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Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Archive for October, 2011

Recommendations for November 8, 2011 Elections

Posted by Warren Peterson on October 25, 2011

State Issues:

Initiative 1125 – Limits use of tolling, use of toll revenue, bans variable pricing and requires the Legislature to set rates.

Tolls are here to stay. They make sense in that users of toll roads pay. This Tim Eyman measure sees them as a form of a tax or fee that needs to be limited in scope and cost. I lived the future for Washington on a recent trip to the East Coast. Driving the length of New Jersey into New York and beyond, numerous tollbooths gobbled coins or electronic charges all along the way including a $12 toll to cross a bridge from New Jersey to the New York City Borough of Staten Island. On the plus side, Initiative 1125 may stop light rail from crossing the Mercer Island I-90 bridge but it may also make toll backed bonds more expensive. Investors shy away from bonds backed by tolls if a legislature sets the toll rates; too exposed to politics. Legal wrangles can also be expected if 1125 passes. A good discussion on 1125 can be found on Washington Policy Center review of Initiative 1125

A close call but VOTE NO.

Initiative 1163 – Affects training and adds other requirements for long-term care workers.

This initiative has many “sounds good” “feel good” provisions but a red flag goes up when one learns that it is heavily supported by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), an aggressive union primarily of government workers. It would raise costs just when the Legislature and Governor are struggling to balance the state budget. See Seattle Times editorial on Init 1163.


Initiative 1183 – Privatizes beer, wine and liquor sales

Big Booze distributors vs Costco. On principle the state should not be in a private business. This initiative would require the state to sell its distribution warehouses and stores to private competition. The state would retain its regulation and enforcement responsibilities. It is estimated that the state would gain $267 million over the next six years if the measure passes. A good discussion on 1183 can be found on Washington Policy Center review of Initiative 1183


Senate Joint Resolution 8205 – Removes an inoperative provision in the State Constitution regarding length of residence in Washington required to vote in a presidential election.

House keeping action with no known opposition.


Senate Joint Resolution 8206 – Requires “extraordinary” revenue to the state be deposited in the “rainy day” fund.

This initiative requires the state to deposit a portion of extraordinary revenue, defined as growth of general state revenue that is more than one third greater than a baseline average over the previous ten years, into the rainy day fund. If passed, it will provide a restraint on the Legislature from ramping up expenditure in the good economic years as if those years will continue forever. Part of our current budget problems comes from increased pending when revenue was high but now can’t be sustained as revenue falls due to the recession. See Spokesman-Review Editorial on SJR 8206


King County Contested Races:

Director of Elections – Incumbent Sherril Huff is clearly more qualified than her opponent, Mark Greene, who seems to have an axe to grind regarding his run for Congress in 2004.


Council District 6 – Incumbent Jane Hague vs Richard Mitchell. In its endorsement of Hague, the Seattle Times noted that “Mitchell would make a fine representative in a Seattle district that votes 80% Democrat.” Disregarding Hague’s four-year-old DUI, she still fits her moderate Republican district better than Mitchell.


Council District 8 – Incumbent Joe McDermott was originally appointed to this seat when Dow Constantine was elected King County Executive. His opponent, Diana Toledo, has little chance of winning in this heavily Democrat district (sssh, don’t tell anyone but she’s a Republican). For a “show the flag” vote –


Port of Seattle:

Position 1 – Incumbent Gael Tarleton vs perennial candidate Richard Pope. Should you be tempted to vote for Pope, see July 2010 article in the Seattle Weekly.


Position 5 – Incumbent Bill Bryant is a class act among our regions elected officials. The candidate statements in the King County Voters’ Pamphlet make the choice clear.


City of Seattle:

Choices in the City Council races are the usual between left and left or in some cases farther left. I don’t expect any of my non-incumbent recommended candidates will win but the dearth of meaningful (read conservative or even moderate Republican) opposition calls out for a protest vote; for what its worth:

Position 1 – Incumbent, 80 year old Jean Godden vs. Bobby Forch. Age aside, Forch gets the edge by supporting a roll back of the extended parking hours. The Council approved extending parking meter use from 6 PM to 8 PM in selected parts of the city.


Position 3 – Incumbent Bruce Harrell vs. Brad Meacham – While Meacham’s endorsements say he’s just another Seattle liberal, he may be a tad more centered than Harrell.


Position 5 – Incumbent Tom Rasmussen vs. Dale L. Pusey. Obama proved you don’t need experience to be elected to public office. Pusey is on the same track but he is asking some questions the Council needs to hear.


Position 7 – Incumbent Tim Burgess vs. David Schraer – Burgess is an ex police officer and rumored to be a candidate for Mayor in 2013. Still left of center but like I say, given the choices –


Position 9 – Incumbent Sally Clark vs. Dian Ferguson – Ferguson opposes the $60 car tab fee (see ballot issues) and Clark voted for increased parking times and fees and the sick leave requirement for businesses in Seattle. Technically these votes did not increase taxes but they sure cost the public and small business money. Clark will win but a protest vote may be in order.


Seattle Ballot Issues:

Proposition 1 – Families and Education Levy – I generally support school levies and have voted for this one in past years but not this time. The City Council and the Mayor, apparently oblivious to the economy, have submitted a levy for double the amount of the expiring levy. The promised benefits are similar to previous levies but little is said about accomplishments. A good discussion on this levy can be found on Washington Policy Center review of Seattle’s Families and Education levy.


Seattle Transportation Benefit District:

Proposition 1 – Increases vehicle license fee by $60 and spends revenue on loosely defined projects from roads to transit to bike lanes to pie in the sky; another gift from our clueless City Council. See Municipal League Opposes Prop 1


Seattle School District #1:

A little history – In 2003, the Seattle School Board took a hit for a district finance employee’s error that double spent about $9 million in expenditures. The employee tried to cover up the mistake and before it was discovered the problem had ballooned another $9 million or so and set in motion a major budget shortfall. A “reform” group composed of two Green Party members and two city employees won seats on the board. Their performance was so dysfunctional that a slate of business-backed candidates replaced them in 2007. Now the incumbents, on the heels of a scandal surrounding minority contractor outreach and the firing of the Superintendent, raise the possibility of another wholesale change of board membership. The challengers generally appear qualified but their election will like 2003 cause the learning curve to start all over again. A part-time board with limited staff (one auditor and a couple of support people) is at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the superintendent, her staff and numerous pressure groups. It is hard to see how the education, occupations and experience of the challengers trumps that of the incumbents – a lawyer, two Boeing managers and a former Russell Investments director all with four years experience in the trenches of the School District. Don’t expect any real change in education until the governor and legislature break the hold of the education unions and that won’t happen while the Democrats are in charge.


Cross posted on Sound Politics


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