LETTER: ‘My knock is on citizens … who do not run for office and don’t vote…’

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Tukwila Blog nor its staff:]

Vote for John Doe for xyz elected office the flyers in our mailboxes say. John Doe is endorsed by Susy and Sam, fire and teachers, et al. One notices a pattern. Most endorsers are professional politicians and City Hall habitués of long standing usually connected with the “Establishment.”

I am not knocking people who run for office; my knock is on citizens of our community who do not run for office and don’t vote. Major measures of Tukwila taxation have been decided by as little as 15% of registered voters. If you want your lives run by professional politicians then you have to accept the consequences of not voting and participating in the election.

People who run your lives will be chosen by Public employee unions, current employees of other agencies, City employees, and lobbyists. Many of your elected officials are employees of another agency and have a conflict of interest preventing voting on issues related to their work.

Let’s see what the election looks like this fall:

We have the Mayor’s job open for our voters to select one from the two running. The choices are two Council Members one of which will drop his seat on the Council when elected.

There are three Council seats up for election for which only one seat is contested. The other seats default to the incumbents. There is a Metropolitan Park District (MPD) proposition to convert Commissioners’ seats to elected ones in place of the ex officio Tukwila Council Members. A yes vote triggers an election of MPD candidates running for the offices.

Let’s pause for a moment to consider consequences of our votes and a little reality about the way the city is run. To Wit:

Perhaps I can write something here that you haven’t thought about and may help you. Consider the following:

City employees are not your friends. Many don’t even live in Tukwila. Tukwila employees are not dependents of ours, or are they welfare subjects, nor are they saviors, or your supervisor. They are not your oligarch, confident, or priest. City employees are those people we hire to do designated work that we have in the city. Our employees are to be treated with respect and dignity accorded to us all. In turn, we are obligated to task them with a description of the work to be done and expect a full measure in return. For that, they earn their living.

City employees may also be friends and neighbors of ours – of course. I hope they are our friends but first they are employees that must discharge their duties apolitically without favor or privilege.

Employees as individuals are different than unions. Unions represent the union and must be dealt with through contracts hammered out by our representatives. This is an adversarial task by necessity to protect us. Can the candidate you are evaluating do that?

Another verity for you to consider is that school districts are Public Municipal Corporations in the same way the city of Tukwila is. Each has its separate section of law to govern by and acquire revenue for its operation. Very often, School Districts share boundaries for taxation congruent with cities and have their own scheme for taxing us. Apart from that, school districts and cities are fundamentally different with different missions. Each must be held to their separate work.

Tukwila should not be in the business of giving away resources necessary to operate the city to any other Municipal Corporation.

Moreover, the city is prohibited by law from making gifts of public revenues derived from taxation. Altruism is reserved to a voluntarily considerate community. Gifting money taken from the least of us through taxation to give to another is contemptuous, officious, and clearly oversteps authority.

Choose your elected official well. The stakes are, does your elected official have the sagacity to articulate a new way that prepares the city for the future and do they have the courage to act on their plan. Your future and ours depends upon your selection.

How are we to judge the person we vote for? Here are some suggestions beyond what is published in the Voter’s Pamphlet.
Attend debates and Council meetings.

When presenting something or responding to a question:

a. Do they articulate clearly the elements of the problem or are the answers fuzzy to the extent you are left asking yourself what he just said. In short do they obfuscate?

b. Are they your issues?

c. Do they represent the bureaucracy?

d. Are they incumbents?

e. How many years are they vested into the Public employee’s retirement system?

f. Do they answer the question directly or refer you to staff for your answer?

What are you curious about?

One statement I heard in a conversation is, “Tukwila is not a part of the greater community. The questioner never hears from State Legislators or County Council members.

Does that mean Tukwila is taken for granted? Are we automatically considered a safe “yes” to go along with everything being done? Do we govern as an entity chartered as a State Municipal Corporation independent of others?

Are joint School board meetings with Tukwila legislators healthy in light of their being funded and charged separately with their own missions?

I have some questions about City Finances.

Intuitively one would believe that with low residency numbers and a large commercial center, Tukwila ought to be pretty fat. Especially noteworthy is because Tukwila levies taxes on everything excluding the park bench.

Here is an example of sales tax revenue:

A few years ago the notion was conceived that the entire commercial goings on, on the internet, was escaping taxation. In order to pass Constitutional muster, each state had to devise a method to collect and forward sales tax to the state receiving the delivered merchandise. With all those dollars signs from the windfall taxes flashing in the State officials eyes, Washington State gladly joined in. In turn, Tukwila eagerly jumped in and said yes to the State Scheme.

Because Tukwila is a net producer of sales tax, a deal was struck to compensate tax producing cities for their loss. Agreement, at the time decreed the division of the pot was to be divided by a board convened in the future. Euphemistically, the deal was a pig in the poke.

Here are some period background references:

Harmonizing excise tax
Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement
(Period language) “Under current law, retail sales tax is collected based on the location from which merchandise is shipped or delivered. Substitute Senate Bill 5089 changes that.”

“On July 1, 2008, Washington retailers delivering goods to customers within the state must start collecting sales tax based on where the customer receives the merchandise-the destination of the sale. This is called “destination sourcing”.”

Here is the question:
1. What is the ratio of Tukwila sales tax returned from Olympia to Tukwila from sales taxes sent to Olympia (tax returned/tax sent)? (this is the transfer payments of our sales tax to Olympia)

I am sure you have many questions you would like answered. Ask before the election because you may find it difficult or ignored later.

Voting in a limited participation election
P. Willoughby

[Have an opinion or concern you’d like to share with our local Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, please remain civil and, pending our review, we’ll consider publishing it.]

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