July 30, 2014
Vol: 21 No: 31

Community & Editorial

Proposition 1 fails to provide accountability for parks money

Letter to the editor from Sylvia Haven / Seattle

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Have you noticed all the hoopla around the campaign for Seattle’s new proposed park taxing district, aka Proposition 1, for a Metropolitan Park District (MPD)? Sounds good, looks good but…

We should all vote no on the Aug. 5 MPD Park Proposition ballot. Since when does good government follow the “end justifies the means” philosophy? How clever of the designers of this putsch to use our love of parks to camouflage a power grab for tax funds removed forever from public control. They have even succeeded in rushing it to a vote in the August primary when there are fewer voters. The huge, expensive mailing last week shows how much they want their hands on this new source of money. Voters are so inconvenient! If we are allowed to vote for real park levies with strings attached and public accountability that is too troublesome. The City Council wants to put that to an end once and for all. They are presenting us with a permanent taxing district without the machinery for public control.

The supporters of Prop. 1 seem surprised to see opposition that has been in the works for two years (although quietly). Especially since they know that we never turn down park levies. In city hall conversations, they speak of “when the MPD passes” not “if.” Now that people have looked carefully at the implications and opposition is beginning to organize, their tactic is to paint them as another “Tea Party” effort. In fact those in opposition are park volunteers who give generously of their time and energy and consider themselves very progressive; they just want a parks levy with strings attached.

There are rumors that the long-run goal is to get money for a “world class” waterfront park. Another frightening aspect of this passing is that the Parks Department has declared they will be looking for more public-private partnerships for future park development. (Read: more tax dollars ending up in private coffers.)

Let’s all get behind a well-crafted park levy that allows for a balance in maintenance and acquisition in the proper balance and with public accountability.

Sylvia Haven |  Seattle

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