Morning Fizz

Why Ask Voters to Pay Twice?

By Morning Fizz April 3, 2011

1. In case you missed it, we published a Q&A with Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes late Friday afternoon. The interview focused exclusively on his standoff with Mayor Mike McGinn over the tunnel referendum.

2. On Friday, city officials and local policy nerds rolled out a series of April Fool's pranks that ranged from groan-worthy to eye-rolling to plausible enough that they fooled us (for a second).

City council member Tim Burgess, riffing off proposals to toll highways including I-405, SR-520, and the downtown deep-bore tunnel, announced a new policy of tolling council members and city staffers to use the east council hallway, which houses the council's central staff. According to Burgess' blog: "automatic sensors and cameras would automatically assess tolls to individuals who choose to walk south of Room 265, the Al Rochester Conference Room. Department staff and visitors are encouraged to buy electronic 'Good for Dough' passes. Individuals without a pass would be identified by camera and toll charges delivered to the appropriate office by Central Staff administrative support."

Council member Richard Conlin, meanwhile, announced a new framework for integrating the city's snow management strategies with its environmental policies. The proposals---which include "reversible storm drains" that would pump salt water from Puget Sound onto streets to melt snow and genetically-modified trees that would create a canopy to keep snow off sidewalks----would seem totally outlandish if not for their source, the guy known for legalizing goats and increasing the number of chickens people can own in the city.

In a brilliant hoax that fooled our wonked-out intern Andrew---who was ready to start gathering signatures---Seattle Transit Blog announced a new initiative that would tie property taxes to density. We don't want to spoil the payoff, so just go read the whole thing.

Finally, in Friday’s most brilliant April Fool’s gag of all, Mayor Mike McGinn announced plans to put a measure on the ballot that could dedicate as much as $10 million to start designing a light rail line to Ballard and West Seattle.

[pullquote]Finally, in Friday's most brilliant April Fool's gag of all, Mayor Mike McGinn announced plans to put a measure on the ballot that could dedicate as much as  $10 million to start designing a light rail line to Ballard and West Seattle.[/pullquote]

Seriously, though doesn't McGinn know that Sound Transit 2, passed by voters in 2008, already earmarks money to design light rail along that corridor? Why ask voters to pay twice for that?

3. We don't think this one's an April Fool's joke, but ominously, it was announced on April 1st. The state house is releasing its much-anticipated (and way late) budget today. The budget faces a $5.3 billion shortfall.

4. Seattle Citizens Against the Tunnel---the group running the original anti-tunnel initiative---has reported another $4,085 contribution from Lee Rabie, a Seattle businessman who owns a car-alarm manufacturing business. That brings Rabie's total contribution to the campaign to $62,315---more than 90 percent of the just under $69,000 the campaign has raised so far.

North Seattle neighborhood activist Fay Garneau gave another $3,500.

5. Two interesting pieces over at the this weekend.

First, despite making the Friday vote cutoff,  the stadium taxes bill—the one that also earmarks money to expand the Seattle Convention Center and fund arts and workforce housing—may be in trouble because not enough senators actually signed the committee report. A recent Elway Poll found that voters are fed up with the taxes and, by a margin of 57-37, don't want them extended.

Second, lefty U.W. academic, Trevor Griffey, has a hefty blog post cataloging 10 reasons is "running roughshod over our Democracy."

For example, reason #2? " is a  World-Class Tax-Dodger."  Check out Griffey's full indictment here.

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