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    The Daily Troll: Council tackles transit taxes. Effort for a downtown school heats up. JBLM may house refugee kids.

    Banned in Edmonds schools: Birthday sweets. The Seattle City Council sends two preschool measures to voters.
    The Daily Troll: News for your evening commute.

    The Daily Troll: News for your evening commute. Art work by Noel Franklin

    Kids, no more birthday cupcakes

    4:10 p.m. Edmonds School District’s Wellness Committee has banned parents bringing edible treats to school for sharing at birthday parties. The Herald reports that the sacking of sweets was inspired by a federal Wellness Policy, which requires schools participating in federal child-nutrition programs to monitor the healthfulness of unregulated items, including food sold through vending machines or student-run stores. Edmonds decided to take the policy one step further — federal policy doesn’t apply to food freebies.

    Classroom birthday parties pose a problem that’s far from short and sweet — “we’re not just talking about one cupcake a year, we’re talking about 25 cupcakes a year,” said DJ Jakala, spokeswoman for Edmonds School District. Kids will be able to receive gift pencils, origami frogs or even extra recess time — but, at last check, more than 83 percent of those voting in an unscientific poll were telling The Herald that’s not enough for the children to chew on. — E.W. 

    Seattle looking at transit tax options

    City Council members met Tuesday to begin discussing Mayor Ed Murray's plan to raise revenue for protecting bus service. The mayor's proposal aims to generate about $45 million annually through a $60 vehicle license fee for Seattle residents and a 0.1 percent city sales tax. The money would pay for bus service that is slated to be cut due to a shortfall in King County Metro Transit’s budget.

    Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant have proposed eliminating the sales tax portion of the plan. As an alternative revenue source they have recommended an increase in the commercial parking tax from the current 12.5 percent to 17.5 percent, and a "head tax" on businesses of up $18 annually for each employee.

    “The sales tax is not a stable revenue source," Licata said during Tuesday's meeting, in which the council was sitting as the governing board of the special-purpose Seattle Transportation Benefit District. Licata and Sawant also say their proposal would lessen the financial burden of the bus revenue plan on low-income Seattleites.

    But Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the benefit district, said that he has heard significant concerns from colleges, universities and hospitals about the parking tax. He specifically noted the University of Washington. Sawant didn't buy it. "They could easily absorb the commercial parking tax," she said, referring to UW. Mike O'Brien suggested that staffers look into whether it would be possible to eliminate the head tax from the Licata-Sawant proposal and make up the difference with a higher parking tax rate. Sawant said the idea did not seem viable. The benefit district will have until Aug. 5 to refer the proposal to voters for the fall election. —  B.L.

    Pushing for a downtown school

    Downtown Seattle Association, Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle’s proposal to turn the old Federal Reserve Building in Seattle into a public school has moved into a higher gear. The federal Department of Health and Human Services recently turned down Compass Housing Alliance’s proposal to turn the downtown Federal Reserve Bank Building into a homeless shelter and center, due to inadequate financial resources, according to a letter from the Department of Health & Human Services. (Compass has not returned a call for comment.) Even though the July 3 application deadline is rapidly approaching, Downtown Seattle Association Vice President of Advocacy & Economic Development Jon Scholes said the process is running smoothly. “We have a good shot,” Scholes said, adding that high utilization of the 90,000 square-foot building — which could serve about 660 students — is one of the proposal’s strengths. – E.W.

    JBLM may shelter detained immigrant children

    Joint Base Lewis-McChord could become an emergency home for some of the thousands of undocumented children flowing from Central America. The Olympian reports that Gov. Jay Inslee has been communicating with the Defense Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about using JBLM as a temporary holding place for the children before deporting them to their countries of origin.

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    Posted Tue, Jun 24, 6:28 p.m. Inappropriate

    Apropos Joint Base Lewis-McChord: I wonder how many of these imprisoned kids will be "encouraged" to enlist in the imperial war machine?

    (Child recruitment age is 17-18. Given the skyrocketing unpopularity of the empire's wars, maybe that's the reason the Defense Department is interested in providing transit camps for child deportees.)

    Posted Wed, Jun 25, 9:07 a.m. Inappropriate

    "Imperial war machine"? What a degrading, insulting comment toward our men and women in uniform and all those who have previously served by a no doubt "progressive" socialist who thinks (actually thinking may be stretching it) that his/her right to write those words is protected by marijuana-laced brownies and people sitting around in a drum circle.

    Posted Thu, Jun 26, 7:31 p.m. Inappropriate

    Just for the record, Mr. King, I was part of the imperial war machine myself: Regular Army enlistment, active duty 1959-1962, overseas service in Republic of Korea, extended there by the Berlin Crisis of 1961, ETS September '62, honorable discharge from reserves in 1965. In those days we crossed the seas on troop transports: for me it was the USS Mann en route, the USNS Sultan returning.

    Had you been amongst those of us who served – which I doubt – surely you would know soldiers are not insulted by truth. You would also know that honor is ultimately a personal matter – which is why, after the guns fall silent and the scalding venom of war has cooled and dried to dust, we recognize there was honor not only amongst ourselves but amongst our enemies as well.

    The rest of your profiling is dead wrong too – laughably so in fact. I neither eat pot brownies nor attend drum circles, and – as I have all my life – I recognize the Second Amendment as intended for the ultimate defense of our Constitution.

    But that does not change the fact the dear and promising nation from which I enlisted no longer exists.

    A nation that was notably democratic if one were white (as indeed I am), but which ranged from not-so-democratic to openly tyrannical if one were a person of color – it was promising precisely because it shone with the potential of extending its radical notions of representative democracy at least to all its citizens and perhaps even to the world.

    Then it was dealt a fatal wound on 22 November 1963. After that, it convulsed and twitched through its death-throes during a decade of political murders (Malcolm X; Martin Luther King Jr.; Sen.Robert Kennedy [the last man who could have saved us from ourselves]; Fred Hampton; the dead and permanently crippled at Kent State University and Jackson State College, etc. ad nauseam.

    Since then, the ruling cabal of plutocrats and politicians has reduced us to irremediable wretchedness. We the people are powerless. Debt-slavery, foreclosure, eviction, inescapable poverty and homelessness have become our defining economic realities. The Constitution I swore to defend has been deliberately nullified. Its Bill of Rights has been maliciously repealed by the ironically named Patriot Act and the 2012 National Defense Appropriations Act. And now the socioeconomic and political tyrannies that formerly defined the lives of its people of color define the conditions endured by nearly all of us.

    A working journalist since my 16th year (1956), I was a general-assignment reporter the day President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered, and more than once I had to wipe the tears from my eyes as I hammered out my assigned segments of our local reaction story and updated them for our extras.

    During the years that followed, I watched with horror while the events that followed, “as the night the day,” confirmed our darkest suspicions of what had obtained in that most mournfully infamous moment. (JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters”; James E. Douglass, Orbis Books: 2008, presents an incisive analysis of our post-Kennedy history that proves beyond any scintilla of doubt the assassination was indeed a coup.)

    Now, because I do so knowing I live in a realm in which the Bill of Rights exists only on paper, I feel a twinge of fear every time I write of the “imperial war machine” or dare state any other political truth. I know that in the new post-constitutional United States – our homeland ruled by the Ayn Rand moral imbecility of capitalist governance (absolute power and unlimited profit for the aristocracy; total subjugation for all the rest of us) – I (or anyone else) can now be disappeared or murdered at the government's whim. (If you doubt this, you are either ignorant or in psycho-neurotic denial.)

    But I don't really care. I am 74 years old and increasingly crippled by ever-more-painful osteoarthritis. Given how our nation has been stolen from us – given how its thieves have made it the most relentless predator on our terminally sickened planet – my one remaining hope is I will be dead before these robber-baron plutocrats complete their unspeakably evil, 80-year scheme of global imperialism: the whole world an electronically overseen slave-plantation, its master the de facto Fourth Reich.

    Posted Sat, Jun 28, 10:29 p.m. Inappropriate

    @lorenbliss, could you boil that down to 25 words or less? Thank you.


    Posted Tue, Jun 24, 7:06 p.m. Inappropriate

    Edmonds School District is nutso on the cupcake thingy.

    First, school should be about edumacation, not birthday parties.

    Moochelle is all concerned about fitness, as am I, so how about letting them run around the track a few times for birthday parties, rain or shine.

    That beats 25 cupcakes. Oh, BTW, I ate 25 cupcakes as a child per year, and I turned out OK>

    C'mon, Edmonds (my school district) Start paying attention to what matters, and get the heck out of my family and my house.

    The Geezer has spaketh.


    Posted Wed, Jun 25, 10:37 a.m. Inappropriate

    Hey, Sawant, the UW isn't going to absorb anything. Neither are any other Seattle employers or businesses. They are just going to pass those costs directly on to their students, their employees or their customers. You do understand at least that much about capitalism, don't you? How can you be so cavalier about raising the costs of going to school for so many students? Don't they have enough debt as it is?


    Posted Wed, Jun 25, 11:02 a.m. Inappropriate

    Right. She should be cavalier about raising sales taxes and car tab taxes like the democrats here are so bent on doing, time after time. Those target the households here with the least economic means for the largest adverse financial impacts. That's the tack Ed Murray, Frank Chopp and Dow Constantine always take -- you think Sawant should follow their lead, right?


    Posted Wed, Jun 25, 12:39 p.m. Inappropriate

    No, not at all. I think that the $2 billion in local taxes that we currently spend every year on public transportation should be enough to provide the services we have. There are some big inefficiencies in the way that service is delivered that I think can be streamlined or modified. There are 33,000 park and ride spaces. We can charge $1 a day and make up to $8.5 million a year. Make it $2 a day and we're reducing Metro's deficit by up to $17 million a year.

    There are other options than to immediately try to figure out which method of raising taxes is the best.


    Posted Wed, Jun 25, 3:42 p.m. Inappropriate

    You are thinking along the right lines. I'll add to your suggestions.

    Obviously a massive level of bus service can be retained around here without hiking regressive taxes even further.

    Some of Metro's service hours could be cut with minimal impact. For example, routes could be changed so that several hundred people living out by North Bend and on the Issaquah plateau would need to make a single transfer, as opposed to getting a direct ride to downtown Seattle. Cutting other little-used routes could be done. That’s all a 10% service-hour reduction would entail if it is done right.

    Sound Transit also could do what it did in Pierce County for Pierce Transit two years ago: pick up some Metro bus routes. Sound Transit has a massive surplus in the East King subarea because of its excessive regressive taxing. It could run more buses.

    Way too much is spent by Metro on the “dial for transit” program, and employers should pay more for the vanpools that benefit them. Those steps would decrease operations costs.

    Metro's bad practice of diverting fully 25% of the revenue from the heavy sales taxes it already imposes to a separate capital budget should stop. Most of that now simply is used to buy investment securities. The peers don’t do that.

    The county could re-direct income from other sources to Metro, without approval from the state legislature. Can anyone find a summary of where in the current biennial budget the county council allocated, say, the investment income it expects to generate? I'll bet none of it goes to Metro. Some of that revenue stream (or other county revenue streams) instead should be allocated to transit.


    Posted Wed, Jun 25, 10:41 p.m. Inappropriate

    "Downtown Seattle Association, Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle’s proposal to turn the old Federal Reserve Building in Seattle into a public school has moved into a higher gear."

    Really? Seattle Schools is going to submit an application? News to me just because Flip Herndon, Facilities Director, was so blah on the idea just weeks ago. And the Superintendent is on his way out. And the City is pushing hard for SPS to be part of their preschool for all program (even as SPS' (under) funded state mandate is K-12).

    Personally, I think it's a good idea just because an opportunity like this just doesn't come around very often. That, and the district would own the building and the land, outright, in 30 years.

    But I am confused that your blurb seems to say the district is working on this. What is the source of this information?


    Posted Sat, Jun 28, 12:56 p.m. Inappropriate

    Transit proposal is first step toward devolving Seattle Transit out of Metro Transit, especially if County support for transit continues to fall while City support rises.

    Seattle (Electric?) Transit could start by taking over the electric trolleybus and streetcar network, with a plan to expand it to all Seattle routes (#1 to #99) within ten years. Adjacent municipalities could join the system by accepting an invitation to become part of Seattle's transit taxing district.

    Seattle needs to take control of its own destiny.

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