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Friday, February 16, 2007

KC Council: Gaming the Public

posted by on February 16 at 9:22 AM

“I deeply regret it” —KC Council Member Larry Phillips in yesterday’s Seattle Times, apologizing for his 1995 vote to overrule the voters and authorize publicly financing SAFECO Field.

On both April 3, 2006 and April 4, 2005 the King County Council, chaired by Larry Phillips, cancelled its regularly scheduled morning Committe of the Whole meeting so it could move its regularly scheduled afternoon Full Council Meeting to the morning. (The KC Council is supposed to meet every Monday at 9:30 and 1:30.)

And on April 6, 2004 (a Tuesday) the KC council’s Growth Management Commitee meeting was cancelled.

Why would I bother to dredge up these old cancellation notices? After all, council meetings are routinely cancelled and/or rearranged.

Here’s why: Because, April 3, ‘06; April 4, ‘05, and April 6, ‘04 all happened to be opening game days at Safeco Field for the Seattle Mariners. They played the Angels, the Twins, and the Angels, respectively.

So what?

Well, as I noted above, yesterday’s Seattle Times had a story about the KC Council’s righteous letter to Gov. Gregoire opposing a free ride for the Sonics. Here’s what it said:

In 1995, voters narrowly rejected a sales-tax increase for a new Mariners stadium. State lawmakers decided to fund it anyway.

They rushed into emergency session and came up with a new package of taxes that was approved by the Legislature and the County Council without a second public vote.

Voters have never let politicians forget that episode.

That is an issue that has never died,” said County Councilman Larry Phillips, D-Seattle, who wrote the letter to Gregoire. “I deeply regret it.”

So, Phillips “deeply regrets” vetoing the voters and authorizing public financing for Safeco Field, does he?

Hmmm? I wonder why all those early April public meetings were cancelled. I wonder what else the KC Council did on those days instead. Could they have put off doing the public’s business because they had somewhere more important to be?

I’ve got a call into Phillips’s office to find out where he and the council were on those dates instead of doing the public’s business. I’ll also ask him—if the answer is what I think it is—how his seats were.

Look, I’m against subsidizing the Sonics, and I’m “guilty” of going to Sonics games. But WTF? I don’t skip out on work to go see Sonics games. And even if I did, my work isn’t paid for by the public. And I didn’t defy the public by voting to ignore a public vote—giving the green light to $500 million publicly-financed project that we’re still paying for.

RSS icon Comments


Slow news day?

Posted by Jerod in Oly | February 16, 2007 9:23 AM

I think everyone has played hooky to see a game at some point. I'm just glad they realize that the issue hasn't died in the minds of us voters who are PISSED THE FUCK OFF at having to pay for something we voted against and supposedly won.

So as long as he's putting up a fight to keep me from paying for ANOTHER stadium whose events I usually can't afford to attend I'm going to cut him a little slack on skipping out of work to see a game. At least someone can afford to go.

Posted by monkey | February 16, 2007 9:27 AM

9:30 a.m. and still no Viaduct slog post? Gimme back my methadone!

Posted by BB | February 16, 2007 9:32 AM

Dude, hey, if a baseball fan figures out away to get themselves to opening day, I see that as a positive attribute. Also, Safeco Field is a secular outdoor cathedral and we paid for it. Isn't it appropriate that our civic leaders attend the High Mass of the Spring there? Who are they to insult the Holy Day by going to work?

Posted by mirror | February 16, 2007 9:33 AM

Having moved to Seattle only in the summer of '05, I was baffled for awhile by the monorail and viaduct issues - the more I learn about the history of the stadiums, the more my understanding of Seattle politics comes together.

Posted by Noink | February 16, 2007 9:38 AM

P.S. I voted against The Safe, but didn't have to regret my vote!

Posted by mirror | February 16, 2007 9:39 AM

I wish Phillips would grow a pair and say he doesn't regret helping come up with an alternate funding scheme to pay for Safeco Field.

And to the voters who feel cheated: you (and I) voted specifically against a sales tax increase, you did not vote against funding a baseball stadium by any means. So read the ballot and stop whining about politicians acting against your will.

Safeco Field may have been an obscene boondoggle, but it was a well-executed one that hundreds of thousands of Northwesterners, including some of you at The Stranger, get to enjoy.

Posted by Take me out to the ballgame | February 16, 2007 9:48 AM

So Larry Phillips screws the public vote and openly admits it. The best part of this is that he never saw any consequences. Seattle voters continue to reelect him.

Posted by Christian | February 16, 2007 9:50 AM

I remember getting caught in opening day traffic at Safeco Field last year and thinking, "don't these people have jobs?"

Posted by dreamflying | February 16, 2007 10:27 AM

Josh - ask somebody there for a story lead

Posted by sammy | February 16, 2007 10:57 AM

It isn't skipping out of work, it's research. Or a "meeting with a potential client".

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 16, 2007 11:01 AM

Oh come on, Josh... The story is that Council members have heard from the public, and realize the mistake they made regarding financing Safeco Field.

Let's not make a mountain out of a molehill on attending games. They're not attending on taxpayer money, or being paid for their time attending baseball games.

As you point out, council meetings are routinely cancelled and/or rearranged. It's not a news story unless they specifically avoided getting crucial work done to go play at the ballpark.

Posted by Mickymse | February 16, 2007 11:17 AM

Josh, you should move to Boston, so you could get an annual column out of all the pols who go to Fenway on "Patriot's Day", an entirely fictitious holiday celebrated by Massachusetts government and absolutely no one else, so they can go to a game.

The stadium vote was scandalous, but going to a baseball game is just going to a baseball game. Don't be a grind.

Posted by Fnarf | February 16, 2007 11:32 AM

Josh, I've been trying to call you back all day. Where are you, at a Sonics game?

Posted by Larry Phillips | February 16, 2007 3:36 PM

"I deeply regret..blah blah blah, now please excuse me while I grand stand on this Sonics issue."

back in the mid 90's some Democrats actually voted against the stupid idea of using tax dollars to build safeco after taxpayers said no thanks.

Posted by Jimbo | February 16, 2007 7:04 PM

What a strange thing to get indignant about. Opening day is, like, a national quasi-holiday. Like inauguration day. Or ECB's birthday. Don't be such a prig.

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