Citizen Petition No. 1 establishes a new city transportation authority to study another monorail proposal.
I was all in favor of the previous monorail proposal that got started and then later shot down at the polls due to a concern over how much it would cost. I am not in favor of this. Here are my reasons.
We had a shot at a monorail, and this proposal doesn’t bring a new idea to the table. It focuses on West Seattle to Ballard, which is already being studied by Sound Transit, and it doesn’t include other possible corridors.
Sound Transit Light Rail is up and running, soI’d rather we focus on expanding light rail to new neighborhoods. Sound Transit itself is an organization with a track record of completing new segments early and under budget, though with a long time frame and large budget.
The proposition is the brainchild of Elizabeth Campbell, who has a history of half-baked activism. The organization that put this on the ballot couldn’t get it’s ballot statement submitted on time. Putting them in charge of a new transportation authority is a recipe for failure.
The folks at Seattle Transit Blog are public transportation wonks, and Seattle Transit Blog opposes the monorail measure. These are the most extreme pro-transit people with a platform in Seattle, with knowledge to back that up, not some conservative road-happy developers.
The history of this one is a little convoluted. Labor unions ran an initiative to do a number of things regarding childcare, chief among them raise the childcare worker minimum wage to $15 per hour and require training and certification. They got enough signatures. The city council worked on a universal preschool pilot program. The propositions aren’t exactly one or the other like initiatives 591 and 594 are, but they both concern how to help preschool age children. So the city made it an either-or proposition.
My assumptive goal is to provide children with the resources to be functioning members of society.
So, if either of these measure does that, I’m going to vote yes on part 1. So on to checking both proposals:
1A does a few things:
It sets the minimum wage for child care workers at $15 per hour with a phase-in of three years. The city council passed a $15 minimum wage that can phase in for up to 7 years. I see no reason to make that more complicated. It was a hard negotiated compromise, and I opposed businesses messing with it and I oppose labor messing with it.
1A mandates that the city adopt goals, timelines and milestones to institute a policy that no family pay more than 10% of their income for early education and child care. While that’s a laudable goal, I think a hard limit of 10% is misguided as it doesn’t factor in number of children, their needs, or their families’ circumstances. I think a sliding scale based on family income and adjusted for other factors is a better target. That’s what 1B does.
1A states that violent felons cannot provide child care in a licensed or unlicensed facility. This is perfectly reasonable, though I’d be surprised if the state doesn’t already prohibit violent felons from working in child care facilities.
1A requires the city hire a Provider Organization to facilitate communication between childcare workers and the city. As far as I can tell from the requirements in the initiative, that organization would need to be one of the unions that is sponsoring the measure. I’m all for unionization, but this seems a bit like making the city talk to the union and pay for the privilege.
1A would establish a training institute to be run by the Provider Organization from the last bullet point that would train and certify all childcare workers. Requiring training and licensing seems fine with me, but requiring the program to be run by a union seems a big loss of independence. I’d rather it be run by another organization, or the city itself.
1A creates a Workforce Board to oversee the measure, including the training institute and standards. Half the board is nominated by the mayor, half by the Provider Organization. That seems like too large amount of influence to give to a union.
1A creates a fund to assist small child care providers to meet city standards. That seems like a great idea.
One thing not listed in this is where the funding for it comes from. That isn’t a definitive reason to vote against it in my view, but it does mean I’m gonna look hard at it. The city would have one more priority to work into an existing budget and it’s not like we have a lot of extra money floating around. I’d prefer if we had an explicit ordered priority for our budget so new things like this could be slotted in at some spot in the priority. We don’t, and so the city is going to have to do it, and going to have to cut something or raise taxes for it (and we don’t have much room to raise with current legislative limits). We could raise property taxes similarly to how 1B does it, but will require another vote. I’d much rather it be included in this vote.
All in all, I’m leaning against this, primarily for the reason that it puts too much control into the hands of the industry to regulate and manage itself on the city’s dime. It seems like a way to restrain trade rather than improve education and child care.
Proposition 1B creates a four year pilot early learning (i.e., preschool) program with the goal of making it permanent and covering all preschool age children in the city. It will have free or sliding scale tuition based on income. The oversight board includes 12 members of the Families and Education Oversight Committee, which is (I believe) an existing committee that oversees a previous levy. 4 additional members would be part of the oversight board, and they would be Seattle residents with interest and experience with the growth and development of children. Only one of them can be from an organization that receives funding through the measure.
The proposition enacts a property tax that raises $14 million to fund the pilot program. The city won’t need to prioritize other programs out of the budget.
Proposition 1B seems to be a good faith attempt to provide education to young children, which is my goal, rather than provide a large amount of control to a union. I’m all for unions, and even giving them seats at the table. But they should not be in charge, as their interests are with their members, not with children. I don’t think they are opposed to children’s interests, but they aren’t synonymous.
Upshot is, I’ll be voting yes for part 1 of proposition 1, and for 1B for part 2.
Due to the remnants of a Tim Eyman initiative, we have advisory votes on anything that can be construed as a tax increase that’s passed by the legislature. There are only two such this year.
Advisory Vote No. 8
After we legalized marijuana two years ago, marijuana growers qualified for standard preferences for agriculture. The legislature eliminated that preference for them, costing about $25 million a year. I am relishing the thought of conservatives having to vote for a tax increase or for marijuana. Since our state is undertaxed, there’s no way I’m voting against what’s essentially a sin tax. That was part of the argument for the marijuana legalization initiative. Legalize it and tax it. So here we are. I’m voting maintained.
Advisory Vote No. 9
The legislature added $1.3 million in excise taxes on leasehold interests in tribal properties. I have no idea what exactly that is, but this is exactly the sort of thing we elect the legislature for. Absent a compelling reason against it, I’m voting maintained.
The Sound Transit Board passed Resolution No. R2008-11 concerning an expansion of mass transit. This measure would expand and coordinate light-rail, commuter-rail, and (beginning 2009) express bus service, and improve access to transit facilities in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties, and authorize Sound Transit to impose an additional five-tenths of one percent sales and use tax, and to use existing taces to fund the local share of the $17.9 billion estimated cost (includes construction, operations, maintenance, interest and inflation), with independent audits, as described in Resolution R2008-11 and the Mass Transit Guide. Should this measure be approved?
I would dearly love to see them pick better neighborhoods to serve. Rainier Valley was good choice. West Seattle, Ballard, Bellevue, Lake City, the Aurora corridor, and other places would have been better. Nevertheless, buses aren’t the answer. And we’re not getting a monorail. So light rail it is. One light rail train can carry far more passengers than a host of cars. Seattle will never be a world-class city without this. It will spur economic growth along the rail lines. It will reduce congestion. It will give us a lot without taking anything away except a little bit of money temporarily.
The City of Seattle’s Proposition 2 concerns increased property taxes for six years for parks purposes.
If approved, this proposition would fund acquiring, developing and restoring parks, recreation facilities, cultural facilities, green spaces, playfields, trails, community gardens, and shoreline areas; all as provided in Ordinance 122749. It would authorize regular property taxes higher than RCW 84.55 limits, allowing collection of up to $24,250,000 in additional taxes in 2009 (up to $145,500,000 over si years). Taxes collected in 2009 would be limited to $2.60 per $1,000 of assessed value, including approximately $0.19 of additional taxes.
Should this levy lid lift be approved?
It’s kinda pricey, but there’s a good argument for it. If Seattle is going to become a world-class city, it’s going to get a lot denser. The additional people will not have the single family home and yard that has been Seattle’s reason for being for a century. We’ll need open spaces and green spaces for people. That means parks. And we need to start developing them now, so that we will be ready when we are a bigger city.
The City of Seattle’s Proposition No. 1 concerns increased property taxes for six years for Pike Place Market.
If approved, this propsition would fund seismic, safety, energy-saving, and other basic infrastructure improvements at the publicly-owned Pike Place Market, last renovated in the 1970s; all as provided in Ordinance 122737. It would authorize regular property taxes higher than RCW 84.55 limits, allowing collection of up to $12,500,000 in additional taxes in 2009 (up to $73,000,000 over six years). Taxes collected in 2009 would be limited to $2.60 per $1,000 of assessed value, including approximately $0.10 of additional taxes.
Should this levy lid lift be approved?
I am torn on this one, but ultimately I think I will vote for it.
Mostly I just don’t know that the benefit to Seattle is worth the public cost. I don’t think Pike Place Market really brings in that many tourists. Sure they’ll go there once they get here. But I don’t think it brings additional tourists who wouldn’t have come otherwise. On the other hand, I like the market (I used to hang out there every day after high school) and I like the ability to buy fresh foods and handmade items. But I don’t go there that often anymore. I’d love to see businesses renting there put up more of the infrastructure money.
Shall the King County Charter be amended to make the offices of King county executive, King county assessor and King county council nonpartisan, and to establish the nonpartisan selection of districting committee members?
The primary effect of this change would be to obscure the party affiliation of Republicans in a heavily Democratic county. Some districts are less Democratic leaning, but the county continues to trend more and more to the left.
Sure, the counter-argument is that a candidate can put his endorsements of parties in his statement. But if a Republican doesn’t want to be identified as a Republican, he/she just omits it.
If it actually got rid of party influence in elections, i’d be for it. But it’s just hiding things, so I oppose.
Shall King County Charter Section 800 be amended to establish a new process for citizens to directly propose amendment to the King County Charter and to increase the signature threshold for citizen-initiated charter amendments from 10% to 20% of the votes cast in the last election for county executive, as provided in Ordinance No. 16221?
This amendment is a mixed bag. Right now the King County Charter does not have an explicit process for being amended by citizen initiative. Because of the Washington State constitution and the state Supreme Court, however, we have an initiative process. I didn’t go search for the case, but I suspect the state initiative petition right holds for every government in Washington. However, the current process is pretty damn cumbersome. First, you have to collect signatures amounting to 10% of the previous turnout for King County Executive. Then, an election is held to decide whether to place the charter amendment on a later ballot. Let me repeat that in different words. We have an election, a full election, to decide whether or not to have another election. I think that’s because it isn’t part of the charter, so we can only enact ordinances by initiative. And an ordinance cannot change the charter, it can only propose a ballot measure to change the charter.
So, the good part is it eliminates the duplicative second election.
The bad part is that the number of signatures is raised from 10% to 20%. I don’t think one percentage is any more magical than another, but we’re not inundated with ballot measures proposed by the people. Most of the measures on the current ballot were proposed by a charter commission or the county council. An argument could be made that this is still necessary because we wouldn’t have the filtering step of the first election. I’d prefer we remove the extra election first, and then see if we need to raise the signature bar later.
I know, it’s not often I agree with Tim Eyman. I’m not opposed to raising the signature requirement on principle. I’d just prefer to wait and see.
On balance though, I think it’s a good charter amendment and I’ll vote for it. I can live with the higher threshold, and I like reducing the cumbersome process.
Again, sure. This is fine. And again, why are we voting on this? Purely procedural an uncontroversial, as evidenced by absolutely no one opposing it (no statement against). This should be able to be changed by the council itself without the expense of an election.
Shall the King County Charter be amended to require the establishment of a forecast council and an office of economic analysis, as provided in Ordinance No. 162077?
Sounds good to me. Any government could use good economic analysis in its decision-making. I wonder about a couple of things though. First, could this be pooled with other governments so it’s not duplicating something Washington State or Seattle or Bellevue are doing? Second, why is this part of the charter? Seems pretty procedural to me and should just be voted on by the county council. But I’ll vote yes.