Saturday, February 25, 2012

Vote: Are pro sports good for the economy? Jon Talton, The Seattle Times

The online poll as of 2/25/2012

This message was sent to you by [me], as a service of The Seattle Times


Vote: Are pro sports good for the economy? | Jon Talton

There are really good stadium and arena deals, as when the Carolina Panthers pretty much paid for their stadium in downtown Charlotte. And really bad ones, as when the Arizona Cardinals took a taxpayer-funded stadium and put it in the middle of nowhere to help their land speculation plans. Seattle's proposed arena looks somewhere in-between, more on the good side, but the details will still emerge. Having an arena near the other stadiums is also good, leveraging transit and other infrastructure, as opposed to disrupting neighborhoods or sticking it in the exurbs with all the environmental costs associated. Then there's finding teams. I'm not sure the economics can support both the NBA and NHL, but this is a basketball-crazy town (let the anti-Howie comments begin) that misses its Sonics.
Vote: Are pro sports good for the economy? Jon Talton, The Seattle Times

Seattle arena review panel to start up next Wednesday - Puget Sound Business Journal

There will be 3 public meetings from 5 to 7:30 in the evening, over the next 3 weeks (see below).
The committee has a pretty tight scheduled, attempting to hit a March 16th date. That's not firm, but a goal.

The panel tasked with reviewing a proposal for a $500 million sports arena in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood will hold three open meetings in the next three weeks.

The meetings will be open to the public, and will include time for public comment, said Jan Drago, one of the three co-chairs on the 10-member panel, which was appointed by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine

The meetings will take place Feb. 29, March 7 and March 12. The first and third will take place in the Bertha Knight Landes room at City Hall in Seattle. The location of the second meeting has yet to be determined, said Drago, but will likely be somewhere else in King County. All three will run from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The panel has set a tentative deadline of March 16 to determine whether the arena proposal, led by California hedge-fund manager Christopher Hansen, is sound. That would allow Hansen to make an official offer at the National Basketball Association owners meeting in April to attempt to purchase an NBA franchise to play in the new arena.

Seattle arena review panel to start up next Wednesday - Puget Sound Business Journal

Follow The Puget Sound Business Journal's coverage of Continuing coverage: Seattle's bid to get an NBA team back here.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

State of the City, 2/21/2012, 2:00 PM

A message to you from Mr. Baker:
This is open to the public, the Green and Gold wearing public, too.
State of the City  Click to add this event to your calendar
Date Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Time 2:00 pm PST
Where City Hall
Council Chambers
600 4th Ave
Seattle, WA 98104
Mayor's Office Staff Involved Mayor
Mayor's Office event type Community event
Mayor's Office event sponsor City, Mayor's Office
Event Contact Position/Department 684 4000
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fwd: [MAYORMCGINN] The Reader - New, self-funded arena proposed

Here ya go.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Begin forwarded message:

From: Office of the Mayor <mike.mcginn@SEATTLE.GOV>
Date: February 16, 2012 4:13:10 PM PST
Subject: [MAYORMCGINN] The Reader - New, self-funded arena proposed
Reply-To: mike.mcginn@SEATTLE.GOV

From the Office of Mayor Mike McGinn
News, Updates, and Information


New, self-funded arena proposed for Stadium District
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine today announced that a private investor, Christopher Hansen, has sent a proposal to the City and County to construct a new arena in Seattle's Stadium District with the ability to host an NBA and NHL team. Together, the Executive and Mayor also appointed an Arena Advisory Panel of community leaders and finance experts to evaluate Mr. Hansen's proposal.

Mayor McGinn and Executive Constantine said that any agreement eventually reached by the City, County and the private investor must adhere to the following principles:
• A new arena must be self-funding, and not rely on new taxes;
• Existing City and County funds and services would not be adversely impacted;
• Private investors would bear risk against revenue shortfalls;
• Any project cost overruns will be the responsibility of private investors;
• Private funding should be provided for a study of ways that Key Arena can be modified to keep it a financially successful part of Seattle Center.

"This is great news for Seattle," said McGinn. "On first look, we have an exciting proposal that, if successful, would mean hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment in our city – an investment that means even more during our city's fragile economic recovery. And I think that the work by City and County staff, combined with outside expertise on arena financing, have resulted in a proposal that protects our city general fund from any negative impacts and protects the city into the future, should there be any revenue shortfalls. And more work needs to be done. I look forward to the Review Panel's report to our respective legislative bodies as they bring their financial experience and expertise to bear on this proposal."

You can read more about the proposal on the mayor's blog, including Mr. Hansen's letter and information about the Arena Advisory Panel.

State of the City speech
Mayor McGinn will deliver his annual "State of the City" speech on Tuesday, February 21:

2:00 p.m. City Council Chambers, Seattle City Hall Second Floor, 600 Fourth Avenue
Overflow seating will be available in the Bertha Knight Landes Room on the First Floor

You can watch the speech live at or taped at, courtesy of the Seattle Channel.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Seattle Times: Seattle sports-arena talks well under way, documents show

No new taxes, nothing from the general fund, city waiting on final offer, maybe the Kings drive the process along.

Funny thing about newspapers, the old media, they have old media rights to request public information from public officials.

If Sacramento fails, the Kings could be playing in Seattle next fall if the city and Hansen reach an agreement, according to a Seattle City Hall source who has been briefed on the matter.
Seattle Times: Seattle sports-arena talks well under way, documents show

Game on!

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Steven Colbert: The Supreme Court's Jestor

The US Congress, US Presidents, Supreme Court of the United States, all have taken the citizens down a a hall of funhouse mirrors. Laws, decisions, the distorted reflections of power and privilege have produce an artificial life where the unborn are persons that are like natural citizens only in an unnatural world.

The bubble of of power, impervious to the common sense of the ordinary citizen, has been burst by the sharpe tongue of Steven Colbert: The Supreme Court's Jestor.

Slate's Dahlia Lithwick this week wrote a concise summary of the emergence of Steven Colbert as the satirist as public servant.
The Supreme Court has always had its critics.  Chief Justice John Marshall had to contend with the temper of President Andrew Jackson (“John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!”). And Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes went toe-to-toe with FDR, who wouldn’t let up with the court-packing. But in the history of the Supreme Court, nothing has ever prepared the justices for the public opinion wrecking ball that is Stephen Colbert. The comedian/presidential candidate/super PAC founder has probably done more to undermine public confidence in the court’s 2010 Citizens United opinion than anyone, including the dissenters. In this contest, the high court is supremely outmatched.
. . .
As Kennedy observed, “Speakers have become adept at presenting citizens with sound bites, talking points, and scripted messages that dominate the 24-hour news cycle. Corporations, like individuals, do not have monolithic views.”
Slate, Stephen Colbert is winning the war against the Supreme Court and Citizens United.
It is this last part, the belief (judges issue opinions, therefore it is a belief) that leads otherwise intelligent people to form and issue absurd decisions.
The Supreme Court of the United States has taken the people down a path where people make laws, people make laws that create corporations, corporations are controlled by people, corporations are people with the same Rights in the US Constitution as people.
Somehow people became supreme creators of life through an unfortunate circular turn in logic, a bubble.

For whatever reason, the thoughtful critical opinions from serious observers of government policy no longer have the same impact that they once may have had. It has taken a comedian, a satirist, acting out the full ramifications of the court's decision to draw the attention of the people to the actions of its government.

Here, for your edification, is the serious critique by Thomas Mann, of the Brookings Institute, from two years ago:
The 5-4 conservative majority decision in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission that struck many decades of law and precedent will likely go down in history as one of the Supreme Court's most egregious exercises of judicial activism.
In spite of its imperative to rule on "cases and controversies" brought to the Court, to defer to the legitimate lawmaking authority of the Congress and other democratically elected legislatures, and to not allow simple disagreement with past judicial decisions to overrule precedent (stare decisis), the Roberts Court ruled unconstitutional the ban on corporate treasury funding of independent political campaigns.

The Court reached to make new constitutional law by ordering a re-argument of a minor case that itself raised no direct challenge to the laws and precedents that it ultimately overruled; dismissed the legitimacy of laws enacted over a century by Congress and state legislatures; equated the free speech protections of individuals and corporations in spite of countless laws and precedents that insisted on meaningful differences; and provided not a shred of evidence of new conditions or harmful effects that justified imposing their own ideological preferences on a body of settled law and social tradition.

The decision makes a mockery of Chief Justice Roberts' pious statements during his confirmation hearing that he embraced judicial modesty and constitutional avoidance. His concurring decision to respond to his critics was defensive and lame.

Justice Stevens' caustic dissent eviscerating the majority opinion penned by Justice Kennedy and the Roberts' concurrence will likely be featured in legal journals and classes for decades to come.

To be sure, Citizens United is not the first sign that the Roberts Court is dead set on deregulating campaign finance. Previous decisions have pointed in this direction and more are certain to follow.

How as a consequence are campaign finance practices likely to change? And what options exist for those who seek to limit or counter the anticipated fallout?

An immediate flood of corporate spending in federal and state campaigns is possible but uncertain.

CEOs of some major corporations are wary of entering the political thicket in so transparent a fashion for fear of alienating customers and shareholders. Legal means already existed prior to this decision (PACs, communications within the corporate family, issue ads, contributions to trade associations such as the Chamber of Commerce) to play a significant role in elections.

Privately controlled companies led by individuals with strong ideological and partisan motivations are most likely to take advantage of the new legal environment but they could already act without restraint as individuals. Perhaps the greatest impact will flow from the threat of corporate independent spending campaigns for or against officeholders whose position on issue's before federal and state governments is important to their corporate interests. This could corrupt the policy process without any dollars actually being spent. It will be some time before we are able to gauge the real impact of Citizens United.

In the meantime, Congress and legislatures in states with corporate prohibitions on their books will search for means of limiting or countering the ruling. Measures being considered are bans on political spending by corporations that have foreign ownership, government contracts or registered lobbyists or ones that have received federal bailout funds, strengthened disclosure, and requirements for shareholder approval of corporate political spending.

Most of these steps might be difficult to enact and even tougher to defend before post-Citizens United courts.

Over the longer haul, a more promising strategy is to fashion policy to encourage the proliferation of small donors to balance the political spending by corporations. In addition, politicians and citizen groups can speak and organize in a way that increases the costs to corporations who might otherwise avail themselves of this new opportunity. Large institutional and individual investors offended by the prospect of corporate treasuries being raided for political campaigns at the direction of top management might be persuaded to lead shareholder campaigns against such activities.

A radical conservative Supreme Court majority cavalierly decided to redress an alleged shortage of corporate political speech in American democracy. If, as I suspect, most Americans are bewildered and dismayed by that decision, their best recourse is to use their numbers and organizing energies to ensure that individual speech is not drowned by the trillions of dollars of corporate assets.

Thomas Mann, Brookings Institute, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission is an Egregious Exercise of Judicial Activism, January 26, 2010

Mann makes the same points as Colbert, but nobody is laughing, because it really isn't funny.

Corporations are not people, and people need to defend themselves.
Today's weather in Seattle: no rain, dry, sunny, looks like 70 degrees (f), feels like 50 degrees (f), little to no wind.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Seattle Times: Could a 3-cent city gas tax be in your future?

Localized gas tax, I'm all for it.

Washington cities and counties would gain the power to charge their own gasoline taxes, and increase car-tab collections, under a bill that goes to a Senate Transportation Committee hearing Thursday.
Senate Bill 4306 {sic SB 6582} would amend existing law to allow cities to enact a local gas tax of one, two or three cents per gallon, as described in Section 4 of the bill published Wednesday.
Could a 3-cent city gas tax be in your future?
Posted by Mike Lindblom

SB 6582

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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