MAKING IT WORK
The purpose of this newsletter is to provide information, inspire involvement, and make things work in this great city.
On Monday, January 8, the City Council unanimously elected me as its President for 2008 and 2009. The organizational role of the President is to be the administrative head of the Legislative Department, serve as Mayor when the Mayor is out of town, and lead the Council in setting its agenda and conducting its business.
As President, I also see my role as making sure that the Council fully engages the people of Seattle in our work, and that all Councilmembers have the tools and opportunities they need in order to succeed, individually and collectively, in carrying out the tasks that the voters have entrusted us with.
The people of Seattle expect us to be open and transparent, to communicate with them and with each other, to deliberate and to express different points of view openly and honestly, and to make decisions that exercise our best judgment to keep the City on course for a better future. We will do our best to live up to those expectations.
We have the opportunity to be innovative in creating an urban environment that is a livable and vibrant community for all of our residents. We can build on the foundation of our thriving civic life by providing effective and authentic leadership that is guided by a few clear principles:
- That all of our people and all our many communities belong;
- That diversity is our strength and mutual respect our commitment;
- That every neighborhood counts;
- That we are part of a region that must work together to solve problems and create a common future;
- And that our future will be built on the foundation of the core values of our Comprehensive Plan – economic vitality, environmental stewardship, social justice, and community.
That is the mission that I will undertake as Council President.
At this organizational meeting, newly elected Councilmembers Bruce Harrell and Tim Burgess were sworn in, along with reelected Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen, Sally Clark, and Jean Godden. The Council also approved our new set of Committee responsibilities:
- Special Committee on Budget, Chair Jean Godden
- Culture, Civil Rights, Health and Personnel, Chair Nick Licata
- Committee of the Whole (Special Meetings), Chair varies
- Energy and Technology, Chair Bruce Harrell
- Environment, Emergency Management and Utilities, Chair Richard Conlin
- Finance and Budget, Chair Jean Godden
- Full Council/Council Briefing, Chair Richard Conlin
- Housing, Economic and Development, Chair Richard J. McIver
- Labor Policy, Chair Nick Licata
- Parks and Seattle Center, Chair Tom Rasmussen
- Special Committee on Pedestrian Safety, Co-Chairs Jan Drago, Nick Licata
- Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods, Chair Sally J. Clark
- Public Safety, Human Services and Education, Chair Tim Burgess
- Transportation, Chair Jan Drago
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On Monday, February 4, the Council announced a set of themes and priorities for 2008. We identified these through talking with Councilmembers and Executive Departments to determine what we must do this year – and listening to our residents tell us what we should aspire to achieve. We intend to make progress on all of them in 2008, but these are long-term commitments that we are making to the economic, environmental, and social health of Seattle. The following are the three themes and the thirteen priorities associated with them:
- Foster safe, just, and healthy communities for all
Invest public resources fairly and effectively
- Protect public safety and challenge gang violence by investing in human services and police resources
- Increase affordable housing through incentive zoning and innovative financing
- Take action to improve pedestrian safety
- Keep neighborhoods in the driver’s seat of neighborhood plan updates
- Maintain and enhance our built environment to promote sustainable communities and a strong economy
Build a livable city for our future
- Move forward regional decisions on light rail, the Viaduct, and SR520
- Make the transportation system work by investing Bridging the Gap dollars in transportation choices
- Ensure equal access to technology and pioneer new ways to engage the community through technology
- Take action to maintain a sustainable Seattle City Light, in partnership with its employees, customers, and suppliers
- Find new ways for meaningful public involvement to develop a balanced 2009-2010 budget that meets community needs by spending every dollar wisely
- Ensure that Seattle’s Parks, Seattle Center and the Pike Place Market continue to meet the diverse needs and interests of the people of Seattle
- Implement the Zero Waste Strategy
- Protect the urban forest and plant more trees
The Council also published a list of the several dozen major issues that we will engage with this year. A copy of that list can be found at the Council’s web site.
The Seattle City Council has the opportunity to do great things for the City in 2008. Each major decision carries a huge responsibility because the choices we make now will affect the fundamental nature and economic health of our city for generations to come.
All of our work will be done with the full engagement of the public – and many of our key priorities reference that engagement. Events at the national level have led to cynicism about the possibilities of democratic governance. The best way to inspire confidence in our democratic values and processes is to model transparent and accountable government at the local level, increase people’s access to the process, and follow through on our commitments to the voters.
I sincerely hope that 2008 marks a new era of cooperation not only among Councilmembers, but between the Mayor and the Council. We can not afford to work against each other. We know that we will not always be in agreement – and that Councilmembers will not always be in agreement with each other. However, our responsibility is to the people of Seattle, and, as a Council, we look forward to joining with Mayor Nickels to take care of these important issues.
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2007 YEAR IN REVIEW
The following are the Top Ten achievements for the Conlin office for 2007…
- Developed the Zero Waste Strategy based on work initiated in 2006, worked with the Executive to ensure policy agreement, and secured unanimous passage of the Zero Waste Resolution by City Council. The Zero Waste Strategy commits Seattle to a long-term reduction in the amount of garbage landfilled through new and innovative waste reduction, recycling, and product stewardship strategies.
- Secured the adoption of a new drainage rate design that allocates costs based on actual impacts to the drainage system and emphasizes the benefits of natural drainage. Worked with SPU to validate the science behind the proposal, and amended the proposal to make implementation smoother and to ensure that homeowners can reduce their bills by measures that reduce runoff from their property.
- Protected the Georgetown neighborhood from construction of a planned transfer station by adopting the Zero Waste Strategy that allows the City to accommodate waste at the existing transfer stations and cancel the proposed third transfer station.
- Initiated, wrote and secured passage of a resolution on next steps for the Alaskan Way Viaduct. This legislation called for developing the surface-transit option, creating an effective stakeholder process, and implementing measures to repair and replace the Viaduct in areas outside the Central Waterfront where general agreement exists. It became the basis for the actions of the City and State following failure of the March votes on project alternatives.
- Worked with the community and Zoo Society to resolve conflict over the zoo garage, and initiated a Council request to the Zoo Society to reconsider the project. The Council was obligated by the contract with the Zoo Society to continue to fund the garage. However, when the Hearing Examiner determined that a change in City law would be required to allow construction to proceed, a majority of the Council was already on record as disinclined to take action not required by the agreement.
- Initiated a review of the City’s emergency response to the Winter Storm of 2006 and developed an action work plan for improvements. This plan is now being implemented.
- Secured an agreement with the Mayor to provide for restoration projects on Hamm Creek to make up for damage to wetlands on the Joint Training Facility site.
- Persuaded the Council to add half a million dollars to the 2008 budget for site acquisition and development for P-Patches.
- Persuaded the Council to add half a million dollars to the 2008 budget to fund city-supported human service agencies to develop Continuity of Business Plans for emergency preparedness.
- Worked with the Council to add $3 million in funding for community acquisition of the Phinney Neighborhood Center and University Heights buildings, confirming commitment made in 2006 budget process.
And ten other significant initiatives…
- Secured $145,000 in funding to fill the gaps left in domestic violence programs when a federal grant was not renewed.
- Wrote and secured adoption of amendments incorporating natural drainage and zero waste into the Seattle Comprehensive Plan
- Initiated plan for implementation of the Linden Avenue Main Street, key priority of the Bitter Lake Neighborhood Plan, and persuaded the Council to amend the Capital Improvement Plan to provide funds.
- Initiated a consultant contract to create a framework for Council initiatives on Climate Change, including an emphasis on adaptation strategies. Worked with the Mayor to move the climate change agenda forward.
- Completed the Legislative Department Emergency Response Plan and Continuity of Business Plan, integrating the Legislative Department into the City’s preparedness work.
- Initiated and worked with community stakeholders to develop a resolution on Food Security and Sustainability. This resolution, which lays out a strategy for improving reliance on local food resources and measures that will ensure that food is available in the event of an emergency, will be voted on in the spring of 2008.
- Initiated the Resilient City Strategy, a comprehensive approach to improving preparedness by strengthening the network of community and human service resources. This strategy will be further developed for ultimate adoption and funding in 2008.
- Initiated the Sustainable Single Family Neighborhood legislation to control the development of megahouses. This legislation will be voted on in 2008.
- Initiated and secured the adoption of an ordinance specifying usage policies regarding the Community Notification System for the City of Seattle. The purpose of the ordinance was to ensure that this system will be used only for emergency purposes.
- Worked to protect Georgetown and the City’s economic future during the process of developing new land use policies for industrial lands. Although the amendments to that legislation were not successful, the Council approved an accompanying resolution that requires research and analysis that will likely result in changes to the legislation in the coming year.
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Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
"A ohe pu’u ki eki e ke ho a o ia e pi i" (No cliff is so tall it cannot be scaled)
Citizen participation and engagement are critical for maintaining democracy -- fostering it is a key task of elected
officials. It's my hope that this newsletter will inform you about issues, inspire you to get involved, and that together
we can make things work better in this great city. Please send me your feedback, so we can keep things lively, interesting,
Your Seattle City Councilmember
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