representative Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney
CC:   Representative Gerry Pollet
Senator David Frockt
FROM:   Mr. Michael Baker
STREET ADDRESS:   xxxx N xxxxx St
  Seattle, WA 98133
PHONE:   (206) nnn - nnnn
BILL:   2612 (For)
SUBJECT:   I support this, wish it applied to Seattle
MESSAGE:   I appreciate the intent and potential result of the proposed legislation, and hope it passes.

It is unfortunate that there isn't a more simple way to break up the power concentration of at large elections based on population, similar to the way the federal, state, and county districts are formed. You don't have to be an ethnic minority to be underrepresented.
I would be thrilled to have the Seattle 10 mayor system broken up.
Would limiting the population a city could have before it would be required to break into districts accomplish the same result without going through the costly exercise of going to court?
The state legislature goes through redistricting every 10 years, I'm not sure why the state's most populous cities could not do the same. They already participate in this process to some degree.
A simple example would be requiring that cities have populations greater than 5% of a congressional district (or pick some other number) break councils into and odd number of districts, evenly distributing the population as "practicable". Allow for a mix of district and at large positions, but the at large positions can not exceed the number of district positions.
A population based solution might also resolve some resistance from other legislators.
RESPONSE:   Mr. Baker has requested a response to this message.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

From POLITICO - GOP makes Obama look good

These debates are making the Obama staffers in Chicago so giddy that after each one they are tearing off their clothes, running through Millennium Park and howling at the moon.

Title: GOP makes Obama look good

Link: <>

If you have an iPhone, iPad, Android phone, or Android tablet and don't have the native POLITICO app for your mobile device, you can get it for FREE here:

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Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Seattle Times: Council irked that McGinn didn't reveal hiring of arena consultant

Well, they going to have to start engaging the public sometime, even if forced to by the Seattle Times.
Seattle City Council members said Friday they are troubled that Mayor Mike McGinn would hire a consultant to advise the city on the development of a new, state-of-the-art sports facility that could draw an NBA team back to Seattle — without conferring with them.

"I understand vague rumors are one thing. But if they [the Mayor's Office] felt this was important enough to enter into a contract, I think it would have been appropriate to notify the council at that point," said Councilmember Richard Conlin.
. . .
McGinn agreed to a $19,500-per-month contract in July with a nationally prominent sports-facilities consultant, Carl Hirsh.
. . .
"I understand the challenges of KeyArena and the economics of the NBA and NHL," Hirsh said Friday.

Hirsh, managing partner of Stafford Sports in New Jersey, has advised the San Antonio Spurs through construction of their new arena, the AT&T Center. He worked with the city of Orlando to negotiate an agreement with the Orlando Magic for a new downtown arena and with senior management planning a new Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Hirsh estimated it would cost $400 million to build a new arena, although the NBA's New Jersey Nets will spend $800 million on one in Brooklyn. A large portion of that was the cost of land, Hirsh said.

He said an arena could be built on as little as 7 to 8 acres, which is about the size of the parcel the Hansen investment group has shown an interest in acquiring. A limited liability corporation headed by Hansen recently purchased 3 acres on the east side of Occidental Avenue South between South Massachusetts and South Holgate streets.

Hirsh pointed to San Antonio as an example of a small-market city making a new arena pencil out financially. The AT&T Center is home to three teams — the Spurs, the WNBA's Silver Stars and the American Hockey League's Rampage. It also hosts a three-week rodeo as well as concerts and events.

The building was a partnership between the city and the Spurs, with San Antonio voters approving a visitor's tax on hotels, motels and rental cars to finance three-fourths of the costs and the team contributing the rest, said Rick Pych, president of business operations for San Antonio Spurs Sports.

Hirsh said many pieces remain to be put together to make a new arena work in Seattle. And he reiterated what the mayor and council members have said, that there is no firm proposal. But he said the developer is very motivated..

"Do I think it will be easy? No. Do I think we can put together a deal? Yes."
Local News | Council irked that McGinn didn't reveal hiring of arena consultant | Seattle Times Newspaper

If you go to the linked story and look at the contract with the consultant, page 12 you can see what he was hired to do for the city.

In a rare turn of events I will praise the mayor; he did the right thing, the right way.
He kept the situation close to him, worked to understand what is possible, framed his response in I-91 terms (which are almost meaningless since what is being proposed would more than satisfy that), and hired a real pro.

Had he gone to the council before doing any and all of that then this story would have been sandbagged by the sports haters.
I have thought that this would be his eventual downfall politically, but maybe not, hard to say now. His base of support involves some people that ride bikes and hate pro sports, and some that ride bikes and make movies about the loss of the Sonics, (and a f-ing great moving about biking through China). Does he keep the anti pro sports folks, does he then pick up the downtown business association because of this?
Very strange, I think it becomes a big positive for him but I don’t think it helps enough at the ballot box.

Good for him, good for

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Seattle Times: Higher fees to play sports leaves kids on sidelines

Multi-millionaire athletes enter our state to play games and make money without contributing to the extra-curricular sports activities those entertainment industries rely on to perpetuate their business model.

This state could, in accordance with the state constitution, institute a 1% income tax on professional athletes. They could then use that money to fund these sports programs instead of school districts, funding armature and professional sports facilities, instead of middle class tax payers.
Close that loop around sports and let it sink or swim based on its own ability to self-sustain.

Local News | Higher fees to play sports leaves kids on sidelines | Seattle Times Newspaper

This is not some "plan" to build an arena. This is just me expressing my broad policy position.