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Posts tagged summer 07
I know him very well, but for those of you who don’t…
I’ll add some of my own additional reasons for supporting him in a few days…so please check back!
When we were having the debate about whether the council should review city contracts between 20K and 50K (see my previous posting below), we were covering a lot of ground in our debate. Don Persson explained it was our duty to make sure we knew in advance where money was being committed; I agreed and pointed out we could easily and swiftly approve contracts as consent agenda items if they were provided to us in advance of our weekly council meeting. But Dan and Terry kept insisting that for the fifty annual contracts between $20,000 and $50,000, the council should not see them, and that Don and Denis and Marcie and I must simply be untrusting. I went on to point out that often the issue is priorities more than trust, e.g. when we spend money for new economic development studies it should be for areas of interest to the council….the mayor and staff may not know what we want. The debate went back to Terri, Don, Dan, and Denis a few times, and then I began asking for the floor again but not getting recognized. Then the mayor recognized Toni, who said that our finance director does a good job keeping receipts (which is true, but a bit beside the point), but then she closed by saying something unfortunate along the lines that we must just all be idiots, and she “called for the question.”
The mayor smiled and tried to end the debate, but I did not intend to be denied my opportunity to speak or to let the idiot comment go unresolved. So I declared a point of order, and pointed out that “calling for the question” does not stop debate by itself…it is a motion that must pass in order to stop the debate. Dan Clawson, an attorney and council member immediately responded that I was wrong, as did our city attorney. I reached for my guide on Roberts Rules of Order, stood up to present the facts to the city attorney, who could now tell by my demeanor that she must be mistaken. The chambers quieted down as the city attorney read from her copy, while I read along silently on mine; calling for the question needed a “second,” and a two-thirds vote to pass. The attorney then declared the motion which called for the question dead for lack of a second. I then asked for the floor, but before the mayor recognized me, Terry Briere called “second”, and the mayor recognized her “second” even though the motion was already dead.
While I rightfully should have had the floor, I did not make a fuss because I knew the motion would not get two-thirds of the council’s approval after the majority had all just been called idiots.
So, we took a vote on the “call for the question,” which predictably received three yes votes, and four no votes…my colleagues were ready to let me finish my comments. But instead of declaring the motion dead, the mayor asked the clerk to determine whether she had the necessary two-thirds vote to end debate! I guess the math got away from her…she was not sure if 3/7 was as high as 2/3! The clerk sighed and said, no, the motion did not get two-thirds of the council’s support. At this point my patience was growing thin, and I asked for the floor one more time. The mayor, looking angrily frustrated, panned around the council seemingly looking for some way she could change the situation so that I would not be allowed to speak….I felt like if there were a fire alarm lever behind her she may have pulled it. I asked again for the floor, pointing out I had now counted four times in a row that she refused to recognize me even though the majority of council members would have liked to hear what I had to say five minutes earlier. Crestfallen, she finally recognized me “…Misssterrrr Cooorrrrman…”
I kept my comments brief, pointing out that none of the council were idiots, and that all all seven of us have made valuable contributions to contract language in the past. We can improve these contracts, and give service to the taxpayers, merely by the seven of us taking a look at them in our council packets. This was not an issue of winning or losing power so much as a way to use eight elected officials to the taxpayers full advantage. Toni Nelson then clarified that she had not meant to call us idiots, and Don’s motion to review the contracts passed 5 to 2 on a roll-call vote. Yay!
In 1995, voters of Renton overwhelmingly joined voters of the rest of the Eastside in rejecting a six billion dollar Regional Transit proposal that focussed almost entirely on Seattle. Eastside voters said the proposal was too expensive, and they wanted a pro-rated, fair share of the funding to be spent to improve transit on the Eastside…the dollars generated in the Renton/Eastside sub-area should be used in the sub-area. This “sub-area equity” proposal went back to the ballot with a scaled down Seattle rail system and eastside Highway and Bus improvements, and was approved by the voters…giving birth to Sound Transit.
Renton voters will contribute 100 million dollars in tax money to the Sound Transit proposal approved in 1996, and the Sound Transit Board agreed that our city would receive two I-405 express HOV on/off ramps, one at Talbot and one at N 8th Street, along with expanded express bus service, in return for this huge investment. This is what Renton voters expected and deserved.
Sadly, Sound Transit began losing site of their bargain with Renton voters as they became distracted with bigger projects in Seattle and Bellevue. Mayor Jesse Tanner and several of us on council attended countless meetings to try to get Renton projects underway, but ultimately Sound Transit informed Renton that prices had escalated and they had under-estimated, and they could now only build the HOV on/off ramp at 8th street, and it would cost 80 million (with the other 20 million going to other cities).
When Jesse Tanner got this news, he informed Sound Transit that they would put the other 20 million back into RENTON projects, not send it elsewhere, and they would proceed immediately to plan and build Renton’s new off-ramp at N 8th street, before it got more expensive; AND… they would get our bus service going. When Ron Sims and the Sound Transit Board balked at Renton’s mayor telling them what to, and threatened to ignore Renton, Jesse Tanner took the effective and intelligent step of withholding an easement that Sound Transit needed from Renton to support their north-south rail project until they returned to the bargaining table. Having been out-maneuvered by Mayor Tanner,and with the politics against Sound Transit, the Sound Transit staff capitulated and returned to the bargaining table. Renton and Sound Transit then held very productive discussion, and finally agreed that Sound Transit would build the 8th street HOV off-ramp post-haste, and that the 20 million would be used specifically to improve Rainier Avenue and Hardie Avenue so that Sound Transit buses could more easily reach our transit center from the south, something that the HOV off-ramp at at Talbot was supposed to have done.
But, alas, it did not end there. Next thing we knew, Sound Transit was telling us that the 8th street HOV off-ramp would now cost 160 million, because part of I-405 would need to be realigned to create better sight distances when the new project was installed. Sound Transit suggested that they should go ahead with the 20 million dollar Rainier Avenue improvements, and then work regional I-405 financing proposals to get the additional money. Renton reluctantly agreed to wait and see if voters would approve new I-405 money, but again Jesse Tanner made it clear that no matter what, the 100 million would improve Renton transit and not go elsewhere.
Jesse Tanner retired, and Mayor Keolker took office right around the time that voters rejected additional money for I-405. Sound Transit proposed to the new Keolker Administration that they would link our off-ramp improvements to the pending future voter approval of the mega-big Regional Transit Investment District (RTID) and Sound Transit Phase-Two proposal, a FIFTY BILLION dollar bond issue which would still need voter approval. Also, Sound Transit would prioritize our off-ramp project near the END of their list of Phase-Two projects, meaning even if we approve the 50 billion dollar Sound Transit/RTID Bond, Rentonites will not see our new off-ramp (promised in Phase one) until the year 2030, over 30 years after we paid for it. Sound Transit also determined that the Rainier and Hardie Avenue improvement, the other 20 million dollars in Sound Transit funding, was held up because Burlington Norther railroad had no interest or willingness to rebuild their Renton trestles and provide enough clearance for the new roadways.
What did our new Mayor tell her friend and Sound Transit Chair Ron Sims when she got the news about this huge setback for Renton…? She said “Okay!”
Well, council did not let go of the money so easily, and earlier this year Marcie Palmer, Don Persson and I told Burlington Northern Railroad and the State DOT that we would fight their abandonment of the Eastside Rail line (and eviction of the dinner train) in Washington DC if they did not rebuild the trestles in Renton, thus freeing up the 20 million in Sound Transit money. The mayor let the three of us know that she did not like our request and pressure upon the Railroad, but as a council we prevailed. BNSF and State DOT are now working to rebuild these trestles, which will at LONG LAST get Renton taxpayers some value for their Sound Transit money thanks to the work that Marcie, Don and I did at this key meeting.
A bigger issue is how do we get our remaining 80 million dollar share spent to ease Renton congestion, if taxpayers decide not to approve the Phase Two (fifty billion dollar bond commitment)? The mayor does not seem to care, but the Council Transportation Committee ceratainly cares, and we will continue to pursue this.
Now, with all this factual backgound, take a look at this campaign claim by Mayor Keolker, which I found on her website:
Under my leadership, we improved relations with Sound Transit who in turn, strengthened their contribution to Renton area projects. Funding has increased from $200,000 to over $20 million in recent years.
We are replacing several railroad bridges in the Downtown and South Renton area.
Nothing about the 100 million dollars that she was willing to leave sitting on the table, and no hint about the role of the council in rescuing the 20 million..I just shake my head in wonder.
I guess the mayor did win some favor with some Sound Transit Board Members, since she made it easy for them to withhold Renton’s 100 million dollars; and it did help her win some campaign endorsements and campaign money. But at what cost to Renton taxpayers….80 million dollars maybe?
“Renton residents deserve a leader who is experienced and focused on serving the community as a whole, not just an influential few.” I found this statement on Mayor Keolker’s website. I completely agree of course, and that is why I will be so glad to see Denis Law take over the mayor’s office. What I can’t believe, however, is that the mayor would try to insinuate that SHE is the person representing the many (not Denis Law), when I can so easily show that Councilman Law is the only mayoral candidate that will represent everyone.
For starters, Mayor Keolker has received two-thirds of her Renton-based campaign money from just three big-money interests…a developer, an auto dealer, and a restaurant chain owner. In contrast, Denis Law has received his more-abundant donations from hundreds of Renton donors, including residents from every neighborhood, blue and white collar workers, engineers, teachers, PTA members, community activists, school board members, former school superintendents, fire fighers, police officers and so many others.
But more importantly, the Mayor’s decision-record has been predominantly in favor of big money interests over common citizens. Please review my historical blogs below for more information on this. The uproar over the Renton Highlands, which led to the most embarrassing legal mess ever to hit the executive level of Renton City Hall (lipstick, bad-words on the mayor’s mirror, mayor’s unwillingness to submit to a police lie detector, etc), provided a very clear example that the mayor does not listen to Renton residents.
But there is an even more important point here. Mayor Keolker’s implied accusations that Denis Law will serve only an influential few (which she has also been verbalizing around town) is an example of her ridiculous tendency to project HER OWN flaws and failings onto others. She did the same thing to Councilman King Parker and me when we ran against her for mayor. As polite opponents, not wishing to sink to her level, we were reluctant to point out publicly when she was lying; but our reluctance unfortunately served to reinforce her pattern. She now seems to believe that projecting her own flaws onto her opponent makes for a good preemptive strike and/or good politics.
Because I care so much about our city and it’s citizens, I’m no longer going to just sit quietly when I see this happen. I’ll tell you about it, and I’ll back it up with data from my nearly 14 years of service on council.
I think this is a really good ad. I like the “Expect more” theme, as that probably is the best way to capture how everyone on the list feels. The Fire Fighter’s local purchased that classic fire truck themselves, with union money, to ensure they are not using city resources to help candidates…a first class move on their part. They also use the fire truck for fundraising for charitable causes they support (burn victims, families of fire fighters killed in service, etc..
Denis has an awesome campaign team, and he is building momentum from all parts of our city. I am happy to be included in the elected official endorsements listed in this ad.
Yep, the majority of us want a new mayor. We’ve been working hard to keep our city blossoming, in spite of our mayor’s often misplaced priorities, lack of management experience, and other issues. And it’s not partisan…council and mayor are all non-partisan positions. It’s about the way the mayor’s job is handled, day-in and day-out, the way we see it from city hall.
Scroll down to find my regular updates about the goings-on at city hall. You’ll get it straight from the guy you’ve elected to represent you four times in a row…with no one editing my honest and unabashed opinions. Of course, if you disagree with me, you are welcome to leave your own comments below my writings as well. (Even if you disagree with me, if you keep your language clean and leave your name, I’ll leave any rebuttals here on my page) And if you agree with me, please leave your comments as well.