October 24, 2011
Recommendations for November 8, 2011 Elections

State Issues:

Initiative 1125 - Limits use of tolling, use of toll revenue, bans variable pricing and requires the Legislature to set rates.

Tolls are here to stay. They make sense in that users of toll roads pay. This Tim Eyman measure sees them as a form of a tax or fee that needs to be limited in scope and cost. I lived the future for Washington on a recent trip to the East Coast. Driving the length of New Jersey into New York and beyond, numerous tollbooths gobbled coins or electronic charges all along the way including a $12 toll to cross a bridge from New Jersey to the New York City Borough of Staten Island. On the plus side, Initiative 1125 may stop light rail from crossing the Mercer Island I-90 bridge but it may also make toll backed bonds more expensive. Investors shy away from bonds backed by tolls if a legislature sets the toll rates; too exposed to politics. Legal wrangles can also be expected if 1125 passes. A good discussion on 1125 can be found on Washington Policy Center review of Initiative 1125

A close call but VOTE NO.

Initiative 1163 - Affects training and adds other requirements for long-term care workers.

This initiative has many "sounds good" "feel good" provisions but a red flag goes up when one learns that it is heavily supported by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), an aggressive union primarily of government workers. It would raise costs just when the Legislature and Governor are struggling to balance the state budget. See Seattle Times editorial on Init 1163.


Initiative 1183 - Privatizes beer, wine and liquor sales

Big Booze distributors vs Costco. On principle the state should not be in a private business. This initiative would require the state to sell its distribution warehouses and stores to private competition. The state would retain its regulation and enforcement responsibilities. It is estimated that the state would gain $267 million over the next six years if the measure passes. A good discussion on 1183 can be found on Washington Policy Center review of Initiative 1183


Senate Joint Resolution 8205 - Removes an inoperative provision in the State Constitution regarding length of residence in Washington required to vote in a presidential election.

House keeping action with no known opposition.


Senate Joint Resolution 8206 - Requires "extraordinary" revenue to the state be deposited in the "rainy day" fund.

This initiative requires the state to deposit a portion of extraordinary revenue, defined as growth of general state revenue that is more than one third greater than a baseline average over the previous ten years, into the rainy day fund. If passed, it will provide a restraint on the Legislature from ramping up expenditure in the good economic years as if those years will continue forever. Part of our current budget problems comes from increased pending when revenue was high but now can't be sustained as revenue falls due to the recession. See Spokesman-Review Editorial on SJR 8206


King County Contested Races:

Director of Elections - Incumbent Sherril Huff is clearly more qualified than her opponent, Mark Greene, who seems to have an axe to grind regarding his run for Congress in 2004.


Council District 6 - Incumbent Jane Hague vs Richard Mitchell. In its endorsement of Hague, the Seattle Times noted that "Mitchell would make a fine representative in a Seattle district that votes 80% Democrat." Disregarding Hague's four-year-old DUI, she still fits her moderate Republican district better than Mitchell.


Council District 8 - Incumbent Joe McDermott was originally appointed to this seat when Dow Constantine was elected King County Executive. His opponent, Diana Toledo, has little chance of winning in this heavily Democrat district (sssh, don't tell anyone but she's a Republican). For a "show the flag" vote -


Port of Seattle:

Position 1 - Incumbent Gael Tarleton vs perennial candidate Richard Pope. Should you be tempted to vote for Pope, see July 2010 article in the Seattle Weekly.


Position 5 - Incumbent Bill Bryant is a class act among our regions elected officials. The candidate statements in the King County Voters' Pamphlet make the choice clear.


City of Seattle:

Choices in the City Council races are the usual between left and left or in some cases farther left. I don't expect any of my non-incumbent recommended candidates will win but the dearth of meaningful (read conservative or even moderate Republican) opposition calls out for a protest vote; for what its worth:

Position 1 - Incumbent, 80 year old Jean Godden vs. Bobby Forch. Age aside, Forch gets the edge by supporting a roll back of the extended parking hours. The Council approved extending parking meter use from 6 PM to 8 PM in selected parts of the city.


Position 3 - Incumbent Bruce Harrell vs. Brad Meacham - While Meacham's endorsements say he's just another Seattle liberal, he may be a tad more centered than Harrell.


Position 5 - Incumbent Tom Rasmussen vs. Dale L. Pusey. Obama proved you don't need experience to be elected to public office. Pusey is on the same track but he is asking some questions the Council needs to hear.


Position 7 - Incumbent Tim Burgess vs. David Schraer - Burgess is an ex police officer and rumored to be a candidate for Mayor in 2013. Still left of center but like I say, given the choices -


Position 9 - Incumbent Sally Clark vs. Dian Ferguson - Ferguson opposes the $60 car tab fee (see ballot issues) and Clark voted for increased parking times and fees and the sick leave requirement for businesses in Seattle. Technically these votes did not increase taxes but they sure cost the public and small business money. Clark will win but a protest vote may be in order.


Seattle Ballot Issues:

Proposition 1 - Families and Education Levy - I generally support school levies and have voted for this one in past years but not this time. The City Council and the Mayor, apparently oblivious to the economy, have submitted a levy for double the amount of the expiring levy. The promised benefits are similar to previous levies but little is said about accomplishments. A good discussion on this levy can be found on Washington Policy Center review of Seattle's Families and Education levy.


Seattle Transportation Benefit District:

Proposition 1 - Increases vehicle license fee by $60 and spends revenue on loosely defined projects from roads to transit to bike lanes to pie in the sky; another gift from our clueless City Council. See Municipal League Opposes Prop 1


Seattle School District #1:

A little history - In 2003, the Seattle School Board took a hit for a district finance employee's error that double spent about $9 million in expenditures. The employee tried to cover up the mistake and before it was discovered the problem had ballooned another $9 million or so and set in motion a major budget shortfall. A "reform" group composed of two Green Party members and two city employees won seats on the board. Their performance was so dysfunctional that a slate of business-backed candidates replaced them in 2007. Now the incumbents, on the heels of a scandal surrounding minority contractor outreach and the firing of the Superintendent, raise the possibility of another wholesale change of board membership. The challengers generally appear qualified but their election will like 2003 cause the learning curve to start all over again. A part-time board with limited staff (one auditor and a couple of support people) is at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the superintendent, her staff and numerous pressure groups. It is hard to see how the education, occupations and experience of the challengers trumps that of the incumbents - a lawyer, two Boeing managers and a former Russell Investments director all with four years experience in the trenches of the School District. Don't expect any real change in education until the governor and legislature break the hold of the education unions and that won't happen while the Democrats are in charge.


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Posted by warrenpeterson at October 24, 2011 06:32 PM | Email This
1. The mere Fact that you are for a NO vote on I-1125 destroys any interest of reading any further as to your recommendations...PERIOD!

Posted by: Daniel on October 24, 2011 07:44 PM
2. Well Daniel, I guess that statement shows exactly how open minded you're not. So let me get this straight, because you disagree with one (the first) recommendation you don't even LOOK at the other ones?


Posted by: Oscarphone on October 24, 2011 08:05 PM
3. I consider myself open minded but, not to the extent of wasting my time reading material from one who has demonstrated to be critically flawed in his thinking and awareness. He cites the toll roads back East, which for the most part, are privately owned and the Citizenry do not have to pay the ridiculous high gas taxes plus, tolls as well as we do here. It is like Mitt Romney trying to sell himself as a Conservative when, he is represented by his major critical flaw, RomneyCare. Yes, he may have some other rhetoric that may have value but, RomneyCare puts into question the value and validity of anything else he may offer. So, in conclusion, it is best for me to investigate and rely on my own conclusions. However, it is quite possible that on the other positions of his post, I would agree with warrenpeterson.

Posted by: Daniel on October 24, 2011 08:27 PM
4. I too, am disappointed in your NO stance with 1125. It does make your other picks suspect. You really need to reconsider.

On a side note, I did appreciate your link about Pope in the Port race. It was also very interesting to read the voter's guide and go to www.richardpope.org where he is not running for Port commish, but for Judge. heh.

Posted by: Seabecker on October 24, 2011 09:10 PM
5. I quit reading after that first one too. There is absolutely no justification for tolls when we already pay through the nose in gas taxes. Where is all that money going? Funding some union pension, no doubt.

It's not even a close call. Yes on 1125.

Also, if anyone wants to chide me for not being open minded, go ahead. I don't give a d*mn. I know what I believe, and I don't apologize for any of it.

Posted by: Kato on October 24, 2011 10:11 PM
6. Yea and Jane "Car Tab Increase" Hague? Skip her. Can't bring myself to vote for Mitchell, but I will NEVER vote for her ever again after she LIED about not raising the car tabs. And then she did.

Posted by: Eside on October 25, 2011 01:22 AM
7. Big Distributors vs Big Box Stores? How fast do you think Costco will make up that 20 million dollar contribution to I-1183? Vote NO in I-1183!!

Posted by: fickjr on October 25, 2011 07:37 AM
8. @4: Pope's so busy running for various offices and losing that even he can't keep track of what's on his plate!

Seriously? Voting for the four incompetent Seattle School Board incumbents? All four should--and most likely will--get voted out on Nov. 8.

Posted by: J.R. on October 25, 2011 07:40 AM
9. @7 What do you have against a business making a profit? Are you a communist?

Do you realize that Safeway, Albertsons, Fred Meyer QFC, etc will also benefit and sell alcohol? And they will do so without the taxpayers having to pay for the employees working there or for their healthcare and retirement?

Posted by: Palouse on October 25, 2011 07:56 AM
10. Gee...Another brain-dead Liberal spewing his ignorance. Yeah, it is always best when, Big Government who not only has a monopoly over an enterprise that the Private Sector can provide that would be more cost effective because, of the Competiveness of the Free Market but, Big Government also, wrongfully disallows such, a service to be provided by the Private Sector. Talk about a Grand Theft of the Right of the People to engage in the buying and selling of goods in the market place. What Tyranny!

Posted by: Daniel on October 25, 2011 08:01 AM
11. Definitely read the comments related to the school board that are in the Crosscut elections story. The one at the end currently by Westello is especially detailed.


The bottom line is these "professionals" have made major errors in judgment. These errors have cost the district a lot of money. Time for change!

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Posted by: dgmeok on October 25, 2011 11:41 AM
13. One of the main objections to I-1125 is that the Legislators lack essential information and qualifications necessary to make proper decisions on amount of tolls. This is a form trumps substance argument.

Nothing in I-1125 prevents the Legislature from keeping the current commission that establishes tolls operative. Legislative approval of tolls can follow consideration of written reports and testimony after which the legislature either approves with or without modification, or rejects the commission's recommendations.

Straw man arguments are invariably facetious.

Posted by: Paddy on October 25, 2011 12:20 PM
14. So Paddy @13, you are for more bureaucracy (another layer)? The current system works with public/local boards recommending to the commission who are charged with carrying out the administration of tolls. Involving legislators will amp up the political nature, add more overhead, slow the process down, and by the way add more cost to the process. We should be about streamlining processes instead of bloating them.

Posted by: tc on October 25, 2011 12:52 PM
15. Remember that one of the best things about 1125 is that it kills the choo-choo train across the lake, a multi-billion boondoggle that is technically and fiscally insane. Those express lanes are for cars!

Posted by: yaddacubed on October 25, 2011 01:13 PM
16. warren, re:1125, you say, "Investors shy away from bonds backed by tolls if a legislature sets the toll rates".

A dubious argument since one of the anti-1125 whining points is that no other state sets tolls by their legislature. Therefore without data, the statement is not one of fact, but mere biased conjecture.

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Posted by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jerseys on October 25, 2011 11:32 PM
18. If you like Diana Toledo, why not just say "Vote for Diana Toledo?" It makes no sense to say something like "She can't win but put up a flag." Come on! It's negative comments like that which discourage voters from even trying. Toledo is a strong candidate with support from both Dems and Republican's and might just pull of an upset. You're doing no favors with defeatest comments. If you like a candidate support him/her. Period.

Posted by: Voterboater on October 26, 2011 12:59 PM
19. TC: No I am not in favor of more bureaucracy.

I simply point out that the existing group responsible for setting tolls is available to provide with its expertise as part of the toll making process. My objective is to refute the straw man argument being advanced in opposition to I-1125. As I understand I-1125, one of its purposes is to make the legislature rather than unelected bureaucrats responsible for establishing and revising road tolls.

Posted by: Paddy on October 26, 2011 01:39 PM
20. Paddy@19
You are assuming too much regarding the process. If the legislature is required to act, it opens up a whole different process than is currently in place. There is committee hearings. There is additional support staff time to legislators, and the list goes on.

Another way of looking at this is forcing the legislature to micro-manage the process. It would be no different than forcing the legislature to be involved in each and every school board budgeting process. It removes the delegation of the task to the most efficient level. Tolls are not set as a whole, but on each project (like the new Narrows Bridge). It isn't like setting a state-wide speed limit.

Posted by: tc on October 26, 2011 01:45 PM
21. "$12 toll to cross a bridge from New Jersey to the New York City Borough of Staten Island". This sounds on the face of it really bad, what they forgot to mention is that this is one way, going the opposite direction is toll free. If they really were honest they would be for prop 1125. The examples they cite are reasons to be for the prop. The bonds that built most of the toll roads in the north east have been paid off for decades, but the politician have found that they are cash cows for the state and do not want to continue them. Tell me why should the Erie Canal be put under the NYS Thruway Authority? It is. Oh by the way you will not be able to just put up toll booths on I90/I5/I405 since they were built with federal highway dollars, Fast Eddie Rendell when he was governor of PA wanted to do that with I80, but had to get permission from the federal highway to do so. the prop doesn't stop anything, it just sets criteria that has to be followed if you build it with tolls.

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