Monday, October 19, 2015

Political Desk: A County Amendment and a Proposition

Two items are on my ballot as far as county measures are concerned One is an amendment, changing the county charter, and the other is a proposition to raise the property tax levy.

King County Charter Amendment No.1 Law Enforcement Oversight takes an existing process, the civilian-run Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO), and formalizes it, giving it some real teeth to deal with misconduct in county law-enforcement (this is for the county - local municipalities have their own process, as does the City of Seattle). OLEO was founded back in 2006 after some significant probs in dealing with bad cops, but was soon reduced in effectiveness through collective bargaining with the police guild.

This measure has the support of just about everyone EXCEPT the guild, including the State Attorney General, the Stranger, the Muni League, The Seattle Times, and kinda sorta the county sheriff himself (Chief Urquhart, who has made no bones about cleaning up the department and actually bouncing seven officers for various offences, supports the idea, but notes that any changes will have to be worked out with the guild, which pulled the fangs of the original OLEO). I'm going with YES on this one.

King County Proposition No. 1 Regular Property Tax Levy for Children, Youth, Families, and Communities (Yep, that's a mouthful - it is known as "Best Start" in shorthand) provides funding for a slew of youth-oriented services including healthy pregnancy, crisis prevention, homelessness, as well as renovating juvie hall. This is a nine-year plan that again, mostly everyone supports (if you want a tone-deaf, teeth-grating argument against, the idea, look no further than the voter's guide, where the opposition forces make the case that the money is more needed for more cops to deal with the results of not funding such youth initiatives.).

I'm going with APPROVED on this one, but again with a caveat. This one-at-a-time form of levy building, whether for education, fire halls, EMT protection, parks and the like drills down deep to targets specific needs, but by the same token we (the people, through their representatives) must make sure that we get our money's worth. This is point on which conservative thought should thrive - Not about whether we spend the money (I think we should), but to serve as a sentinel to make sure the money spent has value for the community. A good very recent example are fire stations which were to be renovated as a result of a 2003 levy, and now, twelve years on, are still unfinished and over-budget. That's pretty serious stuff, and will make votes think twice before their wallets again. The standard argument against such increases is always that a cold-hearted declaration that this is a blank check, while the better argument consists of how we're going to hold the costs down and live within the commitment that we are willing to make.

As I said, APPROVED, but I am moving towards a "Trust, but Verify" position. Now if you don't mind I'm going to go chase some darned kids off the lawn.

More later,