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Friday, August 1, 2014

Guest Editorial: Citizen Oversight Won't Suffer at All If We Vote for a Seattle Parks District

Posted by on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 10:09 AM

PARKS FOR ALL Not just people who can afford to self-fund them. (Green Lake, 1936. Click to enlarge.)
  • Seattle Municipal Archives
  • PARKS FOR ALL Not just people who can afford to self-fund them. (Green Lake, 1936. Click to enlarge.)

Inviting Don Harper and Carol Fisher to write an op-ed is like inviting a climate-change denier. You can do it, but don’t be surprised when they start making shit up. Thankfully, the good folks at The Stranger have allowed me to come in and correct the record with things that Don and Carol don’t seem to care about: facts.

First, let’s talk about your right to vote. While I am sure Mayor Murray would gladly appoint city council members, you and I will continue to vote for (and against) them with the passage of Proposition 1. City government will operate almost exactly as it does now, but with stable revenue for parks, an essential service.

The big difference: a citizen oversight committee (already part of a passed ordinance—aka law) that will work with the city council, the parks board, and the mayor’s office in providing advice to and oversight of the parks department. As The Stranger so eloquently stated: "This is how the democratic process works: We elect leaders who set taxes and build budgets and fund infrastructure, and when they fuck it up, we vote them out."

While Don and Carol state that the “traditional process [of funding parks] allows us a periodic vote on the collection of taxes and the allocations of funds to specified projects and programs,” the facts are different. The traditional process is funding essential services by way of the general fund. The mayor proposes a budget, and the council evaluates and amends that budget as necessary. Programs in parks have never been funded by “periodic votes”—except in the sense that we vote periodically for the city council and mayor. Which we will still do when Prop. 1 passes. Levy lid lifts for park acquisition and development are new—one in 2000, one in 2008. That’s it.

Funding maintenance, community center hours, and programming from the general fund (the actual traditional process) used to work. Then came 2001 and Tim Eyman’s Initiative 747, which gutted the ability for local governments to have stable funding. Combined with Tim Eyman’s Initiative 695—which is what led to the transit funding crisis we are now in—local governments have since been in a position wherein revenue cannot keep up with inflation.

And who gets screwed? Poor people. Because while folks like Don Harper and Carol Fisher apparently have the time and resources to self-fund their parks and community centers, low-income workers in South Park, Lake City, and Northgate don’t. Instead, they have suffered cuts that they don’t have the ability to buy back with either dollars or sweat equity.

This is what Proposition 1 is really about. Buying back revenue lost to the Eyman cuts, and restoring community center hours and affordable programming that residents need and deserve. And, at the same time, changing gears from deferring maintenance to having the means necessary to adequately maintain our parks, urban tree canopy, and park facilities. This is why the Municipal League supports Proposition 1.

It’s not hard to imagine Don and Carol continuing to avoid facts. It’s what they do, even being called out by The Seattle Times—one of their biggest supporters—for making patently "false" statements in campaign materials. (And then going on to state, in the face of facts proving otherwise, that they are telling the truth.) This is why they are the biggest enemies of equity in the parks department, and no friends of parks.

Back to the measure: there is already a six-year spending plan in place that raises property taxes by around one percent, as recommended by a citizen advisory committee. This followed public testimony wherein 67 percent of people who testified before the council did so in favor of the Metropolitan Parks District.

Much like the Transportation Benefit District was utilized to buy back some revenue, the Seattle Park District buys back limited revenue capacity. Revenue that will be collected, and used to maintain neighborhood parks; clean bathrooms and keep them in working order; fix roofs and boilers; restore community center hours and affordable programming; and provide a resource for communities that have urgent needs. In addition, it not only requires greater accountability, it also funds the audits and staffing necessary to achieve it.

The opposition campaign uses bald-faced lies in trying to convince voters that you have done such a shitty job electing government officials, and that citizen committees are so inept, that you should turn down the ability to buy back funding for our parks. I have more faith in the voting public. I have seen residents of Seattle force their leaders' hands for sick leave, for a raise for working families, and for more transportation choices. I fully expect that, if Proposition 1 passes, residents will continue to play an active role in the function of our government.

Vote FOR Parks. Vote FOR Proposition 1.

Michael Maddux was a member of the Parks Legacy Plan Citizen Advisory Committee. He currently serves on the Parks & Green Spaces Levy Oversight Committee, chairs the Endorsements Committee for the King County Democrats, and is a little league umpire. He lives with his daughter in the Eastlake neighborhood of Seattle.

 

Comments (36) RSS

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1
In addition to being lying assholes, Don and the rest of the crew are also scam artists
http://horsesass.org/no-on-parks-campaig…
Posted by giffy on August 1, 2014 at 10:22 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 5
I'm surprised the unregistered comments aren't signed "911 operator".
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on August 1, 2014 at 10:38 AM · Report this
bitchslap 6
Vote yes bitches!
Posted by bitchslap on August 1, 2014 at 10:43 AM · Report this
7
Vote yes if you want to pay higher rent.

And in fact you _may_ be happy to pay for higher rent. (You'll be paying for it with the tunnel fiasco too, btw; nice rough justice: you pay with both Waterfront Park and Waterfront Tunnel.)

Let's be clear: Prop 1 is (among many things) an increase in your rent.
Posted by caution&daring on August 1, 2014 at 10:48 AM · Report this
Hernandez 8
@2/3/4 actually, you're the one who sounds nasty and desperate here. I am amused by this mythical "Niketown entertainment complex" you keep carrying on about.

Parks has done a lot of work to keep facilities and programs affordable to people of all income levels. There's no reason to believe that changes with stable funding. The mission, and the good people making it happen, will remain.
Posted by Hernandez http://hernandezlist.blogspot.com on August 1, 2014 at 10:55 AM · Report this
Lew Siffer 10
Not a fat kid in sight in 36'.
Posted by Lew Siffer on August 1, 2014 at 11:30 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 11
But they promised it would raise my taxes 20% and said tin foil will save me from meter reading unicorn vampires!
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on August 1, 2014 at 11:33 AM · Report this
dnt trust me 12
@10
Fnarf is near the back of line. In the full version of the photo you can see him on the left, his big gut and flabby arms, and he's eating a cupcake the same size as his head.
Posted by dnt trust me on August 1, 2014 at 11:36 AM · Report this
13
If an MPD is such a great thing for Seattle, why was there no civic conversation before putting it on the ballot? Why no public forums, not even one, where voters could learn about MPDs, and then ask questions and get answers?

At all the public meetings and public hearings, citizens were tightly constrained to two minutes each, and if their comments included questions, those questions went unanswered.

Michael, you were a member of the Legacy planning committee -- what made you think it was OK to omit the civic conversation about MPDs?

In Seattle, we know how to do community outreach -- agencies and advocates explain what they want to do, they listen to questions from the public, and they answer those questions. This is Community Engagement 101 stuff, nothing mysterious about it.

But for reasons I cannot fathom, Michael and the other folks behind the MPD just refused do it. The process stank, and that has reinforced my No vote.
Posted by RDPence on August 1, 2014 at 11:57 AM · Report this
michaelp 14
@13 - That's bullshit, though. There were two dedicated meetings for discussion about what an MPD was, and three additional conversation meetings.

That's why 67% of those who spoke at the Council meeting spoke in support of a Park District. Because the process worked the way it is supposed to.
Posted by michaelp on August 1, 2014 at 12:01 PM · Report this
DOUG. 15
Green Lake? More like White Lake!
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on August 1, 2014 at 12:02 PM · Report this
JonnoN 16
Damn, I had really hoped the person killed by a garbage truck yesterday was @12.
Posted by JonnoN http://www.backnine.org/ on August 1, 2014 at 12:27 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 17
Shorter @13 - Anything done without the full and exhaustive Seattle Process is someone trying to pull a fast one on voters.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on August 1, 2014 at 12:29 PM · Report this
18
I'm convinced by @13.

And I think that @14 was joking: "... two dedicated meetings for discussion about what an MPD was, and three additional conversation meetings."

Wow! To set up a whole new level of government. Not very convincing @14.
Posted by caution&daring on August 1, 2014 at 12:30 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 19
@10 Because their parents owned zero, or maybe one car, not two SUVs with fucking DVD players in them.

And I'll bet half those kids got to the lake by clogging the streets with their filthy bicycles. OMG, TEH WAR ON CARS GOES ON FOR SEVENTY YEARS!!!1! OH, THE HUMANITY!

Also, Doritos hadn't been invented yet.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on August 1, 2014 at 12:36 PM · Report this
michaelp 20
@18 - it's a pretty simple ordinance. If it took more than six hours of presentation time, plus the homework committee members did before these meetings, the questions we were able to ask for clarification, and additional discussion amongst ourselves, to understand how the RCW would apply in Seattle, we wouldn't have been a very good committee.

On point, @13 is making a statement that there was no public process. That is untrue, and he knows it's untrue.
Posted by michaelp on August 1, 2014 at 12:37 PM · Report this
brian 21
As long as I get a 16' diving platform back at Greenlake I'll vote yes for anything.
Posted by brian on August 1, 2014 at 1:03 PM · Report this
22
Spin it any way you want Michael @14, but there was no public forum where (a.) the MPD was explained by knowledgeable professionals, and citizens could (b.) ask questions about it, and (c.) get answers in real time. Never happened, at least not before the issue was placed on the ballot.

Your Legacy planning committee didn't do it. The Board of Park Commissioners didn't do it. Sally Bagshaw's city council committee didn't do it. The 3 public forums in January didn't do it -- there was no MPD presentation, and MPD discussion was limited to table talk at the breakout sessions.

If you still maintain I'm bullshitting, Michael, then give us the time/date/place for these forums I missed. I want to review the presentations and read the meeting reports.
Posted by RDPence on August 1, 2014 at 1:09 PM · Report this
michaelp 23
Roger (@22) - You're repeating the same bullshit over and over again. That doesn't make it true.

10/3 - Parks HQ (discussion about funding mechanisms with Hall Walker and Ben Noble. This is the one that Chris Leman interrupted on multiple occasions).

10/17 - Miller CC - Discussion with Beth Goldberg, Ben Noble, and Ken Bounds about park funding and mechanism options.

10/22 - Public Conversation with Candace Damon on parks funding and mechanisms.

1/23 - Public meeting in the International District

1/25 - Public meeting in West Seattle

1/30 - Public meeting in Bitter Lake (these last three being a discussion on mechanisms, initiatives, and overall amount of a package).

Just because you didn't like the process doesn't mean it didn't happen. No process is going to make everyone happy, but that does not mean that process doesn't happen.

Again, 67% of the people who testified before City Council on the funding mechanism voiced support for a Park District. This was after extensive public process wherein the group was tasked with finding solutions to Eyman-nomics that are strangling our city, and disallowing us to adequately serve historically underserved communities.

You don't have to like the facts, but that doesn't mean they aren't true.

Posted by michaelp on August 1, 2014 at 1:23 PM · Report this
24
Sigh. Michael, I was at the meeting in the International District, and there was NO presentation on the MPD! None. Nada. It was mentioned in the introductory comments, but citizen engagement on the MPD was restricted to table talk at the breakout sessions.

We were told the two further public meetings in West Seattle and Bitter Lake would be just like this first one, with no MPD presentation.

If you still think i'm wrong, then send us the link to the MPD presentation. Send us the link to the meeting report(s) that document the MPD discussion, the back and forth with citizens. You can't because they don't exist.

Most of the 67% testifying in favor of the MPD were really testifying in favor of their pet projects. They would've been just as supportive of an equivalent parks levy.

And of the citizens responding at the 3 public meetings in January, over 80% of them favored a levy over an MPD! A fact your committee chose to ignore.
Posted by RDPence on August 1, 2014 at 1:38 PM · Report this
25
@23: facts have a well known liberal bias, so they should be ignored. Besides, he's made up his mind. Don't confuse him with the facts.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on August 1, 2014 at 1:49 PM · Report this
michaelp 26
See, Roger, now you're just lying. I bet you can't cite to a single thing that shows 80% of the participants favored a levy over an MPD. Because it doesn't exist.

Having been at two of the three public meetings, I can say that while folks knew more about levies, they weren't opposed to an MPD, just wanted to know more about it.

Lo and behold, the overwhelming voice of the public during the City Council hearings was a voice in favor of a Park District. Just like the majority of individuals who submitted comment to the Committee about funding mechanisms supported a Park District.

So, again, just because you didn't like or couldn't understand the process doesn't mean it didn't happen. So when you say it didn't, you are bullshitting. Or lying.

And when you repeat that lie, even when presented with facts otherwise, you are fecklessly lying.
Posted by michaelp on August 1, 2014 at 1:59 PM · Report this
27
@26
Does it matter what people SAY at a public hearing?
Why even bother making a big deal about?

Considering the importance of the creation of an MPD,
1. Why rush it? If you lose -- which I hope -- come back and tweak it and go back to voters?
2. YOU may be immersed in Prop 1 but very few have and so it is no surprise that you get push-back;
3. It is suspicious that you put such an important matter -- and YOU say it is important -- on an AUGUST vote where turn-out is low and a cadre of Prop 1 advocates can swing the vote.

No, Prop 1 is a bad deal. I voted NO but hope you come back with better proposal since we do need to take care of parks.
Posted by caution&daring on August 1, 2014 at 3:26 PM · Report this
south downtown 28
MIchael, perhaps taking a lesson from the feckless liars, has spewed a stream of disinformation and blatant exploitation (holding poor kids ransom), and obfuscation on the powers of the MPD.

Let's parse some of his BS:

1) "citizen oversight committee (already part of a passed ordinance—aka law) that will work with the city council, the parks board, and the mayor’s office in providing advice to and oversight of the parks department.

- the "law" only directs Council to sign the ILA - so the law as it stands in and of itself is meaningless. ("If the voters of the proposed Seattle Park District approve its formation, the Mayor is authorized and directed to enter into an interlocal agreement with the Seattle Park District substantially in the form attached as Attachment 1, with such changes as the Mayor deems necessary and advisable, such that the intent of the City as expressed herein is carried out. "). The ILA however is mutable and as an agreement between Council and itself (as MPD Board) somewhat suspect as representing a checks/balances system. This is why the League of Women Voters are calling BS on the MPD.

- the "advice and oversight" Michael touts is relatively limited per the suggested ILA, and is targeted mostly at reviewing reports and holding meetings with the public. The BIG responsibility is preparing a few reports ("annual report on the progress of expenditures, a mid-term report half-way through each 6-year period, and a final report in advance of each 6-year update to the spending plan"). That's some serious oversight and advice, huh? Read it for yourself, Michael provided the link.

2) Michael twists what the "our parks forever" essay states. He says "While Don and Carol state that the “traditional process [of funding parks] allows us a periodic vote on the collection of taxes and the allocations of funds to specified projects and programs,” the facts are different. " What they said was "The traditional levy process allows us a periodic vote on the collection of taxes and the allocation of funds to specified projects and programs. It provides a definitive dollar amount. It states the applicable duration of time for the tax. These are all characteristics not included in an MPD." See that - they said levy and HE turned it into a General Fund conversation. Deceitful, period.

- Levies are meant to fund projects that will take years to accomplish and are too great to fund via the General Fund.

- and while Michale is correct, Eyman has fucked things up some, the General Fund has grown substantially since the Great Recession (by a couple hundred million) and now tops a billion dollars.

3) Michael points the truth meter at the Times for the "20%" increase in taxes statement on the flyer, and I would say that this was a dumb assertion, but the truth is that property taxes for Parks WILL BE going up. The MPD seeks an initial tax for parks twice the current levy amount, and that can go up to 4 times the current levy "without a vote" as the anti-tax folks point out.

-- So overall property taxes going up? yes, just not 20%. But taxes for Parks are going up a lot. Why is this a problem? Well, many of us opposed to the MPD feel that Parks isn't spending its money wisely now, so giving it more money may not be a good idea until we can figure out how to make them operate better. We are already at the top nationwide in parks staff per capita, and parks funding per capita. So why can't they clean the bathrooms at Green Lake.

-- also, the MPD is being used for operational and small maintenance items, best left to the growing General Fund. Also, note that if necessary, the City may need to still issue levies in the future for large long term projects since this "stable source of funding for parks" that the proponents tout really only funds part of the Parks budget. The bulk of the funding STILL COMES FROM THE GENERAL FUND.

4) "This followed public testimony wherein 67 percent of people who testified before the council did so in favor of the Metropolitan Parks District."

- the Parks Foundation (part of the impetus for the MPD) was able to trot out recipients of its monies to show up at city hall and say they wanted funding. However at the PLPCAC meetings meant to assess the funding options for Parks, citizens were 80% against the MPD, a fact that Michael as a PLPCAC member chose to discount. This in itself does not bode well for how well citizen voices are going to be heard in the new regime.

What should be pointed out is that the language in the pro- MPD mailers and their claims are also dubious and deceitful (maybe that makes them "feckless liars" as well).

The flyer says "stable and dedicated funding for neighborhood parks", but the MPD only provides a portion of the funding for Parks based on today's Park's budget.

The flyer says "due to a lack of stable, dedicated funding we've neglected [parks]", but as we are already pay more per capita than any other city, perhaps mismanagement may be why we have a problem as well. Like the millions Parks had to pay after the Building 11 debacle. Calls for an audit of the department have been ignored.

The flyer says "We now face a growing $267M backlog", but that backlog has some pretty low priority items, and has not been publicly scrutinized (it was just accepted by Michael and the PLPCAC as is, but even Parks admits it really has no real maintenance tracking system).

So somehow Michael is concerned about "baldfaced lies", but many of us are concerned about a ginned-up process that puts yes-men like Michael on "citizen committee" stacked with insiders with special interest motivations (such as an expensive waterfront park) that put kids of color on the brochures to sell their scheme.

Don't listen to this shill...

More...
Posted by south downtown on August 1, 2014 at 3:38 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 29
With ballot measures like this, whether it's a parks levy or this district question, you have to put up with legalized libel and false advertising from weird front groups like Our Parks Forever. Are they a bunch of Republicans or libertarians from the suburbs? Tim Eyman fans? Corporate shills? Who knows? Where's the money come from?

How come nobody has heard of them before?

On the other hand, when parks funding becomes a campaign issue in a city council race, at least you can put a name and a face to whom you're voting for or against. There's better oversight for where a candidate's money comes from. Campaigns aren't always clean, but they're cleaner than the bullshit that happens in a voter referendum.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on August 1, 2014 at 5:17 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 30
No initiative, no referendum, just tens of millions of dollars shoveled to downtown developers. Why is the Stranger (and Will in Seattle!) so anxious to bail out the downtown waterfront development with parks money?
Posted by kk in seattle on August 1, 2014 at 8:14 PM · Report this
south downtown 31
@29 you can see where the pro and con sides get there money by looking at the SEEC website, right sidebar http://www2.seattle.gov/ethics/elpub/el_…

Our Parks Forever has raised a whopping $36K

The pro campaign, Parks for All has raised $332K

Look at their donations. The big beneficiaries of this additional largess (the zoo, aquarium, ball fields, designers of the waterfront park (http://www.bergerpartnership.com/seattle…), basically all the fat cats and downtown big money are behind them.

Its funny how you are a big supporter of Kshama, the socialists and working class, but are siding with the big money and downtown interests on this issue.
Posted by south downtown on August 1, 2014 at 8:37 PM · Report this
32
@31
Your remark about "Kshama & The Socialists" -- could be a band -- shows how silly and naive they are by supporting establishment policies. They just want to suck on the public teet. As soon as they get government jobs they'll become "liberals."
Posted by caution&daring on August 1, 2014 at 9:25 PM · Report this
33
@23, you omitted a community forum in Lake City where City employees simply derided the No reps and did not answer sincere questions from the audience about whether there would be any possible community input after this was voted in. All they said was there would be an "advisory committee", and they appeared amazed that some of us in the audience knew the difference between "advisory" and a committee that actually had decision-making power. They basically turned many in the audience against the proposition by their patronizing.
Posted by sarah70 on August 2, 2014 at 11:41 AM · Report this
34
Don Harper and Carol Fisher are good people and people of integrity. They care about parks, they volunteer for parks, and they report the numbers as they understand them. Are our taxes going up 20%? 2%? or 200%? Only time will tell, but Michael Maddux slanders two people in this piece, resorting to ugly and desperate ad hominem attacks. I've liked Michael--found him brash and outspoken, but sincere in his views. This article is not worthy of him. It's unbelievably insulting to two good people. Michael needs to apologize and retract the personal attacks, if he wants to run in District 4 next year and be taken seriously.

Posted by GailChiarello on August 2, 2014 at 2:51 PM · Report this
35
The Ciyty Council is so dedicated to citizen oversight that they took away most of the existing Parks commission power years ago. Here's an example of the current system "working:

When Parks wanted to cut a deal with Vulcan Real Estate and Amazon and put an off-leash area (OLA) in Denny Park, for which the companies offered to donate money, Christopher Williams and Parks Strategic Advisor Brenda Kramer made multiple misleading statements to the Board of Parks Commissioners (BPC; Nov 2011 meeting) regarding the effects of OLAs on park trees. At their first vote at that meeting, the BPC voted not to place an OLA in any park in South Lake Union. The majority took the view that Vulcan and Amazon should use Vulcan's own vacant land across the street from Denny Park to site an OLA, as Amazon's policy of letting employees take their dogs to work was creating much of the demand for one. That vote was apparently not recorded; instead, one commissioner suggested they discuss putting an OLA specifically in Denny Park. Two commissioners started asking questions about possible effects on the park's trees.

Though eight large trees that qualify for protection as Exceptional Trees under Seattle's Land Use Code border the OLA site on three sides, a Parks memo to the BPC stated "there is only one small tree in the area" and Parks ignored the status of the large trees. Several years ago, Parks admitted to serious damage to trees in Volunteer Park from an OLA that Parks eventually closed for that reason, and a judge ordered the replacement OLA in Volunteer Park closed because of the likelihood of further damage to trees. A Parks report on OLAs from April 2011 stated that soil compaction from off-leash use was killing trees in Woodland Park. But Kramer told the BPC that Parks had never known of any damage to trees from off-leash areas, particularly in Volunteer Park. When a commissioner asked why the OLA in Volunteer Park had been closed, Williams said only that it wasn't functioning well. Williams and Kramer told the BPC that Parks didn't want to put an OLA in the new South Lake Union Park because it would have to be fenced, but not that staff had reported to Williams and Kramer that dog urine would kill trees in the park. When asked how the OLA in Denny would be constructed and if excavation would be involved, though Kramer had the Parks landscape architect's estimate that described only one method--excavating with a bulldozer and grading within the drip lines of the trees (though the trees are not even mentioned in the estimate, and the Land Use Code does not allow excavation within the drip line of an Exceptional Tree without a plan prepared by a tree care professional)--Kramer said she wasn't an engineer or a landscape architect but thought that just piling chips on the existing surface would work. She told the commissioners that an arborist could be consulted if they wanted, in a tone that suggested it would be a waste of time, when the Code actually required it. The Parks arborist was not asked for his input. When one commissioner said she was glad to hear about the arborist's report on the lack of damage to park trees from off-leash use, Williams and Kramer did not correct her mistaken impression that such a report exists. That commissioner then reversed her earlier "no" vote to "yes" to shift the majority to recommend the construction of an OLA in Denny Park, which was then excavated as described. The day after the meeting, Sally Bagshaw's staff sent Kramer an email telling her she did a great job. While the Board was told the OLA would be a short-term pilot project with a performance assessment at 9 months, it's been in place for over 2 years with no assessment, and apparently its status is now "permanently temporary": it will be kept in Denny Park as long as Vulcan and Amazon keep paying for it.

The City Council replaced John Barber, an environmentalist on the BPC, with Tom Tierney, who Bagshaw has said was valued for his connections (he was head of the SHA when it gave Vulcan the rights to redevelop Yesler Terrace, and headed the City's committee on South Lake Union zoning and affordable housing).

I suspect that closed-door strategy meetings with corporate donors and senior Parks officials making false statements to the BPC with the encouragement or at least tacit approval of the City Council (all of whom, excepting Sawant, were apprised of the above yet had no opjection that I know of) is not most people's idea of good Parks governance. The existing BPC, weak as it is, at least has members nominated by both the mayor and Council. The new one would be picked by the Council alone, and is likely to be selected for its willingness to embrace, for example, Williams' tactic of avoiding environmental review through "pilot" projects, not for independent mindedness.

If public/private partnerships can be advanced by ignoring City regulations a, how long would an MPD keep the voluntary interlocal agreement? Why does the Council want the authority to tax the public without giving us a vote on specific projects?

Vote no on Prop 1.
More...
Posted by Redten on August 3, 2014 at 1:22 PM · Report this
36
The City Council is so dedicated to citizen oversight that they took away most of the existing Parks commission's power years ago. Here's an example of the current system "working:

When Parks wanted to cut a deal with Vulcan Real Estate and Amazon and put an off-leash area (OLA) in Denny Park, for which the companies offered to donate money, Christopher Williams and Parks Strategic Advisor Brenda Kramer made multiple misleading statements to the Board of Parks Commissioners (BPC; Nov 2011 meeting) regarding the effects of OLAs on park trees. At their first vote at that meeting, the BPC voted not to place an OLA in any park in South Lake Union. The majority took the view that Vulcan and Amazon should use Vulcan's own vacant land across the street from Denny Park to site an OLA, as Amazon's policy of letting employees take their dogs to work was creating much of the demand for one. That vote was apparently not recorded; instead, one commissioner suggested they discuss putting an OLA specifically in Denny Park. Two commissioners started asking questions about possible effects on the park's trees.

Though eight large trees that qualify for protection as Exceptional Trees under Seattle's Land Use Code border the OLA site on three sides, a Parks memo to the BPC stated "there is only one small tree in the area" and Parks ignored the status of the large trees. Several years ago, Parks admitted to serious damage to trees in Volunteer Park from an OLA that Parks eventually closed for that reason, and a judge ordered the replacement OLA in Volunteer Park closed because of the likelihood of further damage to trees. A Parks report on OLAs from April 2011 stated that soil compaction from off-leash use was killing trees in Woodland Park. But Kramer told the BPC that Parks had never known of any damage to trees from off-leash areas, particularly in Volunteer Park. When a commissioner asked why the OLA in Volunteer Park had been closed, Williams said only that it wasn't functioning well. Williams and Kramer told the BPC that Parks didn't want to put an OLA in the new South Lake Union Park because it would have to be fenced, but not that staff had reported to Williams and Kramer that dog urine would kill trees in the park. When asked how the OLA in Denny would be constructed and if excavation would be involved, though Kramer had the Parks landscape architect's estimate that described only one method--excavating with a bulldozer and grading within the drip lines of the trees (though the trees are not even mentioned in the estimate, and the Land Use Code does not allow excavation within the drip line of an Exceptional Tree without a plan prepared by a tree care professional)--Kramer said she wasn't an engineer or a landscape architect but thought that just piling chips on the existing surface would work. She told the commissioners that an arborist could be consulted if they wanted, in a tone that suggested it would be a waste of time, when the Code actually required it. The Parks arborist was not asked for his input. When one commissioner said she was glad to hear about the arborist's report on the lack of damage to park trees from off-leash use, Williams and Kramer did not correct her mistaken impression that such a report exists. That commissioner then reversed her earlier "no" vote to "yes" to shift the majority to recommend the construction of an OLA in Denny Park, which was then excavated as described. The day after the meeting, Sally Bagshaw's staff sent Kramer an email telling her she did a great job. While the Board was told the OLA would be a short-term pilot project with a performance assessment at 9 months, it's been in place for over 2 years with no assessment, and apparently its status is now "permanently temporary": it will be kept in Denny Park as long as Vulcan and Amazon keep paying for it.

The City Council replaced John Barber, an environmentalist on the BPC, with Tom Tierney, who Bagshaw has said was valued for his connections (he was head of the SHA when it gave Vulcan the rights to redevelop Yesler Terrace, and headed the City's committee on South Lake Union zoning and affordable housing).

I suspect that closed-door strategy meetings with corporate donors and senior Parks officials making false statements to the BPC with the encouragement or at least tacit approval of the City Council (all of whom, excepting Sawant, were apprised of the above yet had no opjection that I know of) is not most people's idea of good Parks governance. The existing BPC, weak as it is, at least has members nominated by both the mayor and Council. The new, additional advisory committee would be picked by the Council alone, and likely not for independent mindedness. Checks and balances are an important part of policy making. Accountability requires an elected BPC with final approval/veto power.

If public/private partnerships can be advanced by ignoring City regulations, how long would an MPD keep the voluntary interlocal agreement? In the context of the Denny Park decision-making, ask why the Council want the authority to tax the public without giving us a vote on specific projects?

Vote no on Prop 1.
More...
Posted by Redten on August 3, 2014 at 1:34 PM · Report this
37
And Michael Maddux:

"Don and Carol are bad people and also I work for the Prop1 campaign and I can see Tim Eyman from my house. Also."

is not an argument.
Posted by Redten on August 3, 2014 at 1:40 PM · Report this
38
Apologies for the double post.
Posted by Redten on August 3, 2014 at 1:49 PM · Report this
39
Sure glad the MPA as presented hasn't got a cat's chance in hell of passing but really mad that the MPA hasn't been configured in such a way that it could.
Posted by wsdw on August 3, 2014 at 11:32 PM · Report this
40
@8 and others. Why does "stable funding" require a taxing cap that is nearly 4 times current levy and 2.5 very generous initial tax rate of MPA. You have to be really dumb if you don't think that has been done with the anticipation that it might be used for (1) a sport arena we don't want; (2) an extravagent waterfront park or (3) shifting all operations of parks out of general fund.
Posted by wsdw on August 3, 2014 at 11:36 PM · Report this

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