Saturday, November 29, 2008

KeyArena, or no KeyArena, that is Monday's Question

Monday, December 1st, the Washington State Task Force for Local Financing Option for King County is required to submit to the appropriate state committees their findings and recommendations.

Along with funding arts in King County, youth athletic programs, the Washington State Trade & Convention, and Husky stadium, is the request by the City of Seattle's request for funding to pay for Key Arena renovations.
If the task force does not recommend the Key Arena proposal then it is, more or less, dead (more or less).

Not recommending the renovation might also let Clay Bennett off the hook for 30 million dollars should Steve Ballmer not be able to buy a team within 5 years of the settlement date with the city, August 17, 2008.
The state has until December 31, 2009 to provide a funding resource for 1/4 of the cost toward an arena in order to put that part of the settlement in play.

This is a big step, and not the last step, should it move forward.

Part of the city's presentation is that the funding could be used in the near term on something else at Seattle Center, home to Key Arena, should there be a delay in Steve Ballmer being able to buy an NBA team. A major point here is to provide near term construction jobs. If the city did redirect the money to another project on the site then they would be on the hook to put the money back in the arena and provide 75 million of their own.

Committee co-chair Ross Hunter teld me in an email reply that he does not think this is "shovel ready" this Spring, and that he would be "astounded" if Steve Ballmer's Seattle Center Investment group made its investment before securing a team.
I agree with both of those things. What I will say is that very few of the requests are "shovel ready", activity at Seattle Center is likely much closer, and Key Arena still closer than Husky stadium and the convention center.

If there is doubt that Steve Balmer could secure a team in the near term I will direct anybody's attention to the Memphis Grizzlies home game attendance.

I would expect activity of some kind to start sometime, in some way, at Seattle Center this year, should the financing eventually get approved in the next couple months.
But, first things first, we need the committee recommendation.

House Bill 2765 New Section states the due dates for the task force, authorizes the activity, and the scope of their work.
Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Revised Agenda: Local Financing Options for King County, Joint Task Force

Local Financing Options for King County, Joint Task Force* - 12/01/08 9:00 am

Full Committee
(360) 786-7124
Bellevue City Hall
450 110th Ave. NE
Bellevue, WA

REVISED 11/20/2008 10:00 AM


1. Funding Arts in King County.
2. Financing for the renovation of the University of Washington Stadium.
3. Youth Athletic Facilities Fund grant program.
4. Washington State Convention Center presentation on future plans and funding.
5. Key Arena renovations.
6. Public comment.

So, is it better to close the show? I think yes, though I expect most questions that the City of Seattle would have to answer about Key Arena renovations have been answered. I see the convention center presentation precedes the city. I think in contrast the Key Arena project will look more mature, just my guess, based on them not being in the meeting materials to this point. See here.
Hopefully they will play well with others.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, November 22, 2008 Washington State regulators ask: Can blogging be lobbying?

The questions being asked by nameless, faceless “regulators” is: Is a blog that advocates for something a lobbying effort, should the blogger be treated a lobbyist by the state? I do not think this is too tough to figure out, and let’s not let the fact that I read the “newspaper” story online point a bright light on how this will play out.

I am going insert my opinion throughout the story. My opinion isn’t likely going to be more meaningful to the opinions that readers already have. Our opinions are our own truth, but differences in interpretation in definitions (common understanding of terms) is what the story is really about.

Here is why this matters to me, at the risk of displaying a spongy self-absorbency, I am a Communication Major at the University of Washington, admittedly and old one. I have cobbled together enough credits to coast out the last 10 credits of my degree as electives, planning to graduate in June. The area of concentration in my coursework has been Communication Technology and Society.

The state working toward resolving today’s media problems with new definitions in regulation, when necessary, is a great idea. The application of old media laws to new media are dumb to the situation of the present day. Washington State Public Disclosure Commission is working on this issue and should help clarify the situation.

Here are my opinions inserted throughout this article from the AP, posted at the

Blogger beware? State regulators are wondering whether online political activism amounts to lobbying, which could force Web-based activists to file public reports detailing their finances.

In a collision of 21st century media and 1970s political reforms, the inquiry hints at a showdown over press freedoms for bloggers, whose self-published journals can shift between news reporting, opinion writing, political organizing and campaign fundraising.

State officials are downplaying any possible media rights conflict, pointing out that regulators have already exempted journalistic blogging from previous guidelines for online campaign activity.

What the government hasn't done very well is say who is a "journalist". The assumption is toward protecting traditional (big) media that is trying to transition from pulp to electrons. The Seattle PI has paid journalist/bloggers that enjoy the rights and protections under law any other, they have bucketed their bloggers into three sections: Seattle PI journalist (PI Staff Blogs), then they have their reader blogs (not so protected), then they have their "blogs for the rest of us" (not so protected).

It is extremely unlikely that ANY of those bloggers would be subject to lobbying questions, not because they are absent bias, but because of the newspaper media source enjoys the atmosphere of journalistic blogging because of where they blog.

Sound fair? Sound plausible?

If the state calls me (never happen) and demands that I open my empty wallet to them my options are limited, if demand the same thing of the three buckets of Seattle PI bloggers and without question the Seattle PI would come to the defense of any of them in order to reserve their paid staff and their blogs, a slippery slope.
Nobody knows if their citizen bloggers are getting paid, or are in the industry in some way that they are blogging about.
This is not the point of debate, not exactly, but it should be.

The issue at hand is defining the difference between somebody like me, the guy with a nasty blogging habit that openly advocates for something, and a lobbyist. I state right in my profile to you left who and what I am.
Not a problem for the state, I am not a lobbyist, let's hope.

Now, if I had handbills with my message and an extensive mailing list, and I was directly compensated to advocate, not a problem, I would be a lobbyist. Now replace handbill with blog, and mailing with emailing, am I still a lobbyist because I am being compensated? Likely, yes. What if I am not compensated at the time? Maybe. What if I write the same stories as "special to the Seattle Times" in the op/ed section of the newspaper? Maybe not.

Nobody is calling newspapers political lobbyist when they endorse candidates for office, even though they have advertisements from political parties, and I have to question if they get more from a given candidate after an endorsement. It is a newspaper so that's ok.

Some media is more special than others because of how the laws and rules are crafted. New rules are being crafted that will define new lines.
But the blogosphere is taking the notion seriously. One prominent liberal blogger in Seattle is already issuing a dare - if the government wants David Goldstein to file papers as a lobbyist, it will have to take him to court.

Goldstein, publisher of the widely read, wants to know how his political crusades could be subject to financial disclosures while newspaper writers, radio hosts and others in traditional media get a pass.

For most bloggers, Goldstein said, the work "is a hobby, a sideline. And yet they contribute greatly to the public debate and to the new journalism."

This is my hobby, too, I have not been paid a dime to advocate anything.

What about Brian Robinson? Pretty simple, he has a blog, He also has an advocacy web site that clearly says it is an advocacy site.
Not the same site, but he might get second guessed because SonicsCentral is a blog and not printed as a "newspaper". Sound fair? This blog and SonicsCentral are not structually different.
"When you start talking about regulating Internet activity, you open up a Pandora's Box," he said.

Political money in Washington is regulated by the state Public Disclosure Commission, which compiles reports on candidates' and lobbyists' finances and makes the information available to the public.

The agency was created after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure in 1972. A second measure in 1992 added contribution limits and other reforms, leading to a set of rules that the state calls "one of the most exhaustive disclosure laws in the country."

Under the law, lobbyists must register with the state, and submit regular reports about who pays them, how they spend money, and which issues they're working on.

Groups that don't fit the traditional definition of "lobbyist" also have to file reports, provided they meet certain spending thresholds while leading public campaigns intended to influence public policy.

Earlier this year, the PDC was asked by some lobbyists whether calls to action made over the Internet fell under any lobbying regulations, and the agency began probing the topic.
"One of the issues was the grass roots involvement, in terms of prompting individuals, in a call to action, to contact legislators, to send in letters," said Doug Ellis, the PDC's assistant director.

Business interests asked, "Can we do the same kind of thing? Is it proper? Do we have to report it?" Ellis said.

The question of blogging soon entered the picture. For online political junkies like Goldstein, stirring up the public and urging readers to sound off about public policy is a key part of the mission.

But, as Goldstein pointed out in a recent public meeting on the topic, the same could be said for newspaper editorialists or radio commentators - and they're exempt from reporting their income and spending under an exemption created to protect the media.

"What you're basically saying is, if you want to raise any money at all, now you have to report," Goldstein said. "It's treating us entirely different than other media outlets."

There is the nut to crack.
Nothing is telling a business that they can not have a blog, but asking for money and advocating on that blog may be seen as a lobbying effort, dull as the blog might be. The business community is saying that it isn't part of the lobbying effort if other blogs can raise money for a cause.

What may be the meaningful hair splitting is that I am not asking anybody for money, the is, and so is the, so each can keep doing what they are doing in the public interest.

Having a bias and the desire to communicate news and information for that purpose is not lobbying (Fox News can do it, so can

Having a business and then advocating for that business is just not the same thing. Wine magazines have advertisements for (you guessed it) wine. Having a wine business and publishing a wine magazine, about your wine, is not news, it is an advertisement. Deliver that publication to state senators to advocate for tax breaks for the wine industry and it is a lobbying effort.
Wine Spectator publishing a story about the industry benefitting from possible tax breaks is NOT lobbying.
Pulp or electrons, the same logic should apply. The question becomes how PDC defines all of this.

Much of the discussion about blogging as lobbying boils down to the evolving distinction of who is and is not a member of the media.

While blogs and other online-only information sources are showing greater influence, traditional outlets - particularly newspapers - are struggling with a deeply wounded business model.

"Our definitions of all of this are changing so dramatically, right in front of our eyes," said Sree Sreenivasan, of Columbia University's journalism school.

Laws have often defined media by describing the form in which the information is delivered - a newspaper, a magazine, or a licensed TV or radio station. But the Internet is eroding those tried-and-true distinctions, making such definitions sound hopelessly outdated.

In this environment, Sreenivasan said, regulators facing a question about who qualifies as media might need to undertake a much more detailed examination of the content being produced.

"It's very hard to put them in a box: 'This is OK, this is not OK,'" Sreenivasan said. "It's a waste of everybody's time. I'd say, what is the work they're doing?"

The PDC's Ellis doesn't expect commissioners to impose financial reporting for bloggers who a perform a journalistic function. Since that type of activity was excluded in campaign finance rules, he said, "I don't see any reason why they would veer from past practice."

Lobbyist Steve Gano, who represents business clients in Olympia, said he's not troubled by activist bloggers who practice a form of journalism. But the increasing presence of Web-based advocacy groups are a different story, he said.

Well, no, before blogs there were pitchforks and torches carried by people advocating something be done by authorities using the communicative means of, and "advertising" by, encouraging more people with pitchforks and torches to march on the town hall.

The pitchfork and torch makers were not soliciting the local farmer to go to the local authorities to advocate for more pitchforks and torches, for the expressed benefit of the pitchfork and torch makers.

If an online group doesn't have to report the type of activities that would otherwise be considered lobbying, Gano asked, why shouldn't lobbyists just close up shop and relaunch their efforts online?

"There's a new business model out there," Gano said. "I can just sit at home, e-mail folks from here, and never have to disclose who my financial backers are."
On the Net:


The lobbyist does have a point, but the question is how somebody can tell the difference?
Maybe a simple note on a blog that says, "I just a nut that wants something done about Key Arena (or insert your topic) and I am gonna write about it. If you give me money, that's your problem", or something like that.

If you have a lobbyist pulplication, you engage in those activities without disclosing your motives it is against the current law. Using electrons to do that same thing does not make is fundimentally different.

The story was published here: Washington State regulators ask: Can blogging be lobbying?
Associated Press Writer
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

By now the readers that go to have been encouraged by Brian Robinson in his story about Ray Allen to go to a new web site,

It is not difficult to understand why, the Sonics franchise is gone, as of last July; the franchise went to Oklahoma City, and the symbols went to the Museum of History & Industry in Seattle. There isn't a Sonics to Save, but there is a new future to try for, and the arena is the key.

What is left is Seattle Center's Key Arena as the main focus. Through the trials and tribulations the utility of Key Arena stayed unresolved for NBA interests, and civic interests.

Few people can argue that watching an NBA game is anything but great. What is not great is nearly everything else about the arena. Fewer people can argue that Key Arena that going to an event there is anything but slightly above average. The Seattle Thunderbirds hockey team will complete their evacuation from the facility to Kent, Washington (though they have the desire to still call themselves "Seattle"). They didn't leave because of anything but the facility the lease terms.

What is not slightly above average is the use of Key Arena by non-civic, non-pro basketball activities. The Everett Events Center will draw arts and entertainment acts that could be held at Key Arena by using the curtain to isolate the activity. The new Kent facility, where the Thunderbirds now play, will also compete for similar sized activities. For larger events are completely bypassing Seattle. Some of the acts you see are there for more than one show, getting in and out of the facility is a challenge.

Regardless, if you are a Sonics fan, the means to an end has always been an arena solution. Right now, the only feasible solution in Seattle is a complete renovation of Key Arena. Expect the city to have the NBA consult on the Steve Ballmer portion of the arena.

We are were we are.

A few days ago Brian Robinson sent me an email letting me know that will direct people to visit

I write stories there at SonicsCentral, Brian said I was welcome to write at the new site, though nothing has been arranged. The new site is advocacy web site (Sports and Activities for Families (501c4). I will likely write stories there, I am not a lobbyist, I am not paid, they are not obligated to tell me anything or publish anything I write.
If I choose to write about their public activities I post it here. But beyond that, I write about this subject and until something is arranged for me to write there I will keep writing here.

Begin forwarded message:
Mr Baker
Date: October 25, 2008 6:01:35 PM PDT
To: Brian Robinson
Subject: Could you answer a few questions about SC?

Could you answer a couple easy questions?
Your web site,, now encourages those readers to, what will the change in focus mean for the readers of

The new site is likely going to attract and broaden the types of people that may not have any interest in NBA basketball, any words of advice you want to give to posters and readers of SonicsCentral stories and threads?

Do you see this new effort to take on stories and conversations about the entire Seattle Center site?
Will you have stories written by local politicians, and media people, similar to a reader might see at
I sent the email with the questions 3 weeks ago, and have not had any answers and there hasn't been anything from Brian letting me know about writing on the new site, like, how access the site.
Over the past couple weeks there was a tab for a forum on the site, that is gone.
I am not sure what its diminished function is supposed to provide the public.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SLAM ONLINE: Nothing But Glove

There is great story about Gary Payton in Slam. He talks about his career a little, and how he views his career and basketball now. Payton mentions how he still bleeds Green and Gold, and supporting Save Our Sonics. He still has business in Seattle, and the GP Foundation.

I went to a GP Foundation/JL Scott charity basketball game at Key Arena on September 9th, 2001, before everything in this world was flipped upside down. They raised $250,000 that night, between the game and auction (I did not go to the auction, I just went to the game).
Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Monday, November 17, 2008 NBA pitch is no 'slam-dunk'

Front page of the Seattle PI is the report of the City of Seattle's effort to get the State of Washington to authorize 75 million dollars in funding for stadiums and exhibition infrastructure in Seattle to have 1% of the current 7% sales tax on Seattle hotels to be redirected to the Seattle Center for either construction around Key Arena, or to other portions of Seattle Center should an NBA team not become available for Steve Ballmer to buy.

Read it here!
Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Added to this story, my opinion:
The reporter quoted Ross Hunter, Tim Ceis, but not Brian Robinson. The reporter noted that the fund was raided last year but did not mention the Senate Bill 6638 was passed into law to prevent that from happening again. The reporter did not mention the state task force or that there is a meeting December 1st. Other than what was missing, I thought what was included was pretty good reporting. Ross Hunter's quotes are the framework for negotiation, the city has work to do politically by selling this at a time of budget cuts and it has to have an agreement with the convention center folks in order for this to happen.
It has been and will come down to that, not a shock to you or I. I have been saying it for a few months.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Seattle Times: Gregoire pushes economic-stimulus plan

Hey, check it out, the governor of Washington State says that not only does she have to reduce spending on some programs, but she needs to find a way to stimulate the state economy.
How about tapping a fund that can only be used for stadium and exhibition construction?

Read the report at
Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, November 9, 2008

David Brewster, Let the infrastructure roll!

Mr. Brewster has written a story about the local need for infrastructure spending to stimulate the economy. Naturally he mentions the Convention Center, but notes that it could get "bogged down in planning".
That is because they do not have a plan yet, they have a want. A plan isn't a plan without a schedule. The City of Seattle could act on that 75 million dollars right now.

3 weeks until the state task force meets. The city can beat the convention center to the finish line with an actionable plan.
Read David Brewster's story here at

December 1st Seattle's Arena Funding Proposal is Due

Today is November 9th, between now and the December 1st meeting of the Washington State Task Force on Local Funding Options in King County will meet at Bellevue City Hall the City of Seattle will have to produce a formal proposal requesting funding.

The formal agenda for December 1st has not yet been published. Between now and then I expect the agenda to fill with a variety of proposals for the task force to revue prior to the meeting. I expect that as the city gets closer to the meeting date that the public will become more engaged, even in minor ways, by interested parties.

What, if anything, will Steve Ballmer and Matt Griffin's Seattle Center Investors (SCI) say in support of the city's efforts with the state?
What, if anything, will Brian Robinson's lobbying group Sports and Activities for Families (SAF) say in support of the city's efforts with the state?
And will there be columns and editorials written by the Seattle newspapers?
And will there be resistance expressed by the Washington State Convention & Trade Center written by David Brewster at
To the last question, the city has work to do there. There is the point to turn resistance into common support.

The state committee members that were running for re-election have won. The governor, Chris Gregoire has also won re-election. Gregoire mentioned in one of the press conferences this past week that she is hopeful the federal government will provide a jobs based stimulus package. She also mentioned that she will be proposing a stimulus package near the end of the year. She said that now is not the time to be raising taxes, but what of existing taxes? Well, she has to cut spending to balance the budget. State Senate Bill 6638 went into law last July 1st that prevents the state from taking money from hotel tax for general fund uses (again) but there are funds there. Those funds can only be spent on infrastructure of stadium, convention, cultural centers.

I expect to hear the words "stimulus package" in connection to the proposals by the City of Seattle, and Kent, and Renton, and. . .
This is one of the few revenue sources that can be used to stimulate jobs right away.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The President Shoots Hoop

The President Shoots Hoop

Why it doesn't matter: what politicians do for sport when they are not working is meaningless, unless they are shooting people face.

Why it does matter: like it or not, Americans take an interest in leaders as a way to see how they are or are not like them, and find an abstract way to understand who the President is as a person.

Here is my impression of what sport the president is identified with,
played it or not.
Greorge W. Bush owned a baseball team.
Bill Clinton chased women.
George Bush sr played college baseball.
Ronald Reagan is identified with football, pretend and otherwise.
Jimmy Carter played baseball/softball at pick nicks.
Gerald Ford played college football.
Richard Nixon had a bowling alley installed in the White House.

Barack Obama plays basketball on the day of election for good luck and to relax.

Sport, in some tiny way, becomes part of our national cultural identity.

Note to Seattle: We now hoop.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Proposition B: Marine Freight Preservation and Bayfront Redevelopment Initiative - San Diego County, CA

Let's see if San Diego votes on Tuesday for redeveloping the waterfront. It includes a variety of proposed uses, including a new sports arena. The San Jose Mercury News reported that developer Frank Gallagher proposed a basketball arena with a retractable roof.
The complex would be built on a massive deck on the waterfront where there is currently a commercial port. A replacement for the Chargers stadium could be part of it.

A tough sell.

B2, or not B2, that was the Pier 46 question. The answer in Seattle was no.
Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone