Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

Archive for August, 2009

Aug 30 2009

Seattle City Council Mentors: Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP) Interns

At a recent Energy and Technology Committee meeting, I asked Seattle Youth Employment Program participants Tracelyn Moore, Hodan Dahir Hassan, Karen Wong, and Vincent Nguyen, to join the discussion at the Energy and Technology Committee at Council Chambers. We acknowledged each young man and woman for participating in the internship program at the City’s Legislative Department. Click here to view the Energy and Technology Committee meeting and the introductions of Tracelyn, Hodan, Karen, and Vincent. [http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=2080916]

Each intern was provided opportunities to explore a variety of work experiences – they learned new office skills, communication skills, computer skills, office etiquette and social skills. Tracelyn, Hodan, Karen, and Vincent learned invaluable life lessons that come with working and earning a paycheck.

Each intern sat around the community table in the Council Chamber and spoke candidly about their accomplishments and aspirations:

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Aug 24 2009

Addressing City Light’s Budget Shortfall: Smart Decisions

As the City Council awaits Mayor Nickel’s budget proposal, it is no secret that the ensuing process will be arduous. The city is faced with a budget gap of $72.5 million. You may have read in The Seattle Times on August 7, 2009, that the City is exploring the idea of employee furloughs. Under the current proposal, uniformed police and fire personnel and employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 77 (IBEW) will not be requested to take furloughs. I recognize the need to minimize service disruptions in these critical areas because they are essential to keep our city functioning. As you know from previous postings, City Light is also facing a significant budget shortfall because of less-than-projected wholesale revenue. As part of the budget process, it is prudent to review rates and prepare for budget cuts. Before cuts are made, I am directing the Utility to take a hard look at reducing expenses that would minimize the impact on customers and employees.

In a letter to Superintendent Carrasco, I proposed cost cutting ideas for City Light to explore which will decrease the budget shortfall and minimize the impact on customer rates. The intent of the letter is to make sure the Utility remains creative as they look for solutions. As City Light moves forward, it is imperative that the utility make smart investments and cuts and that it knows the direction that the Council wants them to head. Below is my letter.

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Aug 21 2009

City Light’s Positive Energy Program: A Little Neighborly Competition Never Hurt Anyone

Positive Energy—I like it! This program will allow you to know how you stack up against your neighbor. At the Wednesday, August 5, 2009, Energy and Technology Committee (ETC) meeting I asked for a briefing on City Light’s Positive Energy program. It is one of City Light’s latest strategies to educate customers on energy usage and promote conservation. As you know, last year we adopted accelerated conservation as the major element in City Light’s Integrated Resource Plan.

With this project, City Light will randomly select 20,000 single family home customers to participate in a pilot project where they will be provided with the proper tools to help reduce energy costs, and in turn, reduce City Light’s need for new power plants. Nationally, hundreds of thousands of electricity customers are already participating in similar programs and it has demonstrated that these programs lead to significant savings of money and energy. Continue Reading »

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Aug 19 2009

Community Remembers Aaron Sullivan

Funeral services for Aaron Sullivan took place on August 1 at Madrona’s St. Therese Parish. Aaron was remembered by hundreds as a son, brother, grandson, protector, and friend. Aaron’s priest remembered him best when he attended St. Therese School – it was recounted that Aaron was bright and charming and he thought he knew everything.

I was asked to participate in Aaron’s Community Vigil and Remembrance on July 29 at the Rainier Community Center. Those who attended the vigil heard words of encouragement for Aaron’s large, loving family and many friends. I shared that it is my hope that our community sees this tragedy for what it is – the struggle between the influences of evil and the preserving of life.

As I reflect on that evening, the greatest tragedy is that Aaron was deprived of an opportunity to fully live out his life. Aaron’s unforeseen passing forces us to wrestle with the powers of evil and good as they exist in our community and within our hearts. It is my hope that his loss will not be a waste and his death will ignite a change in Seattle.

Since that fateful night in Leschi, it has become increasingly clear that this shooting incident is Seattle’s wake up call. Over the last three weeks, I have received many emails from parents, current and former public officials, and youth who have expressed frustration that Aaron died as a result of gun violence. His friends have shed tears and now want to do something to remember their fallen friend. Some have considered getting tattoos, while others are willing to serve on community youth advisory councils and work to see that this tragedy is not repeated.

As I listened and began to understand the journey of Aaron’s mother, father, sister and grandmother, I learned that one of life’s greatest challenge — and greatest reward — is for families, friends, and community to empower and educate our youth to become socially responsible and make good decisions.

Aaron’s passing has spurred us on to lay that groundwork for change. And in spite of society’s confusing messages (the kind of messages that force our youth to grow up before they should), our community must work together to help our youth build good values, make good judgments, and learn good decision-making skills.

If there is anything that we can do to remember our fallen friend, it is to empower and encourage our youth so a tragedy like this cannot, and will not, happen again.

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Aug 17 2009

Organic Soap Maker Setting Up Shop in Rainier Valley

Great news for the Rainier Valley! Ballard Organics Soap Company is moving from the University District to the Valley and is poised to expand its operations. This will mean new job opportunities for people in Rainier Valley. This move is largely attributable to the work of the Rainier Valley Community Development Fund (RVCDF) and the City’s Office of Economic Development (OED). I once served as legal counsel to the RVCDF and am currently a member of the Housing and Economic Development Committee.

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Aug 16 2009

Can the Employee Head Tax be Repealed Without Sacrificing Transportation Projects?

As you know, the City Council has begun discussing the possibility of repealing the employee head tax. Businesses whose annual gross income is greater than $80,000 are required to pay $25 for each employee who logs more than 1,920 hours per year and travels to work in a single occupancy vehicle. The tax is part of the Bridging the Gap Transportation (BTG) Levy, which voters passed in 2006. The levy amount was $365 million. Funds generated from BTG are to address more than 20 years of maintenance backlog for paving, sidewalks, bridge repair and the planting and pruning of trees. Over the 9 year duration of BTG, the employee head tax is projected to generate $51.5 million. Last year, it raised about $4.5 million. Relatively speaking, $4.5 million is not large when compared to the $365 million levy and I support repealing the tax in order to ease the financial burden on local business and simplify the process. I want to make sure these types of taxes actually decrease the public’s reliance on single occupancy vehicles, as well as create incentives and alternatives for employee travel. Many citizens are rightfully concerned about how pedestrian and bicycle projects will be impacted. Before I agree to the repeal, I must be convinced that these projects will not be left on the cutting room floor or be subject to long delays.

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