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Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: august primary

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July 24, 2014 at 6:11 AM

Proposition 1 enrages, divides Seattle parks supporters

An increasingly fierce debate over Proposition 1, the Aug. 5 ballot measure that would create a Seattle Park District, is pitting parks supporters against one another.  This diverse group agrees parks are valuable. They just disagree on exactly how to fund them.

Tensions flared after Mayor Ed Murray hosted a press conference on Monday in support of the Yes on 1 campaign. As PubliCola reports, the event turned into an unruly spectacle. See the tweet below by KOMO TV Reporter Gaard Swanson.

A few citizens who support parks but oppose Prop. 1 called and emailed this week to say they did not intend to cause problems or raise their voices until they heard city leaders at the press conference accuse them of being anti-parks and likening them to members of the Tea Party movement. (Some said they are proud liberals who just disagree with this particular issue.)

The Seattle Times opposes Prop 1, and published an editorial Wednesday arguing it is not the only option to save parks. The League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County urge a ‘no’ vote because its members take issue with Prop. 1′s proposed governance model, which replaces the current parks levy with a new taxing district overseen by the Seattle City Council.

The Municipal League of King County recently came out with a ‘yes’ recommendation, though it noted that “as a matter of good governance, parks operations should be funded through the City’s General Fund. The Municipal League believes a YES vote is the best practical measure available for addressing parks funding shortfalls, but is concerned that approving this measure will result in a continued practice of reducing allocations for essential city services from the General Fund.”

What do readers think? Opinion Northwest featured several viewpoints in a previous post. Additional responses since then have been equally thoughtful and civil. Whether you’re decided or confused about this issue, scroll down to get a sense of why some voters are so fired up about Prop. 1.

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Comments | Topics: august primary, prop 1, Seattle

July 16, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Readers react to Seattle Park District measure

Corrected version A call-out last week for readers to tell us how they would fund Seattle’s expansive parks system so far has generated more than a dozen thoughtful responses. Highlights from some of those comments are featured below. The Seattle Times editorial board recently advocated voting against Proposition 1, known as the Seattle Park District measure on…

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Comments | Topics: august primary, election, metropolitan park district

July 10, 2014 at 6:04 AM

A ‘no’ vote on Prop. 1 will not destroy Seattle parks

A bicyclist rides around the north end of Green Lake Park early on a fall morning. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

What happens if voters don’t pass Proposition 1 on the Aug. 5 ballot? Contrary to supporters’ claims, Seattle parks won’t be doomed. Citizens might even get a chance to vote on a better measure in a future election.

Parks enthusiasts (myself included) shouldn’t be bamboozled into thinking the formation of a metropolitan park district within city limits – operated and led by the Seattle City Council — is the only way to fix a daunting $270 million maintenance backlog.

As The Seattle Times makes clear in Wednesday’s editorial, parks definitely deserve some TLC. But the board joins the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County and the pro-parks/anti-Prop. 1 citizen group Our Parks Forever in opposing the proposed taxing authority outlined in Prop. 1.

Preserving parks is critical to quality of life and public health. The mayor and council members are understandably eager to create dedicated parks funding and free up room in limited levy capacity for other worthy programs, such as universal preschool. But they have failed to make a case for a Seattle Park District that gives elected officials so much additional, unfettered power to tax and spend.

By rejecting Proposition 1, voters send a strong message to city leadership: We love parks, but return with a levy or alternate measure that prioritizes park needs, holds officials more accountable and preserves citizen participation.

Three questions to keep in mind before you check off that ballot:

1. If everyone loves parks and levies pass so easily, what’s the big deal with forming a metropolitan park district?

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Comments | Topics: august primary, metropolitan park district, prop 1