Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

Archive for July, 2009

Jul 28 2009

Commencement for Seattle’s High School Graduates!

When is the last time you’ve attended a High School graduation? Last month I had the pleasure of celebrating the academic achievements of Seattle’s 2009 high school graduates. It was an incredible experience! Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph. D., and I spoke at or attended several high school commencements, including Ingraham High School and Garfield High School. I participated in Roosevelt High School’s rehearsal exercise and attended O’Dea’s commencement services at St. James Cathedral.

We are living in a time when less than 7 in 10 American students graduate from high school in four years. Our Council was recently briefed on the graduation rates of the Seattle School District and what was very interesting is how, using the exact same data and representative class, the graduation rate significantly changed depending on the methodology used to track it. For example, in looking at Washington State’s graduation rates for 2006, the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) deduces the graduation rate to be 48.6%. At the same time, the National Governors Association Compact’s rate was 52.9%, and the Cumulative Promotion Index (Ed Week/Swanson) rate was 62.6%. However, the Manhattan Institute’s (Jay Greene) rate for this class was 74.4% and that is the rate most commonly used. According to Mary Beth Celio from Northwest Decision Resources, her study concluded there was a 66.5% graduation rate. Again, these rates are based on the same graduating class of 2006. What is critical about Mary Beth Celio’s presentation is that it is possible to identify the warning indicators and tipping points for failing students. Race, gender and free or reduced lunch status can only predict 11% of future dropouts. What are more indicative factors are middle school unexcused absences, early “F” grades, and whether they enter Seattle Public Schools as late entries. By using these early indicators, we should be able to significantly improve our intervention strategies.

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Jul 28 2009

The Definition of a Fighter and Advocate: Bob Markholt (February 1, 1937—July 19, 2009)

Published by under Community Leaders

We lost one of my heroes on July 19, 2009. Bob Markholt passed away from complications of lymphoma at age 72. Bob was a tenured faculty member at the Seattle Vocational Institute (SVI) and head of the Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Training Program (PACT). The success of the program Bob built made it a model for similar programs nationwide. Bob was a true advocate for people and social justice. Many young people enter PACT either having been in prison or on the path to it. Through PACT, Bob empowered young people by providing them the training and self-esteem to land jobs as carpenters, electricians, brick layers, laborers, painters, sheet metal workers, cement masons, plumbers and roofers.

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Jul 27 2009

Sound Transit’s Light Rail Opening: People Will Come

After decades of talk and debate, Seattle now has light-rail to add to its transportation options. The opening of the new 14-mile segment is our 1st down play to move people in this region more effectively. I voted in favor of the Sound Transit 2 measure on last year’s ballot, supporting an expanded system totaling 55 miles and 19 stations in the next 15 years. Light rail is the most effective mode to move a lot of people from urban center to urban center. As one link is built to the next link, between 50,000 to 110,000 will be riding the system in the upcoming decades. Pulling a quote from the movie, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, he will come”, in this case, “If you build it, people will use it.” By the way, for you movie buffs, it is “he” will come, not “they.” The phrase is often misquoted.

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Jul 25 2009

Good News: Rainier Avenue/Jackson Street Transit Improvements and Mount Baker Light Rail Station Pedestrian lighting

As you may know, I serve on the Puget Sound Regional Council’s (PSRC) Transportation Policy Board and its Executive Board. In this capacity, I review and approve numerous regional transportation projects using federal funds. At our July 23rd, 2009, meeting, I was successful in receiving federal funding allocations for two projects known as the “Mount Baker Light Rail Station pedestrian lighting” project and the “Rainier Avenue/Jackson Street Transit Priority Improvement” project. These projects will directly benefit bus riders and users of the Rainier Avenue/Jackson Street transit corridor and other SE Seattle residents. Currently, more than 7 million transit patrons use the services that serve this corridor. The City of Seattle forecasts that transit patronage will increase by 10% when the improvements are implemented.

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Jul 25 2009

Safeco Field: A True Classic

Published by under Mariners,Safeco Field

It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since the Mariners moved from the Kingdome to Safeco Field. It was on July 15, 1999 when the Mariners took the field against the San Diego Padres for the inaugural game. My family attended that game. To commemorate this momentous occasion of a ten year anniversary, I presented a Proclamation to the Mariner organization declaring it Safeco Field Day before the beginning of the game on Friday, July 24th against the Cleveland Indians. The full text of the Proclamation appears below. I believe it is important to celebrate milestones that help to define the culture and rhythm of our city.

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Jul 24 2009

Backyard Cottages: A Place for your Mother-in-Law?

Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs), mother-in-law units, or, (as we are calling them in Seattle) backyard cottages, are being discussed in our city’s Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee. In 2006, the City Council passed legislation which permitted backyard cottages in Southeast Seattle. To date, 17 have been built in Southeast Seattle; many built over detached garages. I was not on the council when the 2006 legislation passed but I would not have supported legislation that only allows these dwellings in one section of town.

My staff and I toured examples of the backyard cottages in Southeast Seattle. We were actually impressed by their design, efficiency and practicality. While I have expressed some concerns about the design impacts of backyard cottages on neighborhoods, the homes I toured, in my opinion, were smartly built and sensitive to the needs of the neighborhood. For example, when the cottage is built next to the alley, in space that was underutilized, it cannot be seen from the street, and is within the size and scope of the existing structures in the alley.

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