So What Do City Council Candidates Think?

Denise Gonzalez-Walker's PI blog had some Q&A with a couple of City Council candidates (I'm sure she asked all of them and I wish they had answered) about Seattle schools. I particularly liked Jean Godden's answer that the Board needs to be paid more and have some staff beyond the basics.

If you've never attended a joint City Council/School Board meeting, well, they are interesting. Hardly any public attends (it's a great place to say something to both parties if you have something you want brought to two governing bodies' attention). It's sort of like distant relatives all sitting around the dinner table, after dinner, trying to be polite.

Not that there's bad blood but I'm not sure they know what to do with each other or whether the Board has the right to ask the Council for help or if the Council feels they can really do anything. It would be great to have more of a relationship between the two.

On the other hand, there's Mayor Nickels who, just a few short months ago, had lots to say about the Board and picking a superintendent. Now, strangely silent. There was a brief article on this issue in the Times in Emily Heffter's reporter's notebook on the races.

"Now, two candidates say they've been endorsed by Nickels: Peter Maier — who is challenging incumbent Sally Soriano — and Sherry Carr — who is running against incumbent Darlene Flynn. Beyond that, his input has been absent from the campaign; he hasn't even endorsed in District 6, which covers his own neighborhood of West Seattle.

I called Nickels' spokesman, Marty McOmber, to see why the mayor hasn't been involved, and he declined to comment, saying that ethics rules prohibited him from discussing the mayor's political activities.

Could McOmber at least confirm for me that the mayor has endorsed Maier and Carr? He said he could, but I'm still waiting to hear from him."


Charlie Mas said…
The Mayor is not a positive for Seattle Public Schools. He mostly just gets in the way.

He came out in opposition to a levy for schools. He actually wrote the Voter's Guide blurb in opposition. In it, he wrote that if we raise money for schools locally, that sends the signal to Olympia that they don't need to increase their funding like they should, so they don't. He went on about how it is the State's job to fund schools. So what does that mean? That we allow our schools to go underfunded and our children to suffer in the name of a turf war between state and local government?

Following this wretched line of reasoning, we shouldn't do any local fundraising for schools because it sends the wrong message to Olympia. No E & O levy, no capital levies, no PTA fundraising, no public/private partnerships, no nothing.

He went on about how the District has been irresponsible with money (no specifics provided) and how it would be a bad idea to give them any more. Like that will encourage funding from Olympia.

He then stank up the local press with talk about short-circuiting the Superintendent search process and just making Norm Rice the Superintendent - despite the fact that Mr. Rice has few, if any, of the necessary qualifications.

Of course, he was ready to move in exactly the opposite direction a few months later when his name appeared as a co-chair for the Operations and Education Levy campaign. In this role he did... absolutely nothing.

If the Mayor can't contribute anything constructive - and I've yet to see anything constructive from him - he should just shut up and stay out of school issues.
Anonymous said…
Wow - what year did he write the opposing view in the Voter's Guide? That's really irresponsible.
Charlie Mas said…
It was in 2006. The vote was for Initiative 88. According to the description in the voter's pamphlet:

"Initiative 88 asks Seattle voters to authorize an increase in the regular property taxes that the City could levy for a six-year period beginning in 2007. The additional money authorized by this initiative could be used only for certain educational purposes."

Hizzoner the Mayor wrote:

"The Seattle School District already has huge financial problems, and cannot even pay for current services. It is on the
path to bankruptcy.

"This initiative
asks Seattle homeowners to pay more, instead of asking the
state to fulfill its duty. Governor Gregoire’s state task force, Washington Learns, is about to make recommendations on education funding across the state. Voting for this initiative
will send a message to the state that we don’t need more money and will hurt our chances of getting more.

As we now know, the Governor's task force punted on their primary duty and made no recommendations on funding.

"If you care about low-income children having equal access to education no matter where they live, then you should oppose I-88. It creates a loophole in the state law for the Seattle School District to tax homeowners more than other districts can tax. This goes against the spirit of our state’s strict education funding laws that make sure all children have the same access to quality education."

If they oppose Initiative 88 on this basis, then they would also oppose inequitable PTA fundraising efforts, wouldn't they?

"We support this existing
tax [the E and O levy], but strongly oppose I-88. It is just too much.

All of these arguments are equally applicable to the E & O levy. So if they support that, it would be a violation of all of these same principles. He wrote that I-88 was too much funding for schools. How much is too much?

Here's a link: voter's pamphlet
Anonymous said…
If the NEWS lawsuit is successful, things will change greatly. Otherwise things will be pretty much the same.

The 50% majority Advertising makes it look like this will greatly improve things throughout the state. It will change nothing in Seattle we currently generate about 25% of M&O from our levy - when you make it easier to pass that changes very little.
Anonymous said…
Correct, dan dempsey - but much of the point of working to pass it in Seattle was to benefit the many smaller districts who have a much harder time passing levies, even on the second go. I believe the thinking was that it would engender some goodwill from non-Seattle legislators.

Aside from the fact that it's the right thing to do.

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