I was dismayed to see the Real Change op-ed on July 16 entitled, “A Yes on Proposition One Preserves Access to Parks and Recreation for all Seattleites.” It is misleading and disingenuous, particularly when coming from the “to hell with the public, full speed ahead” crowd who support the end-run that is Proposition 1.
In fact, yes on Proposition 1 will allow vested interests to do as they wish with our parks department, with complete lack of real accountability. One way to assess and evaluate the opposing sides of this issue is to look at who wrote their pro and con in the voters’ pamphlet. One of the authors of the Statement in Favor of Prop 1
is none other than Ken Bounds, the controversial retired Parks Superintendent. Bounds left a wake of acrimony behind as he manhandled his way through issue after issue, angering community groups and activists as he consistently sided with vested interests with his characteristic bulldozer approach to activist opposition.
One need look no further than Seattle’s Office of the City Auditor’s report from 2007 to see what kind of process is in store for Seattle residents if Proposition 1
passes. Bounds was in charge then, and the process was described by the auditor report as including “administrative errors, poor facilitation, lack of clarity, and opportunities lost.” Expect more of the same if Proposition 1 passes.
The “con” set of authors for Proposition 1 includes widely respected local environmentalist John Barber, one of the most thoughtful and articulate advocates for citizen-run parks to grace Seattle. A former member of the Seattle Parks Board, Barber has long been a sensible and even-keeled proponent of making parks decisions driven by public input.
Seattle resident Gail Chiarello, a long-time parks advocate, opposes Proposition 1
and has long championed increased accountability for an unaccountable parks department. In a recent piece in The
Seattle Times, she wrote:
“(If Prop. 1 passes), citizens would not be able to use the initiative process to undo unpopular decisions. Should the Seattle Park District direct dollars toward a new Sonics arena or some waterfront Disney-like venture, these decisions could not be challenged.
“A metropolitan park district is a stealth attempt to insulate a powerful city department from the inconvenient public. The bulk of the yes campaign’s war chest has been donated by organizations, many of which stand to benefit if the Seattle Park District passes.”
It’s that simple. A vote for Proposition 1
is a vote for the end of accountability, and offers a life raft to Parks staff sick of listening to the ongoing litany of input from the annoying and inconvenient public. The Proposition 1 claim to increased access to parks is a cheap ploy and deserves to be rejected. A no vote on Prop 1 is a yes vote for accountability and fairness in public process.
Vote yes for public input and Parks Department accountability, and vote no on Proposition 1.
Jim Anderson | Seattle