At the May 26, 2009, Full Council, I opposed legislation that would allow the Seattle Transportation Department (SDOT) to spend between $100,000 – $200,000 to hire a consultant to look into the December snow storm response and our City’s overall emergency preparedness in SDOT. I believed the one-time outside consultant cost of $200,000 should not be necessary because this scope of work should be part of the core function and business at SDOT. The Seattle Times reported SDOT paid a consultant over $515,000 to investigate workplace issues dealing with its employees, many of whom do snow response work. That consultant interviewed over 114 people. How does that improve service to you?
I want SDOT to have the internal expertise and develop the algebra behind a smart plan. Even though these severe winter storms only hit Seattle once in a decade, I have been blunt in saying, “This is not brain surgery.” Regardless of the limited experience to snow storm responses in this region, staff at SDOT and Emergency Management Operations should be working with other jurisdictions on an annual basis to study residential plowing policies, use of salt, use of carbide blades, communication and coordination plans, and other procedural and operational functions during a snow storm response at no additional cost to the City. As I stated repeatedly during committee discussions and council briefings, this type of work should already be part of each Councilmember’s committee and department work plan. As chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, I worked closely with Seattle City Light and the Department of Information Technology to review emergency management policies this past year. I have suggested to my colleagues that as they oversee their respective committees, they should include emergency management reviews that are appropriate to the departments they oversee and include it as an annual item on their work program.
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My voting record and policy preferences would strongly suggest that I am a proponent of economic development and an advocate of small business. As you may know, I am working on the development of a purchasing co-op with the goal of bringing small businesses together as a coalition to gain purchasing power. A recent article by Seattle Times’ columnist Steve Kelley and a letter from a Seattle Center merchant described an issue that I have been asking about during the development of the Seattle Center master plan. I believe many businesses in the Seattle Center/Uptown area are hurting and one major factor could be the loss of the Sonics.
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According to the Kelley article, a Seattle Center restaurant owner was given an oral guarantee that the Sonics would call Key Arena home at least until the end of the 2010 season. As a result of the departure of the Sonics, her business is down 55 percent. The owner goes on to say that it feels like a ghost town. One of my staff members walks through the Center House every day on his way home from work. He has wondered how any of the restaurants can continue to stay in business. At 6:00 p.m. on a weekday, there is virtually nobody there, with exception to a concert or a Storm game. With the loss of the Sonics, these businesses lost at least 41 great nights of high volume business (and more if they made the playoffs). Some owners claim that one night of the Sonics could make up for four slow days of business. Kelley goes on to narrate that just outside of Seattle Center in Uptown at least three restaurants have closed in the last eight months and how most of the businesses in that neighborhood are small mom-and-pop operations.
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How can you not know about the digital switch in over-the-air television signals occurring in our country on June 12th? You would be surprised. About 20,000 households in Seattle are still not prepared. On May 13th, 2009, I held a press conference with members from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the City’s Office of Cable Communications and Information Technology. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued a media release in the U. S. Department of Commerce News stating, “The Department of Commerce is aggressively reaching out to the most unprepared communities across the country, including Seattle, to help them get ready for the June 12th national switch. I commend Councilmember Bruce Harrell and the entire Seattle City Council for their work to help educate Seattle residents about the upcoming digital transition.”
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Below is the media advisory for an event this Wednesday (5/13/09) to mark the “30-Day Countdown” to the Digital Television Transition on June 12.
What: Press Conference on the 30-Day Countdown to the Digital Television Transition
When: Wednesday, May 13 at 3:15 p.m.
Where: Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue – Bertha Knight Landes Room
Who: Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Federal Communications Commission Representatives
Why: In a joint effort with the Federal Communications Commission, Councilmember Harrell will convene this press conference to mark the “30-Day Countdown” to the June 12th nationwide transition to digital television. The press conference will also call attention to the remaining 20,000 households in the Seattle market that remain unprepared for the transition.
“The City needs to continue marketing this change to digital television and make sure that all residents are ready for the transition,” said Councilmember Harrell. “Local television programming is a fundamental service for many residents, enabling them to receive information and participate in their local democracy.”
Members from the FCC will be at the press conference to provide a demonstration on how to install the converter box to an analog TV with an indoor antenna. Staff members will be on hand to help residents who have not taken advantage of the $40 coupon that is available to subsidize the $40 – $70 cost of the converter box.
For more information, visit the improved http://www.DTV.gov website or the City’s website at: http://seattle.gov/cable/digital.htm. You can also call Councilmember Harrell’s office at 206-684-8804.
Image credit: www.dtv.gov