In our city, transparency, fiduciary and due diligence responsibilities seem to be lost on our elected representatives lest we hear some explanation of the apparent additional $75 million to $80 million cost anticipated for the new fire stations/apparatus, public safety building and the maintenance shop.
Since an explanation by neither the mayor nor the council has been given and appears unlikely, logically one must assume we were duped by our elected in the low ball $77 million General Obligation Bond sold to us by our elected which was apparently low to garner enough votes for passage.
Further, it appears unlikely they intend to ask the city’s taxpayers for authorization to increase our taxes to pay for this apparent costly (double what was presented) design strategy to ensure their building plan is consummated. They conveniently left the door open in Ordinance 2509 to enable this kind of behavior and are going forward with their grandiose building plan without any consultation (no questionnaire mailer) with city voters. True, there is a Financial Oversight Committee that monitors and reports progress on the cost of the building plan but it cannot report retroactively, including how the $77 million GOB cost was derived.
What is the voter to do? We can let it ride till election time and endure the tax increases (that’s what it is whether higher or over a longer period of time) without some protest, which is what this writing is about, or stand up and be counted by letting our elected know we do not approve of their behavior. This building plan represents too much spending in too short a time resulting in too great of a tax increase on the tax payers over too short a period. Should the plan be scaled back and resubmitted to the voters for approval? Obvious answer is yes.
Our elected does several things for which improvement is needed:
1. The process by which legislation is developed and submitted for council approval could be drastically improved by adding a citizen representative to each committee. It’s currently too council centric and controlled. By design, three council members are in attendance and usually cast their votes in unison, so only one additional council vote is required for council approval thus garnering little or no debate.
2. Contracts needs to be incentive based to keep contractors and costs competitive.
3. Public employee contracts need to be negotiated in the open. Tax payers need to know the terms of such contracts and what they are paying for.
4. Council go-along-to-get-along voting and we can throw the mayor into the mix. It has the appearance likeness of a country club. Some debate would be welcome and show some thoughtful opinions. Believe this is what the voters had in mind when they last cast their votes for our elected.
5. Compliance with our constitution, federal immigration laws and marijuana laws. The US Attorney General is on record saying these violations are in fact real and accordingly he has a lawsuit against the state of California for similar violations.
6. The city’s outreach efforts should be augmented or better yet, replaced by detailed pros/cons questionnaire mailer, including expected costs, etc. to obtain voters’ opinion in lieu of the 2 percent or so of voters opinion obtained by outreach meetings usually held consistently in the same general location and the ideas of other cities obtained via boondoggle trips and foisted on the voters. Let all the voters via questionnaire mailers determine the direction of their city.
7. Our elected need to repudiate public employee unions endorsements in campaign literature and signage otherwise it’s a conflict of interest and breeds cronyism (You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.) between the elected and the unions which are governed by our elected.
8. Keep the four lane TIB and utilize sky bridges/tunnels instead. To constrict traffic via two lanes, including impeding emergency vehicles is short sighted and anti-growth not to mention forcing traffic to use Military Road and 42nd Avenue South as alternative routes through residential neighborhoods and by schools.
9. Show as much passion for core city business issues as you do for social issues.
10. Enthusiastically support the Tukwila Charter School in the same way you support the Tukwila School District Schools.
I keep looking for the mayor’s explanation of the $77 million low ball estimate in his monthly piece in the Reporter.