Monday, May 29, 2017

Memo: Sunday, May 29, 2017, taking advantage of a 3 day weekend at the Seattle Times

Yesterday, the day Geoff Baker discovered a horribly inaccurate estimate he accused the council of "hiding" ( Sorry he can't say sorry, zealots were involved.

Prize winning Journalist Geoff Baker reports that the $285 million cost estimate from the AECOM's 2015 report, "Identification and Evaluation of Options for the Future of KeyArena", was crap [summarizing] (

Here's the punchline to today's episode.

AEG, current operator of KeyArena, has a strategic partnership with [spoiler alert] AECOM.

Who? Hmmm, you might recall their name showing up in the Seattle Times editorials and the professional journalistic stylings of Geoff Baker, here (

On design elements, the SP group proposes "stretching" the roof over KeyArena's south end and filling in the additional space with more seating. While innovative, the design has raised questions about whether altering the roof would pass muster with historical preservationists.

In "stretching" the roof, the SP group's center-court scoreboard also could not hang down from KeyArena's mid-ceiling peak. The notion of an off-center scoreboard has raised questions about interior aesthetics the SP group has been asked by the city to address.

SP initially had Rossetti Architects design a renovation AEG president Bob Newman said in January would be "probably a fraction of the cost of what a new project would cost" and within range of the $285 million projection from the city's 2015 AECOM report.

But soon after, Leiweke began hinting to reporters and others that OVG envisioned a half-billion-dollar proposal. Around that time, SP brought in the Gensler architectural firm and within weeks revised its plan into the bigger $521 million "stretched" roof design.

Whether the city thinks that revised pitch was too hastily planned remains to be seen. We'll know when a winner gets picked.

That's Geoff Baker and the Seattle Times shifting the source of communication of the horrifically inaccurate remodel $285 million cost estimate off their names and onto Bob Newman and AECOM. A three-day holiday weekend is as good a time as any for this.

AECOM quietly shows up in the camouflage of names, AEG, Seattle Partners, AECOM as a cost estimator. Can we really trust any of the cost estimates in the 2015 AECOM report or the Seattle Partners KeyArena remodel estimates? 

I recognize estimates are by definition wrong, but a 98% error one way and KeyArena estimates shifts from $285 million to $521 million. Is Scenario C in the report $143 million or is it $285 million or is it wrong the other way, $75 million, which is much closer to the $20 million cost mentioned in the 2006 report?

Seattle City Council should issue a Request For Proposals in reference to the 2015 AECOM report, Identification and Evaluation of Options for the Future of KeyArena, Scenario C, in particular, costs and public/private cost estimates.


Sunday, May 29, 2017 the 30th story written by Geoff Baker that mentions the AECOM report since way back on October 25th, 2015. Not counting the last one where he finally explicitly rejects the $285 million dollar number and throws Bob Newman under the bus, he wrote 29 stories. He wrote (19 months) / 29 (stories) = 1 story every 2.8487692 weeks (or every 19.9413844 days). It just looks like Geoff Baker made a living writing AECOM in arena stories. I'm sure he did other things at the Seattle Times, too.

Here is the link to the Seattle Times search for AECOM by author Geoff Baker.

Note: No relation.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Yes, KeyArenas Roofline is historic and iconic.

[this was my email, I cc it here]
Landmarks Preservation Board Members,
For the Seattle Center site, I prefer to have the Paul Thiry buildings identified as landmarks, including KeyArena. They express our architectural ideas to the world. Please, recommend preservation and if possible, recommend that remodeling incorporate some of the original architectural design elements.
Developers should at least attempt to keep the inside of that arena from being the arena equivalent of a strip mall by alienating exterior historical design elements.

Going forward, if a new arena is selected for construction in SoDo then part of the one time and/or incremental tax revenue must be used to bring the seating scale of KeyArena brought down to the original Seattle Coliseum size, 13,000, with as much of the original designer's  intent. It would be a unique size to this area.

In the 2015 AECOM report, Identification and Evaluation of Options for the Future of KeyArena, Scenario C (, as a guide for scaling KeyArena down closer to its original size. This size was within the range recommended by Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams's to city council on 9/13/2012 ( , => 28 min, 15 sec) to scale down to a capacity range between 5,000 up to 15,000 for KeyArena in the event that a sports arena were built elsewhere in the region.

Please consider, the city council could choose to remodel KeyArena into a modern version of its modern self, a split 11878 seat / 2905 seat with no competition for the 11878 seat theater, serving everyone that can get there without a car.

Legislation and an active MOU already directs a portion of the $200 million in public financing (2012 clerk file toward mitigating impacts a new arena would have on KeyArena. The SoDo arena proposer is now declining much of that tax revenue. The city should extend a portion of the MOU legislation if they choose to approve vacating a portion of Occidental. Do not lose this potential revenue stream for remodeling KeyArena.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker
Seattle, Wa

Friday, May 26, 2017

Sometimes I'm disappointed that Twitter doesn't know me better.

It is baffling.

Zealots Badmouth KeyArena Remodel Proposals

Noted "KeyArena or Bust" proponents, the Seattle Times Editorial Board, pounced on proposals to remodel KeyArena that were released a month ago. The board marched through a list of shortcomings they see in the two competing proposals. The board is imploring the city to negotiate an agreement with at least one proposer that is not worse financially than exists for KeyArena today.
The list was punctuated by several major issues, here are just three:

Murray initially said arena developers must provide "100 percent" of the project funding. The request for proposals said the facility must be built and operated "with minimal city financial participation."
Yet the developers both call for substantial public funds, including financing and diversion of revenue streams such as ticket taxes and naming rights. AEG proposed $250 million of city financing and Oak View included Port of Seattle financing.
Some public investment is reasonable in such a project.
But Murray and the City Council must clearly explain what current and potential city revenue is being contributed. Independent experts may be needed to analyze the cost and benefits.
Protecting taxpayers
The arena lately generated more than $1 million in yearly profit. A city that pleads poverty, saying it can’t afford parks and libraries without levies, must not easily give up such revenue. The deal should provide at least as much direct revenue, not just theoretical economic benefits.

Rent and other proceeds must escalate with inflation. The city should not lease its premier facility for nearly a century at a fixed rate.
The success of the arena and center depends on visitors from around the region. Transit, bicycling and walking are not options for the majority of them.
AEG and Oak View coddle City Hall fantasies of a nonmotorized utopia, waxing on about bikes, sustainability and ride-sharing. But they also explicitly say that most patrons will continue driving, even after mass transit expands.
Hansen offered around $20 million to address traffic in Sodo. The city should receive at least that much from the arena developer.
Substantial new parking is needed since nearby surface lots are mostly developed.
Both proposals lean on the Monorail to address traffic concerns. Increasing Monorail usage is a nice goal but an unrealistic solution to the large-scale congestion arena events create.
The city has a tremendous opportunity to partner with a reputable operator and lure the NBA and NHL to Seattle.
This must be done right — carefully and realistically — to build lasting support across the city and region, and ensure the venue succeeds for everyone.
Negotiate wisely for best possible KeyArena redo - Seattle Times
But the 2015 AECOM report… they approached us… they hid the report!
There was more to the editorial but I didn't think it was important, besides, I'm not here to make zealots happy.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

State Representative Jessyn Farrell Is Running for Mayor of Seattle

PIMO Jessyn Farrell might be the one.
She will have to provide a reason for me no not endorse/support/vote for her (which is entirely possible), or somebody even better would have to declare their candidacy by 5/19/2017.

"Every candidate is going to talk about being progressive," Farrell said. "I'm the progressive candidate who actually has a track record."

State Representative Jessyn Farrell Is Running for Mayor - Slog - The Stranger
I may have spoke too soon. Signing on to oppose the SODO arena project is a disadvantage that can't be overcome.

Cary Moon will run for Mayor of Seattle without me

When your claim to fame is advocating for a state highway alternative to what the state was offering, an opinion that is not a primary option in a practical sense in Olympia, I just have to so "no".

At least Mike McGinn has something more to run on than that dumpster fire.

…Cary was the Co-Founder and Director of the People's Waterfront Coalition, which led the advocacy effort for a highway-free waterfront, and transit-based urban transportation solution, to replace the Seattle Viaduct.

No, thank you.

Jenny Durkan is running for Mayor of Seattle, next!

Jenny Durkan will not my support. I simply do not trust Sally Bagshaw, and Christine Gregoire, and Tom Rasmussen, by their endorsement, Durkan.

There are 15 people running for mayor, as of now, one of the other 14 will be a choice for me.

From The Stranger:

Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw, an ally of Mayor Ed Murray (most of the time), stood alongside former Council Member Tom Rasmussen, King County Council Member Joe McDermott, and former King County Executive Ron Sims to endorse Durkan today. In an interview, Bagshaw said she believes Durkan will be able to bring together people "of diverse opinions." Durkan has no direct experience on housing or homelessness. When I asked Bagshaw, who chairs the council's human services committee, what gives her faith that Durkan can address those issues, Bagshaw said simply, "She'll work with me."

Former Governor Chris Gregoire, whom Durkan legally represented during her political career, said Durkan will "take on the toughest issues."

"This city has amazing values, amazing potential, but we're in troubling times," Gregoire told The Stranger. "We need an experienced leader who will stand up to all that's coming out of Washington, D.C. She's done it."

Jenny Durkan Launches Cookie-Cutter Mayoral Campaign - Slog - The Stranger

She will continue the liberal flavored policies of economic inequity.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fwd: Mayor Murray will serve out remainder of term, finish historic work to make Seattle more affordable, equitable and livable

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Strong, Benton"
Date: May 9, 2017 at 10:17:40 AM PDT

Subject: Mayor Murray will serve out remainder of term, finish historic work to make Seattle more affordable, equitable and livable








Benton Strong, Communications Director, 206.684.8379,


Mayor Murray will serve out remainder of term, finish historic work to make Seattle more affordable, equitable and livable


SEATTLE (May 9, 2017) – Mayor Ed Murray announced today that he will serve out the remainder of his term, through the end of 2017, and focus on completing the historic work of his administration to make Seattle a more affordable, equitable and livable city. During his term, Mayor Murray has overseen the implementation of the Mandatory Housing Affordability program, requiring developers to fund or build affordable housing for the first time, the nation's first $15 minimum wage in a large city, major expansions in support for parks and preschool, policies focused on gender equity such as paid family leave and wage transparency and an overall effort to ensure that, as it grows, Seattle remains a livable city.


"The mayoral race must be focused on the urgent, important issues facing our city, but those are being overshadowed by the false allegations against me, which have hurt the City, my family and Michael," Mayor Murray said. "As a poor kid from Alki, being mayor of this city has been the opportunity of a lifetime. I am proud to have been part of some remarkable achievements that, for my entire life, people told me would never happen – from the civil rights bill to the ring I wear on my finger – and I plan to continue fighting for equity long after I am mayor. To the people of Seattle, thank you for the opportunity to serve you and this great city for more than two decades."


Elected as Seattle's 53rd mayor, Murray has championed equity during his term in City Hall. Murray kicked off his term by bringing business, workers and advocates together to implement the nation's first $15 minimum wage in a major city, helping ensure people who work in Seattle can afford to live here. He then accomplished the famous "Murray Way" again, working with developers, advocates, environmental groups, and others to develop the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda and convince voters to double the housing levy, building thousands of affordable homes in the City. Where others fought the Justice Department, Mayor Murray put the City on course to historic police accountability reform, hiring Chief Kathleen O'Toole and working with DOJ and the federal court to address critical issues in the Consent Decree. And after the election of President Donald Trump, Mayor Murray made Seattle the center of the resistance, declaring Seattle would remain an inclusive, welcoming, Constitutional City, where all residents would have access to city services and be part of our community.


Throughout his term, Mayor Murray has focused on the most pressing challenge facing Seattle: homelessness. Too many Seattleites call our streets and green spaces, overpasses and doorways home. Mayor Murray worked with national experts to identify reasons the system was not working efficiently or was not fully capable of addressing the growing scope of the crisis, and he acted. Each day, dozens of City staff work out of the Emergency Operations Center to help people living on our streets get the individualized services they need and a customized pathway to housing. This is one step in Mayor Murray's aggressive leadership in addressing the homelessness crises. 


These policies followed his years as a leader in the LGBT community, where he spearheaded the LGBT civil rights bill and marriage equality as a state legislator.


Mayor Murray will serve through the end of 2017, with the goal of completing the many efforts still underway, including the implementation of Pathways Home, the City's plan to address homelessness through individualized services and outreach; getting the City out of the Consent Decree; and funding critical education programs that shrink the opportunity gap between white students and Black and other students of color. Mayor Murray's commitment to equity has been the lifeblood of his administration and more than two decades-long political career.


Watch a video of Mayor Murray's accomplishments here.



Monday, May 8, 2017

The futility is inspiring.

Mike Baker ✌️ (@TweetMrBaker)
@Softykjr Softy, you and @GeoffBakerTIMES are mastering the Seattle Arena Process.

Tweet by Geoff Baker on Twitter

Geoff Baker (@GeoffBakerTIMES)
@brennanseanm No, but when writing opinion column (which this is) not going to ignore facts and write what I think Sodo fans want to hear

No relation.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Will the Seattle Times ask the city council to issue Requests For Proposals to remodel KeyArena for something other than NBA and NHL use?

Mike Baker ✌️ (@TweetMrBaker)
I guess the Seattle Times is interested in discussing what to do with KeyArena if @SeattleCouncil rejects remodel proposals & goes with SoDo…

AECOM report, 2015, dollar estimates based on their concepts do not appear to be accurate. Their $285m remodel is closer to the $550m to $575m range. The minimal amount of public cost is turning into a public works project with limited revenue returned to the public investors.

Maybe the Seattle City Council should issue Requests For Proposals on the other options identified in the AECOM study, most notably, Scenario C

Submit a Question to Seattle Weekly's Candidate Jeopardy on June 14th

The form is located here!

If you are not sure who is currently registered as a candidate for Mayor of Seattle, or Seattle City Council Position 8, or Seattle City Council Position 9, then go to the Seattle Elections Commission.

All three positions are at-large, meaning all three candidates should have a broad understanding of wants and needs all of Seattle, and not overly focused on parochial interests.
As of 5/6/2017, the candidates for Seattle Mayor, City Council Positions 8 and 9 are:
City Council Position 8
City Council Position 9

Candidate Mike McGinn finds a fulcrum, treating accused and accuser fairly

Mike McGinn (@mayormcginn)
.@jmartin206 @heidigroover. And with respect to @danniaskini and @michaeljmaddux for their courage in speaking to this topic

Outside of the Seattle bubble this probably will not be given enough thought to appreciate how fine a point this fulcrum has.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

"Seattle NBA" is of local interest

Explore search interest for "seattle nba" by time, location and popularity on Google Trends -

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

When an endorsement from the Milwaukee Bucks doesn't actually help you

An endorsement from the Milwaukee Bucks doesn't actually help you, Seattle Partners (AEG). in Seattle. We don't need this, we want it. 
We do not have a team to lose, the council let the team go 9 years ago.

Some folks made political careers out of passing a law requiring the city to see a positive return on any cash outlay. It had a majority vote, but you probably know that. I'll assume the city will exempt either arena proposal from I-91 if it feels like it, as it did with the Storm. The difference there might be hundreds of millions of dollarsssssssss.......

Seattle is not Milwaukee
Newell and the officials expect this complex to spur private investment outside the Park East land. Considering the public's cost for the new arena is an estimated $400 million after interest, getting taxpayers their money's worth will depend largely on how much private development sprouts up in and outside the arena district.
"This is significant growth:" Milwaukee-based developer named for arena district residential units |

Monday, May 1, 2017

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray met with arena developers

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray met with arena developers that responded to the city's Request for Proposals.

The mayor requested proposals and his team is reviewing submissions for recommendation to the city council.

The mayor's part of this activity is covered here. The links to the two main proposals can be found there, as well.

Mayor Murray meets with Seattle Center Arena proposers

SEATTLE (May 1, 2017) – Last week, Mayor Ed Murray met with representatives from Oak View Group and Seattle Partners to review their proposals to redevelop the Seattle Center Arena into a world-class music, entertainment, and sports venue.

"Seattle is in a unique position where multiple developers want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a world-class arena in our city," said Mayor Murray. "Last week, I had an initial review of the proposals to redevelop the Seattle Center Arena. I am enthusiastic about both proposals. I look forward to digging into the details with my staff, the Arena Community Advisory Panel, and ultimately negotiating the best deal to bring the NBA and the NHL to Seattle."

Bidders also met with the Arena Community Advisory Panel this week to share their proposals and answer questions.

Both proposals are now publicly available at

The City of Seattle invites the public to review the materials and submit comments on the page.

A public open house is scheduled for May 11 from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM at KEXP. The public will have the opportunity to meet both proposers, ask questions, and review their materials.  For more information:

City staff will bring final recommendations to the Mayor by the end of June. If Mayor Murray chooses to move forward with one of the proposals, the Seattle City Council would then review and decide on a final memorandum of understanding and/or development and lease agreement.



Fwd: Wanted: Smart, Transparent, Fair, and Adequate Tax Policy

You know, he's not running for re-election to the Seattle City Council.
I wonder what he will do?

Begin forwarded message:

From: Councilmember Tim Burgess
Date: May 1, 2017 at 9:04:23 AM PDT
Subject: Wanted: Smart, Transparent, Fair, and Adequate Tax Policy
Reply-To: Councilmember Tim Burgess 

Wanted: Smart, Transparent, Fair, and Adequate Tax Policy
Trouble seeing the message? View this email in your browser.
Washington State's tax system is terribly unfair. Our lowest income households pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than do our highest income households. Don't believe it? Read all about it here and here.

It lacks transparency—do you know what your household pays in total city, county, and state taxes each year? No, you don't, and I don't either. Read The Seattle Times' FYI Guy to learn precisely why our tax burden is so opaque.

It's not adequate to fund essential government services, like basic education and early learning opportunities for our children.

It's not stable. Because of its reliance on sales taxes, governments in Washington State can see huge swings in revenue as the economy moves through its regular ups and downs.

What can we do to improve our tax system?

Tax discussions are difficult because they can be dry and wonky, and many of us are already concerned about affording our own family's necessities, not to mention funding essential government services. But we need a statewide, robust policy conversation on how to solve the tax mess we have today.

Local economist Dick Conway, a man I know as a thoughtful, pragmatic, and thorough professional, has studied tax policy for decades. He recently updated his study of taxes in every state. Conway's analysis looked at five characteristics of taxes: fairness, adequacy, stability, transparency, and economic vitality. His conclusion, as in his earlier work, is that Washington's tax system "continues to be dysfunctional." Conway argues that the solution is a flat-rate personal income tax that eliminates the need for other taxes.

This suggestion causes consternation in many people. Personal income tax! We don't have one, they say, and we don't need one.

Well, Washington State already has a corporate income tax; we call it the "business and occupation tax." The tax is based on gross revenues, not net revenues, which means companies pay it even if they don't make a profit. Large companies don't object because the rate of the tax is relatively low (ranging from 0.13% to 3.3%, depending on business classification), but it can make things hard for small or new companies.

So, what's the solution to this overly complicated, politically charged issue? Conway suggests a personal income flat tax of 10.5% annually, a rate that is in the narrow range of what the national, average household state and local tax burden has been, going back to 1970. Had Conway's plan been in place in 2015, Washington State would have raised $38.3 billion in state and local taxes, about $4 billion more than was collected with the current tax system. That would have covered the estimated shortfall in education funding and left about $2 billion for other needs.

Whether or not Conway's flat tax idea is the best is irrelevant at this point; we need to have a serious policy conversation about solutions. The outcome should be a tax structure that allows our lower-income neighbors to pay less, our middle-income neighbors to pay about the same, and our highest-income neighbors to pay more while, at the same time, introducing more transparency, more fairness, more stability, and more adequacy.

Seattle Times business columnist Jon Talton thinks we should consider a local income tax in Seattle to prompt a statewide conversation. Not everyone agrees, including Talton's bosses, as this editorial in yesterday's Seattle Times shows.

This is a conversation my colleagues and I will jumpstart this afternoon when the Council will likely adopt a policy resolution setting the framework for establishing a city-based income tax. As with many important matters, Seattle can lead the way toward a more fair, just, and sustainable tax system for the people of Washington. That would be good for everyone.
Councilmember Tim Burgess

Phone: (206) 684-8806
Online: Council Website
From my blog

SPD Found in "Initial Compliance" on Use of Force

More Taxes: Fair and Effective?

Defending the Rule of Law

On my desk

Ajay Chaudry, Taryn Morrissey, Christina Weiland, Hiro Yoshikawa: Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality
Here is a very pragmatic and effective road map that will pay huge dividends for our children. Chaudry, Weiland and Yoshikawa helped me with early policy and design issues for the Seattle Preschool Program. I highly recommend this book for those who want to move the needle and solve our children's opportunity gap.

Through the lens

If you have time and interest, you can watch an interview with me and Councilmember Lisa Herbold discussing affordable housing and progress on SPD reform.

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