Caffeinated News & Gossip. Your daily Morning Fizz.
1. Later this morning, the city council's finance committee will get a look at some of the land-use issues around Chris Hansen's proposed arena, which he has proposed building on several parcels of land he's bought in SoDo.
One issue that will come up is the fact that Hansen doesn't have the proper zoning for a smallish, triangular piece of land on the east side of the site.[pullquote]In a twist of fate that could be unfortunate for Hansen, the land is owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.[/pullquote]
In a twist of fate that could be unfortunate for him, that land is owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, which uses it as a parking lot for BNSF employees. If BNSF declines to sell the land, Hansen has said he'll just build the arena on the remaining parcels. But that would preclude Hansen from using the site for parking.
The committee will talk about all of that and more---including a potential choke point at the entrance the adjacent Safeco Field---today at 9:30.
2. One of the main arguments made by critics of the proposed arena is that it violates Initiative 91, the measure requiring investments in sports facilities to return a "fair value" to the city, or the rate of a US Treasury Bond.
After reading over documents prepared by city council staffers on I-91's applicability to the arena, Fizz is convinced that the deal wouldn't violate I-91 (though not for the reason Hansen claims---that the deal would bring in far more than the 2.7 percent rate of a Treasury Bond).
Essentially, I-91 applies only to cash investments, which you figure out by dividing net proceeds by the amount of cash used to finance the project (cash over cash return.) Because the arena would be financed by bonds, there's no way to calculate fair value---dividing proceeds by cash would mean dividing proceeds by zero, an impossible calculation.
3. And another factoid about the proposed arena deal: Supporters are fond of saying that the deal "pays for itself"—a rosy statement that should get everybody's Spider Senses tingling.
What they're referring to—slyly—isn't that there's no financial risk (there certainly is that: What if, for example, Hansen's deal with another funder, say a big deal bank, trumps his roughly $15 million annual obligation to the city?). No, they're referring to the fact that in order to pay off the bonds (a $450 million proposition over 30 years), the city doesn't need to institute a new tax, like the $290 property tax measure to pay for the seawall. For the arena, the city will be relying on existing revenue streams: sales taxes and rent on city-owned land.
In other words, there doesn't need to be a public vote.
4. Speaking of the arena debate: Join PubliCola at EVO Cabaret on Capitol Hill on July 30 for a public forum on the arena featuring: ESPN 710 host Mike Salk; former Seattle City Council president (and arena detractor ... and mayoral hopeful?) Peter Steinbrueck; Seattle Port Commissioner Tom Albro; and Seattle City Council member Mike O'Brien.
Erica Barnett and Josh Feit will be moderating.
5. A new poll paid for by moderate state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens) shows Hobbs in a dead heat with the two more high-profile candidates in the Democratic race to make it through the primary in the 1st Congressional District. Netroots lefty Darcy Burner is at 13, Hobbs is at 12, and former state Department of Revenue head Suzan DelBene is at 11.[pullquote]The DelBene TV ads appear to be working.[/pullquote]
But the news isn't that longshot Hobbs, who's miles behind in fundraising, is surging (and again, it's his poll); it's the numbers on DelBene that are Fizz-worthy.
DelBene is the establishment favorite, and she rolled out an expensive TV campaign this month after finding herself at the bottom of the barrel last month; the previous poll, a June 1 KING 5 poll, had her at just 4 percent (and Burner way ahead at 19).
DelBene's TV appears to be working, though her jump happened before an independent expenditure group backing Laura Ruderman, another candidate in the race, (paid for by Laura Ruderman's mom!) trashed DelBene.
6. Here's an odd boast for a campaign flyer: In a recent mailer, incumbent state Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-46, N. Seattle), who's battling a real challenge from well-financed Democratic insurgent Sylvester Cann, says: "In just 60 days, Gerry succeeded in having a bill to end predatory towing rates pass the house. With Gerry returning, we'll pass the senate. You shouldn't risk losing your car or a month's rent just because you parked in the wrong spot."
First, boasting about a bill that failed (why will this time be different?) is odd. Second, the city of Seattle officially opposed the bill because, in an absolute cluster fuck, Pollet undermined the city's demand to negotiate even lower rates.
7. As a Minnesota state representative, King County Sheriff Steve Strachan sponsored two bills placing new restrictions on abortion rights: 1) a 2003 bill that imposed a 24-hour waiting period on women seeking abortions and required doctors to provide dubious information to women about "fetal pain," referrals to religious crisis pregnancy centers, and detailed information about fetal development; and 2) a 2004 bill that barred family planning grants for funding abortions or referring women to abortion providers.
A reader has alerted Fizz to another Strachan-sponsored bill related to abortion---this one requiring parental consent for any girl under 18 to get an abortion, except in cases of incest (but not rape).
Back in 2003, NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota gave Strachan a 0 percent rating on their issues.
Earlier this year, Strachan, who was appointed by the King County Council to replace Sue Rahr and is running for reelection in November against KC Sheriff spokesman John Urquhart, told PubliCola his position on abortion had "evolved."