I saved copies of the Mirror from March 30 to June 8. It’s interesting to reflect back on the Letters to the Editor and Bob Roegner’s column through this period of time, oh, and don’t let me forget, Keith Livingston’s perspectives. There seems to be a repetition of concerns concerning City Hall, the mayor and the City Council over decisions made on particular issues.
Bob Roegner, former mayor of the city of Auburn, has had years of political experience working on issues in many arenas and is very knowledgeable on the way decisions are decided. In the March 30 edition, he mentions that residents are not happy about the “utility tax” which was protested by local residents but owing to a very short time to collect signatures and that an extension could not be granted (another 10 days), the signature collection fell short. People are still upset about the utility tax. Some people are suggesting a recall election to oust those who were recently elected who said they would not support the utility tax but in the end did. All I can say is you get what you pay for, or in this instance vote for.
As I move forward through the various issues of the Mirror from that date forward, the hue and cry is about poor management of money, employers are moving or just closing, and many comments that Federal Way is becoming an alarming ghost town business-wise.
Recently, the idea of taxing self-service storage facilities surfaced as well as resurrecting the possibility of marijuana shops as a source of tax revenues and lastly recruiting businesses to locate to Federal Way. The businesses that have found niches in Federal Way, while adding a modicum of employment, are mainly minimum-wage jobs, fast food and restaurants.
IRG is still pushing for warehouses on the former Weyerhaeuser property and citizens are still fighting tooth and nail to stop those semi-tractor trailer rigs from populating our already busy streets and highways; some estimates go as high as 800 such rigs going in and out of the forestry giant’s former property. Drives to Seattle are getting longer and longer and reportedly the trip in the morning commute is two hours. The light rail system is projected to remove 1 to 3 percent of those commuters from the freeway. Seems like a lot of money for such a small impact. I would have preferred a bus-only lane on the freeway and more buses.
Keith Livingston recently wrote a column criticizing the City Council and the mayor where he intimated that he should say “they are mediocre.” Not an identical quote but it was a very nice column. If you haven’t read it, it’s in the June 8 edition of the Mirror.
But let’s get back to the problem: The city recently admitted that its maybe $1 million short in its upcoming budget. Honestly, I don’t have all the answers, but I can say that when you have a seemingly sudden financial problem, you only need to look at your last major purchases. Here in Federal Way, the newest of new is the PAEC. I’ve seen the historical attendance numbers and there hasn’t been a sold out house ever. Even at the free events, there wasn’t 100 percent of the seats filled. I find it interesting, though, that recently the director of the PAEC was terminated and shortly thereafter the Independent Salary Commission made a decision to give the mayor and City Council a pay raise. Interesting to say the least. With pulling Centerstage’s contract to manage the Knutzen Family Theatre at Dumas Bay Centre saving another $100,000, those pay raises are covered nicely.
Now there’s still the lingering issue of the boutique hotel as well as the Muckleshoot endowment for a cooking school at the PAEC. What’s happening there? As I recall, the hotel is going to be fined for not breaking ground on time. The cooking school included the building of a smokehouse for traditional Indian meal preparation. That sounds delicious but is it going to be open to the public that is paying for the PAEC obviously through the utility tax?
The direction of Federal Way has done an about face from where it was 10 years ago and seems to be headed in a direction that not many appreciate. We have had lots of drug and crime problems. In one of the editions of the Mirror, there was an explosion of a SUV and lots of illegal items were discovered. There was a very large drug bust where outside police forces were involved. FW is becoming dangerous.
The FW Farmers Market is still making a difference and doing interesting events. Maybe City Hall could learn something from the Farmers Market on how to sell good things in Federal Way.
I read somewhere in another Mirror edition that Roger Flygare suggested that maybe the city should sell the PAEC or turn its management over to a group that knows what it’s doing in the entertainment business. I think you should talk to him because he knows a lot of people and has a lot of connections from what I can tell.
So is the city going to sell the former Target store or continue paying $125,000 a year in interest payments for an empty building?
I would suggest selling it ASAP for the $8 million and use that to balance the city’s budget.
Norma Blanchard, Federal Way