Monday, November 05, 2018

On the Eve of the 2016 Midterm Elections

I will be so happy for tomorrow when we finally learn about the mid-term election outcomes - nationally, by state and by city.  It will tell us all where we are headed as a country.  I hope all my readers took the time to vote.

But, after watching the campaign around Prop 1 unfold, I have a few thoughts.

It feels like editorial boards did quick and sloppy work while the rest of the media came in fairly late.

For example, the Seattle Times and The Stranger both endorsed Prop 1 fairly early.  To the best of my knowledge, they didn't bring in anyone from the against side like someone from the League of Women Voters.   They could have but didn't.

The Times barely covered the issues against, choosing to highlight the growth of Pre-K but not concerns about the program. 

The Stranger had an unfortunate endorsement:
A few"education advocates" worry that too much money—about 52 percent—will go to expanding preschool education. But, as we've seen time and again, investments in high-quality preschool pays off. Boston paved the way with this approach to universal preschool, and, with some refining, the city has come close to eliminating the opportunity gap. 
The city is closing the opportunity gap? Interesting news.  

If they had talked to me, they might have learned that Seattle's pre-k is much more expensive than Boston's.  But they didn't.

(And The Stranger went waaay off the rails in their endorsement of Jesse Salomon in the 32nd over longtime rep, Marilyn Chase.  Chase is a true friend to public education and should be returned to office.)

It sure didn't feel like either editorial board was interested in listening.  Both the Times and The Stranger are entitled to run their editorial boards as they see fit but it sure doesn't help their cred - street or otherwise - when they don't do even cursory homework.

Early on, I contact a huge number of media and told them I was available to talk to them about the issue.  I heard from almost no one except the Seattle Channel (which is ever diligent and does their homework).

The media that did the best job of trying to reach out for both fairness and balance are the Seattle Channel and Crosscut.  I thought Q13 did the best job for tv with KIRO-7 managing to get this ridiculous statement from Mayor Durkan:
“I think the thing that people need to focus on: we have two levies going away, and so the additional increase that people will see for the average house in Seattle is about 9 bucks a month,” said Durkan.
Wait, what? No, you don't have two levies "going away" - you mashed them up into one huge levy.

KOMO tv? Mum's the word.  I couldn't find any coverage of Prop 1.

Who am I most disappointed in? KUOW.  They came in both late and tepidly.  What's weird is that I got interviewed on the topic and then...crickets.  When I asked, then, on the Friday before the election on Tuesday, magically the story appeared.

But they also had an interesting piece with reporter C.R. Douglas and pundit Joni Balter. Douglas opines:
There have been small pilot efforts in each of those areas, and this levy would scale them both to full comprehensive programs, so you would get pretty close to universal pre-K and you get pretty close to universal free community college tuition.
This levy will nowhere get Seattle to free universal pre-K.  It will spend triple the dollars to just double the spaces.

He also said:
The core Families and Education Levy has been around for over 30 years and we still have a persistent achievement gap with low-income and minority kids. We still have a problem with graduation rates. So the big bold promises of the past for this levy have not been fulfilled.
Balter put forth an insight I hadn't heard before:
What bothers me most is the city of Seattle is on this jag to just keep doubling and tripling levies, because they know the voters are so willing to support them. 
For anyone who thinks I'm being harsh, I offer you the Seattle Department of Transportation. Remember the Move Seattle levy? It was a tripling. And after a couple years into it, they come along and they say, “Oh sorry, we didn't really count right. We didn't really estimate right.” They are going a little too far, too fast.
(I will be interested to see not just how many people voted but when they voted.  Is the trend going with early voting or will we see a big surge at the end?)


Anonymous said...

Honest question, is it a typo when you write Durkin instead of Durkan or do you do it on purpose (not first time I notice it)?

Feel free to delete this comment if it was a typo.

Pre K said...

In general, I'm finding publications are doing sloppy work.

I agree with Joani Balter. The city of Seattle HAS gotten into the habit of doubling and tripling their levies. Seattle has now gotten into an awful habit of increasing their levies to almost $1B i.e the $930M transportation levy and the city wants to allow the Magnolia bridge to crumble.

I voted NO on the pre-k levy.

Melissa Westbrook said...

It was a typo; thanks for the catch.

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