Polls can be manipulated to get the results you want. It all depends on the questions you ask. And often its a matter of asking incomplete questions or not clarifying what it is that people are actually saying.  Such is the case with support for the Affordable Care Act. Republicans love to call it Obamacare so that Republicans who don’t like Obama will be against it, even through it was the US Congress not President Obama who passed the legislation. But their strategy is not working as a close analysis of polling shows.

Charles M Blow in the New York Times in an article entitled Kamikaze Congress points out how right wing Tea Party Republicans in the US House continue their relentless drive to try to undo the Affordable Care Act as if a majority of Americans oppose it.This is their strategy:

Delay and defund. And default.

That is the House Republicans’ brilliant plan in their last-ditch effort to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It is a plan that threatens to grind the government to a halt and wreak havoc on the economy.

If they can’t take over Washington, they’ll shut it down. It’s their way or no way. All or nothing.

This is what has become of a party hijacked by zealots.

The problem is that the majority of Americans do not support what they are trying to do. Republicans seriously misread the polling data and the American public. And it all has to do with understanding the actual polling data.

Tea Party Republicans in the House are blinded by their hatred of President Obama and thus continue their unrelenting drive to try to deny him any victory – having voted some 42 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The problem is as Blow points out:

Some of them twist poll results to buttress their bitterness. They point to polls showing that most Americans opposed the law as fuel for their fight. What they neglect to reveal is that a sizable portion of those who opposed the law do so because they don’t think it goes far enough, not because it goes too far. A May CNN/ORC poll found that 43 percent of Americans favored the law while 54 percent opposed it. But it also found that of those polled, 16 percent opposed the law because they thought that it wasn’t liberal enough. Put another way, 59 percent of Americans support the law or want it to be more liberal.

Furthermore, a poll released this week by the Pew Research Center found that of the 53 percent of Americans who said they disapproved of the law, the percentage who want elected officials who oppose the law to try to make it work as well as possible was larger than the percentage who wanted them to try to make it fail.

The American people are not on the far right’s side in battle. House Republicans are on a quixotic mission.

These results are significant and point out how polling can be used to manipulate and misinterpret what it is the public actually believes. There are many of us, including me, who believe the law does not go far enough. That should not be falsely interpreted as our wanting to see the Affordable Care Act repealed. Instead we are pushing for a better system, like a single payer system or expanding Medicare to cover everyone, so that we can remove the money that goes to pay corporate healthcare executives and billing companies and others, and put it toward actually providing healthcare at a much cheaper cost, like many other European Countries currently do.

As PBS points out in “Health Costs: How the US Compares to Other Countries”

$8,233 per year? That’s how much the U.S. spends per person.

Worth it?

That figure is more than two-and-a-half times more than most developed nations in the world, including relatively rich European countries like France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. On a more global scale, it means U.S. health care costs now eat up 17.6 percent of GDP.

We can do better. Going backward like Tea Party zealots in the US House of Representatives propose is a losing proposition.

 

Opponents to Initiative 522 – No on 522 -to require GMO labeling on foods have dumped in over $11 million so far against the measure. Here is the complete list  of the  five total contributors to date:

Monsanto, St Louis, MO  $4,592,255

Dupont Pioneer,  Johnston, IA   $3,420,159

Grocery Manufactor’s Assoc, Washington, DC  $2,322,500

Bayer Cropscience, Research Triangle PK, NC  $591,664

Dow Agrosciences,  Indianapolis, IN  $29,531

The No on 522 campaign launched their TV campaign  on Sept 17, 2013   press release

 

Proponents of I-532, the Yes on 522 committee , has raised some $3,609.933  from some 3160 contributors.  The largest contributors to date for $25,000 or more are:

Dr Bonner’s Magic Soaps, Escondidia, CA   $950,000

Organic Consumer Fund, Seattle  $480,000

Mercola.com Health Resources LLC, Hoffman Estates, IL  $200,000

Presence Marketing Inc, Barrington, IL $200,000

Nature Path Foods USA, Inc, Blaine WA $150,000

Center for Food Safety Action Fund, Washington, DC $100,000

PCC Natural Foods, Seattle, WA $100,000

Annies, Inc, Berkeley, CA $50,000

Food Democracy Now, Clear Lake, IA  $50,000

Mark D Squire, Fairfax, CA  $50,000

GFA Brands, Inc, Paramus, NJ  $50,000

William T Weiland, Schaumburg, IL  $50,000

The yes on 522 ads began on September 16, 2013 - press release

Yes on 522 ad – Right

Yes on 522 ad – Washingtonians

 

Data for No and yes campaigns from reports to www.pdc.wa.gov

 

The sole partisan contested  Legislative Senate race on Washington State’s November General Election ballot is to fill the 26th L.D. Senate seat in Kitsap County vacated by Derek Kilmer. Kilmer was  elected to Congress last November. Democrat Nathan Schlicher is a doctor who was appointed to fill the vacancy and is being challenged by Republican Jan Angel who was a Representative in the district and also the ALEC chair for Washington State.

Campaign dollars are flowing into this race  and the total amount is fast rising. The combined total of money raised now exceeds $1,160,887  according to latest PDC filings as of  the 10th of September.

( Two other Senate seats in the 7th LD and 8th LD are also on the ballot but comprise Republicans only as the top two Primary winners face off against each other)

The 26th LD race is receiving lots of attention and money because of the closeness of the makeup of the Washington State Senate, which essentially turned Republican, with the deflection last January of 2 Democrats - Rodney Tom of the 48th LD and Tim Sheldon of the 35th LD.

Last November Democrats won a  26 to 23 majority in the Senate but with the deflection of Tom and Sheldon this switched to a 24 Democrats to 23 Republicans to 2 turncoat Democrats. The 23 Republicans and two deflecting Democrats formed a Majority Coalition with Rodney Tom as the new Majority Leader. Democrats still controlled the House and the Governor’s office.

Here are the total campaign dollars reported so far and detailed donations to the candidates campaign committees.

See also the article by Jordan Schrader for The News Tribune entitled “Senate race between Angel, Schlicher funded by funds from afar” for more discussion on the independent contributions.

Nathan Schlicher – raised $314,701, spent $146,842

independent support for Schlicher- $39,040

independent opposition to Angel $189,899

 

Jan Angel – raised $453,046, spent $317,882

independent support Angel – $10,314

independent opposition to Schlicher $109,086

 

These numbers reflect a total of $536,640 supporting Nathan Schlicher and $632,446 supporting Jan Angel.

 

Nathan Schlicher – Major Contributions to Candidate’s Campaign Committee (not including individuals):

Washington Senate Democratic Committee $30,000

26th LD Democrats $5000

Kitsap County Democrats $3000

46 Electrical Workers PAC $1800

Campaign for Tribal Self Reliance $1800

Defense Economic Renewal Education & Knowlede PAC $1800

FUSE Votes $1800

IBEW Local 77 PAC $1800

Inland Boatman $1800

JUPAT PAC $1800

Justice for All PAC $1800

Kennedy Fund $1800

Our Patients Come First PAC $1800

Pac NW Regional Council of Carpenters $1800

Physicians Eye PAC $1800

Physicians Insurance $1800

Pierce County Firefighters Local 726 $1800

Proliance Surgeons, Inc $1800

SEIU Healthcare 1199 NWPAC $1800

SEIU Local 925 PAC $1800

Sheet Metal Workers Local 66 PAC $1800

Squaxem Island Tribe $1800

WA Family MED PAC $1800

WA HealthCare Association $1800

WA Medical PAC $1800

WA Machinists Council $1800

West Pierce Firefighters $1800

 

Jan Angel – Major Contributers to Candidate’s Campaign Committee (not including individuals)

Senate Republican Campaign Com  $25,000

26th LD Republicans $4100

ACLI Political Activity Fund $1800

Affordable Housing Council of Kitsap County $1800

Atria Client Services, Inc $1800

American Chemistry Council $1800

Assoc of WA Spirits & Wine Dist PAC $1800

Avamere Living $1800

Avista Corp $1800

BNSF Railway Company $1800

Build $1800

CalPortland Co $1800

Cambria Health Solutions $1800

Cascade Natural Gas Company $1800

CNA Casualty Co $1800

Express Scripts Inc $1800

Farmers Employees Agents PAC $1800

Farmers Underwriters Assoc $1800

Georpia Pacific LLC $1800

Health Insurnance Agents PAC $1800

Insurers and Financial Advisers PAC $1800

Johnson & Johnson Corporate Political Fund $1800

Carmol Care Rehab $1800

Liberty Mutual Insurance Co PAC $1800

MAC PAC $1800

Nat Electrical Contractors Assoc PS Chap $1800

NFIB-WA Safe Trust $1800

Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp $1800

NRA Vistory Fund $1800

NW Grocers ASSoc WA PAC $1800

Phrma $1800

Pierce County Affordable Housing Council $1800

Premera Blue Cross $1800

Proliance Surgeons Inc $1800

Property Casualty Insurance Assoc America PAC $1800

Retail Action Council $1800

Sabey Corp $1800

SavPA – WA Financial League State $1800

T-Mobile $1800

Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA Inc $1800

Trucking Action Committee $1800

United Subcontractors Asoc MCAWW & NECA $1800

USAA – $1800

WA Beer & Wine Distributor’s Assoc PAC $1800

WA Beverage Assoc PAC $1800

WA Chiropractors Trust $1800

WA Farm Bureau PAC- State $1800

WA Food Industry Assoc PAC $1800

WA Multifamily Housing Assoc $1800

WA Physician Therapy PAC $1800

WA Restaurant Assoc PAC $1800

WAt Autodealer PAC $1800

WA St Troopers PAC $1800

WalMart Stores $1800

Weyerhauser $1800

WHCAPAC $1800

Willow Springs Care Inc $1800

WSVMA – PAC $1800

Yakima Valley Grocers Shipper Assoc $1800

 

As the Huffington Post points out it’s been 4 years since the last increase in the Federal minimum wage. It’s time to raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation so that Congress does not repeatedly ignore inflation impacts on the wages of low income workers. Corporate millionaires  seem to have no problem getting their income raised. Why do Republicans in Congress hate low income workers?

If you raise the minimum wage, low income workers will spend the money and help the economy.  Henry Ford long ago understood that if he didn’t pay his workers reasonable wages they weren’t going to be able to buy his cars. It seems conservative and Tea party Republicans in Congress both don’t understand or care.

As an article a year ago in Deseret News noted:

The federal minimum wage, which is $7.25, hasn’t changed since 2009. In real terms, America’s lowest-paid workers make less than they did in 1968, according to Remapping Debate. With an annual income of $15,080, a full-time minimum wage worker’s salary is just under the 2012 federal poverty threshold of $15,130 for a family of two. It falls well below the poverty threshold for a family of three, which is $19,090.

A year later nothing has changed. Republicans continue to sneer at low income workers rather than working for fairness and a more equitable distribution of the fruits of business that don’t just increase wages and benefits for those at the top and increase dividends for stock holders, while ignoring the real life day to day plight of many of their workers.

While Congress is under siege by Republican lawmakers opposes raising the minimum wage, states have fared better in increasing it. As Stateline pointed out earlier this year:

“…minimum wage hikes at the state level have been popular among voters: Since 1998, proposed increases have been on statewide ballots 10 times in nine states, and all of them were successful. In those elections the ballot measures won an average of 65 percent of the vote, according to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a progressive Washington, D.C., group that advocated for the hikes.”

Washington State has the highest state minimum wage in the country at $9.19 an hour. It has remained as a leader in keeping pace with inflation because when it was passed by the voters it included language for an automatic increase each year based on inflation. When Initiative 688 was passed by the voters in 1998, Washington State  was the first state in the country to put in place an automatic inflation increase each year. Unfortunately the federal minimum wage law does not and is subject to continual delays and battles in Congress to try to increase it to keep pace with inflation.

New Jersey has a minimum wage increase initiative on the ballot this year. Stateline notes that

If New Jersey voters approve the measure on the ballot there, the state would become the 11th with annual automatic increases to the minimum wage indexed to inflation: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington already index. In all of them except Vermont, voters approved the measure with the automatic hike at the polls.

Congress needs to act to be fair and just to low income workers in our country. Conservative politics driven by Tea Party Republicans and libertarian philosophy needs to be shown for what it is – a hypocritical joke where tax breaks for corporations and special interests rule their decisions to benefit the well off and few while millions struggle to meet basic living expenses.

The country is continuing under conservative policies to further divide the rich and poor.  Wealth continues to be concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer Americans. More states need to push for increases in their state minimum wage, putting more pressure on Congress to act.  Republican anti-worker positions needs to be challenged  and voters supporting state minimum wage laws that include automatic increases for inflation are one way to do that. In addition continued pressure needs to be put on Congress to act.

 

Fundraising through June 2013 for the Seattle Mayor’s race finds incumbent Mayor Michael McGinn in the lead followed closely by 43rd LD Senator Ed Murray. In third place was Councilmember Bruce Harrell followed by businessman Charles Staedecker.  Former Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck came in fifth. Two women in the race Joey Gray and Kate Martin trailed far behind. Two candidates, Mary Martin and Doug McQuaid reported raising no money.

While money is not always a deciding factor, as Michael McGinn showed in beating Joe Mallahan 4 years ago, it makes it a lot easier to compete and reach voters.

Here are the latest figures from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission’s website for the candidates in alphabetical order:

Joey Gray raised $7819, spent $3009, debt $2293     -22 contributors

Bruce Harrell raised $232,809, spent $126,121 debt $ 26,780     – 971 contributors

Kate Martin raised $4556, spent $4064       – 34 contributors

Michael McGinn raised $258,032, spent $92,238, debt $9178      – 1382 contributors

Ed Murray raised $253,235, spent $126,121, debt $13,195        – 1109 contributors

Peter Steinbrueck  raised $135,402, spent $49,988        – 901 contributions

Charles Staedecker raised $192,616, spent $113,012      – 901 contributions

 

Tim Burgess, before he dropped out, raised $246,077 from 932 contributions and money wise would still have been in the thick of the race based on money raised.

The August 6th 2013 Primary Election is  less than a month away.  Ballots are soon being mailed out and the field will be narrowed to the top two candidates for the November 5th 2013 General Election.

Initiative 517 is a Tim Eyman initiative that is on the November 2013 ballot in Washington State.  It is a measure to promote Tim Eyman’s  business – which is making a living off of putting conservative libertarian measures on the ballot.  In this case Eyman wants to create a 25 foot signature gathering zone around petitioners where people can not speak out and oppose his business. It is a direct infringement on the free speech rights of citizens, violating the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution.

Jason Mercier of the conservative “free market” Washington Policy Center writes about Initiative 517 in today’s Thedailyworld.com under a headline of “Heavy hitters line up against I-517“. Mercier in his opinion piece brushes aside some of the concerns about Eyman’s self serving initiative as non-controversial.  That is not the reality.

This measure is not as uncontroversial as Jason Mercier suggests. One of Eyman’s provisions is to create a 25 foot no harassment zone around signature gatherers.  There are already penalties for harassment that work just fine. I-517 tries to go much further by shutting down free speech activities around petition gatherers.

Eyman’s measure infringes on 1st amendment rights by setting up a 25 zone around petitioners saying that certain activity can result in disorderly conduct charges including activity that is “…intimidating, or maintaining an intimidating presence within twenty-five feet of any person gathering signatures”.  To most petitioners someone standing 5 feet away and carrying a sign saying “do not sign this measure” or merely saying out loud that citizens should read the measure before signing it causes petitioners to say they are being harassed.

This measure is an attempt to shut down public discourse and dialogue in  public places and silence those opposing Eyman’s measures.  This violates 1st amendment free speech rights and goes too far.  Eyman wants a free pass to collect signatures without anyone questioning him.  Trying to silence those that dissent peacefully with others is what you would expect in a totalitarian society, but not in America.

We will publish more of our concerns about Initiative 517 over the next few months but believe it goes too far.  The public strongly supply the initiative process in Washington State and it has been used by both right and left leaning groups in pushing Washington policy and law. But there is a balancing act necessary to protect rights of both supporters and opponents of specific initiative measures in the public arena.

Initiative 517 is a “solution” looking for a problem and there isn’t one in this case. Eyman has not had a problem getting initiatives on the ballot and neither have others, especially if they have money. This measure would make it easier for Eyman to get more of his measures on the ballot and that is why he is pushing it.

For progressives thinking this will make it easier for them to get measures on the ballot, the downside is that they will also have to spend more time fighting more conservative measures put on the ballot by Eyman, including those at the local level. It’s already hard enough to fight an Eyman measure year after year.  Think what it will be like with two or three Eyman measures on the ballot each year and 4 or 5 others at the same time at the local level.

We elect a Legislature to do the people’s business after public hearings and review.  While initiatives are a healthy outlet  for the public to act when the legislature doesn’t, running our state more and more by initiative puts the process of making our state laws up for sale to the highest bidder.

Unfortunately the highest bidder is usually corporate and special interests that can afford to spend millions to get their message out to the voting public.

 

 


									

Tim Eyman’s political philosophy for Washington State is libertarian at heart. The problem is that the libertarian vision is no vision at all. Libertarians argue for a minimalist government and this is Tim Eyman’s approach on his initiatives. If one asks who is Tim Eyman most like in his ideas, both Grover Norquist and Ayn Rand come to mind.  There is seemingly no end point in how small government should be or how minimal taxes should be.

As E J Dionne wrote recently in the Washington Post  Libertarianism’s Achilles’ heel is that there is currently no country in the world that is libertarian run. That in itself should give voters pause as they blindly follow Eyman. It is a dead end for our state as education funding and other vital state functions get reduced and reduced until it’s only everyone for themselves.

Thinking about what Eyman’s approach leads to comes to mind because of an article I came across written by Andy Garber of the Seattle Times right before last year’s elections. Eyman’s two thirds vote requirement for the Washington State Legislature had not yet been overturned by the Washington State Supreme Court as unconstitutional. The  article was entitled “State ballots’ new twist: tax advisory votes“.

The article noted that Eyman’s Initiative 960 and and I-1185 on that November’s ballot not only required a 2/3 vote by the legislature to pass taxes but also added a” nonbinding public advisory vote” when lawmakers approved any tax increase no matter by what margin of votes or whose taxes were affected.

By Eyman’s definition repealing a tax loophole was a tax increase, even if the loophole provided no public benefit and transferred tax obligations to others.   In reality tax loopholes are tax expenditures – off budget spending of tax revenue to benefit a special interest or business but without the regular in depth scrutiny other state expenditures get during the regular biennial budget process. And with Eyman all taxes need to be opposed as runaway spending regardless of who pays or for what purpose.

Looking at the two advisory votes on the November 2012 ballot placed there as a result of Eyman’s I-960 and the response by Eyman as to what these votes meant points out the absurdity of Eyman’s libertarian slash taxes in all cases approach to dealing with public issues.

Here is the wording of advisory vote No 2 as set up by Tim Eyman’s language in Initiative 960.

The legislature extended, without a vote of the people, expiration of a tax on possession of petroleum products and reduced the tax rate, costing $24,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending.
 This tax increase should be:

[  ]  Repealed

[  ]  Maintained

The voting public got no further explanation than the ballot title in the voter’s pamphlet, unlike initiatives and referendum which have an explanatory statement, a fiscal impact statement (not a 10 year cost projection) and no arguments for or against.

In addition the attorney general had no real ability to explain the issue in the ballot title since Eyman’s initiative 960 required that the ballot tile be written as:

The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people, (identification of tax and description of increase), costing (most up-to-date ten-year cost projection, expressed in dollars and rounded to the nearest million) in its first ten years, for government spending. This tax increase should be:
Repealed . . .[ ]
Maintained . . .[ ]‰

I have made bold  the mandatory wording required which by themselves are  intended to encourage people to vote to repeal any “tax increase”.

In the advisory vote No 2, voters voted  “to repeal” this “tax increase” by a vote of 55% to 45%. No campaign was run to urge voters to maintain the “tax increase” because it was only an advisory vote. If one had been run voters might have gotten more information on what this bill really did. The bill SHB 2590 passed the House by 93 yeas, 1 nay and 4 excused.  It passed the Senate by 40 yeas, 0 nays and 9 excused. It was supported by the Washington Oil Marketers Association and the Western States Petroleum Association.

In reality the “petroleum tax” was really an insurance program that particularly benefited all homeowners with underground oil storage tanks from liability caused by oil leaking from a tank. Cleanup fees from leaking oil pollution could easily exceed $10,000 to $20,000 in liability plus contaminated water problems. This was not a controversial bill and easily exceeded the then 2/3 vote requirement imposed by Eyman to raise taxes.

Yet Eyman’s myopic libertarian philosophy says all taxes are bad and should be opposed. His push poll style ballot title wording contributed to voters voting against “tax increases” even when those increases benefited taxpayers. That’s because for Eyman the issue isn’t about good government or responsible government. It’s about the least government possible.

Eyman’s response before the election according to Andrew Garber’s article was:

“Eyman said that if voters reject the taxes approved by lawmakers, he hopes the Legislature would repeal them.”   

The second advisory vote on the ballot was to repeal a tax break originally passed to help home state bank Washington Mutual, which went out of business.  It now only benefited large out of state banks  by eliminating B&O taxes they would otherwise have had to pay on interest on residential loans on 1st mortgages.

Again using Eyman’s push poll style ballot title the ballot title read:

The legislature eliminated, without a vote of the people, a business and occupation tax deduction for certain financial institutions’ interest on residential loans, costing $170,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending.

This tax increase should be:

[  ]  Repealed

[  ]  Maintained

Again the public responded to the anti-tax bias in the ballot title and with no campaign supporting the measure and no further explanation, the public in their advisory vote mode voted 56.9% to 43.1% to repeal ending this tax break that didn’t benefit state taxpayers but did give a tax break to big out of state banks.

In Eyman’s world it is all black and white. Taxes are bad. Government is bad. And those that follow blindly after him are hurting their own self interest and the state’s ability to fund program that benefit the public. Fortunately the advisory votes were only “advisory”.  But knee jerk public reaction to be anti tax in Eyman’s libertarian world only leads to people blindly followed his pied piper like lead over the cliff as they respond without thinking.

Eyman this year continues his assault on state government by proposing a new initiative to the legislature to limit all tax increases to one year until the state puts on the ballot a constitutional amendment to  require a 2/3 vote to raise any revenue or repeal any tax exemption. This would turn over to a 1/3 minority faction of legislators veto power over a majority of legislators. It seems Eyman’s libertarian views are not held by the majority of Legislators elected so he needs to try to change the rules to let a minority of legislators run the state. Voters need to reject Eyman’s libertarian government takeover proposal by not signing  his initiative and vigorously opposing it if it makes it onto next year’s ballot.

Unless Congress acts by July 1, 2013 student loan rates will double from 3.4% to 6.8%. Meanwhile banks borrow money from the US Government at only .75%.  Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has filed a bill to give students the same loan rate as banks for a year.  Why should taxpayers be supporting banks – a private interest over a public interest – helping students to complete college.

In a Huffington Post article entitled Elizabeth Warren: Student Loans Should Have Same Rate Big Banks Get and in an article by Joan McCarter on Daily Kos entitled Elizabeth Warren: Students should get the same loan rate as big banks  a video is included of Warren’s statement before the US Senate:

“Some people say that we can’t afford to help our kids through school by keeping student loan interest rates low,” said Senator Warren. “But right now, as I speak, the federal government offers far lower interest rates on loans, every single day–they just don’t do it for everyone. Right now, a big bank can get a loan through the Federal Reserve discount window at a rate of about 0.75%. But this summer a student who is trying to get a loan to go to college will pay almost 7%. In other words, the federal government is going to charge students interest rates that are nine times higher than the rates for the biggest banks–the same banks that destroyed millions of jobs and nearly broke this economy. That isn’t right. And that is why I’m introducing legislation today to give students the same deal that we give to the big banks.”

“Big banks get a great deal when they borrow money from the Fed,” Senator Warren continued. “In effect, the American taxpayer is investing in those banks. We should make the same kind of investment in our young people who are trying to get an education. Lend them the money and make them to pay it back, but give our kids a break on the interest they pay. Let’s Bank on Students… Unlike the big banks, students don’t have armies of lobbyists and lawyers. They have only their voices. And they call on us to do what is right.” 

Daily Kos, joined by the Center for American Progress  goes a step beyond just reporting the story and posting the video by including a link to urge people help push this legislation by urging their Senators to co-sponsor this legislation.  Click on this link to tell the Senate to give students the same low interest rates the big banks get

Please help build support for this bill by joining in this effort.

 

 

King County Councilmember Larry Phillips recently sent out the following e-mail:

King County Parks Levy on August Ballot

I am pleased to announce that today the Metropolitan King County Council approved sending to the voters—on the August 2013 ballot—a six-year property tax levy lid lift proposal to raise revenue for the maintenance and operations of the County’s regional park system, as well as funding for local city parks and the Woodland Park Zoo.  If approved by voters, the proposed levy would replace two voter approved measures set to expire at the end of 2013.

The King County Parks system has evolved from 150 acres in 1938 to more than 26,000 acres today, including regional county parks and trails such as Marymoor Park, Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center and the Sammamish River Trail.

The adopted legislation sends to voters a six-year property tax levy lid lift of 18.77 cents per $1,000 of assessed value – an estimated $56 per year for the owner of a home valued at $300,000.  If approved by voters, the proceeds from the levy would go toward funding the maintenance and operation of King County’s 200 parks, 175 miles of regional trails, and 26,000 acres of open space.  Levy funds would also be used to expand the regional trails system – including developing the Lake to Sound Trail – and to expand the Community Partnership and Grant program, as well as to support local city parks and the Woodland Park Zoo.

The levy proposal is consistent with King County’s practice to end the use of county General Fund monies on regional parks, trails and open spaces, and on local facilities in the rural unincorporated areas, so the primary source of funding for the parks system is the voter-approved levy.  King County also continues its regional business plan for parks with support from non-profit, corporate and community partners.

The beauty of King County and our great natural resources are only surpassed by the energy and creativity of the people who live here, and the community support for our parks system is the perfect example of this fact.  Voters will decide in August whether to continue supporting a parks levy that provides funding to operate and maintain parks like Marymoor and Cougar Mountain, and to expand the regional trail system.

Thank you for the opportunity to share this important news with you.

Sincerely,

Larry Phillips, Councilmember

Metropolitan King County Council, District Four

King County Courthouse

516 Third Avenue, Room 1200

Seattle, WA 98104-3272

206.296.1004

larry.phillips@kingcounty.gov

Seattle City Council

 

The Seattle City Council has unanimously passed it’s updated Street Tree Ordinance. There were no amendments – if changes are desired in legislation it’s necessary to get them done in Committee before they come to the full Council for a vote. Thank you to everyone who took time to write or contact the Seattle City Council on this issue.

You can view the adopted Ordinance # 117745  by clicking on this link.

The gist of the bill is that permits will be required to remove or do major trimming to street trees and  tree replacement is required for trees removed “if site conditions permit”.
Applying for a permit to remove a street tree does not mean it will be removed.
A tree can only be removed if it is a hazardous tree, poses a public safety hazard, is in a condition of poor health or poor vigor or cannot be successfully retained due to public or private construction or development conflicts.
Notice of an application to remove a tree must be publicly posted at the site for 14 days and public comment will be accepted before the Director makes a decision.
Any person violating the act shall be subject to a fine of up to $500 per day.
In addition any person who destroys, injures  or mutilates a street tree may be subject to a fine equal to the appraised value of the tree and if the violation is willful or malicious, the penalty may be trebled.
All tree service providers engaged in pruning, removing or otherwise treating street trees shall register annually with the Department of Transportation.
Any major pruning, removal or treatment of street trees by a Tree Service provider shall be certified by an ISA certified arborist or ISA certified worker.

You can read the full ordinance to get more details. If you have concerns about specific language or its interpretation you should let Nolan Rundquist at the SDOT know as they will be preparing CAMS or Client Assistance Memos to explain details to the public to clarify issues which may be confusing.

Nolan Rundquist, the City Arborist at SDOT has been working many years to get this ordinance drafted and passed and should be thanked for sticking with it. Also the Seattle Urban Forest Commission helped in reviewing the proposal as well as members of the public. And Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin deserves special recognition for leading the Council effort to enact this update.

Next up in the next few months will be the 5 year update of the Urban Forest Management Plan which is being renamed  the Urban Forest Stewardship Plan.

The third component of the urban forest updates is the private property tree ordinance proposal.  DPD  (Seattle Department of Planning and Development) has said they will release a new draft sometime in June and we can expect the issue will be before the Seattle City Council for a vote early next year.

So far this has been the hardest component of the urban forest updates to reach agreement on because of DPD’s bias toward development as its mission rather than the protection of trees. This is why efforts need to be continued to move oversight of trees to the Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE).  DPD’s prime mission is to help developers build projects, not protect trees. To get maximum protection, tree oversight needs to be in a department where they have an advocate to speak for them and OSE’s mission is most consistent with that.

Keep updated on Seattle tree and urban forestry issues by following  Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest   

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