Griffin School District Levy Renews a Levy Approved by Voters in 2008

Some local voters were surprised to find, when their ballots arrived in the mail last week, that a Technology & Capital Projects Renewal Levy, for the Griffin School District, appears on the ballot. The campaign signs went up, around the peninsula, this last weekend. And now we have a copy of GriffinLink, the district’s community newsletter, to help explain what’s up.

Click here to download a copy of the portions of GriffinLink which describe the Technology & Capital Projects Renewal Levy.

Perhaps the most important point to make, right up front, is that this is a renewal of an existing levy, and not a new levy. In November 2008, local voters approved a Special/Capital Projects Levy. The Renewal levy on this latest ballot is a $550,000 dollar a year levy for four years. The Technology & Capital Projects Renewal Levy was approved by the School Board this last July.

Of nine other local school districts compared, Griffin’s levy and bond collection rate is lower than seven districts.

Funds from the levy will go to technology and technology infrastructure replacement and improvements at Griffin School. Also, these funds will help our school district to pay their portion of the Capital High Technology Program.

Review the details behind the Levy and the questions and answers provided in the lastest issue of GriffinLink.

Don’t forget to fill out your ballot and get it mailed – or, better, just out it in the ballot dropbox, in the parking lot of the main Griffin Fire District fire station – by Election Day, November 2nd.

A Rundown – As Brief as We Can Make It – of Measures on the Ballot

We start our review with the Secretary of State’s 2010 General Election Online Voters’ Guide. Click on “State Measures” to see the entire listing of initiatives and referenda on this year’s ballot. Select any specific title to read the title, description, to see how it’ll actually appear on the ballot, financial analysis (where appropriate) from the state Office of Financial Management, and official statements for and against each measure.

Initiative Measure 1053

This measure would restate existing statutory requirements that legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majorities or receive voter approval, and that new or increased fees require majority legislative approval.

Let’s state right up front, this measure was created by Tim Eyman. It follows on the state legislature’s suspension, during this last legislative session, of the voter-approved I-960. Interestingly, nearly $600,000 has been contributed to I-1053 by oil companies and big banks. Tim Eyman has also taken out $250,000 in loans to fund Initiative 1053. Corporations account for more than three-quarters of the financial support for this initiative. The top donors are BP, Tesoro, Conoco/Phillips, Shell and the Washington Farm Bureau.

Yes on I-1053: http://www.yeson1053.com/
No on I-1053: http://www.no1053.org/

Initiative Measure 1082

This measure would authorize employers to purchase private industrial insurance beginning July 1, 2012; direct the legislature to enact conforming legislation by March 1, 2012; and eliminate the worker-paid share of medical-benefit premiums.

The initiative was created by the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) and is intended to allow employers to purchase worker’s compensation insurance from private insurance companies, rather than from the state Department of Labor & Indsutries.

Top donors are the BIAW, Liberty Mutual, The Hartford Financial, and Zurich (Farmers Services, LLC) insurance companies.

Yes on I-1082: http://saveourjobswa.com/
No on I-1082: http://www.voteno1082.com/

Initiative Measure 1100
This measure would close state liquor stores; authorize sale, distribution, and importation of spirits by private parties; and repeal certain requirements that govern the business operations of beer and wine distributers and producers.
 
I-1100 is heavily supported – and largely funded – by Costco. The other top corporate donors are Safeway and Walmart.
 
Yes on I-1100: http://www.yesto1100.com/
No on I-1100: http://noto1100.com/
 
Initiative Measure 1105
 
This measure would close all state liquor stores and license private parties to sell or distribute spirits. It would revise laws concerning regulation, taxation and government revenues from distribution and sale of spirits.
 
Odom Southern Holdings and Young’s Market Company, two privately-held distributors who would benefit from the passage of I-1105, are virtually the only donors to I-1105.
 
Yes on I-1105: http://liquorreform.org/
No on I-1105: http://www.protectourcommunities.com/
 
What are the differences between I-1100 and I-1105?
 
Tax Revenues: I-1100 preserves existing liquor taxes, I -1105 repeals all existing liquor taxes. According to the state Office of Financial Management,, if I-1105 were to pass, “Using a range of assumptions, total state revenues decrease an estimated $486 million – $520 million and total local revenues decrease an estimated $205 million – $210 million, both over five fiscal years.” If those numbers prove to be accurate, this could translate into big budget cuts in education, health, and social-services funding.
 
If I-1100 were to pass, “total state revenues decrease an estimated $76 million – $85 million and total local revenues decrease an estimated $180 million – $192 million, both over five fiscal years.”
 
Changes to the way liquor, wine and beer are distributed and/or sold to the public: I-1100 would privatize sales and allow any business to become a distributor, for a fee.
 
I-1105 is backed by the middlemen, the distributors, and preserves the state’s three-tiered buying system, whereby distributors buy liquor, beer, and wine from wholesalers; retailers then buy from distributors. And, I-1105 privatizes retail sales.
 
What happens if both these initiatives pass? “There is no rule in the state to dictate what happens when two [similar] initiatives pass at the exact same time,” says Dave Ammons, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office. “The legislature or the courts must figure out what to do,” according to Ammons. “They could conceivably adopt an approach to say that the most popular of the two would prevail, or the legislature could try to harmonize the two.” The legislature would need a supermajority – or two-thirds approval in both houses – to work out the differences between the two initiatives, according to the state constitution.
 
For more on these two related initiatives, you may wish to read The Stranger’s piece entitled “Shut Up and Swallow; How We Ended Up with Two Flawed Liquor Initiatives and Why They’re Our Only Hope”.
 
Initiative Measure 1107
 
This measure would end sales tax on candy; end temporary sales tax on some bottled water; end temporary excise taxes on carbonated beverages; and reduce tax rates for certain food processors.
 
The American Beverage Association has contributed almost all of the funding for I-1107.
 
Yes on I-1107: http://stopgrocerytaxes.com/
No on I-1107: http://www.voteno1107.com/
 
Voices Opposing Initiatives 1053, 1082, 1107, 1100, and 1105
 
Is there a common theme behind several of the initiatives on this year’s ballot? The folks at StopGreed.org would have you think so. “Initiatives 1053, 1082, 1107, 1100, and 1105,” according to the progressives behind this site, were created by “corporate fronts trying to make a quick buck by conning the people of Washington State into voting for ill-conceived initiatives that would weaken or privatize public services.” StopGreed.org is the brainchild of the Northwest Progressive Institute.
 
Full disclosure: Much of the funding information included in this piece is from StopGreed.org, which provides a good visual depiction of the source of funds for these initiatives.

Initiative Measure 1098

This measure would tax “adjusted gross income” above $200,000 (individuals) and $400,000 (joint-filers), reduce state property tax levies, reduce certain business and occupation taxes, and direct any increased revenues to education and health.

Top donors are William H. Gates, Sr., the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Washington Federation of State Employees.

Yes on I-1098: http://www.yeson1098.com/
No on I-1098: http://www.defeat1098.com/

Referendum Bill 52

The legislature has passed Engrossed House Bill No. 2561, concerning authorizing and funding bonds for energy efficiency projects in schools.

This bill would authorize bonds to finance construction and repair projects increasing energy efficiency in public schools and higher education buildings, and continue the sales tax on bottled water otherwise expiring in 2013.

Some 45% of school space in Washington was built or remodeled prior to 1969. R-52 requires that only projects with energy cost savings greater than the cost of the project can receive funding. All spending will be subject to audits, and must be fully publicly disclosed. Schools will use less energy and save money and children will have healthier learning environments. The legislature also passed this as a jobs bill; around 30,000 new construction jobs will be created to provide these retrofits.

Yes on R-52: http://www.healthyschoolsforwa.org/
No specific web site was found which opposes R-52. However, statements in opposition are on the Secretary of State’s description of the measure.

Senate Joint Resolution 8225

The legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment concerning the limitation on state debt.

This amendment would require the state to reduce the interest accounted for in calculating the constitutional debt limit, by the amount of federal payments scheduled to be received to offset that interest.

 According to the official Explanatory Statement of this measure:

The proposed amendment would not change the constitutional debt limit. It would modify the annual calculation used to determine whether the state’s debt is within the constitutional limit. The amendment would require the state, in annually calculating the amount required for payment of interest on its general obligation debt, to subtract scheduled federal payments to be received each year in respect of bonds, notes, or other evidences of indebtedness. Under the constitution, the debt the state may issue is based in part on the total amount of the state’s annual principal and interest payments. Therefore, subtraction of federal payments to be credited against interest on the debt could affect the amount of aggregate debt that the state may incur.

No web sites were found which specifically intend to support or oppose passage of SJR 8225. However, voters may be interested in the statements for and against the Resolution, which appear on the Secretary of State’s elections web site.

Engrossed Substitute House Joint Resolution 4220

The legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment on denying bail for persons charged with certain criminal offenses.

This amendment would authorize courts to deny bail for offenses punishable by the possibility of life in prison, on clear and convincing evidence of a propensity for violence that would likely endanger persons.

This measure, also known as the Remember Lakewood Constitutional Amendment, intends to give judges more leeway than they presently have to deny bail. Currently, there are limits on denying bail generally to those cases which might result in indictment on a capital offense. “The broader criteria in ESHJR 4220,” say supporters, “would only apply where a life sentence is possible and there is a clear showing that the defendant has a propensity for violence.”

Here again, voters may find the statements for and against, on the Online Voter’s Guide, to be useful.

Yes on ES HJR 4220: http://www.rememberlakewood.com/
No web site was found which specifically intends to oppose passage of ES HJR 4220.

What resources have you found, to help you to make heads or tails of this year’s thicket of measures on the ballot? Click here to leave your suggestions and comments.
  

Voting is Neighborly

Washington’s Top-Two Primary system means there are some races being decided now, during the Primary, instead of in November’s General Election.

If you are registered to vote, you should have received your ballot in the mail by now.

If you are not yet registered to vote, you can still vote in the Primary. You must register in-person by Aug 9. Go to the Thurston County Elections Office at 2000 Lakeridge Drive S.W., Olympia, WA 98502-6090.

Get your ballot in by August 17.

There’s a handy drop-box in the parking lot of the Griffin Fire Station. It closes by 8 PM on Election Day. Click here for more area drop-box locations.

If you fail to register to vote by Aug 9, you can still vote in November’s General Election, if you register by October 25.

The Thurston County Elections Office is online at http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/auditor/Elections/electns.htm Or, call them at (360) 786-5408.

County Commissioner Candidates Face-Off (Sort Of)

From TCTV, we have two televised forums featuring candidates for Thurston County Commissioner, District 3. We’ve profiled these candidates before on this blog and now we have a chance to see them in something approaching a debate forum. The incumbent is Democrat Karen Valenzuela, who was appointed to the position by Governor Gregoire after Bob Macleod resigned at the end of last year. Valenzuela is challenged by another Democrat, Dan Venable, and a Republican, Pat Beehler.

Ballots for the primary will be mailed within the next couple of weeks, so the first round in this election is just around the corner.

Unfortunately, scheduling all three candidates appears to have presented too great a challenge, for either of these TCTV programs. The League of Women Voters were able to get only the two Democrats – Karen Valenzuela and Dan Venable – together. Olympia Master Builders was only able to get their two members – Republican Pat Beehler and Democrat Dan Venable – to attend that forum.

Watch these here or click on the links below the program, to view them (much larger) on Blip.tv.

Click here to view the League of Women Voters program on Blip.tv.

Click here to view the Olympia Master Builders program on Blip.tv.

Three Candidates File to Run for County Commissioner in Our District

The filing deadline for candidates in the upcoming County Commissioner election is now past us and we can see there will be three candidates – 2 Democrats and 1 Republican – vying for the position in District 3. Only those of us in the District can vote for the position, in the primary on August 18. The top two vote-getters will advance to the General Election, where all voters in the County can vote for the position, on November 3.

The incumbent, Democrat Karen Valenzuela, who replaced Bob Macleod when he resigned this last December 31st, is running to retain her seat. She is opposed by Republican Pat Beehler, 64, who is a professional surveyor, and Democrat Dan Venable, 59, owner of Advance Environmental Inc., a company which tests for and removes mold from dwellings.

And, would you believe it? The seat is up again next year when the four-year term expires.

The Republican candidate is Pat Beehler. This last May, when Beehler announced his candidacy, the Olympian wrote:

He said his top priority would be navigating the county through its budget crisis, which has resulted in two rounds of reductions to programs and services and the loss of 10 percent of its work force since 2008.

He said that, if he’s elected, commissioners can return the county to a responsible budget by prioritizing public safety, health and roads and cutting wasteful spending without raising taxes.

Beehler said he didn’t have any “overriding examples” of wasteful spending but added that, if elected, he would work with department heads to assess and conduct audits of spending to save money.

Beehler has endorsements from former commissioner Judy Wilson, State Senator Dan Swecker, and others. See his campaign web site at http://www.patbeehler.com/ for more.

Karen Valenzuela couldn’t have chosen a more difficult time to become a Commissioner. Plummeting revenues have blown a giant hole in the budget and the County’s Critical Areas Ordinance has been under development for nearly 10 years.

According to her campaign web site, at http://www.karenvalenzuela.com/, environmental protection is a priority.

Managing growth, so that we can afford to provide quality public services, is also important. I want to preserve our best agricultural lands, because having nearby farms that sell food in our local Farmer’s Markets (Tumwater, Olympia, and Lacey) is a form of self-reliance I consider crucial. I have a five-point action plan that I am already at work on:

1. Bring sanity to the budget
2. Return to the letter and spirit of the growth management act
3. Confront climate change
4. Re-engage in Human Services’ partnerships
5. Work on inter-jurisdictional cooperation

Valenzuela already has the endorsement of fellow Commissioner Sandra Romero, many of the Olympia and Tumwater council members, Thurston Conservation Voters, and others.

We were unable to find a campaign web site for Dan Venable. However, the Olympian ran a relatively lengthy article, this last April 1st, when Venable announced his campaign. In that article, “Venable said the three commissioners lack leadership, and he criticized their handling of the county’s budget crisis and the dispute with Sheriff Dan Kimball over proposed budget cuts.”

“There should be some other ways of coming up with a budget fix instead of laying off employees that are going to be really hard to replace,” he said.

Venable provided one example – closer scrutiny of consultant contracts – and said he needed to do more research.

He said other priorities would be youth and alternative court programs.

Venable was defeated by Bob Macleod, in the 2006 primary which eventually led to Macleod winning the seat as County Commissioner for our district.

UPDATED 6/23/09: The campaign to elect Dan Venable now has a web site at http://danvenable.org/

What are your priorities in a County Commissioner? Click on the “comments” link below and tell us what you’re looking for, this election.

Karen Valenzuela Campaign Kickoff

As you are probably already aware, there is special election, this August and November, to fill the seat of Thurston County Commissioner for District 3. Karen Valenzuela was appointed to fill the vacancy created when Bob McLeod resigned. Valenzuela has filed to run for the position. The primary election is in August, the general election is in November.

Karen Valenzuela’s Campaign Kickoff
Thursday, April 2nd
5:30 – 7:30 PM
River’s Edge Restaurant at Tumwater Valley Golf Course

Donations gratefully accepted to People to Elect Karen Valenzuela
120 State Ave. NE #135, Olympia, WA 98501
www.KarenValenzuela.com
Karen@KarenValenzuela.com

Valenzuela is already being endorsed by:

Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero
State Representative Sam Hunt
Tumwater Mayor Ralph Osgood
Tumwater City Councilmember Joan Cathey
Tumwater City Councilmember Pete Kmet
Tumwater City Councilmember Ed Stanley
Former Olympia Mayor Mark Foutch
Former Olympia Mayor Bob Jacobs
Olympia City Councilmember Joe Hyer
Olympia City Councilmember Jeff Kingsbury
Olympia City Councilmember Joan Machlis
Olympia City Councilmember Karen Messmer
Olympia City Councilmember Rhenda Iris Strub
Tenino Mayor Ken Jones
Tenino City Councilmember Dawna Kelley
and Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock

February Special Election to Ask Voters to Restore the Library Levy Rate on Property Taxes

My family and I often – really often – use the resources, books and other materials from the Timberland Regional Library system. Across the country, it seems, library use is on the increase. This February, our library system will ask voters to approve a measure which will restore the library levy rate on property taxes to 50 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value to maintain library services.

TRL has released a fact sheet describing the levy and its reasons for placing the levy on the ballot. Click here to download that fact sheet.

Here are some highlights from the fact sheet:

  • TRL receives 89% of its revenues from property taxes. Most of the balance of the library’s revenue comes from taxes on harvested timber. Due to a recent law that limits the library to a 1% annual increase in property taxes combined with a steep decline in new construction and timber harvests, a gap has developed between available revenue and TRL’s operating expenses. In 2009 this gap is estimated to be slightly more than one million dollars. This requires TRL to pull dollars from its dwindling reserve fund.
  • A homeowner with a $200,000 home currently pays approximately $68 annually for library services. With the levy increase the additional cost would be less than $34 more each year.
  • TRL has taken steps to reduce operating costs, including imposing staff reductions and a hiring freeze, reducing operating hours of some library branches and reducing its budget for purchasing new library materials.
  • If by public vote the ballot proposition failed, TRL’s Board of Trustees would need to make further spending cuts that could result in fewer open hours, reduced staff and possibly the closure of some libraries.

If you haven’t visited the local branch of the TRL (there are four, within easy driving distance from the Griffin area), you’re really missing out on a valuable community resource. TRL also operates a terrific web site, which includes not only a complete online catalog, but access to a wide array of data resources and even downloadable audio books. Visit the TRL web site at http://www.trlib.org/trlhome.htm

I encourage Griffin residents to learn more about the levy ballot and about the Timberland Regional Library system. And, I encourage voters to approve the levy.

— MARK MESSINGER

What’s your take on this levy? Do you use the resources of the TRL? Do you support the levy request? Click on the comments link below and leave your comments for other readers.

Commissioner Bob Macleod Announces He Will Resign Dec 31st

The Olympian yesterday reported that our Commissioner, Bob Macleod, will be resigning as of December 31st. “He noted his diagnosis for an unspecified medical condition in the letter,” Christian Hill, for the Olympian wrote, “but later confirmed in an interview it is Alzheimer’s disease.”

Macleod, a Democrat, will be replaced in an appointment selected by the remaining two commissioners, from a list of three candidates. The list of candidates will be offered to the commissioners by the Thurston County Democratic Party. If the commissioners cannot agree on a replacement within five days of Macleod’s vacancy, the Governor will make an appointment.

Sandra Romero, newly elected to the Board of Commissioners, will move up her oath of office, in order to participate in the process of designating a replacement.

According to the news article, “The commissioner appointed to fill Macleod’s unexpired term will be up for election next year. The seat again would be open for election in 2010, when Macleod’s four-year term expires.”

Click here to read the entire article in the Olympian.

Click here for Bob Macleod’s biographical information and the organizations on which he represents the County, from the Thurston County web site.

Click here to visit the web site of the Thurston County Democrats.

UPDATED 11/17: From Thurston County Democrats, we received this communication, which clarifies a few points made in the article published in the Olympian:

Just a week ago, we were all saddened when Bob Macleod, Thurston County Commissioner, announced his mid-term resignation from the District 3 position effective December 31, 2008, due to health concerns. Our community is united in its gratitude for the 6 years of service Bob gave as our commissioner and the preceding decades of community service he generously provided while serving as news director at KGY radio. We all hope the challenges of his declining health may be minimized and that he may continue to stay active to the extent he feels comfortable.

We are now ready to begin the difficult task of “filling his shoes” for the remainder of his term. In accordance with Article II, Section 15 of the Washington State Constitution, the two other commissioners, Cathy Wolfe and Sandra Romero, will have 60 days after December 31 in which to appoint a successor [emphasis added] who will serve until November 2009, when a successor to serve the remainder of Bob’s term will be elected. The Thurston County Democratic Central Committee (Precinct Committee Officers) will provide the names of three candidates from which Cathy and Sandra are to choose one as the temporary successor.

Although our newly elected Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs) do not take office until December 1st and the upcoming holiday season poses some scheduling challenges, we do intend to provide the three names to the two other commissioners by mid-January at latest. This is the process we will follow:

Applications

Applications from Democrats resident and registered to vote in Commissioner District 3 are now being accepted, provided they are postmarked or emailed by December 1st. In addition to providing contact information (name, address, phone numbers and email address), applicants must indicate

(1) why they want to serve as county commissioner,
(2) what they believe makes them uniquely qualified to fill this vacancy,
(3) how they are prepared to stand for election in 2009 and then again in 2010, and
(4) what they intend to accomplish during their term as county commissioner.

Applications may be emailed to commissioner@thurstondemocrats.org or post mailed to PO Box 164, Olympia, WA 98507.

Review Process

By mid-December (before the holiday vacations), the PCOs officially elected in 2008 whose precincts are in Commissioner District 3 will meet to interview the applicants and develop a ranked list to submit to the full Thurston County Democratic Central Committee (TCDCC). This date of this meeting will be announced after December 1st.

In early January, a special meeting of all PCOs officially elected in 2008 shall be convened to review the recommendations of the district PCOs and develop a final ranked list of three candidates to submit to the two remaining county commissioners.

Each meeting will be chaired and moderated by the Thurston County Democrats’ chair or designee.

Public Comment

Written comments from the public are welcome and may be sent to commissioner@thurstondemocrats.org. All comments received by December 15 will be distributed to all PCOs who are participating in the review process.

John Cusick, Chair
Thurston County Demcocrats

The Olympian has today run an article entitled “Will legislator fill commission seat?” which suggests that Representative Brendan Williams might appear on the list of candidates. Click here to read that article.

Local Elections Result; No Game-Changer, But Change, Nonetheless

Election results of interest to local residents are still coming in, particularly in the races for Superintendent of Public Instruction and Public Lands Commissioner. But, other campaign results are in and we can see there will be change – or the possibility of change – but how profound that change will be depends, in part, on the degree to which citizens can keep alive their enthusiasm for participatory democracy.

Although the final numbers are not yet it, we’re likely to find that we had record turnout among voters in the election held earlier this week. Throughout the state, and in Thurston County, elections offices reported record numbers of registered voters. Organizations such as the Griffin Neighborhood Association will be challenged to convert that enthusiasm to vote into an ongoing interest to participate in government.

Click here to view the current vote counts.

The election of Sandra Romero to the Thurston County Board of Commissioners bodes well for those of us expecting the Commission to strike a better balance between the property rights and controlled growth crowds. We hope Romero will bring new ideas and new excitement to a Commission which has for too long spent public money in court, defending its indefensible land use policies. Here, within the boundaries of the Griffin School District, we find ourselves in the cross-hairs of a lot of development without adequate oversight from the County. The Commission will need to take on a lot of tough issues if we’re going to be assured our wells continue to pump clean water, habitat is preserved on the Steamboat peninsula, and our beaches front on a healthy Puget Sound.

Despite criticism of lackluster service in the office, Cathy Wolfe has won re-election to the County Board of Commissioners.

We wish to congratulate, in particular, Griffin Neighborhood Association Board member and local resident Fred Finn, for his success in the race for the House of Representatives in the 35th Legislative District. We expect Fred and Kathy Haigh, who easily won re-election, will prove to be worthy and effective representatives, in the House. Given the 35th LD spreads across 4 Western Washington counties, it’s a real treat to have Fred, a representative who so keenly understands our concerns, working for us.

The Griffin School District Technology & Capital Projects Levy is passing, with a vote 59% in favor. The “Yes for Griffin Kids” Committee has done a terrific job of gathering support for critical funding necessary to maintain our effective and independent local school district. The Committee deserves our thanks and our continued support. For more information and to join the “Yes for Griffin Kids” Committee, call Rhonda Fry at (360) 432-2337.

Kathy Haigh has taken a real leadership role, in the House, on issues related to educational funding. Fred Finn has served on the Board of the Griffin School District. We hope these two will work hard, in Olympia, to fulfill the requirements of the State constitution and fully fund quality public education.

As we right this article, incumbent Terry Bergeson and Randy Dorn are locked in a tight race that is yet to be resolved. With 51% of votes counted, Dorn leads Bergeson, but there are many votes yet to be counted, particularly in King and Pierce counties.

UPDATED: Late Thursday, enough votes were counted to convince Terry Bergeson to concede defeat to Randy Dorn. Dorn ran heavily on a promise to reform the WASL – indeed, to entirely replace the WASL – so we can expect some big changes in that testing regime.

Another important race still hanging on the vote count, particularly in King and Pierce counties, is the race for Public Lands Commissioner. Much of Peter J. Goldmark’s support is expected to come from particularly King and Snohomish counties. Goldmark supporters are cautiously optimistic, what with Goldmark’s slim lead over Doug Sutherland.

UPDATED: Late Thursday, the Associated Press determined that not enough votes were left un-counted in counties expected to support Sutherland. The AP has announced Goldmark has won. However, Sutherland has not yet conceded.

The next legislative session begins in just 2 months. We’ll soon have a new Commissioner, in the County. Whether you tend to see things as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent, you’ll probably agree there’s a palpable feeling of change in the air. Not just on a national level, but on a local level. We hope this sense of change – and of hope – will translate to new participation among citizens.

What are you looking forward to, with these changes in local government? Click on the comments link below.

— MARK MESSINGER

Vote in Favor of the Griffin School District Technology & Capital Projects Levy

The “Yes for Griffin Kids” Committee is urging homeowners within the Griffin School District to vote in favor of the Technology & Capital Projects Levy. The levy appears on this month’s General Election ballot as Proposition 1.

The “Yes for Griffin Kids” Committee and the Griffin School District have this month released two publications which describe the levy. Click here to download a PDF copy of these two documents.

What follows is some of the information sent to us from the school district and Yes for Griffin Kids.

What Is the Bottom Line?

  • Griffin School has never before needed a special levy and has previously been able to support programs from the Maintenance & Operations Levy.
  • This special levy passage equals an estimated tax increase of $0.345 per $1000 assessed valuation.
  • Griffin’s current estimated tax rate is $2.40 per $1000. Passage of the special levy will bring the new tax rate to approximately $2.75 per $1000.
  • Griffin School District continues to have the lowest tax rate in the area. For example, the Shelton School District’s 2008 estimated rate is $4.82 per $1000. Tumwater SD’s estimated rate for 2008 is $4.16 per $1000.
  • Ultimately, without these funds, Griffin faces consolidation into the Olympia School District.

Griffin School District recently implemented $400,000 worth of cuts. Among other cost-saving steps, the school facilities are also scheduled to be closed twenty additional days per calendar year, instead of being open to the community as it in the past.

The potential impacts of not passing this proposed levy are both financial and academic. If this levy is not passed and Griffin is absorbed into the Olympia School District, our tax rate will be an estimated $4.54 per $1000 (estimated 2008 OSD rate). Although Griffin has the lowest local tax rate, it holds the highest level of meeting national standards in the county.

Click here to read the materials regarding the levy distributed by the school district and the “Yes for Griffin Kids” Committee.

I hope property owners will vote in favor of Proposition 1. Our Griffin School District is making the tough choices necessary to operate – and continue providing a high-quality educational experience – and this levy is carefully crafted to meet a well-defined need. The amount requested in the levy is not excessive.

The “Yes for Griffin Kids” Committee was created by local members of the community to support the school district in its efforts to secure appropriate funding for its programs. For more information and to join the “Yes for Griffin Kids” Committee, call Rhonda Fry at (360) 432-2337.

UPDATED: The Olympian ran an article, on October 25th, which describes the levy. Click here to read that article, which provides a good summary of the levy. In the article, Superintendent Don Brannam is interviewed:

Brannam said if Griffin voters decide against the levy, those costs would start to eat into the district’s general fund and affect the kindergarten through eighth grade school — and possibly the district’s independence of Olympia or other surrounding districts.

“I could see us being in serious trouble in three to five years,” Brannam said. “The dialogue in this district is going to be pretty interesting around our own ability to pay our bills and maintain the sovereignty of our school district.”