Isn't It Weird That: The Times "Loves" Parks, But...

A weird thing we noticed about the Seattle Times' opposition to this year's parks funding measure.

By Josh Feit July 10, 2014

Isn't it weird that... the Seattle Times editorialized this week that voters should reject this year's permanent parks funding measure because they'd prefer Seattle's traditional levy renewal funding approach, yet they came out against the last two levy proposals? 

(No inconsistency, I guess, but to mangle an old phrase: They were against parks funding before they were against it.) 

Channeling the same argument as the anti-Prop. 1 campaign that a permanent parks district is unaccountable (The Times says Prop. 1 creates a "shadow city government"), their July 8 editorial favored the levy system: "We love parks, but return with a levy or alternate measure that prioritizes park needs, holds officials more accountable and preserves citizen participation."

Let's get weird. The Times wants a levy because the proposed parks district is too permanent. But when the parks levy was on the ballot in 2008, the Times came out against it because a levy was too permanent. 

Coming out against the most recent parks levy in 2008, the Seattle Times wrote: 

Vote NO on the Seattle Parks Levy. This is an attempt to turn the eight-year park levy into an all-but-permanent taxing system for parks outside the regular budget. This is ill-timed and ill-presented.

And coming out against the previous levy in 2000, the Seattle Times wrote: 

Proposition 1: NO

This appealing parks proposal has a number of serious flaws that bring us to a reluctant conclusion. Elected officials should pare it down, take out maintenance dollars, use tax revenues in flush times for some land acquisition. We love parks, but we don't like this proposal.

There they are loving parks again, but voting no.

And that bit about taking out maintenance dollars is particularly galling. Coming out against this year's proposal the Times complains that it doesn't do enough for maintenance.

The Times was against funding maintenance before, but they complain that this proposal doesn't do enough to fund maintenance? 

They write: "Despite campaign rhetoric calling on voters to invest in fixing parks, Proposition 1 would dedicate only about 58 percent, or $28 million, of revenue in the district’s first year toward chipping away at the city’s $270 million maintenance backlog. Eight percent, or $3 million, would pay for maintaining facilities. More than a quarter of the budget is slated for new programs and expansion."

So, they were against funding maintenance before, but they complain that current proposal doesn't do enough to fund maintenance? 

The reason for a permanent parks fund is precisely so voters aren't hit up every six years to maintain past levies as opposed to building new parks.

With this year's call to make parks a permanent priority, anti-parks voices can't hide behind baby-with-bathwater arguments. As the record shows, the Times is simply against parks funding, however it's presented.

The permanent Metropolitan Parks District property tax vote is on August 5; voters are being asked to approve a $0.33 tax per $1,000 of assessed property value—or $132.00 per year on a $400,000 property, $4 more per month than what people pay now under the expiring levy. 

Here are our pro and con editorials.  


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