The economy has been the hottest topic in this year’s election.
In between debates, I have been looking at our economic development progress as it sets the tone for our business climate and the social fabric of our community. We have a hard-working group of staff in Federal Way City Hall devoted to attracting new business, spreading the tax burden, providing us unique shopping opportunities and ensuring we are competitive with surrounding communities.
I have found there are many things I don’t understand about how this strategic concept is being implemented. To most regular readers of this column, that will come as no surprise. But even acknowledging that I confuse easily, didn’t our city leaders back in 1998, in a fit of moral outrage, try to limit the number of “gambling establishments” with a 20 percent tax? Now having successfully achieved that goal, our current city leaders have cut the tax in half to ensure our last casino can remain open. Since it apparently wasn’t a moral issue after all, and it seems unlikely that the tax reduction was requested by the historical society as a nostalgic nod to our past, it must have been part of our economic development goals. Saved a casino! Check that off the “to do” list.
If that action reflects our economic philosophy, then there’s something else I’ve wondered about for many years. In a town with a Starbucks on every corner, why is it we don’t have even one coffee stand with bikini baristas? Every other town has one. Why don’t we? Are other cities’ economic development efforts stronger than ours? Auburn has one. Next door neighbor Des Moines has one, although if it weren’t for occasionally seeing a city vehicle there, I wouldn’t know what city it was in. Kent has one, along with that spiffy Kent Station shopping center. Even tiny little Bonney Lake has one, although for some strange reason they don’t seem all that pleased about it. Bothell has one, and found that it created healthy business competition. Another coffee shop opened near their bikini barista coffee shop declaring to be “family friendly.” I’m sure they didn’t mean to suggest that the bikini-clad ladies were unfriendly to families? I’ll bet the young ladies are very friendly to everyone. And Bothell got two new businesses and more tax money.
Just when I thought our economic development strategy was being outdone by all the other cities, I heard we finally got our very own bikini barista coffee shop.
We have arrived! Way to go City Hall! But why is it so far from the city center? It took me forever to find it. Couldn’t it be closer to the casino? But then I read in The Mirror that not all the council members were pleased with our economic success. Some were worried that “sin” might come along with your latte. Can you imagine that, right here in River City? Sin! I have to admit: I did blush when I read the ordinance the city council passed regarding this business. Awful lot of red tape in there. Actually, it told you where the red tape was supposed to go on the bikini barista. Does that qualify as too much government regulation?
I’m not worried about our efforts to attract new business. Now that we have saved a casino and attracted a bikini coffee shop, we are going to catch up to Kent.
I know we are, because I heard both of the candidates state very clearly that when they are elected mayor, Federal Way City Hall will have a “can do” attitude, be “creative” in attracting new business, and “find ways” to help business be successful. Maybe the new mayor will show real leadership and community pride and get us something we really need — a lingerie football team to compete against Kent’s! I looked in the Kent newspaper’s sports section to try and find out about the Kent team, but the story about their upcoming game was listed under “arts briefs.”
Culture. That’s what we need to balance our community. So Mayor Skip/Jim, did you mean what you said? How committed are you really to the benefits of economic development? More importantly, how do you feel about lingerie?