January 16, 2007
The Underwhelming Priorities Of The Seattle City Council

The Seattle Times reports this morning that at its regularly scheduled meeting today the Seattle City Council will discuss 2007 priorities. I'll get to those, below. Reporter Bob Young notes the council's gravitas, long unimpressive, was not aided by the body's recent commissioning of a poem that read in part, "Each member, eyes forward, strokes to heal the vices while meetings ripple like drops across the waters."

Personally, I'm not too big on government "stroking" anything - including itself - or "healing vices." But I'd like to see about 225 more cops, beyond current commitments, added to the badly undermanned Seattle force. As far as the meetings which poetically "ripple like drops across waters," this is because council members typically cast tiny pebbles into the waters. Which brings us to the council's '07 committee priorities.

With the exception of Council President Nick Licata, who pretty squarely addresses police staffing, the rest is largely piffle. Take a look for yourself, via the link directly above.

Seattle government needs to get out of marginalia and social engineering, and get deeper into improving core municipal functions.

We need a robust, well-managed electrical utility; plus more and better-maintained parks, free (especially in downtown) of drunks and druggies. We need crumbling curbs repaired promptly; and we need beneficial and affordable transportation infrastructure expansion, perhaps significantly aided by private sector investment.

We also need city council members who understand that Seattle is part of a larger region where the pace of growth, vehicle use and land development will continue and intensify, carrying significant economic and social benefits at the same time that important environmental challenges are posed.

It would also be nice if city government leaders would engineer some kind of bold intervention - rather than sideline gawking - directed at the smoking train wreck that is the Seattle Public Schools.

Finally, if the Seattle City Council would like to do some "visioning" that eschews stroking to heal vices, casting tiny pebbles into the water, and assuming the socialist mantle of "social justice" and "equity;" I have some suggested language to help them get centered. In the fine tradition of issuing city council proclamations, they might adopt this as the Seattle City Council Zeitgeist. (Of course, that could require a new city council).

WE, the Seattle City Council, do hereby proclaim that Seattle, Washington State, and The United States are exemplars of equal rights, equal opportunity, and The American Dream. Lawful residents and citizens of our municipality, state and nation enjoy robust economic, political, personal, legal and religious rights. These rights ensure that individuals and groups can have their concerns addressed on the related merits and demerits, whether in an initiative to the people; elected bodies; a court of law; or the court of public opinion. An urban political climate in which the politics of victimization and outrage are ascendant is one that demeans the great freedoms and opportunities we all enjoy. Further, Seattle's vaunted emphasis on diversity must more explicitly and sincerely acknowledge the value of political diversity.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at January 16, 2007 09:14 AM | Email This
1. Oh I don't know, I would like to give them a few "strokes to heal the vices" - like with a cat of nine tails or a bull whip.

Posted by: JDH on January 16, 2007 08:57 AM
2. Personally, I'm not too big on government "stroking" anything - including itself - or "healing vices."

Hahaha! Whatever, Matt. You wrote a post last week about why it was so important for the government to protect people from using marijuana. You're as bad of a nanny-stater as anyone in the Seattle City Council (and they're real bad).

Posted by: thehim on January 16, 2007 09:00 AM
3. If we all just loved each other, we wouldn't need police. It's mothers and fathers that want to get ahead and provide a safe, loving environment for their children that are causing all the problems in this city. Especially those that attend church and give freely to charities.

Posted by: Dengle on January 16, 2007 09:05 AM
4. thehim@2, I wrote that I was open to legalization of drugs, with the provision that government not be saddled with associated health care costs. hardly a "nanny-stater" position.

Posted by: Matt Rosenberg on January 16, 2007 09:08 AM
5. I think the Seattle City Council should be required to compose an original Haiku at the beginning of each meeting. (And they all must agree on the wording before proceeding.)

Posted by: Doc-T on January 16, 2007 09:16 AM
6. #4 Sorry Matt
That will never happen! Plus being a medic and seeing as many druggies as I do, not sure I could go for it. Europe is having it's own nightmare after allowing drugs. I don't know the answer, but I'm not this would work.

Posted by: Army medic/Vet on January 16, 2007 09:19 AM
7. I agree with almost all of your list, Matt.

However, I'm surprised not one of the City Council members, given their proclivities, mentioned transit improvements, such as bus-only lanes.

Providing an alternative to driving and sitting in traffic is a quality of life issue, just like parks and libraries.

Posted by: MHD on January 16, 2007 09:32 AM
8. The PI mentioned some bonuses. Does anyone know what paying staff bonuses in Seattle is about?

Posted by: WVH on January 16, 2007 09:34 AM
9. Yeah, they need more cops to bust all of those strippers and the prostitutes on craigslist. After all, we MUST be protected from the evil sins of the flesh.

Reassign and reprioritize all of those officers FIRST, and then hire more and put them on the streets.

Posted by: Palouse on January 16, 2007 09:35 AM
10. You know it's pretty cut and dry policing that we need in downtown. So many officers just drive by druggies and drunks on their way to 911 calls. And we do have a few beat cops, but they've gotten to know the assorted street level offenders so well, they're more likely to shake hands and shoot the breeze then do anything about transgressors.

Perhaps what this City needs is not only a more informed and active Council, but an executive who does more then hold press conferences.

Someone should make a YouTube video about the craigslist and strip club raids, lacing in a few good laughs about the Viaduct "indecision" and "nanny-state" school marms running the circus show that is the City of Seattle.

Posted by: Patrick on January 16, 2007 10:18 AM
11. I'm with #10.

Visit 85th NW & Aurora after dark. It isn't some secluded inter-ghetto intersection. (I advise _driving_ by).

Posted by: Al on January 16, 2007 10:27 AM
12. you're pretty underwhelming yourself matt. What does 225 cops cost? Why don't you propose some new taxes or some cuts to pay for 225 cops? Or should they just donate their time and provide their own cop cars? you're just whining otherwise.

if you believe the republican talking points, you could actually cut taxes, the seattle economy would grow and there were be lots of money to pay for the cops. is that your proposal? what is? are you being silly or serious?

Posted by: Jake on January 16, 2007 10:37 AM
13. jake@12: the working figure I've been given by police and others closely following the staffing issue here is that each new patrol officer costs about $100K/yr. in salary and bennies. All serious discussions of major Seattle cop manpower boosts have assumed a time frame of about five years. So 225 cops over five years would mean 45 new cops per year at an additional cost per annum of $4.5 mill, or $22.5 mill over the five years.

By contrast, the city spends $800 million per year from its general fund, based on the recently-approved 07-08 budget of $1.6 billion. So for each of those five years, the council would have to cut only slightly more than one-half of one percent of current annual general fund expenditures to pay for 45 new cops. There's room for this to be done in a variety of ways; optimally while also undertaking a broader refocusing of city budget priorities.

Posted by: Matt Rosenberg on January 16, 2007 11:23 AM
14. these idiots gave council staffers 6 percent raises? man they sure are loose with the public dime. in fact if i remember, the average city employee makes about 60k a year, way above median income for the city. anyone else bothered by that?

Posted by: Harry Callahan on January 16, 2007 11:50 AM
15. I'm kinda sorta bothered about paying for a poem. If the council wants poetry, maybe they should write it themselves. That way it's free, and would keep them busy enough so they could do less harm.

Posted by: katomar on January 16, 2007 11:58 AM
16. Council:
too many people,
with too much time,
and too much power,
enacting too many self-aggrandizing
and intrusive
micromanaging rules.

someone--please--shake the Etch-A-Sketch.

start over.

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on January 16, 2007 01:50 PM
17. Nice poem. Now the council needs to hire some stone masons to start carving huge busts of the councilcrats - ala Mt. Rushmore - on the bluffs below Discovery Park. It would be a beautiful sight for folks on the cruise ships. Give those visitors a glimpse of the real Seattle.

Posted by: Tyler Durden on January 16, 2007 05:18 PM
18. they don't have the balls to tackle the real issues: gun control and transportation. those city council meetings are like being stuck in a hall of mirrors. the "state of the council" report yesterday was nothing but a joint political rally. who brought the pom poms? Thankfully, Clark and Rasmussen have some sense, but the others, bah! start over.

Posted by: thecoast on January 17, 2007 03:05 PM
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