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At First People Laughed
1. At a packed public hearing at city hall last night, fans, skeptics, and foes of the proposed new arena made their case for and against the arena. The basic arguments have been hashed out ad infinitum on both sides—pro: the public's $200 million loan comes with a series of guarantees such as investor Chris Hansen's pledge to make up any difference in lacking tax revenue each year; con: it will screw up transportation for the Port of Seattle; pro: it will make Seattle a "World Class City"; con: the city's Key Arena employees (out in force) were scared of losing unionized jobs.
We'll just give you a couple of our favorite quotes from both sides last night.
In the pro camp: Tacoma's Kris Brannon, AKA "The Sonics Guy": "A little over three years ago, I started going to events and trying to rally people around the cause of bringing the NBA back to Seattle. … At first, people laughed. Maybe it was the gold pants. But now things have changed with this plan. We are only 10 votes away from bringing NBA basketball back to Seattle.
"There are three reasons you need to approve this plan. First, it’s about creating memories. Second, it's about good-quality, paying jobs. And third, it's about bringing a sense of community back to the region."
And on the con side, high-profile liberal environmental attorney Peter Goldman, who recently made the case in a letter to city and county officials that signing the Memorandum of Agreement before doing the environmental impact statement is dumb, said:
"While not risk-free, the arena proposal is financially credible; I’m not here to deny that. But this does not mean that this proposal is in the general public interest or complies with state law regarding the siting of a public facility. The SoDo facility was forced on our community. … There was no objective, fact-based analysis of its impact on the Port, on transportation, on the evolving movement of cars in this whole area. It was simply a done deal. … respectfully, that’s not the way our policy or our laws should look."
2. Two footnotes:
*PubliCola is holding a forum on the arena deal on Monday, July 30 at EVO cabaret on Capitol Hill at 7 PM featuring ESPN 710 sports radio jock Mike Salk; Seattle City Council member Mike O'Brien; former Seattle City Council member Peter Steinbrueck; and Seattle Port Commissioner Tom Albro. Josh and Erica will moderate the discussion. Bring your questions.
*While we definitely see the promise for our city in bringing back the NBA, we're much more excited about another corporate business model that's about to transform our city (with no public investment necessary and likely to directly serve a lot more people): the new 100,000 square foot (mini) City Target, at 2nd between Pike and Union, opening July 29. Shout out to Norm Rice.[pullquote]Harrell says he recognizes that the city can't, and shouldn't, fund religious groups directly. "What I want to do is take mentoring, faith-based and gang outreach groups and have them work together under one umbrella."[/pullquote]
3. City council member Bruce Harrell says he would like to figure out a way to get city gang-prevention dollars to religious organizations that do gang outreach and prevention work, perhaps by having them set up a 501(c)3 nonprofit that could accept money from the city. Harrell says he recognizes that the city can't, and shouldn't, fund religious groups directly.
"What I want to do is take mentoring, faith-based and gang outreach groups and have them work together under one umbrella," Harrell says. "What I'm saying is that the city should get behind this as a strategic investment."
4. Republican state Sen. Steve Litzow just sent out a mailer headlined "A Good Man is Hard to Find!" Under Litzow's photo on the mail piece are pictures and testimonials from five women, including retiring Democratic state Rep. Deb Eddy (D-48) (his campaign co-chair), Seattle/King County Board of Realtors member Terry Miller, and Washington Conservation Voters' Jessica Brand.
The mailer is pretty tone deaf, considering: a) The implication that women are stuck looking for a "good man" do the tough work of being a legislator and b) The fact that Litzow's only opponent, Democrat Maureen Judge, is a woman.
Litzow has gained support among some pro-choice advocates because he supports gay rights and was once on the board of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington's political committee (as was Judge). However, he voted to block last year's Reproductive Parity Act, which would have required companies that fund maternity care to also pay for abortions, causing NARAL to rescind their Litzow endorsement.
5. At Tuesday's meeting of the city council's public safety committee, assistant SPD chief Jim Pugel unveiled some alarming statistics: Although misdemeanor domestic violence charges have declined between 16 and 17 percent since 2011, more serious and violent DV crimes (felony domestic violence and aggravated assaults) have spiked dramatically. Felony DV reports, Pugel noted, have gone up by 26 percent, while the proportion of aggravated assaults linked to domestic violence has climbed from around 25-27 percent in 2010, to 31 percent in 2011, to 37 percent through June of this year.
One (sad) theory that could explain the jump is that because of the economic downturn, women are more likely to stay in unsafe situations until they escalate to the point of serious violence. "I have to believe that there is some validity to that" theory, City Council public safety chair Bruce Harrell says.
6. Despite the letter that 1st Congressional District candidate Laura Ruderman sent this week telling Progress for Washington, the PAC that's being funded by Ruderman's mom, to stop attacking her opponents, the group has another ($21,000) hit piece targeting Suzan DelBene in the queue, according to the latest FEC reports—bringing mom's credit card bill to $142,000 spent so far.
7. Josh will be on KCTS Connect with Enrique Cerna at 7pm tonight to discuss the week's news: MomGate, Tweetgate, and the arena.
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