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.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

So one thing I've gleaned from your letter is that the since the cut-off for bills has expired. No new bill can be introduced specifically for the Key and Seattle Center. But correct me if I'm wrong, the bill Ross Hunter introduced, that the city hated has an extension of some sort? So I guess in theory it can be presented later if all parties (Chopp, Hunter, Nickels) can some to a consensus? Still not a good sign.

Mr Baker said...

It is good that there is not an orphan bill out there to be killed. It is bad that there is not a bill that addresses the issue.
There are 2 senate bills for the convention center, and 2 house bills. The king county bill is a more likely choice though.

Anonymous said...

The King County bill refers to stadiums, correct? I haven't heard anything about that recently either. I wrote Don Ruiz from the TNT about this and although he believes its mostly likely "DOA" that Scott Woodward still has hope something will be done this session.

Peter said...

the seattle times article saying that the city turned down hunter's bill also said hunter filed a "holder", which would let a new bill be wrote up until the last 3 days of the session.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/400797_keyarena20.html

Peter said...

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/400797_keyarena20.html

Mr Baker said...

Ceis is right, Hunter is wrong. The state going through the motions to "give" it something it already has does not cut it.

Play devil's advocate protecting $30 million dollars, what would be the state contribution? Not 1/4 of the $300 million dollar effort. It would be argued in court that the city being able to raise $150 million is just that, a city tax.
I made the same point to Hunter in an email after that story came out.

Mr Baker said...

All of the bills that have been written that are going to be. A few bills address the same subject and they must be reconciled.
The desires of the governor vs the legislature need to be reconciled.
The fact that Seattle has shut out of stimulus, and Seattle Center funding and all of the most powerful legislators supposedly represent, in part, Seattle need to be reconciled.
The fact that the convention center bill that shuts Seattle Center out of that revenue was supported by the City of Seattle needs to be reconciled.

The mayor, in the letter I posted here I also sent to him, he needs to know that I know that he supported killing a revenue source. And he needs to know while I was listening to the house finance committee discuss I was writing this email to him.
It is, in some way, on him that this is happening. They 2% sales tax credit against the hotel tax in Seattle has to be agreed to by the municipality (him).

Mr Baker said...

That said, we really do need to wait for the end of session to call the state dead.

If I were Ross Hunter I would do a couple things, drop the $3 words because it makes him sound like a pompus jackass, and I would claim that the new authorization the state is giving the city is the ability to use REET (paid for the new sculpture park) for maintaining parks (he has a bill for this, because cities can use it to build parks but nobody can afford to take care of those parks) anyway, Seattle Center is a park and KeyArena is part of that park, he should say that change would allow that money to be used for Seattle Center.

The Real Estate Excise Tax revenue is down with the economy.

Just sayin'
There are easy ways out for the willing.

Mr Baker said...

looks like the restaurant and car rental folks have an amendment to sunset their tax when safeco bonds are paid off.
http://tinyurl.com/HB2252-safeco

it also looks like low income housing references were replaced by "transportation", though the effect is to build low-income housing near transportation stations.
http://tinyurl.com/HB2252-housing

and house bill 2252 is just called "County Tax".

let's see if this gets amended again before the end of session to something the restaurant and car rental people will support after safeco is paid off.

Mr Baker said...

Lot's of 7 month old finger pointing going on at sonicscentral right now.

Mr Baker said...

BTW, you can follow the exciting world of the Washington State Legislature bill and agenda documents and amendments here:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/cmd/default.aspx?cid=0

select a committee, select agenda or bill, a little file tree loads. The documents that show up in the window on the right have a print and "open in new window" buttons on the upper right corner

Finance bills 2249, 2250, 2252 are all there, and proposed amendments.
Lot's of stuff I complained about to as many people as possible have been resolved, the low-income housing was an unending fund that was duplicated in other bills.
I just need the restaurant tax extended as the state portion of Seattle Center.

Anonymous said...

Re: Finger pointing. Yeah I think that was brought up from Bill Simmon's interview with Joel McHale on the "B.S. Report". When the got to the Sonics it was actually pretty intriguing with McHales point of reference being a local and a Sonics fan from way back and basically laying blame justly at the feet of Howard Schultz.

Anonymous said...

Just boomeranging my short attention span back to hockey for a minute. Something's afoot in Phoenix. The Coyotes are for sale. Too bad we don't have a facility to house them or this could be a no-brainer.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/02/18/sports/s155018S46.DTL

dead ball foul said...

"It would be argued in court that the city being able to raise $150 million is just that, a city tax."

If the City being able to raise $150M doesn't satify the agreement, then that just shows the true intent of the agreement was to pass the final blame on to the state instead of maximizing the number of ways that financing could be approved. Great job, Greg.

Anonymous said...

What does this mean Mr. Baker, in regards to house bill 2252?

Mar 2 Executive action taken in the House Committee on Finance at 8:00 AM.
FIN - Executive action taken by committee.
FIN - Majority; 1st substitute bill be substituted, do pass.
Minority; do not pass.
Passed to Rules Committee for second reading.

Mr Baker said...

The substitute includes amandments, the restaurant tax will sunset rather than having it redirected to arts programs and low-income housing being built near transportation stations.
I guess they want to support infrastructure that is a direct benefit to their business.
Anyway, house Finance committee put the bill together and voted to move it on to the legislature advising them to "Do-Pass".
Floor amendments and if any senate bill exists could amend the bill before final vote.

Mr Baker said...

Btw, the restaurant and car rental folks pulling their revenue off the table is a good thing.

I hope they would support stadium and arena infrastructure, if not then my taxes will be lower, at the very least that revenue is not being claimed by the arts and low-income housing. Both of those things have other revenue streams already. The King County hotels are getting screwed.

Anonymous said...

Calabro and Wilkens calling the UW vs Seattle U game tonight.....Very bittersweet.