Councilmember Joe McDermott Council District 8 516 Third Ave., Rm. 1200 Seattle, WA 98104 Phone: 206-296-1008 Toll Free: 800-325-6165 TTY/TDD: 206-296-1024 Fax: 206-296-0198
Serving the communities of West Seattle, North Highline, Vashon/Maury Islands, SoDo, Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, and portions of the International District, Burien, SeaTac, and Tukwila.
Budget Committee sends Council 2013 Budget that meets current needs with a focus on the future
The members of the Metropolitan King County Council’s 2013 Budget Leadership Team said today that their proposed 2013 King County Budget meets current challenges and makes strategic investments that prepare the County for the future. “The budget proposed by the leadership team makes strategic investments to save the County money in the long-run,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, Chair of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee and leader of the Budget Leadership Team. “By seeking departmental efficiencies, helping individuals in need, and increasing accountability, we have put the County in an excellent position to prosper.” Read more
Looking forward to reviewing arena agreement
King County Councilmember Joe McDermott released this statement Septermber 11 on the agreement between investor Christopher Hansen and the city of Seattle on the proposed SoDo arena: “I am happy to see efforts to bring the Sonics back to Seattle advancing. I look forward to working with my council colleagues to review the details of the City’s proposal, with an eye to both the community and fiscal impacts. We will take the time needed to ensure this is a sound decision for the County.”
Expanded vessel capacity will make it easier to catch a ride on a King County water taxi
More passengers can now hop aboard a King County water taxi for a trip between West Seattle or Vashon and downtown Seattle. With U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approval this week, the vessels Rachel Marie and Melissa Ann can each carry 172 passengers– 22 more people per trip than their previous capacity. The expanded vessel capacity will dramatically reduce the likelihood of extended passenger wait times due to high demand for peak commute period sailings. The increase in capacity is great news for our dedicated riders who at times have been left behind when a boat was full. With ridership up on both routes, the added capacity will make our water taxis an even more attractive transportation alternative. Read more
Plans in the works to build two new Water Taxi vessels
Today the Rachel Marie suffered a faulty alternator. Our Water Taxi vessels are aging. That’s why the Ferry District has worked hard to procure new, state-of-the-art boats by partnering with the Federal Government. Read more.
Council Committee hears from independent expert panel on risks and benefits of arena proposal
The Metropolitan King County Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee heard from the independent expert panel today about the potential risks and benefits of the SODO arena proposal.
“Today’s discussion highlighted the proposals’ strengths and the areas where questions still remain,” said Budget Committee Chair Joe McDermott.
During the presentation, Bill Beyers, who is a professor at the University of Washington’s Department of Geography, argued for the importance of a full economic impact study.
“I’m hopeful that we can address these concerns through amendments like Councilmember Ferguson’s call for a further economic analysis if we move forward,” McDermott said.
Appointed by McDermott, the members of the panel are experts in economics, public finance, public-private partnerships, labor, urban development and transportation.
The panel has been reviewing the memorandum of understanding negotiated between investor Chris Hansen, County Executive Constantine and Seattle Mayor McGinn to construct a facility with the ability to host NBA and NHL teams in the SODO neighborhood. Today was the Budget Committee’s seventh meeting on the topic.
The panel highlighted the strength of this private-public partnership, stressed the protections given for the County’s General Fund and taxpayers and discussed the impact to traffic and our region’s infrastructure.
“No public-private partnership is risk-free, but the proposed arrangement protects taxpayer’s interests in ways that many other partnerships have not,” UW associate professor Justin Marlowe stated. Marlowe specializes in public capital markets, governmental and nonprofit accounting, public-private partnership, and state and local fiscal policy.
“I want to again thank these experts for offering complete insights and for volunteering a significant amount of their professional and personal time to helping the Council – and the public – better understand the proposal,” McDermott said.
There will be a joint public hearing with the King County Council and the Seattle City Council on Thursday, July 19. Doors open at 5:00 p.m., the hearing will start at 5:30 p.m. It will be held at the Bertha Knight Landes room in the City Hall.
The Budget and Fiscal Management Committee’s next meeting is July 17, 2012.
Statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act
King County Councilmember and Board of Health Chair Joe McDermott released the following statement about the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act:
“I’m relieved that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act and that the political pandering of many state attorneys general from across the Country proved futile.
“No complex law is perfect, but the Affordable Care Act is a significant step toward a more perfect union. The law is vital as we work to provide more affordable health care for all Americans.
“I urge Congress to protect the law’s Prevention & Public Health Fund to support our efforts in driving down the costs of health care.
“Today’s ruling clears the way for nearly a quarter of a million people in King County who do not have health insurance to finally have affordable options in 2014.
“I look forward to continued work in monitoring and supporting the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”
King County Council begins its review of SODO arena proposal
The Metropolitan King County Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee received its first briefing today on the proposed legislation that would bring an NBA/NHL arena to Seattle’s SODO neighborhood.
For many fans this proposal is a reason to have great hope that the Sonics will play in Seattle again. As exciting as that possibility is, many questions remain. The Council is committed to fully vetting the proposed legislation.
The terms of the agreements, timeline and costs to the County’s taxpayers were among the topics discussed at the meeting.
I also announced the formation of an independent expert panel that will provide councilmembers with an independent analysis of the plan. Members of the panel are experts in economics, public finance, public-private partnerships, labor, urban development and transportation. Panel participants have graciously volunteered their time and expertise. It is a comprehensive panel – with skeptics among it. Read more
Budget Committee ready to examine arena proposal
An agreement was announced today that a memorandum of understanding on the proposed arena in Seattle’s SODO District is expected to be sent to the Council at the end of the week.
As chair of the Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee, I find this is an exciting proposition, but of course there are many questions yet to be answered.
The Budget Committee and King County Council will closely examine the agreements keeping in mind both the fiscal and community impacts of the proposal.
I look forward to a robust discussion and to continuing to work with the City, the Executive and Mr. Hansen as we move forward. I thank all of them for their hard work and dedication.
Proposed levy increase for construction of Children and Family Justice Center on August ballot
I joined my Council colleagues in giving our unanimous support to asking the people of King County if they would increase their property taxes to build a new facility to replace our aging Youth Services Center on 12th and Alder in Seattle.
Sections of the facility are over 60 years old and have significant maintenance needs. The Youth Services Center is the County’s central facility for cases involving children — juvenile offender cases, child abandonment, abuse and neglect cases and cases involving runaways.
The adopted legislation asks voters to approve a nine-year property tax levy lid lift of seven cents per $1,000 of assessed value, which would raise approximately $200 million for construction of the Children and Family Justice Center. The cost to the median homeowner in King County would be less than $25 per year.
Marriage equality is official: McDermott commends Governor, supporters of legislation
Metropolitan King County Councilmember Joe McDermott released this statement today after witnessing Washington Governor Christine Gregoire sign into law the recently adopted marriage equality legislation:
“Arriving at today’s bill signing was a long road. It took almost three decades to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals had the same basic civil rights and protections as every other Washingtonian.
“But that hard work and years of debate brought us to today.
“Business, faith, civic and labor organizations, straight allies, and gay and lesbian advocates worked together and demanded equality. This morning their applause echoed through the Capitol.
“I commend Governor Gregoire for sharing her own personal journey and championing this historic legislation. She, like many people, realized marriage equality is about fairness and justice.
“Washington now joins only six other states granting lesbian and gay couples the same legal right to a marriage license as straight couples. And I look forward to marrying my partner, Michael, in the great state of Washington.”
McDermott: “An historic and joyous day”
Metropolitan King County Councilmember Joe McDermott released this statement following today’s passage by the Washington state House of Representatives of marriage equality legislation:
“I thank the leaders who came before us, those who stood up and demanded equality following the Stonewall Riots of 1969. The community that took shape that night paved the way to today’s historic vote.
“I commend the courageous leadership our elected officials displayed. But most importantly, I commend the families who live their lives openly across King County and Washington State.
“This nation was founded on the premise of individual rights. The House of Representatives’ vote today is another step toward a more perfect union.
“Today is an historic and joyous day. But the fight for full equality under the law continues.”
Joe McDermott named Chair of County Council’s Budget Committee
Will direct deliberation, adoption of 2013 King County Budget
The Metropolitan King County Council unanimously selected Councilmember Joe McDermott to serve as Chair of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee and to lead the Council’s 2013 budget deliberations.
“Tough choices and a true commitment to reforming county government have placed the County on sound financial footing,” McDermott said. “Sound fiscal management will continue to be my priority as budget chair.”
The Budget Committee maintains oversight of the current year's budget, and is the lead decision-making body during the adoption of the 2013 budget. Read more...
Councilmember McDermott on State Senate majority in support of marriage equality
Councilmember Joe McDermott, who sponsored the amendment to add marriage equality to the County’s legislative agenda, praised the 25 lawmakers who have now created a State Senate majority in support of marriage equality in Washington state:
“Today’s announcement moves Washington closer to equal opportunity for gay and lesbian couples. We make history in recognizing that all couples should be treated equally under state law.
“As a Senator I was a proud sponsor of the state’s Domestic Partnership legislation, though marriage was always the goal. I commend my former legislative colleagues for their courageous support.
“As families across King County and the state struggle to find and keep jobs in the Great Recession, there is no better time to provide all families the protections and commitment of marriage.
“I look forward to our family and friends joining Michael, my partner of over 12 years, and I when we marry.”
County Council declares its support for marriage equality
The Metropolitan King County Council pledged its bipartisan support to marriage equality as part of the proposed 2012 legislative agenda for King County. The amendment was adopted by the Council at its January 9 meeting and will be added to the statement of state policy, a companion to King County’s legislative agenda. The Council is scheduled to adopt the legislative agenda at its January 17 meeting.
Legislation in 2007 established Washington’s domestic partnership registry and ensured parity between married couples and domestic partners for 23 rights and responsibilities. More than 170 rights were added in 2008. The remaining 283 were added and approved by the voters in 2009. Last week the Governor announced that she will introduce a bill to finish this work and provide marriage for same-sex couples. Read more
Council adopts 2012 budget that continues efficiencies and protects our most vulnerable
The 2012 King County budget was adopted unanimously and ahead of schedule on November 9th. The County has "balanced its checkbook" while supporting access to food, safety and shelter to help the thousands of County residents who are struggling during this Great Recession. By doing such things as streamlining building and permitting services and making investments in technologies that will cut our overhead costs, the 2012 budget builds upon efficiencies and creates transparency within county government. Perhaps most importantly for District 8's unincorporated area constituents, the budget calls for a reduction of management positions in the County’s Road Service Division and allocates more maintenance workers to keep our roads safe. Read more.
Budget team ready to tackle challenges of continuing recession, prepare realistic 2012 County Budget
It was an honor to be selected to join Budget Chair Julia Patterson and Councilmembers Kathy Lambert and Jane Hague on the 2012 Budget Leadership Team that will lead the review and deliberations on the 2012 King County budget
I will lead one of the three panels that will review the Executive Proposed Budget. As Chair of the Physical Environment Panel, I will be responsible for directing the review of services provided by the Departments of Natural Resources & Parks and Transportation. Critical transit service was preserved in our region thanks in part to strong reforms pursued by King County. This year, the Council turns its attention to maintaining county roads, which face an eroded tax base and drastic cuts. One of the issues the Physical Environment Panel will examine is the proposed Roads Strategic Plan.
On Thursday, October 13, I will join the members of the Budget Leadership Team in hosting three evening public hearings on the 2012 Executive Proposed Budget:
• Thursday, October 13 – Pacific Cascade Middle School, 24635 SE Issaquah - Fall City Road, Issaquah
• Wednesday, October 19 – Maleng Regional Justice Center, Courtroom 3F, 401 Fourth Avenue North, Kent
• Tuesday, October 25 – King County Courthouse, County Council Chambers, 10th Floor, 516 Third Avenue, Seattle
All meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. Day-after coverage of the public hearings will be available both online and on King County TV, seen on Comcast and Broadstripe Cable Channel 22.. Read more
White Center Storefront Officer restored under proposal for gang violence intervention and prevention
The growth of gang violence in South King County will be targeted by a coordinated intervention program, under a proposal developed by King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Councilmembers, and criminal justice leaders. Gang-related violence has increased over the past three years, according to the Prosecutor and Sheriff. This proposal allocates $1.4 million from the Criminal Justice Reserve for seven programs that address gang related issues and can be implemented quickly, starting in October and lasting through the end of 2012. Read more.
Council adopts transit funding plan that includes efficiencies, Congestion Reduction Charge
Working together with the King County Executive and with the support of six of my council colleagues, a bipartisan package of amendments was passed August 15 that will prevent devastating cuts to Metro service. The adopted measure includes providing eight bus fare vouchers with each car tab renewal that may be donated to human service and homeless programs; phasing out the downtown Seattle Ride Free Area in October of 2012; and deploying lower-cost services like Dial-a-Ride, community access, and vanpools and vanshares in lower ridership areas. Read more
Calling on federal government to raise debt ceiling, avoid local impacts
I joined County Executive Dow Constantine, Council Chair Larry Gossett, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, and elected officials from throughout the region in urging Congress to prevent the potential impact a federal government default can have on local government credit ratings. The people of King County benefit from our current AAA bond rating. The actions in Congress threaten that rating. Read more.
Council agrees to a “new model” for unincorporated communities
Citing expanded outreach and following the King County Strategic Plan, the Metropolitan King County Council today adopted a new model developed by the County Executive for interaction between the County and its 285,000 residents living in the unincorporated communities. King County serves as the local government for unincorporated areas.
“This new model will support strong community leadership that is vital to informed policy making,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, sponsor of the legislation. “My colleagues and I deeply appreciate the continued service of community advocates. We look forward to working together into the future.”
The adopted legislation calls for the establishment of unincorporated community service areas (CSAs) that will cover all unincorporated areas. Under the framework, a single point of contact will hold meetings with service areas to develop work programs and provide regular opportunities for community-based organizations, such as Unincorporated Area Councils (UACs), to meet and work with King County officials.
Interbranch teams of existing staff from across the spectrum of County programs and services will coordinate public outreach and service delivery in each CSA, in close collaboration with the County Councilmember for that district.
The framework preserves the existing Community Service Centers that provide remote access to county services, as well as existing liaison staff for the UACs who would now serve as a single point of contact for residents. It also provides one-time transitional funding to UACs. The Executive is scheduled to deliver a proposal to implement the CSAs plan at the time he transmits the annual county budget to the Council in late September.
Preserving public transit
Demand for bus service is growing – jumping more than 5 percent, or 1 million trips, compared to just a year ago. As more people turn to transit, Metro faces an annual funding shortfall of $60 million which could shrink service by 600,000 hours in the next two years. This is equivalent to cutting all weekend transit service or all weekday rush hour bus service for commuters. Read more on my July eNews
Executive restores funding for Skyway police storefront
King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Sheriff Sue Rahr today announced the Executive’s action to restore funding for an important police presence at the Skyway community police storefront. As we continue to see cuts to public safety services, it is vital that we fulfill our responsibility to unincorporated communities like Skyway and West Hill, Sheriff’s storefronts are an important way for these communities to work directly with law enforcement in their neighborhoods, and I am pleased that the Executive and Sheriff decided to restore this position. Read more
County Council proclaims June “Gay Pride Month”
Recognizing the changes that have come in the last 43 years, while acknowledging the challenges that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals still face, the Metropolitan King County Council today declared the month of June “Gay Pride Month” in King County.
Gay Pride Month is celebrated in June in recognition of the June 1968 Stonewall Riots in New York, considered the start of the modern movement for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer citizens. Seattle will celebrate its 37th Gay Pride Parade on June 26. The theme of this year’s Parade is “Be You. Be Proud. Express Yourself!” Read more...
Metro service increases in West Seattle-Alaskan Way Viaduct coming this Fall
The unanimous May 31 vote on fall transit service changes were focused on east King County, but it also brought major service changes in West Seattle, the first step in bringing faster, reliable transit service to the West Seattle-Downtown corridor. An additional 19,000 transit hours have been added to Route 54, which serves Westwood, Fauntleroy, the Alaska Junction and Downtown Seattle. These improvements are preparing the way for “RapidRide.” Read more about the fall transit service improvements for West Seattle and east King County.
Employees drive effort to reduce use of paper by County
It was a recommendation we heard from employees throughout King County, and I was glad my colleagues joined me in unanimously adopting legislation I sponsored calling for the reduction of the County’s consumption of paper by 20 percent within two years, saving up to $100,000 a year in the cost of buying paper. Based on the experience of other local and state governments, I feel that these targets are reasonable and achievable.” Read more
King County water taxi crew rescues diver in distress
King County employees participated in the rescue of a distressed scuba diver Tuesday morning as the Rachel Marie water taxi pulled away from the Seacrest Dock for their regularly scheduled 11 a.m. sailing. Several passengers witnessed the rescue operation.
Shortly into the trip across Elliott Bay, the ship’s crew noticed a diver who appeared to be in distress. The boat captain, Neal Amaral, maneuvered the vessel close to the diver as he called for assistance over the radio. Crew member Aaron Barnett, quickly dressed in an onboard rescue suit, jumped into the water, and assisted the diver. Barnett was in the water for about 10 minutes while the diver was maneuvered into a sling. Read more...
“Piñata breaking” event: Celebrating the start of construction of the new South Park Bridge
Eleven months after the span that crossed the Duwamish Waterway was closed to traffic, local, county, state and federal officials were on hand today for the a unique celebration marking the state of construction for the new South Park Bridge.
“Today is a great day for South Park residents and for our entire region. This project will create family-wage jobs and support businesses – both large and small,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, whose district includes the South Park Bridge. “This corridor serves an area that is home to 70,000 jobs and as the entry to a commercial center where 76 percent of the businesses were minority owned.” Read more...
King County Board of Health adopts new guidelines for healthier foods in vending machines
The King County Board of Health on April 21 approved guidelines encouraging organizations in King County to provide healthier choices in vending machines. Many of us eat up to half of our meals outside the home, and the Healthy Vending Guidelines will make it easier for County residents to make healthy choices while eating on-the-go
The voluntary King County Healthy Vending Guidelines support businesses, community-based organizations and local governments that want to offer more options and healthier food and beverages. The guidelines are based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 and use food types (fruits, whole grains, etc.) rather than simply looking at calories, fat, sodium and sugar for identifying healthy options.
Government and other organizations are already making the move toward healthier vending options. King County, through its Healthy Incentives program, offers 20 percent of healthier options in many of its vending machines.
Obesity and poor nutrition are serious problems in King County. Over half of adults and almost a third of youth are overweight or obese. Additionally, less than one third of adults and youth report consuming enough fruits and vegetables daily, and a third of youth report consuming one or more sodas daily. Read more
Recognizing the work and sacrifices of public employees
The King County Council recognized the work and the sacrifice of the 13,000 people employed by King County on March 28 with its unanimous adoption of “Public Employee Appreciation Day” in King County. The motion acknowledges the essential public services provided by public employees at all levels of government, from police and firefighters, to doctors and nurses, to teachers and social workers. The motion states that many public employees are represented by unions and the Council supports the right of unions to bargain collectively for its members.
For County employees, the motion highlights the fact that the majority of the County’s union employees volunteered to forego cost-of-living-adjustments as part of the adopted 2011 King County Budget to reduce cuts in services.
Sadly it has become commonplace to vilify our public employees. This vilification often means we forget the important work they do to keep all our lives running safely and smoothly. But perhaps more importantly, it often results in many forgetting the sacrifices King County employees have made during the Great Recession. I am proud to stand with our public employees.
Funding in place to begin construction of new South Park Bridge
The residents and businesses dependent on the disabled South Park Bridge are a step closer to a replacement with the unanimous adoption by the King County Council of agreements to fund construction of a new structure.
Our region failed when the South Park Bridge closed last June. Our March 7 adoption of two pieces of legislation are a significant step towards righting that wrong for South Park residents and our region’s businesses. Replacing the bridge will create jobs in the present and support a regional economic hub into the future. I commend the City, Port, State, Federal and County governments for working together to arrive at today. In particular, I commend the South Park community for their tenacity.
Last June, because of the deteriorating condition of the span, the 79-year-old bridge, which crossed the Duwamish Waterway and connected the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods in south Seattle, was closed. Rebuilding the span is a priority for the region: more than 20,000 vehicles used the bridge every day and it was an important freight corridor that linked the manufacturing and industrial centers of Seattle with the rest of the region.
Before the bridge closed, the Council adopted legislation that provided the County Executive with funding authority needed to assist in the construction of a new bridge. The Council today adopted three separate ordinances that:
• Approve interlocal agreements with the city of Seattle and the Port of Seattle that details their contributions toward the project.
• Removes an expenditure restriction on a portion of the project construction funds that had been imposed pending the negotiation of these interlocal agreements.
The cost of the construction phase of the bridge replacement project is estimated at $138 million. Federal grants, including $34 million in TIGER II grant funds, are guaranteed for the construction of the bridge. King County, the city of Seattle, Port of Seattle, the Puget Sound Regional Council and state funds will cover the remaining cost of construction. With all of the funding now in place, construction of the new South Park Bridge is slated to begin in May.
Discussing funding options for public transit
I recently returned to Olympia where I served in the Legislature for a decade. With Councilmember Jane Hague and representatives from Metro Transit, I testified before the House Transportation Committee about legislation that would provide Counties with a temporary funding option to protect transit service in our region.
Over the past several years, Metro has worked to maintain transit service despite its revenue woes. Metro imposed four percent fare increases, negotiated no-wage-increase contracts with unions, dipped into reserves and property tax sources and is currently experimenting with longer intervals between some maintenance tasks to save money. As Councilmember Hauge said in the hearing, “We wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t already tightened our belts.”
Despite these efforts, Metro still faces a four-year revenue gap of $315 million. This gap could force Metro to cut 400,000 service hours, the equivalent of all Metro’s Eastside service.
House Bill 1536 would allow Metro to preserve up to 380,000 hours of service for two years by providing an opportunity to temporarily increase license tab fees by up to $30. This would raise an estimated $38 million annually, allowing Metro to preserve up to 380,000 services hours. For a transit system that is the only form of transportation for many people in District 8, maintaining those service hours are vital—especially as a lifeline to jobs as the region’s economy recovers. But let me clear, this is only a temporary solution. The Regional Transit Task Force presented the Council with strong recommendations and this funding will give us the time to implement those recommendations and work toward a sustainable longer-term statewide funding solution for our transit system.
McDermott elected Chair of County's Board of Health
At the King County Board of Health’s first meeting of the New Year, I was honored to be elected to lead the Board in 2011.
The challenge facing public health agencies throughout the region is continuing to deliver health services in the age of shrinking funds. Public Health - Seattle & King County recently announced the layoff of over 120 Public Health employees who provide and support maternity support services for at-risk mothers. More than a third of all pregnant women in King County depend on the County for their health care, so these cuts will have a long-term impact on the health of our communities. I will be working with the state Legislature to protect these critical services.