From Congress to Greenbridge: U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott to visit White Center’s Dubsea Coffee

April 7th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Greenbridge, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on From Congress to Greenbridge: U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott to visit White Center’s Dubsea Coffee

Just announced by Dubsea Coffee via Facebook – U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott will be there at 11 am April 28th – three weeks from today – for his next “Coffee with Your Congressman.” If you want to see what one of these events is like, here’s our West Seattle Blog coverage – with video – from his visit to C & P Coffee a year ago. (Dubsea Coffee is at 9910 8th SW in Greenbridge.)

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Seen at downtown White Center’s 3.14 Bakery on Pi(e) Day …

March 14th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Businesses, Food, Politics, White Center Community Development Association, White Center news Comments Off on Seen at downtown White Center’s 3.14 Bakery on Pi(e) Day …

On our way back from a story to the east, we stopped at 3.14 Bakery in downtown White Center to see how Pi(e) Day (3.14!) was going – and found a table full of distinguished gatherers who had chosen 3.14 for a meeting. From left, if you don’t recognize them all, that’s Mikel Davila from White Center Community Development Association, King County Sheriff’s Office Storefront Deputy BJ Myers, Michelle Allison from King County Councilmember Joe McDermott‘s team, and CM McDermott himself (who pointed out they had already purchased boxed pie to take back to the office downtown). As for us – decided not to go with the pie, but the triple-chocolate cake ball is to die for.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Election 2012: Republicans caucus at Evergreen Campus in White Center; statewide results now coming in

March 3rd, 2012 Tracy Posted in Election, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on Election 2012: Republicans caucus at Evergreen Campus in White Center; statewide results now coming in

Before the night’s out, we should know how our state’s Republicans voted in today’s presidential “straw poll.” That was one of two main tasks they faced as they gathered this morning for precinct caucuses all around our state, including White Center, south West Seattle, north Burien and vicinity gathering at the Evergreen Campus. We stopped by about midway through, to get a look at the turnout; 34th District Republicans chair Jim Clingan led the event, and told us about 200 people turned out:

(This photo and next one, courtesy Dick Hurley)
Campaign signs were low key .. we saw a few Ron Paul signs on a table outside, and someone carrying others out of the main room – but there were some cheery touches:

As we write this, the results are starting to come in – you can follow them on the Washington State Republican Party’s Tumblr site.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Election 2012: Precinct caucuses coming up

February 26th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Election, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on Election 2012: Precinct caucuses coming up

Next Saturday, Republicans in our state hold precinct caucuses – with White Center a central gathering point, 10 am-noon at the Evergreen Campus – and since the presidential nomination isn’t locked up by any candidate yet, the attention is likely to be intense. Democrats have caucuses in April. Info on both can be found in this story from our partner site, West Seattle Blog.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Election 2011: Winners include McDermott, Giba, Curry, and, in Burien, annexation opponent Edgar

November 9th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Annexation, burien, Election, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on Election 2011: Winners include McDermott, Giba, Curry, and, in Burien, annexation opponent Edgar

In tonight’s election, though the results won’t be final for weeks, some things are clear after just the first round of ballot-counting. White Center’s King County Councilmember Joe McDermott has won election to his first full four-year term, leading Diana Toledo, 67%-32%. … In the North Highline Fire District contest, Liz Giba leads Mark Ufkes, 52%-47% … In the only contest for Highline School Board, incumbent president Sili Savusa is losing to Tyrone Curry, who has gained some fame for his lottery win and subsequent donation, 55% for Curry to 44% for Savusa … Burien had three council races on the ballot, and one of the city’s most outspoken opponents of annexing White Center (and vicinity) has defeated an incumbent: Bob Edgar has 60% of the vote, to 40% for Gordon Shaw. In the other two races, incumbent Lucy Krakowiak one of two “no” votes on last month’s annexation resolution – leads former North Highline Unincorporated Area Council chair Greg Duff, 64%-36%, while pro-annexation incumbent Jerry Robison leads Debi Wagner, 54%-46%. Next ballot count is due around 4:30 tomorrow afternoon.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Governor’s proposed budget cut could throw a curveball at annexation process

October 27th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Annexation, Politics, White Center news 1 Comment »

As North Highline annexation proceeded these past few years – first with Burien completing annexation of the southern area, now with Burien pursuing annexation of the northern area – one refrain has been repeated: Money from the state tax credit for annexations is vital to their success. But suddenly – there’s a huge question mark over that money’s future availability. Governor Gregoire went public today with a list of potential cuts to balance the state budget, and one of them would kill that credit as of next May. Right now, the governor’s budget doc says, the credit “benefits seven cities” in metro Puget Sound, but killing it would save the state almost $18 million. The governor’s list has an alternative – cut it by half – but there’s a big star right next to the “eliminate it” option – and that means she has “tentatively chosen to include it” in the supplemental budget proposal she’ll send to the Legislature next month.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Election 2011: Democratic organizations’ endorsements

June 23rd, 2011 Tracy Posted in Election, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on Election 2011: Democratic organizations’ endorsements

checkbox.jpgThe August 16 primary is less than two months away, and local groups are making their endorsements. Both of the legislative-district Democrats’ groups in this area have now made their endorsements. King County Council Position 8 will be on the August ballot since there are three candidates (the top two advance to November). The 11th District Democrats have just posted their endorsement list (read it here) – they have endorsed both Joe McDermott and Diana Toledo in that race. The 34th District Democrats held their endorsement meeting earlier this month and endorsed McDermott (here’s the list on their site; here’s our coverage on partner site West Seattle Blog). Not sure whose district you’re in? Here’s the map for the 11th District; here’s the map for the 34th District. (Any Republican groups have endorsement meetings just past or

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Burien City Council discusses White Center (etc.) annexation

June 20th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Annexation, boulevard park, burien, Politics, white center, White Center news 2 Comments »

“So here we are,” Burien city manager Mike Martin began as he opened a quick recap of where the issue of North Highline annexation stood, before tonight’s scheduled Burien City Council discussion.

No council action was taken – they voiced opinions, as you will read below.

First, Martin described Seattle’s recent decision to table annexation till February as a “major departure” from where things had stood previously. That wasn’t the only factor sparking a new Burien council discussion of annexation, however, he said, mentioning the King County Library Board’s discussion of potentially consolidating the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries.

Martin also mentioned commissioning a financial study with an organization that he says does this type of study and already has “a tremendous amount of information about the (prospective) annexation area.” He says the financial data should be available in late July/early August.

Councilmember Gordon Shaw followed up Martin’s briefing by voicing skepticism about the financial viability of annexation, given a previous study, but said he would like to see the study showing the effects of a changing economy, and what he said was apparently a lower population: “I think they’ve lost 3,000 people up there.” He also said he would like to know how it would affect the city overall.

Councilmember Lucy Krakowiak asked what kind of educational outreach is planned for citizens. Martin said “Council will be taking comments at every council meeting they have until they make a decision – identical to last time.” She also wondered if information was available about major developments planned in the potential annexation area.

Councilmember Jack Block, Jr. talked about the difference between the perception and the reality of White Center. “if you take a drive through White Center, there are virtually no empty storefronts – I wish we could say that here in Burien.” He described WC’s “vitality and growth” as “homegrown” and expressed a hope that it would be emulated in Burien.

“If we don’t vote for it, we don’t have control over that area, and the density could increase, crime could increase, a bunch of public housing is put in there because historically that’s how Seattle does things,” Block suggested, worrying about a “spillover … Think about protecting our community. Do we want to have a say in that area, or just let whatever happens, happen up there?”

He noted that Burien has a budget surplus, while King County has been dealing with a budget shortfall, and, in his view, has put unincorporated North Highline problems “on a back burner.” He also voiced concern about county housing projects in the works, and whether they might unduly burden Burien.

Councilmember Gerald Robison pointed out that he has been working on the annexation issue “for a long time” and says “there are a lot of perceptions out there that I don’t think is accurate.” He contended that it’s “simply not true” that the area is made up of a large population of people who require government services. “What they need is good government, and that’s what they’ve been lacking up there,” he contended, adding that he believes Burien could provide that “good government.” He echoed Block’s point that White Center has a lot of thriving businesses, “the kind of independent businesspeople who are exactly what we are talking about in our mission statement.”

But “I won’t even vote for annexation if it means raising taxes on the rest of the residents in Burien,” Robison vowed. And he said he believes it’s important for Burien’s “survival” to take a look at annexing the area if it can be done. The area doesn’t need Burien, he acknowledged, but “if their options are going to Seattle or going to Burien, I think for the sake of Burien and the sake of the people in North Highline, if we can manage it, we should do it.”

Councilmember Rose Clark said she agreed wholeheartedly with Block and Robison. She said she also believes that if there’s a continued effort to “concentrate poverty” in the greater Highline area, it will “break” the community – and she says what happens in White Center (etc.) will affect Burien too. “The only way to address that is to take a good hard look at North Highline and what we can do to mitigate” the concentration of poverty to which she referred. “If all of that (financial analysis) pencils out, we have to look at what that area becomes” with King County services dwindling.

Deputy Mayor Brian Bennett discussed his roots going back generations in the North Highline area, and saying that while that area likely would prefer to be left alone the reality of county and state laws and finances are that, they cannot be left alone – “they’re going to be incorporated somewhere … If Seattle does take over Area Y, what their incentives are going to be in how they treat Area Y , and whether the decisionmakers for that area are going to be impacted by what happens there, or are they going to be in the north side (of the city) and not affected.”

Councilmember Krakowiak then said “This is a big issue before us and it behooves us to take our time.” She said she would be a likely “no” vote if they were voting on it right now.

At the start of the meeting, in a public-comment session that lasted more than half an hour, seven people expressed opposition to or concern about annexation – with a common theme, if Seattle says it can’t afford annexation, how can Burien? – while two familiar White Center community advocates, Liz Giba and Rachael Levine, spoke favorably about it. (We will add details of the comments later.)

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Election 2011: Joe McDermott’s County Council kickoff

May 27th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Election, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on Election 2011: Joe McDermott’s County Council kickoff

(Crossposted from partner site West Seattle Blog)

He’s only been on the job six months, but King County Councilmember Joe McDermott is already running again. Last fall, he was elected for the year remaining in what was now-County Executive Dow Constantine’s term, after Jan Drago served a year as an appointee; this time, a full four-year term is at stake. Thursday night, in bowling shoes, McDermott presided over his official campaign-kickoff party at Roxbury Lanes. Among those in attendance were County Council colleagues Julia Patterson, Larry Phillips, Larry Gossett, and Bob Ferguson, State House Rep. Eileen Cody, elected city officials from Burien and Tukwila, members of the North Highline Unincorporated Council, and community advocates from neighborhoods in the 8th District including White Center, South Park, and Vashon. And from McDermott’s home neighborhood, West Seattle – his parents Terri McDermott and Jim McDermott:

Though all at the party were exhorted to have fun and get some bowling in, there was of course the opportunity for the candidate to offer a short speech first:

McDermott spent almost a decade in the State Legislature before moving to the County Council. The other candidate in this race so far is another West Seattleite, Diana Toledo, whom he also faced in last year’s general election. We covered her kickoff party at the Admiral Theater last week.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Election 2011: Former North Highline UAC chair enters Burien City Council race

May 25th, 2011 Tracy Posted in burien, Election, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on Election 2011: Former North Highline UAC chair enters Burien City Council race

Greg Duff had to leave the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council when annexation put his home inside Burien boundaries, but he continued public service by joining the Burien Planning Commission. And now, according to a news release we received this morning, he is running for Burien City Council Position 2. Read on for the announcement in its entirety: Read the rest of this entry »

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Election 2011: King County Council District 8 – Diana Toledo kickoff

May 19th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Politics, White Center news 1 Comment »

(Crossposted from partner site West Seattle Blog)

With three months till the primary, and candidate forums and campaign kickoffs starting to intensify, we’re stepping up coverage of the 2011 election. Last night at West Seattle’s Admiral Theater, Diana Toledo launched her second campaign for King County Council District 8 (which includes West Seattle and White Center), with an all-ages party, friends and family chatting in the theater’s loft, while little ones brought by partygoers romped down on the main floor. Toledo says she chose the venue to support a local business that could use more patrons.

Among those at the party was Tim Fahey, one of the three other candidates that ran for the office last year. You’ll see him in our clip from the short speech Toledo gave last night:

Toledo is a former King County employee who says her experience inside county government will help her reform it (here’s her online bio). The candidate to whom Toledo lost in last year’s general election, now-King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, is the only other declared candidate so far; he has a kickoff party scheduled next week. The official filing period opens this Friday for candidates filing by mail. (Wondering why there’s another election so soon after the last one? That was for the remainder of the term that had been won by Dow Constantine before he moved up to King County Executive two years ago, so this time a full 4-year council term is up for grabs.)

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Medical-marijuana businesses: What now?

May 4th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Health, Politics, White Center news 7 Comments »

The proliferation of medical-marijuana enterprises is on the agenda at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council tomorrow (Thursday) night. King County Councilmember Joe McDermott will discuss it while speaking to the council, according to NHUAC councilmember Barbara Dobkin.

This comes while new medical-marijuana businesses continue to open in the unincorporated area, even as the push toward state regulation is mired in political disagreement. Just a few days ago, WCN contributor Deanie Schwarz found another one that has just opened:

She reports: Cannabis Oasis, located at 11109 1st Ave. So., opened for business more than two weeks ago in the Top Hat area as a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary. This is the third known medical cannabis related operation that has just opened or will soon open in the area, along with Herban Legends and Green Piece, both located on 16th Ave. in the central White Center business district. (In neighboring West Seattle, at least two medical-marijuana enterprises are currently in operation and actively marketing themselves, while there are reportedly others that are keeping a low profile; a third that plans to operate openly is coming to 35th/Roxbury.)

State legislators are hoping to get a new bill approved during their current special session, to make up for what was lost when Governor Gregoire vetoed parts of the bill both houses had approved during the regular session. A key player in this is our area’s senior State Rep. Eileen Cody, since she chairs the health committee in the State House. We caught up with her in West Seattle last weekend to ask about the issue:

As for local authorities, we had spoken with them extensively while the now-gutted bill was still going through the State Legislature. They all had hoped for a consistent state law – but barring that, local control might be needed and that’s exactly what King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg has told Seattle Weekly – particularly considering one side effect of the governor’s action is apparently that one rule regarding providing marijuana to patients is about to get a lot tougher, and wasn’t originally intended to work out that way. That, according to our partners at the Seattle Times, leaves the current operators in fear of raids once the new law takes effect in July – unless changes are made before the Legislature’s special session runs out. Again, this is on the agenda for NHUAC tomorrow night – 7 pm, North Highline Fire District</strong> HQ (full agenda here).

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Seattle annexation? City Council president questioned at 34th District Democrats

March 10th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Annexation, Politics, White Center news 23 Comments »

(9:39 AM UPDATE: Added link to full text of “lose-lose” handout mentioned below)

We routinely cover the 34th District Democrats‘ meetings, since they are this area’s largest political group and you never know what news might break when that many local leaders and activists gather. Wednesday night, news broke out again; outside The Hall at Fauntleroy, the group’s usual meeting spot, a cluster of people holding NO SEATTLE ANNEXATION signs stood greeting people as they arrived. It was dark and rainy and our photo didn’t turn out well, but the main point of their presence was to make themselves known to Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin, who heads the committee that will decide soon whether to send Seattle annexation to the North Highline ballot. Conlin was at the meeting to talk about the council’s priorities, but was questioned about annexation by both Ivan Weiss of Vashon and Liz Giba of White Center. In the video above, Weiss is concluding his question off-camera – he had begun by listing the range of potential costs of annexation to the Seattle budget – and Giba is seen asking hers, about the future of the White Center and Boulevard Park county library branches, on-camera. Conlin repeatedly said he thinks North Highline should have the right to choose, which seemed to signal he will advocate strongly for going ahead with an election this fall, and also offered that he believes White Center is part of the Seattle community, so should be able to vote on whether to actually become part of Seattle. Meantime, the Seattle-annexation opponents were handing out a flyer headed “Seattle Annexation of North Highline: A Lose-Lose Resolution,” with one side devoted to why they believe it’s a bad idea for Seattle and the other to why they believe it would have negative effects on North Highline – they’ve promised to get us an electronic copy so we can share it with you here.

ADDED 9:39 AM: Here’s the complete flyer.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Reminder: North Highline annexation on Seattle Council committee agenda tomorrow

February 28th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Annexation, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on Reminder: North Highline annexation on Seattle Council committee agenda tomorrow

2 pm tomorrow is when the Seattle City Council Regional Development and Sustainability Committee takes up the North Highline annexation issue, potentially moving Seattle annexation of White Center (and environs) toward a vote this fall. Here’s the agenda; if you don’t have Seattle Channel on your cable (21), you can watch online from anywhere at (Or go to Seattle City Hall – committee meetings begin with a chance for public comment.)

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Video: Two 34th District state legislators sworn in

December 2nd, 2010 Tracy Posted in Politics, Video, White Center news Comments Off on Video: Two 34th District state legislators sworn in

That’s video from the King County Courthouse this afternoon, as two 34th District state legislators were sworn in by King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu — State Sen. Sharon Nelson and State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, who was elected to the position left vacant by Nelson when she ran (unopposed) for the Senate. They will join longtime State Representative Eileen Cody in Olympia, representing the area that includes White Center as well as West Seattle, Vashon and Maury Islands, and part of Burien (among a few other areas). Here’s what they had to say after the ceremony:

The ceremony drew dozens in the County Council chambers – among them, newly elected County Councilmember Joe McDermott (whose departure from the State Senate cleared the way for Sen. Nelson to move up) and County Executive Dow Constantine.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

White Center’s new County Councilmember takes office

November 24th, 2010 Tracy Posted in King County, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on White Center’s new County Councilmember takes office

As of this afternoon, Joe McDermott is the newest member of the King County Council, representing District 8, which includes White Center, West Seattle (and a few other swaths of the city), and Vashon/Maury Islands. In the county-provided photo above, he was sworn in by Clerk of the Council Anne Noris, hours after the November 2nd election results were certified. The official news release announcing his swearing-in quotes Councilmember McDermott as saying, ““I am honored the voters of the 8th Council District chose me to serve them in a position that has a long legacy of strong, effective leadership … We must work together to provide meaningful and efficient government services with an eye to the future. We cannot let today’s economic crisis keep us from meeting our commitments in regional planning, environmental stewardship and public safety.” McDermott spent the past decade in the State Legislature, in the State Senate since 2007, following seven years in the State House. On the nine-member County Council, he succeeds Jan Drago, appointed early this year after the November 2009 election moved Dow Constantine up to County Executive; this election was for the remaining year of Constantine’s unexpired term, so the position will be back on the ballot in November 2011. Final certified results of this election are here; McDermott had 68 percent of the vote, Diana Toledo 32 percent. They were the top two finishers from a field of four in the August primary.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

King County budget approved one week earlier than expected

November 15th, 2010 Tracy Posted in Election, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on King County budget approved one week earlier than expected

While the King County Council wasn’t expected to take a final budget vote until next Monday – they did it today. Here’s the official news release with the announcement:

The Metropolitan King County Council today adopted a $5.1 billion 2011 King County Budget that reflects the painful choices made to produce a balanced budget, but maintains core public safety services and protects survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

The adopted budget includes a $621 million general fund budget, of which 76 percent is directed toward public safety and criminal justice programs. The proposed budget protects the County’s AAA bond rating by not using the County’s cash reserves or tapping the rainy day fund.

“King County government made the difficult choices necessary to balance our budget. We went through this budget line-by-line to cut spending in the most responsible way possible, just as many individuals and families everywhere are doing with their own household budgets,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson, Chair of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee. “Given the fiscal challenges we are facing, this budget does all it can to protect public safety, maintain the quality of life in our communities, and protect our most vulnerable residents.”

“The budget cuts this year have been softened by the willingness of our labor partners/employees to ‘share the pain,’” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, Vice Chair of the Budget Leadership Team. “We are most grateful to our county bargaining units that agreed to forego cost-of-living increases for 2011. This allowed us to create a $1.5 million emergency reserve fund for criminal justice needs, as well as to restore domestic violence and sexual assault funding and special court advocate programs that help people survive in turbulent times.”
“We had to make extremely difficult choices in this budget and use our limited resources to protect as many residents of King County as possible,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett a member of the Budget Leadership Team. “Law enforcement is an important aspect of providing public safety in our communities. However, public safety also includes providing human services for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, alternatives to incarceration programs to reduce the numbers of people in the King County jail, and public health clinics to provide essential medical care to the most marginalized in our community. That is the true meaning of public safety.”

Following the Budget Leadership Team’s theme of “Balancing the Budget, Sharing the Pain,” the cuts made to close the $60 million shortfall in the 2011 budget will be felt throughout King County. More than 300 county positions have been eliminated. The King County Sheriff will lose 28 deputies and County Prosecutors will lose 16 attorneys and those that remain will see an increase in their caseloads. In the Superior and District Courts, 28 positions were eliminated, reducing probation services in both courts, and shrinking the services provided by court clerks and court reporters. There is no funding available for the replacement of the County’s aging Youth Services Center.

Human Service programs that traditionally received some county support were also cut. There is no general fund contribution to services for at-risk mothers, early learning or after school programs.

The 2011 budget preserves programs that prevent domestic violence and sexual assault by investing a portion of the savings created by County employees giving up their cost of living adjustments (COLAs). All but one County bargaining unit, the King County Sheriff Deputies, agreed to give up their negotiated COLAs, preserving $23.5 million in services across all county agencies for 2011. Of that amount, $6.1 million of the savings was in the general fund, making it available to provide limited funding to these programs. Funds were also made available to maintain, Step Up, a program that assists families impacted by juvenile domestic violence.

In all, the COLA concessions allowed the Council to save or partially save eight Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys, as well as public defenders, corrections officers, alternatives to incarceration programs and other vital public safety services. Working with the Superior Court, the Council also preserved funding for family services provided by the court, such as mediation, parent coaching and evaluation and child advocacy to troubled families.

“This balanced budget reflects the consensus of seven Council members representing a wide political spectrum,” said Council Chair Bob Ferguson. “These seven members worked throughout the process, never quitting despite difficult negotiations, and agreed on a budget consistent with this tough economy.”

“This is a painful budget made more manageable by the vast majority of King County employees’ willingness to sacrifice cost of living wages they were legally entitled to in order to preserve public services and jobs,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “We’re adopting a responsible budget plan given the economic climate that we’re dealing with, but it will mean King County residents—particularly the most vulnerable—will have less access to services.”

“This was an extremely difficult budget—by far the most difficult budget I’ve dealt with in the 17 years I’ve been involved in local government,” said Councilmember Jan Drago. “I was very impressed with the level of collaboration from my County Council colleagues and from Executive Dow Constantine these last eight weeks, and together, we were able to work through these daunting challenges because of our commitment to public service and our willingness to collaborate.”

Highlights of the 2011 Budget:

King County Sheriff Office: The adopted budget restores several positions in the Sheriff’s office using savings from sheriff captains and court protection marshals that agreed to forgo their cost of living adjustment increase for 2011. These positions include a fire investigator, a records and evidence specialist, and two communications operators in the 911 call center. The budget also directs the sheriff to prioritize the equivalent of two deputy positions for investigation of property crimes.

Criminal Justice Reserve: To balance the budget, the council made necessary cuts to the criminal justice agencies. The adopted budget has $1.5 million in reserve to ensure that the county is in position to quickly respond to the most pressing and emergent criminal justice and public safety needs in 2011.

Protecting the Vulnerable: Along with the county’s continuing support for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, the budget takes a proactive approach to the growing youth prostitution problem, providing shelter beds that will help take youths off the streets, away from prostitution.

AAA Bond rating: The credit rating agencies recently reaffirmed the county’s AAA bond rating. Through fiscal restraint, the council has not spent any of the county’s $15 million rainy day fund or any of its six percent cash reserve, which amounts to an additional $31 million in reserves. These cash reserves prepare the county for unforeseen emergencies and are vital to maintain the county’s high credit rating, which saves taxpayers millions of dollars every year.

One more County Council note: Our area’s newly elected King County Councilmember, Joe McDermott, is expected to be sworn in a week from tomorrow, after the election results are certified. He will serve the remaining year of what was King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s unexpired County Council term, and then would have to run for re-election again next year; the 2nd-place finisher in this year’s race, Diana Toledo, says she will run again next year.

ADDED 6:27 PM: The two County Councilmembers who voted against the budget have sent out a news release of their own:

The Metropolitan King County Council today adopted the 2011 budget on a 7-2 vote with Councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Pete von Reichbauer voting no. These Councilmembers cited the systematic dismantling of King County’s criminal justice system for their vote against the budget.

“The 300,000 residents of King County will now have to live with 28 fewer sheriff deputies than last year,” said Dunn, Chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “I cannot vote for a budget that does not first protect public safety before funding non-mandatory programs.”

“The people of South King County want more law enforcement not less,” said von Reichbauer. “Crime is a growing issue for my constituents and I want more officers on the street and more prosecutors in the courtroom.”

This summer, Councilmember Dunn with support from Councilmember von Reichbauer, offered a plan to fund criminal justice that was tax neutral in that the average taxpayer would have paid no new taxes. Instead of adopting this plan, the Council chose to put Proposition 1, a straight two-tenths of one percent sales tax, on the ballot with no offsets. Proposition 1 failed by more than 10 percentage points, leaving King County with a $60 million deficit.

“The taxpayers of this county are struggling and they are looking to the Council for solutions,” said Dunn. “I tried to offer some reasonable alternatives but my ideas were not taken seriously. Now we have a budget before us that makes people less safe.”

Councilmember Dunn was a member of the Budget Leadership Team but walked out after being told that no Sheriff’s deputies would be restored in the budget. The Budget Leadership Team sited the fact that the King County Police Officers Guild (KCPOG) refused to forego their cost of living increases to save jobs within that department as a reason for that decision.

“I am not going to defend the Sheriff’s union for not giving up their COLAs. But I am going to stand up for my constituents who must live under the lack of police protection,” said Dunn. “In my opinion, we must balance the need to send a message to labor with the right policy decisions on public safety. This budget does not represent my principles.”

Three amendments were offered by Dunn:

* Taking $820,000 from the criminal justice reserve to restore six prosecutors, four to the violent crime unit and two to the economic crimes unit. The amendment was defeated by a 6-3 vote with Councilmembers Dunn, Hague and von Reichbauer voting in support of the amendment.
* Cutting $3.27 million from the Public Health budget to restore 26 deputies to the Sheriff’s office, including 16 for property crimes investigation, two for storefronts in unincorporated King County and eight School Resource Officers. The amendment failed on a 5-4 vote with Councilmembers Dunn, Hague, Lambert and von Reichbauer voting in favor of the amendment.
* Adding $100,000 of critical funding to the domestic violence and sexual assault programs. The amendment failed on a 7-2 vote with Councilmembers Dunn and von Reichbauer supporting the amendment.

“It was important to me to not just vote no. I wanted to once again offer some reasonable alternatives to save our criminal justice system,” said Dunn. “My alternatives were not supported by a majority of the Council but the perspective of the citizens of unincorporated King County and citizens who are concerned about public safety were heard.”

ADDED 6:34 PM: And the councilmember who has represented White Center almost all year, Jan Drago, has released her own statement on the budget as well:

Metropolitan King County Councilmember Jan Drago released this statement on today’s vote approving the 2011 King County Budget:

“This was an extremely difficult budget, and grappling with a $60 million budget gap was no easy task. It was by far the most difficult budget I’ve dealt with in the 17 years I’ve been involved in local government. There were very difficult choices and, in the end, no easy answers or quick fixes. Our final budget was not able to avoid layoffs or service cuts, so we are faced with no other option here in King County than to live within our means.

“While the adopted budget is $5.1 billion, almost 90 percent of that money is already committed. The General Fund, which is where elected leaders have some discretion to make spending decisions, is only $621million. Of that, 76percent of the General Fund money pays for the county’s criminal justice programs.

“Knowing that the decisions we faced would be difficult and painful, my colleagues and I committed early on to make the process as transparent and open as possible to the public to help them understand these difficult circumstances. We took testimony from more than 400 people at five public hearings, with countless more who wrote to us with their concerns and their pleas. While we weren’t able to avoid some painful cuts, we were able to restore some critical programs, including domestic violence and sexual assault support programs, Family Court services, support for alternatives to incarceration, the Step Up program, the Court Appointed Special Advocate program.

“So much of what is happening today with local government budgeting affects the people that have the least, and we did as much as we could to try and restore the programs that really help the people in need. Some of these decisions were based on the heartfelt testimony we heard at the public meetings, and I want to thank everyone who made the decision to get involved and participate in the process. It’s important that people know they can make a difference.

“I want to thank my County Council colleagues and King County Executive Dow Constantine for keeping the lines of communication open and for truly making this a collaborative process from start to finish. I was very impressed with the level of collaboration from all branches of King County government these last eight weeks and the commitment to openness and transparency. I also want to thank the thousands of county employees who made important sacrifices that allowed us to avoid some layoffs and restore some of these critical services to the public. Together, we were able to work through these daunting challenges, and King County will be a better place to live and work because of our commitment to public service and our willingness to collaborate.”

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Quick summary, while long version’s in the works: Lively candidates’ forum at Greenbridge

October 21st, 2010 Tracy Posted in Election, Greenbridge, North Highline UAC, Politics, White Center news 5 Comments »

(Top, moderator Jerry Robison, during the forum, with Joe McDermott and Diana Toledo; bottom, Joe Fitzgibbon and Mike Heavey right before it began)
It’ll take some time to write the full report since the candidates’ forum presented by the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council tonight ran almost two and a half hours, but here’s a really quick summary: NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin told your editor here (covering on behalf of both White Center Now and West Seattle Blog) afterward that they’re “thrilled” they drew such a huge turnout for the forum – the room at the Greenbridge YWCA Education Center was packed. NHUAC’s Pat Price gave a short introduction, and longtime community leader Jerry Robison moderated the forum expertly. A collection of pre-prepared questions – NHUAC had solicited e-mailed inquiries – and “live” audience questions ranged across a wide variety of topics, from White Center annexation to abortion rights. The first audience question came from the White Center/West Seattle entrepreneur who ran in one of the spotlighted races:

Mac’s Triangle Pub owner Geoffrey “Mac” McElroy would have asked the last question too, but he yielded to a man who hadn’t asked anything yet. (He was the third-place finisher in the 34th District House #2 race.) Other questioners included people from White Center and West Seattle, including several who identified themselves as Greenbridge residents (the development itself was the topic of several questions). Moderator Robison sat at a desk between one containing the 34th District State House Position 2 candidates, Joe Fitzgibbon and Mike Heavey, and one containing the King County Council District 8 candidates, Joe McDermott and Diana Toledo. Though the state race was the closest in the primary between its “top two,” those two candidates clashed on virtually nothing, while the county candidates jabbed at each other several times, over items from factual errors to mischaracterizations.

We have the entirety of the forum on video which we will publish as soon as it’s uploaded, both here and on partner site WSB, and we’ll be writing a longer article with overall highlights, too. While Election Day is officially November 2nd, you should have your ballot by now, and that’s the deadline to send it in or drop it off if you haven’t done so already. More to come!

10:38 PM UPDATE: Here’s part 1 of the video:

11 PM: And part 2:

12:50 AM: Part 3:

Again, separate article to come.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council schedules double-bill candidates’ forum

October 12th, 2010 Tracy Posted in Election, North Highline UAC, Politics, White Center news 2 Comments »

It’s just been brought to our attention that while we’ve mentioned this several times on partner site West Seattle Blog, we haven’t mentioned it here! In case you haven’t already heard – the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council is presenting the biggest candidates’ forum between now and Election Day, with both the State House Position 2 and King County Council District 8 races featured. **Doors open at 6 pm** (corrected) October 21st at the Greenbridge YWCA, you will hear from all four candidates in those races – House candidates Mike Heavey of West Seattle and Joe Fitzgibbon of Burien, and KC Council candidates Diana Toledo and State Sen. Joe McDermott, both West Seattleites.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Got something to say about the county budget? Here’s how

September 14th, 2010 Tracy Posted in King County, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on Got something to say about the county budget? Here’s how

The King County Council has four public hearings coming up about the county budget, and the closest one is in Seattle. Here’s the official announcement:

In preparation for a 2011 King County Budget that will include $60 million in cuts, the chair of the Metropolitan King County Council’s Budget Leadership team is encouraging the public to get involved by going to the Budget Committee’s four public hearings.

“During this difficult budget process, programs and services that our residents depend on are going to be cut or eliminated,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson. “We need to hear from the public about the services they value, their ideas for saving money, and how we can do more with less.”

Hosted by Councilmember Patterson, the four public hearings will be held:

· Wednesday, September 29 – King County Courthouse, County Council Chambers, 10th Flr, 516 Third Avenue, Room 1200, Seattle
· Tuesday, October 5 – Bellevue City Council Chambers, 450 110th Ave. NE, Bellevue
· Tuesday, October 12 – Mt. Si High School, Wildcat Court, 8651 Meadowbrook Way SE, Snoqualmie
· Tuesday, October 19 – Maleng Regional Justice Center, Jury Assembly Room 2E, 401 4th Avenue North, Kent

All meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. Day-after coverage of the public hearings will be available both online and on King County TV, seen on Comcast and Broadstripe Cable Channel 22. You can also sign up to follow the deliberations through the Council’s 2011 Budget Blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Follow the Council’s deliberations through Twitter, Facebook and our 2011 Budget Blog by visiting the King County Council Budget Web site at:

AddThis Social Bookmark Button