Tag Archives: Seattle

Who often doesn’t make an $8M mistake? Seattle DOT “mislead” council about true costs of streetcar project

shocked face

From MyNorthwest.com: The Seattle Department of Transportation provided misleading information about the cost to operate an expanded streetcar network to the Federal Transit Authority and the city council, according to King County Metro.

A document obtained by The Seattle Times outlines a “concerning” situation.

SDOT appears to have ignored Metro’s estimated labor cost for streetcar O & M by $8 million and submitted information to the FTA and to the Seattle City Council that significantly underestimates the annual cost of operating the Seattle streetcar system when C3 is added.

“Metro’s Rail Section has communicated to SDOT information that contradicts published information about estimated labor costs for Streetcar operations staffing, but neither FTA nor the Seattle Council appear to be aware of contradictory information,” the document states.

Essentially, SDOT’s labor cost estimates were much too low. According to the document, SDOT assumed it would cost just over $16 million to operate the line. A total of $8.15 million was budgeted for staffing. Metro says more staff is needed to meet the expectations put in place by SDOT. It will cost an estimated $8 million more to pay for additional staff — raising total operating costs to $24 million.

Metro is concerned because it will be running the system.

It’s yet another black mark for the Center City Connector project that will cost an estimated $177 million. It will add a 1.2-mile streetcar tack that connects the line in South Lake Union and First Hill line.

The project broke ground last year. City leaders questioned the project just days before crews began their work. The concerns raised then are what sparked the financial report by SDOT that is now in question.

The price tag of $177 million was higher than initial estimates. Funding for the project includes a $75 million grant from the FTA, about $30 million from City Light for utility relocation, and $45 million from the city’s budget through 2020.

Actual ridership numbers are also in question. Currently under-utilized, SDOT projects the streetcar lines will get 22,000 riders per day in its first year of expanded service. By 2035, 30,000 riders will ride the streetcars.



Get ready to empty your wallets, Seattle: Task force recommends new taxes to address homelessness

perfect enemy of good

The City of Seattle has already allocated over $37M to address homelessness and King County has budgeted over $195M for a grand total of over $232M. But it’s never enough.

From MyNorthwest.comA head tax on Seattle businesses may not be enough, according to a task force that is now recommending additional taxes on the city’s wealthy residents.

“We therefore believe that the City of Seattle should pass legislation this year to generate $150 million per year in new progressive revenue, including an Employee Hours Tax,” the task force states in its report to the council. “… wisely invested over the next 10 years, will result in significant and measurable progress toward ending the crisis of homelessness and housing insecurity in our city.”

The March 9 report from Seattle’s Progressive Revenue Task Force on Housing and Homelessness primarily proposes an employee hours tax — also referred to as a head tax. But it also proposes new taxes, including estate and CEO taxes.

(The first bulleted item in the report overview: “There is an urgent need for fiscal discipline.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.)

Additionally, the task force recommends the city change its approach to the homeless crises. For example, providing special RV tags allowing them to park without fear of being ticketed.

The task force notes that cuts could be made to some city spending, such as the criminal justice budget. But it concludes that new revenue is the main solution to the homelessness crisis. The task force states that “tax burdens should not be increased lightly,” and that the homeless crisis is caused, in part, by Seattle’s economic boom.

Employee hours tax: The task force recommends the city establish an employee hours tax to go into effect Jan. 1, 2019. It provides a range of options based on employer size and type. In the end, it aims to raise between $25 million to $75 million a year. The reports states: Employers that can afford to contribute more should pay more, while employers that cannot afford to contribute as much should pay less.

Noting that it may not be perfect, the report encourages the council to “not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Care should be taken not to disproportionately impact POC– and other minority-owned businesses and employers, or to speed the process of gentrification and displacement that are already transforming business districts as well as residential areas in many neighborhoods where communities of color have historically resided.

The city would tax employers either with a flat fee per employee or as a percentage of payroll. It also suggests the council design the tax to vary depending on business size. The report states that the council should design exceptions, such as businesses under a certain revenue threshold.

Other new taxes: The task force recommends additional taxes to raise beyond the $75 million employee hours tax. It admits that the amount it proposes won’t cover the entire housing need, but will be “a solid start” to solving the problem through affordable housing programs.

The city can leverage state and federal funding, but still Seattle must pitch in ~ $170,000 per unit. That means we need a total of $3.4 billion, or $340 million per year for 10 years. That $340 million annual need only covers capital costs, not ongoing operations. The task force therefore proposes a variety of additional tax strategies beyond an employee hours tax.

Read the rest of the story here (other proposed new taxes include a high compensation tax and local estate tax – as much as a 50 percent increase!).



Seattle Mayor’s plan for free college: No US citizenship or minimum GPA required

jenny durkan

From Seattle Times: One of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s top goals is to make community college free for every Seattle high-school graduate, and last week, she rolled out a program that would do so over several years.

The plan, which would likely work in concert with College Bound and other state and federal aid programs, would pay for two years of community college for every Seattle public high-school graduate. It will not have an income or GPA cutoff, nor does it require students to sign up years in advance or exclude students who have gotten into legal trouble.

Her proposal coincides with a new report by a progressive think tank, The Century Foundation, that examines the success of so-called “promise” programs — which guarantee to pay tuition for graduates of a state’s high school — and details those elements that lead to a high success rate.

Author Jennifer Mishory, a Century Foundation senior fellow, says simple plans tend to work best. Plans that have fewer restrictions tend to attract more students. “The clearer the message, the easier it is to understand for students who might not otherwise enroll,” she said.

Mishory already counts Washington as one of the 16 “promise” states, although the program is far from simple. Washington’s College Bound program pays college tuition and fees for students who are low-income, sign up by eighth grade, maintain at least a C average and don’t get into legal trouble. It’s good for both two- and four-year colleges.

Durkan’s plan represents the expansion of an idea first launched in 2008. Called the 13th Year, it began as a partnership between Cleveland High School and South Seattle College and guaranteed every graduate a year at the college tuition free. It was funded by private donations.

No US Citizenship Required: Durkan’s proposal would also be open to all students regardless of citizenship status. That’s true as well for the State Need Grant. And this session, the Legislature passed a bill expanding College Bound to include students who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status, known as dreamers.

The Cost: Durkan’s office estimates the expansion will cost $1.7 million in 2018-19, and will serve about 1,000 high-school and college students, including outreach and college preparation services. About 215 students will receive 13th-year scholarships, and an estimated 120 students will be eligible to receive 14th-year scholarships. The money will come from the city’s general fund, the sweetened-beverage tax and the Seattle Colleges.

As more students take advantage of the program, the costs will increase — to $4.4 million in 2019-20, $5.7 million in 2020-21 and $6.3 million in 2021-22.

Read the whole story here.

About the progressive think tank, The Century Foundation (TCF), whose report was cited in this article:

  • “The Century Foundation is a progressive, nonpartisan think tank that seeks to foster opportunity, reduce inequality, and promote security at home and abroad.”
  • Mark Zuckerman, President of TCF: Mark served in the Obama White House as the deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council, leading teams on key initiatives, including reducing student debt, increasing accountability at for-profit educational institutions, reducing workplace discrimination, increasing wages for home health care workers, and expanding access to job training. Prior to that, as staff director of the House Education and Labor Committee, he helped win passage of landmark legislation such as the Affordable Care Act; the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act; and the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.
  • Melissa “break through our private idea that kids belong to their parents” Harris-Perry is an advisor to the foundation.

And take a wild guess as to who also has ties to TCF…

  • Richard Leone, former president of TCF (1989-2011), was a member of the board of directors of Center for American Progress (CAP). CAP is the think tank conceived by George Soros and headed by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta.
  • In 2005, TCF and CAP launched the Security and Peace institute (SPI). The SPI “will build on the work of both of its parent organizations by promoting a shared foreign policy agenda for the United States and its international partners.”
  • The director of the SPI was Morton H. Halperin, a senior advisor to George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

If this free college plan is something that Soros and Company are pushing, you know the message is clear: promote progressive ideology and policies at any cost to taxpayers.



Seattle Police spend two months on undercover Tide Pod bust

tide pods joke

Last month I did a blog post entitled, Armed robbers breaking into homes, restraining & hitting victims yet Seattle Police doesn’t believe “public is at risk.”

From my post:

A violent series of armed robberies have hit the Seattle’s Beacon Hill where three, armed men kicked in doors and held residents hostage while they ransacked the victims’ homes. There have been no arrests.”

Shortly after that post, a 71-year-old woman was pistol whipped and shot in her home.

The mayor’s response? “South Park residents shouldn’t have to live in fear in their own community. @SeattlePD and I have heard your concerns and understand the urgency – that’s why we’re fast-tracking the hiring of a Public Safety Coordinator in the South Park area.”

The citizens have been concerned with the Seattle Police’s lack of presence and response in their neighborhoods for some time. See also:

So what is the newly-elected mayor having the police focus on now? Stolen Tide Pods.

MyNorthwest.com reports that Tide Pods are among a list of items targeted by a “prolific group” of Seattle thieves. The racket took at least $111,000 of property out of downtown stores.

Seattle police arrested four men for possession and trafficking of stolen property following a two-month undercover operation to take down their organization. According to Seattle police:

For two months, undercover officers followed the men to darkened alleyways, restaurant booths and alcoves around downtown, where they exchanged small amounts of cash for valuable stolen goods.

Police say that the “prolific group” targeted low-level drug users near Third Avenue and Pike Street. The men provided the drug-users a list of items to steal from downtown stores. The lists included exact size and colors of clothing, and other product specifications. They paid for the stolen items at a fraction of the value.

Undercover officers posed as thieves employed by the four men. Police served search warrants March 1 to homes in Burien, Federal Way, and Renton. The investigation also led to a storage unit in Des Moines. Investigators believe that the men were shipping the stolen property out of the United States where it would be sold.

While I understand the police can focus on more than one thing at a time, I’m pretty sure the residents of South Seattle are not too pleased with adequate resources not being directed their way. Home invasions are a much more serious and life-threatening crime than stolen Tide Pods.

Hopefully the “public safety coordinator” can solve the home invasion crimes that are hitting Seattle!



Liberal utopia: Seattle small business owner begs leaders to stop crime

government solve all problems

But, but, the public is “not at risk.”

From Dori Monson at MyNorthwest.com: Bo Saxbe has become the mouthpiece for a collection of small businesses and food truck operators in Seattle. They have a simple message to city leaders: Help.

Saxbe says crime has gotten so bad within the past six months, that businesses are experiencing extreme pain. And worse, no one will do anything about it.

“Police won’t come,” Saxbe told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “Unless you are getting murdered with a knife or gunshots are going off. There are no resources for theft. One of my colleagues actually had a guy grab a tip jar off the counter as they were serving. They followed them down the street a couple blocks. A UW security officer joined in. They were yelling, ‘Stop. Stop. Thief!’ They called the cops. They guy was on 911 for 40 minutes. No police.”

“They actually saw the guy go in, with the tip jar of their money, order a plate of wings, eat them – completely impervious to any fear of getting caught,” he said. “And finally, they had to pack up and go. They had to work. It’s frustrating to see that kind of crime and know the perpetrators are almost guaranteed to not get caught or punished.

Not to mention, when King County prosecutors drop misdemeanor charges — including theft — it’s not encouraging.

Food truck fears: That is one story that Saxbe relates in an open letter to Seattle city leaders. The letter details the difficulty his food truck business has experienced. He reports that Cheese Wizards has suffered about $15,000 in losses just related to theft of power generators. But there’s more. He says people will break car windows just to get at spare change, or for soda and chips. The problem has become so bad, small business owners have started to talk.

“We had a couple dozen different businesses that chimed in,” Saxbe said. “The feeling is universal. It’s not just Ballard, or Interbay where we are based. We’ve got colleagues working in SoDo, downtown, even Magnolia. And they are all feeling that every moment it is getting worse and worse.

Those businesses tell their stories in Saxbe’s open letter. Many report thefts. Generators are a primary target. Others maintain that police won’t come to help. An entire food truck was stolen and the owners said that they still don’t know if Seattle police are investigating it.

“We’re really scared,” Saxbe said. “Small businesses like mine are the smallest in the city. They’re a lot of us and crime is just killing us. It’s going crazy.

“We really are asking for help,” he said. “This is us saying, ‘Hey, you guys in power. Give us a hand. We need it now.’

See also:



Illegal alien who overstayed her VISA says she’s now targeted by ICE because of her political activism

maru mora villalpando ap photo

Illegal alien Maru Mora Villalpando/LinkedIn photo

Maybe the fact is that since you overstayed your VISA and advertised you have been here illegally for 22 years has something to do with it. Just a thought.

When I lived/studied in Mexico City I never overstayed my VISA. Not ONCE. What makes you believe you have the right to do so in the USA?

Here’s another thought, too: This illegal alien, having lived in the USA for 22 years, could lead by example and apply for US citizenship.

From Seattle Times: An immigrant-rights advocate targeted for deportation first came to the attention of authorities because she discussed her unlawful status in the country in an interview with a monthly newspaper last year, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official wrote in a newly released document.

But the official, Timothy Black, also noted her “extensive involvement with anti-ICE protests and Latino advocacy programs” — something her supporters said proves she was targeted for political reasons.

“I’m being put in deportation proceedings because of my political stance, because of my media presence, because I’ve utilized my freedom of speech,” the activist, Maru Mora-Villalpando, told reporters during a conference call Monday. “This is a pattern of behavior which ICE is developing now under this administration.”

Maru Mora-Villalpando, a 47-year-old Mexico City native and activist supporting immigrants who are detained at the privately run Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, has no criminal record.

She has been in the U.S. continuously since 1996 after overstaying a visa.

She first came out publicly as a person in the U.S. illegally in 2014, when she expected to be arrested — and subsequently deported — for joining others in blocking a road at the detention center. She was not arrested, however, and did not receive a notice to appear in immigration court until last December.

She remains out of custody and continues to advocate for the detainees, such as by promoting those engaging in hunger strikes to protest conditions at the facility.

Pro-immigration advocates around the country have accused ICE of retaliation by deportation, pointing to cases like that of Eliseo Jurado, the husband of an immigrant activist in Boulder, Colorado, who sought sanctuary from deportation in a church.

Ravi Ragbir, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago who leads the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, is facing deportation after being arrested Jan. 11 during a routine check-in with immigration officials.

Earlier this month, United Nations human-rights experts called on the U.S. to protect Mora-Villalpando and other activists from deportation, saying advocates for migrants’ rights must not be silenced.

ICE has repeatedly denied any political motives and called such allegations “irresponsible, speculative and inaccurate.” In an emailed statement, spokeswoman Lori Haley said Monday that “target information is based on intelligence-driven leads,” which may include publicly available information.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not target unlawfully present aliens for arrest based on advocacy positions they hold or in retaliation for critical comments they make,” the statement said.

Mora-Villalpando and her lawyer tried to obtain a standard ICE form explaining the reasons she was being placed in removal proceedings, but the agency ignored her public-records request, she said.

Mora-Villalpando said she finally received a copy with the help of Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell.

In the form, Black, a deportation officer with ICE in Seattle, wrote that she came to the attention of his office after a monthly newspaper in Whatcom County published an interview with her last June “wherein she stated that she is ‘undocumented.’” The officer wrote that her anti-ICE activism and Latino advocacy “should also be noted.”

The agency declined to make Black available for comment.

“Law enforcement should not be allowed to target anyone in our country for their political activism,” Cantwell said in an emailed statement Monday.

Read the rest of the story here.



Armed robbers breaking into homes, restraining & hitting victims yet Seattle Police doesn’t believe “public is at risk”

second amendment

No need for self-defense mechanisms such as firearms, folks! Nothing to see here, move along. The police will keep you safe!

By Jason Rantz at MyNorthwest.com: A violent series of armed robberies have hit the Seattle’s Beacon Hill where three, armed men kicked in doors and held residents hostage while they ransacked the victims’ homes. There have been no arrests.

The first home invasion occurred in the early morning of February 16 where three masked suspects armed with guns broke into a home on Alamo Place South, where three roommates reside. The suspects, male Hispanics in their 20s, kicked in doors to the rooms of three roommates, held guns to their heads, and demanded money and drugs. According to the police report, the trio originally broke into the residence via an unsecured window on the south side of the home.

The second home invasion occurred the very next night — this time on 22nd Ave South, not far from the first robbery. According to the police report, three masked men, armed with pistols and a shotgun, broke into the home. One man was home alone at the time. Again, the suspects held a gun to his head and rummaged through the home. The victim was restrained with a plastic zip-tie, which held the victim’s feet together.

The suspects each took turns guarding the man while the other two ransacked the home. According to the report, “As each suspect guarded him they placed the firearms to his head and lower back.”

In this case, one of the suspects shot the victim with a taser, one probe hitting the man in the jaw, and the other his shoulder. The report says:

“The suspects continued to demand money and valuables, spraying him in the eyes with an unknown chemical before departing his room. As the suspects were leaving [his] room [the victim] heard a gun shot, just outside of his room.

The suspects laughed at the victim as they sprayed his face with what may have been lighter fluid. Police, using a K9 unit, were unable to track the suspects. A semi-automatic pistol and magazines, plus a 20-gauge shotgun, were stolen in this robbery.

Though the Seattle Police Department does not believe the public is at risk, it’s possible that more cases will be tied to these three suspects. And while police haven’t yet officially tied these two cases to each other, it’s hard not to note the similarities.

“Detectives are still working to see if the two cases are, in fact, the same suspects,” said Detective Patrick Michaud. “We hope to have more on that as soon as tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.”

It didn’t take long after I posted this for people to reach out, including one Seattle police officer who expressed frustrating over these robberies. “At least once week we have home-invasion robberies,” the officer explained. “We’re routinely catching people and then having to release them … when they’re juveniles.”

The officer described a system of catch and release due, in large part, to “restorative justice.”

“I hate to point the finger at other people in the process … but we will do the job and the prosecutor’s office is taking a line that ‘We won’t hold these kids,’ according to the source, who says judges will release juveniles up until their third offense, wiping the slate clean.”

And that exact same thing, releasing minors who commit violent offenses, is not occurring in just Washington state.

In Oklahoma I have a 19-year-old thug living on my street who committed multiple firearm offenses as a prohibited possessor and minor. He even broke into my neighbor’s home and my neighbor shot at him (but missed the target). Mommy bailed the thug out each time and he never did any hard time for his gun crimes. And gun control laws didn’t stop him from obtaining another firearm.

Tell me, #GunControlNow crowd, why you would want me to be defenseless should this thug try and break into my home?