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My ballot - King Rat
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gkr
gkr
My ballot
Initiative measure 960: requiring 2/3 vote to approve tax increases or a vote.
No. Some things need super-majorities to get by. Normal functioning of the government does not.
Referendum measure 67: setting treble damages for unreasonably denying certain insurance claims.
Approved. I'm not sure this is the best thing actually, but we can repeal or modify it if it doesn't work. Right now, there's no penalty if a claim is denied wrongfully. The insurer just pays the claim. Meanwhile the patient is out all the time and expense to force the insurer to pay.
Senate Joint Resolution 8206: 1% rainy day fund
Rejected. I'm in favor of a rainy day fund. I'm not in favor of it being mandated by the state constitution. I'm also not in favor of the kinds of restrictions on it's use. And since it's a constitutional amendment, if it doesn't work as planned it can't be repealed by the legislature.
Senate Joint Resolution 8212: authorizing inmate labor for private companies
Rejected. I don't see a driving need for this.
House Joint Resolution 4204: approval of school levies by majority.
Approved. This eliminates super-majority voting requirements for school levies. Right now not only does a levy require a super-majority, but you have to have beat turnout from previous elections. As I noted above, regular functioning of the government shouldn't be by super-majority. Now, if we could get this to be applied to all levies.
House Joint Resolution 4215: allowing investment of higher education permanent funds
Approved. Not that it will necessarily make the universities a lot of money. I think adequate safeguards against gambling can be written by law or regulation. It's not necessary to tie the hands via the constitution as currently written.
King County Initiative 25: electing the director of elections
No. This doesn't make the director of elections elected. This merely puts another item on the ballot next year to make the director of elections an elected position. I'm generally in favor of manager positions like this being appointed. It allows such things as an executive search with multiple candidates.
King County Proposition No. 1: renewal of Medic One property tax levy
Approved. Medic One. 'Nuff said.
King County Prosecuting Attorney
Bill Sherman. Both have experience. Dan Satterberg though voted to approve Laurie Sotelo's illegitimate challenges to voters.
King County Assessor
Scott Noble. He's the incumbent, and I haven't heard of him. That's what you want in an incumbent assessor.
King County Council District No. 4
No vote. I don't vote when someone is running unopposed, unless I'm putting in a write-in for some reason.
Port of Seattle Commissioner Position No. 2
Gael Tarleton.
Port of Seattle Commissioner Position No. 5
Alec Fisken.
Sound Transit and RTID Proposition No. 1
No. I'm torn here. Ultimately though, I think there's too much emphasis on roads in the package. If that money was spent to repair roads rather than build new ones, perhaps. Also, I'm not a big fan of extending light rail into rural areas since I think that encourages sprawl. It ought to be spread through existing urban locations to encourage even greater density. Places like Ballard, West Seattle, or an I-5 route. Even Bellevue. But not I-90 generally.
Seattle City Council Position No. 1
Jean Godden. She's turned out to be a decent councilperson.
Seattle City Council Position No. 5
No vote. Tom Rasmussen is unopposed.
Seattle City Council Position No. 3
Venus Velázquez. Don't know much about either candidate. I like Peter Steinbrueck (the outgoing councilperson) and he's endorsed Velázquez.
Seattle City Council Position No. 7
Tim Burgess. Burgess is somewhat of an opportunist, disavowing some of his previous work with right-wing causes now that the wind is blowing liberal again. I've met him and he's pretty smart. And really, the opportunity to do a lot of right-wing damage (should he turn out to be a stalking horse) is pretty limited as a councilperson. Meanwhile he'll be the type that gets into the nitty-gritty of city business.
Seattle City Council Position No. 9
Sally Clark. Haven't really seen a lot out of Clark, but Fenton is a right-wing gadfly who is running on public morals and says little about day to day things.
Seattle Charter Amendment 17: adds a preamble to the city charter
I don't care.
Seattle Charter Amendment 18: the mayor's state of the city address
Yes. This is mostly a pissing match between Mayor Nickels and the City Council. He did his state of the city address to some other group and they got peeved that the official audience (them) didn't get it in person. I don't care that much, but it probably should be given to the council at least.
Seattle School District Position No. 1
Peter Maier.
Seattle School District Position No. 2
Darlene Flynn.
Seattle School District Position No. 3
Harium Martin-Morris.
Seattle School District Position No. 6
Steve Sundquist.

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Comments
nplusm From: nplusm Date: November 6th, 2007 07:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Seattle Charter Amendment 17: adds a preamble to the city charter
I don't care.


I think we should reject this. A constitution is a legally binding document, and a preamble only adds confusion to the direction of the articles.

gkr From: gkr Date: November 6th, 2007 08:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the courts can handle that okay. Still don't think it matters.
nplusm From: nplusm Date: November 6th, 2007 08:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I also strongly disagree with you on the school levies. This is not a question of normally functioning government. This is a question of populace mandate, since the normally functioning government can't enact levies.

With the 60% supermajority, 98% of school levies pass. What is the reason for bringing it to a simple majority? Basically, it's based around creating less of a voice for a minority opinion. It's a way of shutting people up who don't go with majority opinion.

Let's be clear, it's not like the 60% supermajority is tough to obtain...again 98% of school levies pass. The reason we have the 60% supermajority in the first place was due to the fact that most polling places out of the city take place at schools, and thus there is a greater turnout of parents and teachers at polling places. The supermajority is there to provide a check against the questionable conflict of interest of voting for a school tax on school grounds.
gkr From: gkr Date: November 6th, 2007 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's normal functioning of the government when you are dealing with raising money for normal government functions.

I'm okay with super-majorities for things like enacting new rights, or eliminating existing ones, or for changing the allowed functions of government (say, for instance, adding schools or lotteries). Though even then, I'm not particularly inclined toward it. Super-majorities too often lead to NIMBY-ism obstinacy on the part of do-nothing folks who want to hold up things that other people want and need.
nplusm From: nplusm Date: November 6th, 2007 08:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Super-majorities too often lead to NIMBY-ism obstinacy on the part of do-nothing folks who want to hold up things that other people want and need.

That's a really harsh statement...especially when talking about a 60% supermajority. However, something like a levy is taking away something, it's taking away somebody's money. If a minority is trying to maintain their rights and liberties in the face of a majority, calling it "NIMBY-is obstinacy" is cruel and demeaning.

Furthermore, the legal ramifications of using a simple majority to nullify a supermajority statute is ethically repugnant, and legally suspect. You can see it specifically in this case. A majority wants to increase their power by removing the supermajority requirement.

Finally, consider this. Almost all school levies pass...with the supermajority. less than 1 in 50 fail. Why is this needed?

Well, I'm no fortune teller, but I'm guessing because the amount of levies and cash requested in levies is about to go up...significantly, and the people who benefit from it are endeavoring to pave the way.
gkr From: gkr Date: November 6th, 2007 09:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm hoping that the cash request in the levies goes up! The people who benefit, students, need it! Do you think any of the school districts are overfunded? Please point me to one.
nplusm From: nplusm Date: November 6th, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't point you to a single overfunded school district.

I also can't point you to a single school district that has met the requirements mandated by previous levies. The management of the schools is much like the management of foreign aid. There is a regular request for more money...and they almost always pass...and then there is another request for more money...it passes...then another...it passes. All the while, the schools are getting worse and worse. Do you really believe that eventually we'll hit the magic number, using this process, of enough money. In 1999 the amount paid per student was 6400. In 2006, we spent 10,100 dollars per student. That's an increase of just over 57% in 7 years. That's about 7% a year, which means, about twice the speed of inflation.


What they never seem to offer is....we need this much. It's always just, we need more, with no end in sight. It's ridiculous, and lends itself to endemic corruption and misuse of funds. Which in turn, results in people dismissing schools as useless, fundamentally flawed, and overbloated.

You want to fund schools indiscriminately...that's your choice.

I'd rather improve our schools...not just give them money.
gkr From: gkr Date: November 6th, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great! What do you suggest we do to improve the schools (with less money)? Pick a particular school district if you like. I know the Seattle School District best, and can discuss that best. But if you know another better, I'd be happy to go learn myself that one.
nplusm From: nplusm Date: November 6th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
The first thing to do is allow for end of districting within a county and establish waiting lists for schools that are overselected, much like they did in Harlem during their great educational reform.

The second thing is to define the OT roles of special needs children that fall into the "low functional" category into a single school.

I have more...
gkr From: gkr Date: November 7th, 2007 12:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd work on consolidating schools, at least within urban areas. High school's ain't so bad in Seattle, but the other schools need to be pruned. I'm all in favor of smaller class sizes. I'm not in favor of small schools. In Seattle, too many folks want their neighborhood school.

I'd also end social promotion.

I'd also set policies that discourage cheating by schools on standardized tests. I know Seattle Schools drops failing students from their WASL averages, for instance.

I do know which school board candidates are at least going to be evaluating the first item. I think the second one is too big a political change for anyone to really want to consider it, even if it's a good idea. No one wants to touch the third one simply because there's a disincentive to tell the truth.

Anyway, my point is, that the best way to get the costs in line is to elect school board members that set the low-cost and/or educational priorities in line with what people want. Lotta folks don't want to think about these things and don't want to bother electing people who will think about these things. They just want to carp from the sidelines about how much everything costs. Putting a 60% super-majority requirement in effect gives minority rule to that 40%. If the 40% were coming up with better ideas and they were worthwhile, I think they would be convincing another 10% they were better. But I don't see it. I never really see debate on the board candidates. I see debate centered around it (the amorphous it) costing too much. If I ever saw that debate focus on specific costs and programs that cost too much, I'd be much more amenable to allowing a super-majority. Without that, it's just minority rule, rather than protection of a minority.
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