introduction: Video transcript available upon request.
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I recently mailed a newsletter to residents of District 1 that discusses some of the important issues addressed this year by the Council. You can read it here.
Keeping you updated in 2010
To help address the County’s budget challenges, the Council cut its own budget by about 13 percent. As a result, I will be mailing fewer print newsletters. It is important to me to stay in touch, however, and the following are several ways I plan to keep you updated in the coming year:
Monthly eNews – I will continue to send my monthly electronic newsletters. With over 10,000 subscribers, it is an inexpensive way to keep in touch. If you think someone would be interested in receiving my eNews, please let them know they can sign up by emailing email@example.com with “subscribe” in the subject line.
New Council Chair
Last month, I became Chair of the King County Council following Dow Constantine taking office as the new King County Executive. There are a number of important issues before the Council, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and serving the people of King County in my new role.
Last year, the County and the Port of Seattle reached an agreement to bring the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Eastside Corridor into public ownership, with options for both a public trail and a rail line preserved. Securing public ownership of the corridor is a rare opportunity that we cannot miss. You can read an op-ed I wrote last year with Councilmember Phillips about the importance of bringing the corridor into public ownership here.
Under the 2008 agreement, the Port was to acquire the 42-mile corridor, and the County would purchase a 26-mile easement running from Renton to Woodinville. However, due to poor economic conditions, the Port was forced to delay the purchase.
To make sure the corridor ends up in public hands, the Council recently appropriated $26 million of funding dedicated for purchasing open space or resource lands such as greenbelts, wildlife habitat, and trails. Under state law, these funds cannot be used to supplement the County’s financially strapped general fund.
The Council’s action preserves the dual-use option of the corridor for trail and rail users alike. Most importantly, it was an important step in realizing public ownership of the corridor, which will be a major regional asset that will get our region moving and families into the great outdoors now and for future generations. Read more.
This year, I have been working with Judge Hilyer of Superior Court and others to make progress on plans for replacing the dilapidated King County Youth Services Center. Since May, I held extensive briefings in the Committee of the Whole about various options for a new facility.
The Youth Services Center is used for legal matters involving children, such as juvenile delinquency hearings and child abuse cases. The Center is in a serious state of disrepair. With about $20 million worth of deferred maintenance projects, the current building is inadequate for employees and the kids that must use the Youth Services Center. In addition, it is incapable of meeting the growing juvenile and family law needs in King County.
The Council recently approved legislation that will enable the majority of legal issues involving children to be co-located in a new facility. To accommodate the co-location and increasing caseloads, the existing 7 courtrooms at the Youth Services Center will be replaced with 15 by 2015, and 2 more will be added for growth in 2022. Preliminary cost estimates are about $140 million, but the legislation also calls for the Executive, in coordination with Superior Court, to look at options on how to reduce costs. A report on these options is due in early 2010. Read More.
Filling the vacancy in District 8
With Dow Constantine becoming King County Executive, the Council faces the important task of appointing a representative to replace him on the Council. I am very interested in the Council making a timely appointment, so that the residents of District 8 have representation on the Council. Unfortunately, at our last meeting of the year, we were unable to reach agreement on an appointee. The Council will be revisiting this issue on January 4.
40th anniversary of the King County Charter
Earlier this month, the Council recognized the 40th anniversary of the King County Charter, which is the “constitution” of King County. In 1969, when the voter-approved charter took effect, King County made history by becoming the first county in Washington to operate under a “home rule” charter. The Charter brought sweeping changes to King County, and it was great to honor those who made our modern county government possible.
You can read more about the history of the King County Charter and the effort to reform King County government here.
King County supports World Cup bid
In November, the Council unanimously adopted a motion I sponsored supporting Seattle’s bid to host the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup. Seattle is one of 27 cities in the U.S. competing to be a host city. Like many others in the region, I enjoy both playing and watching soccer, and hosting the event would bring numerous cultural and economic benefits to the region. Read more.
To lend your support for Seattle's candidacy to be selected for the U.S. World Cup Bid, you can sign the petition by visiting www.gousabid.com/seattle.
Bobís bus books
I take the bus to work and enjoy reading during my commute. With 21-month-old twins, my reading at home has been more focused on Dr. Seuss and Goodnight Moon.
This month, I am starting a new section in my eNews to share what I have been reading on my bus commutes. A few of the books I have enjoyed in the past few months are:
The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig – Doig is a Shoreline resident and was nominated for the National Book Award for This House of Sky.