Category Archives: KingCounty

A Strategy For GOP Success

It appears as though Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser has won reelection to the Wisconsin Supreme Court over challenger and union darling Joanne Kloppenburg after a reporting error was discovered in Waukesha County. The correction represented a net gain of over 7,500 votes for Prosser in a race where only yesterday Kloppenburg was leading by 204 votes. Cross your fingers that the lead is outside the margin of fraud.

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said Thursday that she failed to save in her computer and consequently report 14,315 votes cast in the city of Brookfield, omitting them entirely in an unofficial tally released after Tuesday’s election. The new totals give 10,859 more votes to Prosser from Brookfield and 3,456 more to Kloppenburg, she said. Smaller discrepancies turned up in two other communities as well.

If Prosser’s new lead holds, – and there’s more than a good chance it will as a Democrat canvass watcher confirmed that the votes are legitimate (H/T @Jake_W) – it will be cause for hope for Washington State conservatives, whose electoral failures in close contests have occasionally garnered national attention. The “keep ‘em counting” strategy employed during the 2004 gubernatorial race that resulted in Christine Gregoire winning the governor’s mansion over Dino Rossi served as a template for Al Franken’s win in Minnesota in 2008.

Now it appears that Kathy Nickolaus has inadvertently hit on a strategy that can be used as a template in states like mine where one densely-populated and heavily liberal county (do you hear me, King County? I’m talkin’ to you!) wags the political dog. Each of the other counties can simply withhold the vote totals from one (or two!) of it’s most conservative precincts, thus confounding those tasked with “finding” the votes needed to squeak out a win in a close race. Imagine the confusion! How many is enough? How many is too many?

Just kidding, of course. (Or am I?)

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Dear King County

I hear you’re having budget troubles. I know you haven’t asked for my input, but even so, I have a word of advice for you: cut this program and fire whoever is responsible for unleashing this video on an unsuspecting public.

EcoCribz? Really?

The only thing stranger than the name is that someone – anyone! – thought it was a good use of funds to make this inane video. Well, that and finding a family who was willing to participate.

H/T to Dori Monson.

 

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King County Council’s Budget Priorities May Not Be Your Priorities

Unless, of course, you have a natural affinity for gravel pits.

Let me backtrack. King County, facing a $60 million budget shortfall for 2011, announced recently that it would be cutting 300 jobs…including 28 sheriff’s deputies. Even though that’s a small percentage of the jobs to be cut, Budget Chairwoman Julia Patterson says it will have an impact on public safety.

Enter the gravel pit.

King County officials and environmental leaders expressed confidence Wednesday they can raise $19.1 million in private and county dollars over the next seven weeks to turn a Maury Island gravel mine into a milelong shoreline park for kayakers, hikers and wildlife.

The Maury Island project appears to be high on King County Executive Dow Constantine’s list of priorities. This won’t be the first time he’s show a willingness to sacrifice public safety for a pet project.

You’d think the County Council would be at least a little bit embarrassed to announce their boondoggle sand and gravel pit purchase and some of the grimmer details of the budget within days of each other but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Apparently it didn’t occur to anyone on the Council or in the Executive’s office that County residents might be disturbed at the layoff of so many deputies while the $17 million purchase was announced with so much fanfare.

This situation appears to be a perfect illustration of why voters are becoming increasingly hostile to tax increases and wary of what their elected officials are telling them.

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Why Is King County Stiffing The Taxpayers Over The West Seattle Water Taxi?

King County residents may remember that back in the fall of 2007 the  County Council approved a special property tax on all residents to support the creation of a Ferry District to fund the Vashon Island passenger ferry and year-round service for the West Seattle Water Taxi.

The Ferry District was sort of a pet project of King County Executive Dow Constantine when he sat on the Council. Constantine was so desperate to get the Ferry District off the ground that he allegedly pressured fellow Council members to vote for it by threatening to kill a separate tax aimed at funding flood control projects. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about killing taxes, but if I have to choose between a tax for foot ferries or a tax for flood control, I’m going with flood control.)

Now we learn from the Washington Policy Center that after having chosen to abandon its contract with Argosy Cruises and operate the West Seattle route directly, King County has managed to drive up costs nearly five times.

2009 (Argosy) op cost April-September: $692,814
2010 (King County) op cost April-September: $2,097,258

2009 (Argosy) ridership April-September: 189,302 trips
2010 (King County) ridership April-September: 138,706 trips

2009 (Argosy) cost per trip April-September: $3.66
2010 (King County) cost per trip April-September: $15.12*

*Note: Even with ridership at 2009 levels, the cost per trip for King County would still be $11.08.

A quick trip to the King County website tells us that the highest fare on the West Seattle route is $3.50, but many riders are likely paying less – sometimes much less.

Adults
$3.00 – ORCA fare
$3.50 – Cash or ticket fare

Seniors (65+) and persons with disabilities
$1.50 with a Regional Reduced Fare Permit. Fare applies to both cash and ORCA payment.

Youth (6-18)
$2.25 – ORCA Youth Card fare
$3.50 – Cash or ticket fare

Children (5 and under)
Free

So for the highest paying riders, residents in places like Enumclaw, Black Diamond, and Skykomish are footing the bill to a tune of $11.62 a pop. As opposed to $.16 if Argosy were still operating the route and charging the same fares.

I bring all this up just in case a run for the Governor’s mansion is in Dow Constantine’s future plans. At a time when our State is facing a budget crisis and with no guarantees that things will be much – if at all – improved by 2012, our Governor and State legislators need to be looking at all possible options to reduce costs. If Constantine pigheadedly insists on operating the Water taxi at a per trip cost to the taxpayers more than 72 times the cost if the route were being operated privately, why would anyone expect him to take a hard look for services that might be privatized at the State level?

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What’s The Matter With Yu?

A 15-year-old and two companions beat and steal the wallet of a beloved local figure who later dies of his injuries. There are witnesses, but no one will cooperate with the authorities. As a result, the 15-year-old is sentenced to 36 weeks of juvenile detention. A few months after his release, the now 16-year-old participates in another robbery plus beating. Thankfully the second victim survived.

Someone who has the sense with which they were born might think that the the teen should receive a longer sentence for his second offense, assuming that the first sentence wasn’t adequately instructional.

King County (Washington) Superior Court judge Mary Yu would beg to differ, feeling that a nearly identical sentence would, inexplicably, return a better result the second time around. This is the same Mary Yu who felt that a 6-month jail sentence, with a work release provision for school attendance, plus two years of her personal supervision were adequate punishment for a man who lured at least four teen girls to his home so his father could rape them.

What’s that definition of insanity again?

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Mere Coincidence Or Divine Retribution?

If you live in King County, Washington, you may have seen that some Metro buses are carrying a very special Christmas message.

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Just as they did last year, with their obnoxious display at the State Capitol, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has chosen a sort of oafish insensitivity over reason as a means to make their statement of faith. Why else would they choose to paraphrase a much-loved defense of the faith and joy of the Christmas season, if not to offend Christians? (I notice that FFRF picks their targets carefully; I didn’t see any similarly offensive ads during Ramadan.)

But just like there’s no guarantee in the U.S. Constitution that life will be free from religion, there’s no guarantee that it will be free from offensive louts who think they’re being clever when really they’re just being boorish.

That’s why I just have to smile when things like this happen:

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Heh. This is the front of one of the buses carrying the FFRF ad. Apparently, it was involved in a little “incident” with another vehicle this weekend. So I ask you, mere coincidence or divine retribution?

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Don’t Underestimate The Generosity Of Your Neighbors

Last Thursday evening, I watched a special meeting of the King County Budget and Fiscal Management Committee. Nothing other than previously undiagnosed masochism could explain this bizarre behavior.

As near as I could tell, the “special meeting” consisted of representatives from program after program appearing before the Committee members to plead that funding for their program be included in the King County budget. Many of these programs are obviously worthwhile but just because a program is worthwhile, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it should be funded by the government.

Frankly I was shocked at the attitude of some of the people who rose to speak for their organizations. One woman chided the Committee members because she didn’t feel they were being attentive enough; another, a program participant, said, “Don’t take my money” (emphasis added). I thought both were startling examples of people who feel entitled to other people’s money. They come with hat in hand and, incredibly, bring an attitude along with them!

Not being entirely familiar with all the organizations that were requesting funds, I can’t say whether or not they engage in fundraising activities. I’m guessing most do but based on the sorry tales from each speaker about how their program just could not function without tax dollars, I’m guessing it’s not a major source of income. Apparently, it’s easier just to request County funding and force your fellow citizens to support your work rather than to make your case with them on a more personal level.

Might it be difficult to raise enough money to fund a program solely through fundraising efforts? Possibly, but difficult doesn’t mean impossible. The people running these programs who feel that public funds are their only option are selling their neighbors short. Americans are generous, even in hard times. Don’t underestimate them.

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