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July 2004 - Issue No. 4
City Hall perspectives from Councilmember Tom Rasmussen

Welcome to the July edition of Point of View.

This month's newsletter provides an update on two major issues on the Council's agenda this year - the monorail and the Families and Education Levy and two other topics. Also, I want to let you know where I'll be in the community later this month.

I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on Point of View and any other questions or comments you may have. You can contact me by calling (206) 684-8808 or by e-mail by clicking here. Point of View subscription and removal instructions can be found at the end of the newsletter.

It is an honor to represent you and I look forward to working with you. I hope you are enjoying this beautiful summer!

Warm regards,

Tom Rasmussen
Seattle City Councilmember
Chair, Housing, Human Services and Health Committee
http://www.cityofseattle.net/council/rasmussen

In this issue:

  • Moving forward on the Monorail
  • Crafting a responsible Families and Education Levy
  • Seattle will not tolerate hate crimes
  • Legislative Update: Multi-family Tax Exemption Program
  • Working in the Neighborhoods

    Moving forward on the Monorail

    Last Monday, my colleagues and I voted unanimously to approve an agreement between the City and the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) to allow the future monorail system to be built on city streets. The legislation, known as the "transit-way agreement," outlines a set of mitigation responsibilities, design requirements, and development parameters intended to ensure that the system is built with the interests of all of Seattle's residents in mind. To view the transit-way agreement, click here.

    Several key provisions were adopted, including an amendment that I proposed to require the Seattle Monorail Project to convene a community advisory committee on disability access. It is extremely important that during the design process of the monorail, there be adequate attention placed on the needs of people with disabilities.

    Other key components of the transit-way agreement include:

  • $5 million in dedicated funding over the next five years for community benefits including     improvements to areas in Pioneer Square, Ballard and south downtown;
  • Requiring that the monorail guideway be kept free of graffiti, posters, and handbills;
  • Requiring that there be no net-loss of tree canopy due to monorail construction; and
  • A commitment to develop a marketing and business assistance program to mitigate     construction impacts on local businesses along the Green Line.

    Given the importance of the long-term financial viability of the Seattle Monorail Project, the Council adopted a resolution outlining our intention to commission an independent financial review of the construction and operation of the Monorail Transit System. I strongly support this approach because it establishes a threshold for financial viability and review prior to the issuance of any City project construction permits for the monorail. This financial review will provide a degree of accountability that Seattle's taxpayers expect from its City Council. If you would like to review the key provisions the City Council has included as part of this financial review, click here.

    I know that many of you have been very involved in reviewing and commenting on the monorail. During the past three months I have devoted hundreds of hours to the monorail. I met with numerous community groups and individuals to hear their concerns and recommendations on the future transit system. I opposed sending the monorail through the Seattle Center. In some cases the monorail was proposed to be as close as nine feet from people's homes and businesses. I was successful in persuading the Council to increase that distance along some parts of the route. On balance, the changes and conditions the Council has required of the Monorail will result in a better system. I am grateful for the time many of you invested to improve this project.

    If you have any questions about the monorail, please call me at (206) 684-8808.

    Return to Index

    Crafting a responsible Families and Education Levy

    Since late April, the City Council has considered the components to include in the 2004 Families and Education Levy. The current levy expires at the end of this year and the Mayor proposed a new levy for renewal that prioritizes academic achievement.

    My conclusion is that the Mayor's emphasis on academic achievement and accountability is a responsible approach. It is important for the City to identify how it can make a meaningful difference with limited resources. Focusing on the academic needs and support services for students who are underachieving and at risk of failure is where the levy can deliver real, tangible outcomes.

    However, I also felt that the Mayor's proposal made some significant funding reductions that would lead to negative impacts on existing programs. There were four proposals in the Mayor's levy that I opposed:

  • Reduced funding for student health services including health clinics and school nurses;
  • Reduced funding for family support workers who help families access resources to meet basic     needs such as food, clothing and housing;
  • Elimination of funding for middle school support programs which provide case management     for at-risk youth, counseling and truancy/drop-out prevention activities;
  • Elimination of funding for the Family Partnership Program which helps integrate family     involvement into the school-based educational goals and network.

    I worked with my colleagues to craft a new levy package that restored some funding in each of these program areas. The final package is $116 million over the course of 7-years at an average cost of $65/year in property taxes for homeowners. The entire Council demonstrated responsible constraint in maintaining a financially viable levy package that would meet our community goals and objectives.

    This summer and fall I will work to help voters understand the importance of continuing this public investment in Seattle's families and children. I want to thank the hundreds of people who testified and shared with me their thoughts and priorities about this issue. To learn more about the Families and Education Levy call me at (206) 684-8808.

    Return to Index

    Seattle will not tolerate hate crimes

    As you may have heard from media reports, a gay man was viciously beaten and severely injured on Saturday night, June 26th. This assault, which occurred on Gay Pride weekend, was an attack on all of us. We must stand up against violence. Hate will not be tolerated in our city.

    The Seattle Police have been working diligently on this case and have been investigating this assault as a hate crime. Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske joined me in speaking on Sunday at a rally at Westlake Center to support Mr. Micah Painter who was assaulted. The Chief has assured me that hate crimes are a priority for the police department. I have also assured Micah that I will do all that I can to insure that his attackers are brought to justice.

    I am monitoring this case closely and will continue to receive updates from the police department as new information emerges.

    Return to Index

    Legislative Update: Multi-family Tax Exemption Program

    In March, the City Council renewed the Multi-family Tax Exemption program with a number of changes that I proposed. The program offers a tax exemption in exchange for the development of affordable housing in distressed neighborhoods and areas targeted for growth in the city. On Monday, the first project to qualify under the new program was approved by the City Council.

    Housing Resources Group, a non-profit affordable housing developer, is developing 16 new two and three bedroom apartments in the Judkins Park community. Eight units are affordable at or below 30% of median income, four units at 50% and 4 units at 65% of median. Four of the units will serve families with a member who is living with AIDS. I am very pleased that the Multi-family Tax Exemption program helped this project become financially feasible. Our city needs more affordable housing and I will work to stimulate affordable housing development. Two additional projects will come to the Council for approval later this month. I am confident we will continue to see the Multi-family Tax Exemption program stimulate the development of affordable housing in our community.

    Return to Index

    Working in the Neighborhoods

    The most enjoyable part of each day is attending community events and meetings. I enjoy the opportunity to visit and see first hand the important work taking place in our neighborhoods. I hope to see you at one of these or future events.

  • Wednesday, July 14 at 6:00 p.m. - 34th District Democrats Picnic at Lincoln Park

  • Sunday, July 25 at 7:00 p.m. - Chinatown/International District Seafair Parade

  • Wednesday, July 28 at 5:30 p.m. - Greenwood Seafair Parade

  • Wednesday, July 28 at 7:00 p.m. - Maple Leaf Community Council Summer Social at Maple     Leaf Park at NE 82nd and Roosevelt Way NE

  • Thursday, July 29, 8:30 p.m. - Operation Night Watch dispatch and shelter tour beginning at     302 14th Avenue South

  • Thursday, August 5, 10:30 a.m. - Tour and observation of the Summer Sack Lunch program     at the Alaska Building, 624Second Avenue

    Please contact my office if you have any questions about these events or would like more information about where I will be in the community in the coming weeks.

    Return to Index

    If this edition of Point of View was shared with you and you would like to be added to our distribution list, please send an e-mail to me by clicking here. If you would like to be removed from the distribution list, please send an e-mail to me by clicking here. Other questions or comments about Point of View? Please call (206) 684-8808.

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