Saturday, November 14, 2009

Joe Zarelli, "Washington lawmakers should meet soon to deal with state budget imbalance"

Special Session, or not to have a Special Session, that is this week's question. The economy has reached a bottom and the reality of the demand on public services, and reduced revenues, are realized.

Two weeks ago Washington State Senator Joe Zarelli pressed for a Special Session, writing in the Opinion pages of the Seattle Times:
The math is straightforward: Each dollar saved in January is equivalent to a cut of $1.50 in July. Put another way, $67 million in reductions effective in January will erase a $1.2 billion gap in 18 months, when the 2009-11 biennium ends; if lawmakers wait until July, the cuts must be 50 percent deeper, or $100 million per month.

If serving our most vulnerable citizens is truly important, acting early — preserving $33 million worth of services every single month — makes sense.
There's time for legislative leaders and budget writers to prepare a spending-reduction package to take effect Jan. 1. New state caseload and revenue forecasts are due Nov. 13 and 19, respectively, and assuming they don't significantly shrink the budget gap, Gov. Chris Gregoire or the Legislature itself can call a special session for early December. Legislators will be in Olympia already for committee meetings. It would cost no more to convene quickly, bring the cost-saving package forward and adopt it.
. . .
Trouble is, soon there will be nothing to force lawmakers to reduce spending, because this year's budget punt ran enough time off the clock to send I-960 off the field.

Under our constitution, it takes a two-thirds legislative vote to amend initiative-based laws enacted less than two years earlier. Initiative 960 took effect in December 2007, so when the Legislature convenes Jan. 11, the majority party can do what it could not in 2008 or 2009: toss I-960 and raise taxes all on its own. No vote by the people, no bipartisan support or "public conversation" required, just one late-night legislative roll call and those tax-hike protections vanish.

History says bet on it. In 2002 and 2005, the majority suspended limits on government taxation and spending created by the people, most recently to allow $500 million in tax increases.

Sen. Joseph Zarelli of Ridgefield is Republican leader on the Senate Ways and Means Committee and a member of the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.
From the Seattle Times, Op-Ed, Joe Zarelli, "Washington lawmakers should meet soon to deal with state budget imbalance"

His points are true, he may be right, but he is in the minority party. His influence is opinion based, he does not have the power to call a Special Session, the majority party does.
Posted in the yesterday was this report:
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Higher costs for government services have driven the state's projected budget shortfall to about $2 billion, Gov. Chris Gregoire's budget office said Friday.

And that's not all: The deficit is likely to grow even larger next week, when state economists issue a new forecast of expected tax income for the current budget period, which runs through mid-2011.
. . .
House Ways and Means Chairwoman Kelli Linville, D-Bellingham, said the Legislature will have to be open to all options, including the elimination of some state services. The Legislature largely avoided those kind of cuts last session, instead opting for across-the-board reductions and one-time budget fixes.

"Now we're down to: Do we do the service, or do we not do it?" Linville said.

The Statehouse's minority Republicans still see room for savings through a major restructuring of how the state delivers services. The GOP also says the Legislature should make those moneysaving moves quickly, rather than spending money for months on programs that will eventually have to be cut.

"Timing is everything," said Senate GOP budget chief Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield.

Linville agreed with Zarelli's push for quick action, and said her colleagues in the House have spent the summer compiling lists of moneysaving ideas.

She and Zarelli also agreed that the majority may look first at closing some tax loopholes, rather than straight-ahead increases of the state's sales, business, or property taxes. By CURT WOODWARD, ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER, Washington budget short about $2B through mid-2011

The next bit of news should show up on November 19th, when the revenue forecast comes out.

It is still unlikely that a Special Session happens, but not impossible. What should be clear is that the legislature is at work, and should be ready to go on cutting some things, and working to find ways for local governments some options.
Allowing King County, and Seattle, to extend existing hotel taxes would allow both governments to shift non-core costs off core revenue streams.
Let's hope.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Joe Mallahan, "I will work hard... to come to an investment plan that can get that accomplished"

Candidate Joe Mallahan gave the most complete and supportive answer to resolving the KeyArena issue that either candidate has articulated thus far in the race for Mayor of Seattle.

This was his response durring a Reader Q and A session hosted by the Seattle Times Newspaper today.
Andrew from Seattle asked: Would you support bringing professional basketball back to Seattle?

Joe Mallahan answered: The SuperSonics were and are a big part of our culture, and professional sports are critical to a vibrant economy. Over 20,000 jobs were tied to the Sonics, and their loss had a major impact on Lower Queen Anne. The NBA won't consider Seattle unless we are committed to providing an appropriate facility. I will work hard with the City Council, the State, and the business community to come to an investment plan that can get that accomplished, and not solely on the backs of Seattle Taxpayers.

A snap of the Sonics sweatband to Brian Robinson at SonicsCentral for the find.

To this point both candidates for mayor, Joe Mallahan and Mike McGinn, have said that they support a levy for Seattle Center in 2010 or 2011. Both have said they would look at the issue of what to do to revive KeyArena, but Joe Mallahan is the only one to articulate an understanding of the situation and his support to solving it.

I have no idea how Mike McGinn can claim to intend to work hard with all levels of government he intends to fight to force his surface solution onto as the replacement of Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct.
In a close race, as soon-to-be former Mayor Greg Nickels found out in the primary, every vote counts.

Can Joe Mallahan count on the Save Our Sonics faithful?

Endorsements? SOS?

I made mine yesterday.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sonicsgate Trailer

So, how does the media event on 10/12/09 Impact the Seattle and King County elections being held three weeks later?
Since so many media members are in it there will be a great deal of attention to this event by the media.

iPhone users, there is a YouTube link at the bottom of this post.

Sonicsgate Trailer from sonicsgate on Vimeo.

The SONICSGATE documentary film premieres for free on the internetz Monday, October 12.

Peep the trailer live in HD at

Featuring exclusive HD interviews with more than 35 key characters including Kevin Calabro, Sam Perkins, Brent Barry, Desmond Mason, Nick Collison, Doug Christie, Jamal Crawford, Aaron Brooks, James Donaldson, Slade Gorton, Paul Lawrence, Brad Keller, Tom Carr and Chris Van Dyk. 

Special Preview Screening October 9 @ SIFF Cinema in Seattle (321 Mercer St.)
Tickets on sale now at the SIFF Website

$5 -- includes admission to Sonicsgate Afterparty at Spitfire! (2219 4th Ave)


I lifted this text right off   WATCH TRAILER HERE and the countdown clock.

Check out the video on YouTube:

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Portland Trailblazers will not call Seattle's KeyArena home for preseason game

I guess Steve Kelley will have to catch a ride with Mighty Mouse and Resheed Wallace in that yellow Hummer going down south to Portland to watch his favorite NBA team play their scrubs against the Phoenix scrubs on October 14th.
Get a clue Steve, this was all about marketing the Blazers in the 13th largest media market, the largest media market in America without an NBA team.
This was not some pathetic chance for the good fans of Seattle to show anything to anybody. This was about marketng, as was your "story" about Brandon Roy asking if there would be a fan boycott, as are your stories from the summer league in Las Vegas. You are a tool for the NBA, knowngly, or unknowingly.

This had nothing to do with resolving the arena issue in Seattle, and bringing a team to Seattle to be the real home team.

In an interview last month, Tod Leiweke, CEO of Vulcan Sports & Entertainment, which oversees the Blazers, Seahawks and Sounders FC, said the Blazers want to play in Seattle because it made good business sense.

"This isn't designed to be some major statement," he said. "Those who are reading into that, they're just not reading it properly. I think relative to Portland, ownership has fought hard to make Portland work.

"There are lots of people in Seattle who still love the NBA and want to follow a team. It's only logical."

Reaction to the game was mixed when the news broke last month, but Miller said it didn't affect the team's decision.

"We didn't think that it was too soon to play there," he said. "We got a lot of positive feedback as well as some negative feedback and we just felt like the timing would have been OK and the situation would have been good."

Leiweke said the fiscal constraints of operating in a small market forced the Blazers to expand marketing in the Northwest. According to consulting firm ProAdvance, Portland is the 23rd largest media market in the nation and Seattle ranks 13th.

After the Sonics left for Oklahoma City, the Blazers received permission from the NBA to broadcast in the Seattle area and began televising games on Comcast Sports Net last season.

Read the Seattle Times Newspaper story: Blazers won't play exhibition here after all, by Percy Allen.

Don't insult us, thanks,
Mike Baker

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Donaldson is no help

The thinning of the pack.

James Donaldson, the former Seattle Sonic, is the only candidate [for Mayor of Seattle] who is against using tax money to refurbish KeyArena to hopefully lure another NBA team to town. Also, Drago was the only candidate to say she was against electing City Council members by district instead of the current system of city-wide elections. Seattle mayoral debate highlights

I kind of knew this, he said it about a year ago on KJR, and I had to guess he was either thinking that the entire time, or was awash in the loss of the franchise, now you know, and so do I.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Seattle Times' Steve Kelley, "David Stern says he expects Seattle to get another NBA team"

Let's recap David Stern's position, and observation of the two meaningful facts, arena+Steve Ballmer=Sonics 2.0
The fans will show up in Seattle to watch THEIR team, they did, they will again, or at lease some of the 1.2 million people expected to move into the Seattle metropolitan area over the next ten years will (isn't that roughly the size of the Oklahoma City media market?). Showing up, or not, to a meaningless preseason game between the hated Portland Trailblazers (you miss being hated, don't ya) and the Phoenix Suns (the home and away, back to back games with GP facing Jason Kidd were epic contests set in the dead of Winter).
Show up, don't, it does not matter to the Sonics chances. The Blazers would get more respect if they just showed up at Green Lake and played there for an hour, a preseason grab for fans - not so much.

From Steve Kelley's Seattle Times column are three things everybody should hold in their heads when when others around you are imagineering a different picture of the Sonics rising again.

"The next step is really the right putative owner, who really wants to have a team and is prepared to do what it takes, working together with the city, the state to get an arena and get the job done," he said. "I think ultimately there will be [another team in Seattle]. I really do."
. . .
"I don't want to put the whammy on him [Steve Ballmer]," Stern said, "but he'd be a hell of an owner."
. . .
I asked Stern if this could be considered a hopeful sign for those of us who want the league in our town.

"I think it's just an attempt by Portland to do the right thing and show fans a good time," Stern said.

He was asked if he was concerned about a possible boycott of that game.

"I think the fans are entitled to do whatever they want to do," he said, beginning to move away. "It is an independent city. It always has been and I hope it always will be."
Steve Kelley gets the point here!

Here was my email that I fired of AT Steve Kelley when he whined about a possible boycott of a possible meaningless Blazer game:
Mr. Kelley,
When you end your column with, 
"And look at it as a very small, but necessary, first step to welcoming back the NBA.", it capped so much that is wrong with your story.

The only first, and necessary first stem is to secure funding to remodel KeyArena. No matter how many fans attended games, protests, courtrooms, it will always and only come back to the arena.

You can call the Blazers your home team all you want, but the NBA will never call that arena a home in its current condition.

This game is no help to Seattle, just to Paul Allen's Portland Trailblazers, and sports writers.

Good luck putting lipstick on that pig.

Mike Baker
Seattle, Wa
Sonics fan

So, I will not expect Steve Balmer to Facebook Friend me anytime soon to lobby for that Blazer game.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mr. Blazer, Steve Kelley, "Hatred for the NBA runs deep, but don't take it out on the players"

Steve Kelley, Mr. Blazer:
It isn't an insult. It's a gift. It shouldn't be boycotted. It should be celebrated.

Celebrated? The completion of the theft? The sent marking of Paul Allen's Portland Trailblazers on KeyArena?
If Steve Kelley is too cheap to go to Portland, then I guess we celebrate Steve Kelley saving a train ticket.

It's a night to put aside your anger at the NBA and acknowledge that, underneath that anger, a love of the game still smolders.

it is a night for you to open mouth kiss your sweetheart, pro sports, butter your bread Steve.

I'll always love this game, even as I detest many of the people who run it and ran it out of this town.

As a newspaper writer you will not give them any of your hard earned cash, so, maybe you are writing this column to other media peope?
I do not plan to give Paul Allen's Portland Trailblazers, an NBA franchise, a dime while SEATTLE does not have a SONICS home team.

As far as the anger is concerned, I'm with you.

In words but not deeds.

Read all about Mr. Blazer, here!

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thanks for making a Nightmare come true Greg Nickels

The Sonics are gone, but KeyArena will be the site of an exhibition Oct. 14 at KeyArena between their former Northwest rivals, the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Phoenix Suns.

Reported By Percy Allen, Seattle Times Newspaper

KeyArena is not good enough for the Sonics to call it home after 41 years. I see no good reason for the Portland Trailblazers to call it home for even one game.

The Mayor of Seattle, Greg Nickels sold out the lease two years early to franchise owners that have lost most of their wealth, to leave to a city struggling to pay for upgrades to the Ford Center.

Now that is a visionary, the guy that testified that "anything could happen" in those last two years choked.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Thursday, June 18, 2009 Wash. treasury to see further revenue decrease

The Special Session in October is timed to deal with the next economic forecast due September 27.

By then it should be clear that people are still not spending money they do not have on things people are too unsure that they should produce because there might not be a market for that unmade, unsold, not purchased, thing.

I'll offer KeyArena, and low-income housing as stimulus spending, using tourist taxes, as being a good idea.

Top lawmakers, meanwhile, said a special session of the Legislature is likely in October, if only to approve new school-spending and criminal justice policies that were not resolved during this year's regular legislative session. AP story linked here!

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sonics reach out to pet the dog, and the dog bits off 4.1 fingers

SEATTLE - ESPN 710's Kevin Calabro had the "Highly Anticipated" interview with NBA Commish David Stern on Friday, June 5th.

(Show link and audio ishere!)

There was nothing new in the interview. There was nothing new in the reaction of the callers to the radio station afterward, either.

I think a few thoughts before listening to any interview with David Stern, I think he:
Does not own an NBA team, so he can not make promises involving something he does not own.

When talking to the press about a particular franchise he is paid to always take the position of the owner of a given franchise, that is why it looks like he is talking out of both sides of his mouth, they are not his words.

When talking to a particular owner he is speaking on behalf of the other 29 other owners.

He has the right as the Commish to rule on arenas and the revenue the league requires. So, he has said KeyArena needs a remodel paid for by mostly public money (Howard Schultz), then a new arena paid for by public money (Clayton Bennett), then a remodel of KeyArena would be fine and only half public money paid on the common public portions (Steve Ballmer).

A privately funded building would be fine if it were fine with some owner.
KeyArena would be fine as-is if some owner were willing to pay the league the balance of the revenue they require (10's of millions of dollars every year).

When talking to anybody about Seattle he has said the same thing for 7 years, his personal opinion is that he would rather have a team here.
I think that when he does give just his opinion that he really does want that to happen.
The problem is, I think, that he is rarely, ever, giving his opinion.

His "power" comes from the owners supporting what he says and does, voting on what they want him to say and do, and hiring him to say and do it through 2010.

The situation reminds me of a joke:
David Stern is standing next to a dog.

Sonics fans walk up to Mr. Stern and say, "does your dog bite?".

Stern says, "No."

Sonics reach out to pet the dog, and the dog bits off 4.1 fingers.

Sonics fans yell at Stern, WHAT the heck is wrong with you, you said your dog does not bite!!!!

Stern replies, "That's not my dog."

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Commando Dave says "I'm throwin' a '79 SuperSonics Party!"

Jalisco's, Floyd's Place, The Spectator, Sport, choices, choices.
Click on and make your choice of where and when!
Have some FUN!

From: Commando Dave
Date: May 28, 2009 12:28:51 PM PDT
To: Communicate.with.Mike (at)
Subject: I'm throwin' a '79 SuperSonics Party!

Hey Mike:

Check out

Would be COOL if you were there!


Even COOLER if you "Blog it!"

Hope to see you.

Commando Dave

Point Man of the FANS REVOLUTION


The Official Sports Fan Union

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"T-Mobile exec challenging Nickels for Seattle mayor",

Candidate for Mayor, Joe Mallahan, says he supports a KeyArena remodel. Joe Mallahan interview.

He is also not Jan Drago.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker
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Saturday, May 23, 2009 Why the outcome of the Coyotes case is about more than hockey

What if a franchise in any professional sport could just move without the league rules stopping them?
Dan Weiss of KTAR asks the broader question of the bankruptcy proceedings involving the Phoenix Coyotes.

Tuesday, a bankruptcy judge in downtown Phoenix began listening to arguments that may ultimately determine the fate of the Phoenix Coyotes in the Valley of the Sun. As evidenced by the scant gathering at Saturday's "Save the Coyotes" rally (Winnipeg by the way had 36,000 people show up for their "Save the Jets" rally before they eventually moved to Phoenix!) and the general apathy expressed towards our local NHL entry over the last few years, it appears that few heads will turn whether the Coyotes stay or go.

This is an interesting point, but fan interest is such a minor component in owner interest in staying in a given market, but his point is well taken. Some markets are just not interested in a given business, to the degree that the business has failed.

Weiss goes on to the broader point facing major league sports:
But there's a bigger issue in play that transcends the Coyotes, Jerry Moyes, Jim Balsille, Phoenix, or Southern Ontario, and that's whether a bankruptcy court has the right to tell a professional sports league that its governing laws are flawed regarding the processes and procedures as to who can purchase a franchise and whether it can be relocated. Is there any wonder why the commissioners of the other three major leagues, the NFL, the NBA, and Major League Baseball, all came out in overwhelming support of the National Hockey League Monday? It's not because they like Gary Bettman or think he's doing a bang-up job of growing the game in the United States. It's because should Judge Redfield T. Baum eventually award the Coyotes to Mr. Balsille and allow him to circumvent the NHL's by-laws regarding ownership and franchise relocation and move them to Hamilton, he would essentially be granting a possible "get out of jail free" card to every professional sports owner in North America who is unhappy in their current situation. Ultimately, that could have the potential to create a virtual anarchy across the sporting landscape by individual ownership against their respective leagues.

Imagine being trapped in making a franchise work in a city where it clearly is not. Now you have two things stopping you, Bob Johnson, from relocating; your leases, and your league rules.
By-laws be damned, I'm moving to Southern Ontario (or Kansas City, Seattle, San Jose, Vancouver)?
Well, yes, that is a possible outcome. As Mr. Weiss points out, 15 NBA teams borrowed money for operations this year. How many of them would sell and move if they could?
What does the sudden lack of scarcity do to a product?

The fact is that no matter how this case pans out the NBA and the City of Seattle have both advised us that scarcity is not what it was. So, Bob Johnson putting his Bobcats up for sale in the worst economy in decades "wants between $325 million and $350 million".

$350 million? Not in a million years.
If any owner of a sports franchise can move without the league say-so then more teams are free to move. More teams being able to move increases the lack of scarcity, driving its price down. Sure, Clay Bennett had a point that there are only 30 NBA franchises, but being able to fold up your tent and move at any time your lease allows increases risk to the community, and lowers the value. Another team will show up in a couple years in a top 15 media market.

Read Dan Weiss' full story here!
Have a great day,
Mike Baker
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Monday, May 11, 2009 McGinn: Viaduct tunnel 'endangers' Seattle's future

Mayoral candidate Michael McGinn was interviewed by's Chris Grygiel.
Here is the short of it.

Tunnel bad, surface/I-5 expansion good (I agree).

High cost is bad (I agree).

Cars and oil are bad (a mass transit that does not completely run on oil and is sized appropriately for every use I call busses and electric cars, we have one and the other is coming in 2010, so fix the roads already).

Fence sitting on KeyArena and Seattle Center. He gave no solution to an anchor tenant if that is not the NBA. He did not say anything about the $540 million dollar master plan for Seattle Center that does not account for KeyArena or how to pay for it, or how to justify paying for it without an anchor tenant in . . . KeyArena.

He's green (I think he has a fixed idea of what that is, and his funding sources like him that way). He needs to tie tunnel spending to the sidewalks not being built anytime soon if I am ever going to think about voting for him.

He's a people person (I'm people).

Read the interviewright here!

Have a great day,
Mike Baker
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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles: Will push for stadium bill in special session

This story cross-posted from my new/old blog, that's where I will transition to when this is all over. I will post different stories there, and post in both places depending on the story.

SEATTLE - It appears we have somebody beyond Sonics fans that actually cares about KeyArena and Seattle Center. Sure, Seattle Center is in Jeanne Kohl-Welles' State Senatorial district.

But let's not act as if it were not the responsibility of Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, and the Seattle City Council, you know, people running for re-election.

She is being public about her role and responsibility, how refreshing. Let's hope, for this city's sake, she makes this work in September.

Read the story here: sen-jeanne-kohl-welles-will-push-for-stadium-bill-in-special-session
Have a great day,
Mr Baker
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Seattle Times: Lawmakers say no special legislative session

In the unlikely event they call a Special Session in June, I'll post
something about that activity (or non-activity).
I might stick around for the funeral the city will have.

The city has a problem, among many, and none will get any help from
the legislature.
Time for Seattle to just worry about Seattle.

Thank you Brian, Steve, Adam, Ed Murray, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and Ross
Hunter for being somebody.

Thank you "Anonymous", Peter, DBF, posters and the unusually large
number of readers.

I have no idea what happens now, but I know what is not going to
happen. I am not letting a few people off the hook, that got us here,
the place we never should have been.

I like to write, I'll write about something else, sooner or later, and
I will leave a link here when I figure it out. I have a strange
feeling it will be politics.

This is not likely my last footprint here, I just wanted to catch a
few people before they headed to the exits.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, May 4, 2009

Question on Real Change News story for Frank Chopp on affordable housing

From:Mr Baker

communicate.with.mike ( at )>
Date: May 3, 2009 8:11:27 PM PDT
chopp.frank (at)
Subject: Question on Real Change News story, affordable housing

Mr. Chopp,
I had read in Real Change a story about getting creative about funding affordable housing, and arts in King County. Is it true that House Bill 2252 would have funded $8 million a year in affordable housing near transit centers?
Please consider this bill, or something like it in the special session. $8 million would be a big boost in a tough time.
I looked up the bill and it looks like it was replaced by a Senate bill, which died due to Husky Stadium latching on to local taxes. Could that Senate bill get revived?

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

Seattle Times: King County facing hard choices with social-service programs

King County's turn to make tough cuts. They were hoping for the state to pass legislation (see the story here) to help them out. Just how much help would SB6116 had given King County? Go ask Lisa Brown and Frank Chopp.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
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Sunday, May 3, 2009

I want the other Lisa Brown

I want the Lisa Brown that signed this letter to re-appear, and be true to her word.

Here is the letter from Chris Gregoire, Frank Chopp, and Lisa Brown to David Stern and the NBA, asking them not to vote to relocate away from Seattle.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

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Friday, May 1, 2009

It's the booze talkin'

My beer cap has more common sense than sometimes even I display.


Indeed, my advise to others at this point is not any more complicated than that three word gift from my beer.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Seattle Times: Nickels seeks tax boost for affordable housing in Seattle

On Monday I sent the governor my plea for inclusion of SB 6116 in the special session that will be called after a cooling off period, and some negotiations between interested parties.
The next day, Tuesday, the runs a story on SB 6116 not passing.

Welcome to Wednesday, and this in the Seattle Times, Nickels seeks tax boost for affordable housing in Seattle.
Naturally, the natives are restless, even revolting (in all its definitions).

So, let's cut to the chase, shall we?

Dear Mr. Mayor,
Say something to relieve these poor souls of this burden, find a way to do the right thing, the right way, in public, for once on this bill and issue (low-income housing, what did you think I was referring to?).

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Begin forwarded message:

From: Mr Baker <communicate.with.mike (at)>
Date: April 29, 2009 11:30:50 AM PDT
To: "nick.licata (at)" <nick.licata (at)>
Cc: "Sen. Murray" <Murray.Edward (at)>, "Hunter, Rep. Ross" <hunter.ross (at)>, "byoung (at)" <byoung (at)>
Subject: Nickels seeks tax boost for affordable housing in Seattle

Mr. Licata,
I have a great idea for the City of Seattle. How about the mayor and city council make a public effort to get Ed Murray's SB 6116 into the Special Session as a way to fund afordable housing for Seattle and the entire county.
This would not be subject to a city or county vote. And, raising property-tax levy right now would get crushed at the polls.


Thanks for your time,
Mike Baker
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009 KeyArena bill could come back to life in special session

A cat should have as many lives, Senate Bill 6116 has had many declarations of death, all premature.
SB6116 is the bill that did not beat the end of the legislative session's schedule, and would provide funding for low-income housing, arts, and Seattle Center's KeyArena.

Read the story at

The last amendment, just before the end of the legislative session, was 6116-S AMS MURR S3250.1
(Floor Amendment 554)
. This cuts husky stadium out of the bill, though I am not sure why other sections not identified in the amendment would not stand, including low-income housing, arts, and youth athletic facilities.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

I apologize to Washington State Senator Ed Murray

In an unusual twist a blogger will freely apologize.
I apologize to Washington State Senator Ed Murray for a prior story questioning whether or not he was killing his own bill.

I had been contacted by those that prefer to remain anonymous, and there were a few pointed comments that simply were not fair, not to him or me. I suggest that if somebody else has issues with Ed Murray (and you know who you are) that you contact him directly.

Back to Mr. Murray.
This is blog entry is very disappointing. This is how you treat your friends and supporters? I worked hard on this bill and got it out of committee with a bipartisan vote. I started to lose my GOP support after they where worked over by cougar fans. How disappointing.
Senator Ed Murray

All fair points, and all quite true, and we should all grasp the facts as tightly as we do our own opinions (including yours truly).

Senator Murray, let me know how I can help you move the rest of what is in the bill forward.

SB6616 had Husky stadium essentially stripped out of it with a Striker amendment to SB6116.

The questions become: does the rest of the bill come back in a special session?

Yes, I'd like KeyArena solution (as it is a little white elephant without one), but even bigger I am building a billion dollar light rail system and nobody can afford to build affordable housing. Having lived in "affordable" housing, I know what a lot of people don't know, and I hope as many others at least have that.

The arts were screwed, let's leave it at that. They could use some real support that doesn't come and go with the whims of economies and legislatures. A long term solution for King County is there in SB6116

Had the needs driven the press rather than the sensational wants we might have had a better chance, maybe not, I don't know anymore.

Back to toiling.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Ed Murray Killing his own Bill?

[editor's note, I made a mistake, and later apologized].

I am being asked by donors to the Dem Party why State Senator Ed Murray is actively killing his own bill, SB6116, beyond his own distructive amendment that he filed just a few short days ago.
The arts community, low-income housing proponents have to wonder how that helps anybody, to kill this bill.

I am at a loss for words, for them, or you. Time is very short.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, April 23, 2009 : Please call the state legislature!

Bills like fences are amended where they are broken. As has been mentioned everywhere, including, Senate Bill 6116 has been passed out of Rules Committee and to the Senate floor for voting.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, April 20, 2009

SB 6116 Spoiler Alert

Spoiler Alert!
Stop reading if you have lost all hope!

Substitute Senate Bill 6116 has been posted to the bill's home page. Language that fulfills the terms of the settlement between The City of Seattle and Clayton Bennett is located on page 11.

I have read it, I will have to read it again to see where the money really goes, and I have a spreadsheet from house bill 2252 in my coat pocket, and it is such a nice day that the pocket is in the coat, in the closet.

It looks like low-income housing and arts infrastructure is about to get tens of millions of dollars.

It also looks like Seattle only keeps Seattle generated money if a team is secured by 2013, and that there is at least $150 million in private finds, in 2008 dollars, adjusted for inflation.

This does have a chance of passing, a pretty good chance.

A week to go, and Green has been golden, Murray is a champion.

Thanks to you Margarita, and the Ways and Means Committee.

A week to go, feels like forever.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, April 18, 2009

6116 Out of Ways and Means

Voted at 5:15pm, SB6116 was passed out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

There is a NEW clause that by 2013 Seattle has an NBA team then they get a porting of the fund for KeyArena.

SB 6116 Added to Today's Seanate Ways and Means Committee Meeting Agenda

This is a very good sign, it is in the Executive Session for discussion, amending and/or voting in committee.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fwd: Friends and Sonics fans - last chance to help save Seattle Center and get a new team

Last chance, public pressure?

Where are the low-income housing advocates (that's you Frank Chopp) , arts advocates, and Chris Van Dyke (he supported with testimony SB6116), where is the political leadership from King County?

Have a great day,
Mr. Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

From: Adam Brown <>
Date: April 16, 2009 8:01:36 PM PDT
To: "" <>
Subject: Friends and Sonics fans - last chance to help save Seattle Center and get a new team

Friends and Sonics faithful:
I had to let you know about proposed legislation that would create jobs, fund the arts, save Seattle Center and give us a really good shot at getting a team back in the next couple years!  If the Wash. State Legislature passes Senate Bill 6116 or amends House Bill 2552 to include Seattle Center, Steve Ballmer will buy a new team (Sonics 2.0) and contribute 50% to a KeyArena remodel!  But as of right now, it doesn't look like this will pass before the April 26 deadline. 
SB6116 is a great bill for a lot of reasons besides just basketball.  Please take a couple minutes to read the following letter and, if you agree, call the Wash State Legislative Hotline at 800.562.6000 and tell them you are in favor of SB 6116.  They take your address and automatically send your message to the Governor and the legislators in your district.
Thanks!  You can doooo iiiiiiiiit!
- Adam Brown

***Sonics Faithful – One Last Shot at Getting a New Team and Saving Seattle Center!***



The fight for the Sonics in Seattle is not over yet!  We need your help to make one final push before the 2009 state legislative session ends on April 26!


The Washington State Legislature is currently considering Senate Bill 6116, which would allow King County to use existing restaurant and car rental taxes to create a dedicated funding source for the arts community, cultural centers, low income housing and regional public facilities including Seattle Center and KeyArena.


Call the State Legislative Hotline now at 800.562.6000 and tell them you support SB6116!


WE NEED YOU NOW SONICS FAITHFUL!  This is our last chance to get a new team in Seattle.  All our hard work has come down to this moment, and we must not allow our legislators to waste this opportunity.  Here are just a few of the many reasons to pass SB6116:


1.       Save Seattle Center ­­– The lower Queen Anne area has struggled in recent years, becoming an outdated shadow of the economic and cultural cornerstone it was for 40+ years.  The City of Seattle currently has no funding source in place for the unanimously approved Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan, a $570 million public infrastructure project that will bring the grounds into the modern era over the next 20 years.  SB6116 would provide that funding source for much needed campus improvements without creating any new taxes or tapping the general fund.

2.       Jobs and Economic Stimulus ­– A modern, vibrant Seattle Center with additional funding for arts and cultural centers all over King County will create thousands of jobs and increase tourism from out-of-towners, providing a sorely needed infrastructure investment during this recession economy.  The bill also provides funding for low-income housing and youth recreation facilities.  Two words: JOB CREATION.

3.       Attaining Private Investment in Public Facilities – As outlined in Mayor Nickels' settlement agreement that allowed the Sonics to break their lease and leave town, the city/state must pass some form of arena legislation in 2009 to get an additional $30 million from Clay Bennett if no team comes to Seattle by 2013.  A local investment group led by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer promised to contribute $150 million plus cost overruns in private money toward a $300 million remodel of KeyArena and buy a new NBA team for Seattle!  If the state approves SB6116, the entire region benefits by getting a massive public works project for only 25% of the full cost, with 50% from Ballmer and the final 25% coming from a ticket tax on KeyArena events.

4.       Small Investment, Big Payoff – According to the KeyArena Subcommittee Report, "KeyArena will need capital investments of at least $20 million to remain competitive even without the Sonics."  If you spend $50 in a bar, the current tax is only $0.25 on your bill; a quarter that you probably don't even notice!  These "tourism taxes" are already in place, and it will be a lot more difficult to pass a new tax later.  So when you factor in the $30 million from Bennett or the $150 million from Ballmer, the benefits of passing SB6116 and the relatively tiny cost make it a no-brainer!

5.       Bring Back the Sonics – It has been a cold, dreary winter without our team, but as many as 10 NBA teams are currently for sale.  If SB6116 passes, there is an extremely good chance that Steve Ballmer will bring Sonics 2.0 back to Seattle within a year or two! 

Call the Legislative Hotline now at 800.562.6000 and tell them to pass SB6116!


Saturday, April 4, 2009

20 days to go on Monday

On Monday the Washington State Legislature will land on day 85 of the session, with 20 to go, and no plans for going beyond. The budget bills, as well as the appropriations bill have had hearings in the various committees. They next move into some hardcore deal making and amending, with the product possibly being a vote of the people later in the year to ask for two billion dollars for "green" school remodeling, it's the right thing to do and it would generate jobs, they say.

As the focus of the budget shifts to this refinement period, I found myself this morning tapping out an email on my phone to Senator Ed Murray to ask him to not forget, and ask him if there is anything I can do. Last week I had an email come my way from the very busy Ross Hunter, and through the exchange with Hunter he said he would "work with Ed".
So, Ed, what shall we do with Ross' HB 2252 and your SB 6116?
How can I help you?

While that email washes around in the sea of late session emails to legislators, I likely will find myself tapping out a few more, to a few others, asking to help. I know I am in no position to help, other than to remind everybody that I know what time it is, that being now.

Luck has nothing to do with it, it's all effort, but good luck anyway Ed.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Locally collected Tax Inches Closer to King County's Control

(you can listen to the podcast here)
Ways & Means* - 03/18/09 1:30 pm
Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 4
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

The March 18th Senate Ways and Means Committee meeting in the Washington State Legislature provided an interesting opportunity for testimony to be heard on bills that would fund a variety of activities in King County, including funding for arts and heritage programs, tourism promotion, youth sport activities, regional centers, publicly owned stadiums, community development, and low income housing.

House Bill ESHB 2252 passed in the House on March 12th and was picked up by the senate committee. The senate has its own bill, SB 6116, but there are differences. The hearing gave public officials, and the general public, an opportunity to compare the two bills and voice their preferences.

Some differences between the two bills are few, but major.
ESHB2252 does not have as many taxes extending beyond the years 2012, 2015 and 2021. It does not provide funding or language in the bill to support stadiums and arenas, including capital improvements and maintenance for the existing Safeco and Qwest stadiums. This was a concern of Senator Zarelli, who vowed to ensure that any bill the moves forward include language that does not lead the Seattle Mariners to a "Sonic incident".

ESHB252 also is much more prescriptive and restrictive in its dividing of the funding between arts and heritage programs, regional centers, human services, low-income housing, and community development.

SB6116, that appeared to be the favorite among proponents of any bill, provides King County greater flexibility by listing some percentages of how some of the revenue should be divided, and a ranked priority list of subjects, but it leaves the finer management of the revenue to the King County Council.

SB6116 also extends taxes not included included in the House bill to pay for all of it.

Here is section 6 of the bill
SB 6116:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6. A new section is added to chapter 67.28 RCW to read as follows:
Money deposited in a special purposes account under this section may be used only for the following purposes within the county:
(1) Funding tourism promotion as defined in RCW 67.28.080;
(2) Funding youth or amateur sports activities or facilities;
(3) Funding regional centers or performing arts centers, but excluding regional centers or performing arts centers within:
(a) Cities with a population of one hundred thousand or more; and
(b) Cities described in RCW 35.57.010(1)(d);
(4) Maintaining or improving publicly owned stadiums or arenas;
(5) Funding community development; and/or
(6) Funding low-income housing.

Maybe this gets into the House bill, maybe it doesn't. If any stadium language is wanted in the House bill it may be difficult to do. The House rules make it difficult to insert language into the body of a bill that is not similar to the title of the bill. I know it sounds crazy, but it is true.

Unlike the US Congress we cannot make random amendments to bills - they have to be related to the topic in the bill and described by the title of the bill. Crafting titles is somewhat of a legislative art.

Although, Ross Hunter did testify in the committee meeting that he thinks the house bill could be used to insert language from SB6116, "either bill could work".

Which bill moves forward is still unknown, and in what form. ESHB2252 may be amended by the senate, or substituted by the senate bill SB6116 with some minor adjustments to make it more passible by the House.

I do think that one way, or another, a bill has to pass because the funding for the arts, 4Culture, is set to expire this summer. Funding for low-income housing could also take a big hit.

I will keep an eye out for activity, and post it in the comments of this thread.

Friday, March 13, 2009

County Tax Proposals to have Hearing in Ways & Means Committee on March 18th

Yesterday, reported in the Seattle PI, House Bill 2252 passed in the Washington State Legislature.

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The state House wants to extend some taxes that paid for professional sports stadiums in Seattle.

Right now, the taxes on restaurant sales and rental cars are supposed to expire after the football and baseball stadiums are paid off. A bill approved 54-42 by the House on Thursday would keep the taxes going longer, with the money flowing into a special account to pay for housing projects, the arts and other programs.

The account is not supposed to be source for a new NBA arena or Husky Stadium.

The restaurant tax would eventually expire. A third tax on hotel rooms also would flow into the special account.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

As was mentioned on March 7th, here and elsewhere, Senate Bill 6116 was introduced by enators Ed Murray and Jeanne Kohl-Welles. SB6116 was similar to House Bill 2252 except that it did include support for stadiums and arenas, and extended the food and beverage tax (restaurant tax) as a funding source.

House Bill 2252 was passed by the House, and has moved on to the Senate Ways & Means Committee. Both bills, HB2252 and SB6116 are on the March 18th agenda for public hearing.

Along with the now somewhat familiar HB2252 and SB6116 is another bill, Senate Bill 6118.
Why that is one of the Senate's versions of House Bill 2250 (what?). Ok, does the Convention Center ring any bells? This one is the skim off money for a museum. Hey, that's what the county tax does, only for county and city museums. This is confusing, I hope they can reconcile all these bills.

1 bill passed by the House on the county taxes.
1 sponsored by two Senators (one being Ed Murray) on the county taxes.
1 bill for funding the convention center account with a new Section 3: a 2% tax, to be used under RCW 82.14. sure, museums are part of RCW 82.14, everybody nows that, but so are stadiums, RCW 82.14.049 (like I had t tell you, half of the husky nation has this written on the palms of their hands thinking they have a date with a pile of cash, not so fast dawg-boy).

The last bill on the agenda, that's the housing trust fund that pays for low-income housing, as is mentioned in both of the county bills.

All in one day, all in the same hearing, imagine that.

I have linked below to the bills (including the one about booze, I'm going to need it).

Ways & Means* - 03/18/09 1:30 pm
Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 4
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 3/13/2009 11:47 AM

Public Hearing:
SB 6119 - Limiting the discount of purchases of spirits by licensees.

SB 6116 - Funding arts and heritage programs, tourism promotion, youth sport activities, regional centers, publicly owned stadiums, community development, and low income housing in a county with a population of one million five hundred thousand or more.

ESHB 2252 - Funding for arts and heritage programs, regional centers, human services, low-income housing, and community development in a county with a population of one million five hundred thousand or more. (If measure is referred to committee.)

SB 6118 - Concerning lodging taxes for, and certain transfers from, the state convention and trade center account.

SHB 1250 - Concerning the housing trust fund.

Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I am easily offended

Somebody in the Crosscut comments section of a story Jean Godden had written said I was ignorant and a liar. I thought I should just repost my strange collection of other people's opinions here and then I can just repost a link in different places to save all that typing. Not only am I a liar, but I guess I'm lazy too.
Yes, I want to bond and build. It employs people now, and builds stuff that hangs around for a long time. but that $15 million a year is the first I have heard that it would cost that, where do you get your numbers from?

I know I'm just making it all up from what others (Nick Licata Chris Van Dyk, Dino Rossi, the Seattle City Council, that devil Mr Ceis) have said.

From SeattlePI
Last updated February 29, 2008 10:01 p.m. PT
A bid to keep NBA team in KeyArena emerges
Investors reportedly led by Griffin would help refurbish venue

City Councilman Nick Licata has supported efforts to limit tax spending on a new arena. If a plan emerges similar to what Licata has heard is in the works, he might be on board.

"I'm giving it serious consideration," Licata said. "I think that the bottom line for me is that it's a fair deal for both the city and the investors. I've never said flatly, 'No public funds.' "

In November 2006, Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved a measure restricting public subsidies for pro sports teams. Initiative 91 prohibits Seattle from contributing city tax dollars unless such investments yield a profit on par with a 30-year U.S. Treasury bond.

The suggested plan could comply with the measure, said Chris Van Dyk, who led the I-91 campaign.

"The key thing is that if it addresses the use of public funds in a positive way and allocates those public funds toward the public places and the public infrastructure," Van Dyk said. "If (new team owners) do that in a genuine and on the table (way, providing) a significant infusion of money, I don't see that I-91 is a problem."

Yes, you caught me, I do not have the numbers right in front of me. I guess I should get the dirty details from NBA advocate Chris Van Dyk, I may have been telling lies just to get the NBA back in Seattle. He's ignorant and filling my head with ignorance just to satisfy his basketball-jones. RATS!

Tell CVD he's a liar, I'll watch, it'll be fun.

How about that $250,000 a year in office space the Sonics were renting, nope, don't miss that.

How much B & O tax does a $400 million dollar company pay? There is another ignorant thing I'm posting, taxes, who needs that.

Oh, here is a known liar, Dino Rossi:
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Rossi says plan for KeyArena is too good to ignore

In addition to the roughly $20 million in sales tax revenue that the state could bring in from the remodel arena itself, the Rossi campaign said, the new facility "could generate $25 million over 10 years through sales and (business) taxes on Sonics-related operations."

State Department of Revenue spokesman Mike Gowrylow said it's difficult to calculate revenue estimates on the operations at KeyArena without more-specific information, but the estimate was within the range of possibilities.

Last franchise was here for a little longer than ten years, the state makes out ok, but it is all lies, and I'm ignorant, and just making all this up.

Here are the links to the pitch Tim Ceis gave t the state task force in December on Seattle center and Key Arena, there is all kinds of stuff in there that Ceis made up that I just believed.
Here is the meeting from Dec 1
and direct links:
heres' 1

and here is 2

KeyArena is about 380,000 sf of enclosed space, a remodel would enclose the exterior beams for restaurants and retail space, enlarging the enclosed space to 720,000 sf (I'm making that up too), and adding a second ramp down to the floor so the big shows can get on and off the floor, and on to the next city, in a more resonable amount of time. tear down and prep for the next event is wasted time and lost revenue, just ask the convention center folks.
For some strange reason I think adding restaurants and retail to the exterior of the KeyArena bowl is a good thing for the Seattle Center site, just my opinion. I also think that having people come to Seattle Center for more events, and having an anchor tenant is a good idea, but that's not my opinion, that's the Seattle City Council crazy talk during Seattle Center subcommittee meeting comments on why a break even proposition with the Seattle Storm was a good thing for Seattle, and Seattle Center. Call Jean a liar about that one, she was there. Or, does this just apply to professional womens basketball?

Parks and Seattle Center Committee January 27, 2009
Link to video:

When I'm not here being called a liar I update a little blog on this particular topic:

There, that was fun.
What some people might want t know is that when I post someplace it is almost always as "Mr. Baker". It is pretty easy to get Mr. xx as a user name,it is easy to remember too.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hopes for Seattle Center's KeyArena in Political Limbo

Washington State House Bill 2281 was referred to Rules Committee on second reading. This bill is related to HB2179 Authorizing cities to provide and contract for supplemental transportation improvements, sponsored by Representative Deb Eddy. How? The transportation "improvements" are paid fr by a .02% sales tax in King County (also, if you look at the draft of HB2281 in the upper right-hand corner it references H-2179.1).

So, HB2281, HB2179, and a raft of other bills are referred to the Rules Committee to sort out.

If/when a bill comes out of Rules Committee it has a reasonable chance of being different than when it entered and a chance to be voted on and passed.

HB2281 (and 2179) made the Second Cut-off date when a bill can be introduced, Senate Bill 6116 did not.

Senate Bill SB6116 did not make the cut-off, but that does not mean that it is dead, far from it.

Remember, whatever the House passes eventually has to be agreed to by the Senate. SB6116 was sponsored by Ed Murray and Jeanne Kohl-Welles.

Who are they? Senators Ed Murray is "Majority Caucus Chair", and a member of the Senate Rules Committee, and from the same 43rd district as Frank Chopp [edit, not Ross Hunter]. Jeanne Kohl-Welles is the Chairperson of Labor Commerce & Consumer Protection, as well as a member of the Senate Rules Committee.

They have expressed their opinion and preferences in their bill, SB6116. All of these bills need to be reconciled into an agreed to bill that both houses can vote on and pass.

Here is the list of bills that made the cut-off:

As noted in the document, a bill not listed is not dead, that includes Murray's SB6116 (not listed), HB2281 and 2179 are listed.
Once these bills are resolved they could go back to their respective committees, or they could get referred to another committee for voting and passing with recommendation to "do-pass" to the respective houses of legislature (just like in the other Washington).

So, what is on the legislative calendar for today?
Senate Session/Caucus 3/7/2009 9:30 AM
House Possible Session/Caucus 3/7/2009 10:00 AM
The next house Finance Committee meeting is 3/12/09

Call the legislative hot-line at 800-562-6000 and support Senate Bill 6116.
Or, write to your legislator, find them here, fill out the form, input the bill number (6116) and click "Support".
It is a lot like voting, only, they know who you are, and there is an actual person's name from their district supporting the legislation.
You could contact Ed Murray here, and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and let him know that you support his bill, 6116.

Who is on the House Rules Committee?

Chopp, Frank (D) Chair
LEG 339C(360) 786-7920

DeBolt, Richard (R) *
LEG 335C(360) 786-7896

Armstrong, Mike (R)
LEG 426A(360) 786-7832

Bailey, Barbara (R)
JLOB 406(360) 786-7914

Eddy, Deborah (D)
LEG 132D(360) 786-7848

Ericks, Mark (D)
JLOB 203(360) 786-7900

Green, Tami (D)
JLOB 327(360) 786-7958

Hasegawa, Bob (D)
JLOB 425(360) 786-7862

Hinkle, Bill (R)
JLOB 401(360) 786-7808

Hudgins, Zachary (D)
LEG 438A(360) 786-7956

Johnson, Norm (R)
JLOB 414(360) 786-7810

Kelley, Troy (D)
JLOB 319(360) 786-7890

Kessler, Lynn (D)
LEG 339A(360) 786-7904

Kretz, Joel (R)
LEG 335A(360) 786-7988

Kristiansen, Dan (R)
LEG 427A(360) 786-7967

Liias, Marko (D)
JLOB 434(360) 786-7972

Moeller, Jim (D)
LEG 436A(360) 786-7872

Morrell, Dawn (D)
JLOB 331(360) 786-7968

Morris, Jeff (D)
LEG 430(360) 786-7970

Santos, Sharon Tomiko (D)
LEG 434A(360) 786-7944

Schmick, Joe (R)
JLOB 419(360) 786-7844

Springer, Larry (D)
LEG 132E(360) 786-7822

Van De Wege, Kevin (D)
JLOB 316(360) 786-7916

Warnick, Judy (R)
JLOB 403(360) 786-7932

*Ranking Minority Member 

Have a wonky weekend!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 Medina Rep to the Rescue

KeyArena is not quite dead in the state legislature. In a story about state representative Ross Hunter possibly running for the King County Executive position vacated by Washington D.C. bound Ron Sims reporter Laura Onstot mentions that there is a placeholder bill in the legislature that might be used to address local funding for a KeyArena remodel.

As noted below, the bill is an empty vessel, with a title that says nothing about the intent of the bill. Welcome to Washington State, where if there is a door, it is closed and people are behind it negotiating a deal.

Hunter has also been going to bat for the city. He currently co-chairs a legislative task force to determine possibilities for remodeling KeyArena in the hopes of attracting a new NBA team. Hunter says he won't use state money for the project, but did offer to craft a bill that would allow Seattle to levy a city-wide tax to pay for the project. The city declined, but the deal isn't entirely dead. Hunter has kept a bill sponsored by Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle) alive in his finance committee. The bill itself contains only a name—the visitor destination campus act of 2009—but keeps the issue on the table in Olympia if the city manages to come up with a plan to finance a remodel that doesn't involve using state money, Hunter says.
Medina Rep to the Rescue, by Laura Onstot.

Here is a placeholder bill HB2281's legislative home
Relating to the visitor destination campus act of 2009.
[edited 6:02 pm] As mentioned at, SB6116 dropped today. Unlike the house bill that acted as a placeholder, SB6116 has full text, including new section 6 to the legislation that actually has the word "arenas" in it.
Thank you state senator Ed Murray.

On the House side you have Ross Hunter writing these bills trying to solve these issues, on the Senate side we have Ed Murray. We are lucky to have both.

This bill, I hope, will address the entire 74 acre Seattle Center site. With 53 days left in the legislative session there is enough time for this bill to die and live again, and again, and again.

Meanwhile over at Brian Robinson is asking people to give a call to the legislative hotline to encourage state lawmakers to consider supporting a solution to KeyArena before the end of the session.
Legislative Hotline: 800-562-6000

There are $30 million dollars on the line from Clay Bennett, or a remodeled KeyArena with an NBA team. If the legislature acts then either option is possible. If they do not act it will be a very long time before another solution comes along.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Mayor Nickels, what is the plan now?

An open letter to City of Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels:
Mr. Nickels,
Why did the city support Ross Hunter's HB 2250 for the convention center? David Foster, your lobbyist, was identified in today's legislative meeting in support of the project but declined to testify.
Washington State Legislative bill cutoff has passed and I do not see a bill in direct support of Seattle Center, and yet the convention center is getting a go-ahead to figure out what they are going to do and then come back in a year with an actual plan. I understand that they want to secure the county air space (space above the county land), but what they have effectively done is to have taken the 2% sales tax matching portion back to the state right now (understandable), but then they claim its use through at least through 2030. On some level the city, you, have to agree to this as the local municipality.

If this is not the mechanism for the city to retain state funding authority for Seattle Center, and possibly KeyArena, then what is?

What's the plan now that you have agreed through city support of the convention center?

Thank you for your time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stadium Bill, HB 2252, Sponsored by State Representative Hunter

Washington State Representative Ross Hunter's has posted on his Bills Sponsored page House Bill 2252 that pays for, in part, Acquiring, constructing, maintaining, or operating public
12 sports stadium facilities
This is the county-wide sales tax on hotels, restaurant, and car rentals that the University of Washington's Husky Stadium. This may also be the source of revenue to pay 1/4 the cost of remodeling KeyArena. It was my understanding from proposals made to the legislature last year that the City of Seattle was requesting 1% of the funds generated from a 7% hotel tax that is collected just in the city that is slated for the Washington State Convention & Trade Center's expansion. It may eventually become the source, but in its current form the bill that pays for the convention center, House Bill 2250, makes no mention of Seattle Center or KeyArena. For that matter, House Bill 2252 doesn't directly mention Seattle Center or KeyArena either.

I expect one of these bills to change in order to satisfy the settlement agreement between the City of Seattle and Clay Bennett. Bennett is on the hook for 30 million dollars if the state and city approve a revenue source for the arena remodel and a team can not be located by 8/17/2013 to play in it. Finding a team doesn't look like too much a problem in the current state of the economy, but there is not good reason to overlook a 30 million dollar technicality.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hunter, Chopp, Closer to KeyArena Solution

As noted in a prior story, on February 12th story No buzz about NBA returning to Seattle AP Reporter Tim Booth had unknowingly passes along the missing piece in the arena puzzle to KeyArena rebuild hopefuls like me.
The reporter, Tim Booth, summarized Washington State House Finance Committee Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Madina, statements thusly, "he was working with House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, on a plan for stadium funding that everybody can live with, but wasn't willing to disclose any details."

In the past 3 years Frank Chopp has been in to opposition to stadium and arena solutions that involved the state, even when the revenue did not come from the state's general fund. Speaker Chopp and others were so dissatisfied with the relationship between state-wide priorities and the local community needs of anything in King County (and Seattle) that a state task force was formed to construct a solution.
Joint Task Force Local Financing Options for King County had been formed, with Ross Hunter as a co-chair, and Washington State senator Ed Murray as a member. The task force was presented with a variety of proposals to use the county-wide hotel/care rental/ restaurant tax, as well as the Seattle only hotel tax. Some of these locally collected taxes have state sales tax credits contributing to their funds.

Unfortunately the task force did not produce a report of recommendations of what the locally collected funds should be spent on, with Mr Hunter commenting to a Tacoma News Tribune writer that there isn't a natural jurisdiction for this situation.

As Mr Hunter stated back in December in the Tacoma News tribune, his personal preference is that the state sales tax component goes back to the state. Mr. Hunter was quoted in Friday's web edition of the Seattle PI as reiterated that same preference for returning the state's portion back to the state.

Here are some key quotes, with my commentary interspersed:

"I think I've got something that will work here," said Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina and chairman of the House Finance committee. "I am very close to releasing a plan."

Hunter would not offer specifics, saying he is awaiting approval from House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle.

He said his plan would not include a penny of state money but would be financed entirely by money raised in the city.

To a great extent this was the idea all along, what I think is useful is that he is being quoted in public explicitly stating the position before the inevitable argument is made by sports haters. How he constructs this is still largely unknown.

Hunter said he has no problem allowing the city to impose its own taxes but feels no pressure to enable Seattle to cash in on the bonus [from Clay Benett].

"I would go out of my way to figure out a way to take $30 million from those guys in Oklahoma City. I would go out of my way to do that just for the fun of it, just for the sport," Hunter said. But "the fact that Seattle has negotiated a deal that (is meant to) force me to act is not attractive to me."

Mr. Bennett named Mr. Hunter and Mr. Chopp as the people that stopped Bennett's quest for a free 500 million dollar stadium to be built in Renton Washington.

Seattle had asked lawmakers to allow the city to tap a local hotel and motel tax surcharge that is used to pay off previous work at the Seattle Convention Center. That tax source is raking in money more quickly than previously projected. But the idea of extending it to KeyArena does not have traction in Olympia, Hunter said.

It appears that Mr. Hunter will take back the state's sales tax component, while Ed Murray is proposing that the convention center proposal move forward.

"There is no appetite down here for fixing KeyArena with state dollars," he [Hunter] said.

Hunter said his plan would not rely on admission taxes, which are better used for facility maintenance. He hinted it might include money for affordable housing -- a pet concern for Chopp.

Despite its surplus, the convention center tax is not an option for KeyArena because it is partly funded through a state sales tax credit, Hunter said.

"I want the state's money back," Hunter said.

The credit costs the state about $10 million a year, he said. Without that portion of the convention center revenue stream, the taxes do not raise enough to overhaul KeyArena.

There you go, 10 million dollars, the one percent the City of Seattle was hoping to use is sort of being identified as the state's portion the convention center fund. Mr. Hunter has doubts about the convention center's proposal, and has sliced off 10 million dollars from that same fund.

Here is state's position, or at least Hunter's, as it relates to the City of Seattle, and the settlement between the city and Clay Bennett.

But he has no problem "getting out of the way" of local governments that want to make their own tax decisions, he said.

Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis believes a pair of motivations will encourage lawmakers to help the city, despite the Legislature's previous rejections of KeyArena tax proposals. One incentive is the $30 million payoff. The other is that the future of Seattle Center is to some degree tied to the health of KeyArena.

"Seattle Center is a more sympathetic issue than NBA basketball," Ceis said.

Still, the state faces a biennial shortfall of $6 billion or more, and lawmakers are facing cries for help from every corner.

"This is not an easy proposal for this legislative session," Ceis said.

Hunter said he would not be "embarrassed" into granting the city authority so it can chase the bonus. That provision was intended to put political pressure on the Legislature, Hunter said.

"You know, children do stuff like this," he said.

"So I feel no compulsion to act on this simply because Seattle has negotiated a deal without consulting with me beforehand. If it works out, it works out. If it doesn't, I'm sorry."

"I might have agreed to it ahead of time if they asked me but they didn't," Hunter said. "I just don't like that whole transaction."

This is the environment the lowly citizen (me) toils in while attempting to encourage the right people to do the right thing.

So, there is not going to be a specific KeyArena solution prescribed by the state, and absolutely not with any state funds. This is a broader problem requiring a broader solution that takes the state out of the role of deciding local issues where the state does not have a direct financial interest.

Hunter is separately working on broader legislation to reform financing of major facilities, he said.

Qwest Field, Safeco Field and the Convention Center were all paid for through a tax source deliberately set to raise more money than was needed -- to ensure better bond ratings, he said.

But that results in surplus funds that are inevitably raided by "rapacious" budget writers, Hunter said. Next thing you know, governments or programs are relying on that extra money for tangential needs.

Hunter is also keeping the details of that plan quiet until he can get Chopp's approval.

There you have it, the state government trying to get out of the way, out of participating in any way in stadiums and arenas.
This morning Brian Robinson at stating his feeling of hope.

Have a great day,
Mr Baker

(17% recycled content from prior stories)

Thursday, February 12, 2009 Unknowingly gives fans hope

In the February 12th story No buzz about NBA returning to Seattle AP Reporter Tim Booth unknowingly passes along the missing piece in the arena puzzle to KeyArena rebuild hopefuls like me.
Booth says, "[Washington State] House Finance Committee Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Madina, said Thursday, he was working with House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, on a plan for stadium funding that everetbody can live with, but wasn't willing to disclose any details."

Mr. Booth, that is the buzz. At no point in the past 3 years could you find the name Frank Chopp in connection with a stadium unless it was in reference to opposition. I had heard rumors that somebody had something drafted, but none of it had a connection to Hunter actually working on anything, and nobody has mentioned that Mr. Hunter was working with Mr. Chopp, until your report.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Washington State Senator Ed Murray Needs a KeyArena Bill

The Washington State Convention Center made a move for its slice of the non-general fund revenue pie that proponents of the KeyArena remodel are also interested in utilizing. On February 5th Washington State Senator Ed Murray sponsored bill 5875 AN ACT Relating to the convention place station expansion of the state convention and trade center. This proposal is intended to allow the the Washington State Convention & Trade Center to spend 766 million dollars to expand its facility by building a second building across the street from the current location in downtown Seattle, essentially doubling its capacity.

The revenue to support this big build comes from an existing 7% sales tax added on top of the existing state sales tax on hotels just in Seattle. The hotels must have 60 or more rooms, so, larger downtown hotels are effected. This tax is currently paying off the first big building. the debt against the original facility. Senator Ed Murray was quoted during the 5pm KING News broadcast tonight as saying the convention center currently turned away 1.7 billion dollars in business over the past 4 years, motivating the convention center to request the expantion.

This revenue is not part of the state's general fund, so taking for spreading around the rest of the state is to be avoided. This actually happened last year to plug some state budget holes and that made the Seattle hoteliers very angry. It is very likely that if the fund were to be taken again that the hoteliers would take legal action. It may not be popular to promote this project, but the alternative use for this fund may be legally problematic. But as Senator Murray was quoted on television tonight he said the expantion would employ 300 contruction workers, and 3,500 employees once it is built.

What is important about this bill is that there has been an agreement of some kind between the convention center folks and the City of Seattle to share that 7% sales tax when it becomes available, 6% for the convention center and 1% for Seattle Center. The city is planning on requesting that last 1% to fund the remodel of Seattle Center's KeyArena (that is one word, KeyArena).

Senator Murray said tonight on KING 5 News that nobody has approched him about a Seattle Center KeyArena bill. I had sent Mr. Murray an email on February 5th concerning both the his convention center bill, and requesting that he sponsor or supports a similar bill for KeyArena. I also sent a similar email to one of the bill co-sponsors Senator Ken Jacobsen who is my representitive, as well as an email to Representitive Ross Hunter. Murray and Hunter both served on a task force that was supposed to recommend projects using this local funding source. The convention center and Seattle Center presentations were made back to back to Mr. Hunter and Mr. Murray's task force on December 2nd, 2008. If Ed Murray has the ability to write a bill for the convention center then what, other than personal desire, is stopping him from writing a bill for Seattle Center.
Who has to contact Ed Murray in order for him to write another bill that is almost the same bill as he had written for the convention center. Is this supposed to be the city asking, another legislator?

Brian Robinson at Sonics Central has mentioned that there is a bill that has been drafted and had a fed revisions. Does Rd Murray know about this, or is what he said what he did to force that bill out?

Have a great day,
Mr Baker
Sent from my iPhone