To The Editor
March 17, 2009
Adminstrators make it difficult to determine what the money status is
What is the financial status of Issaquah?Well, hard to say.
In the special meeting presented to the council, the financial updates were not put on the screen for the public. Actually, they were only even given to council at the beginning of the meeting, providing no time for council review. Worse, the January sheet did not show the budgeted numbers as compared to the actualized numbers, making an odd financial statement where every line item was 100 percent dead on budget.
The administration still assumed a large dollar amount of building permit fees, but did not provide the list of the projects expected to move forward. The finance director assumed a reduction in sales taxes, but how much in total and was that approved by council?
Why did the administration present the information in this uncooperative manner? Aren’t we all in this together? Isn’t it the public’s dollar?
The administration also indicated that it was too early to understand trends, as January stands alone in the year. I guess November and December never did exist.
The administration clearly stated that the city doesn’t pay much attention to outside trends, even as the finance director talked about having to move investment money to a much lower interest account, because of a change by the state, and the city administrator talked about hope for federal economic stimulus money for some affordable housing and the zero net energy house.
Where does the city really stand? Did it actually apply for any stimulus money? When do the citizens get to see the financial information? What is the city hiding so vigorously and why? I had hoped that this bunker attitude had gone out with the Bush Administration, but it seems to be alive in Issaquah.
State leaders need to examine new ways to meet their school funding mandate
Do you know that Washington ranks:
21st in the nation for teacher salaries?
34th in the nation for graduation rates?
40th in the nation for student-counselor ratios?
44th in the nation for K-12 per pupil funding?
46th in the nation for student-teacher ratios?
Issaquah ranks 271st out of 295 school districts in per pupil funding? How much lower can we go?
We need education reform and we need more funding, but we cannot and should not fund the current system that is inequitable and failing.
The Basic Education Task Force has submitted a proposal to the governor that would provide a blueprint for revamping the education system for the future. This proposal would increase the rigor for our students, add early learning, increase teacher compensation and performance, and provide accountability and transparency for education funding. This proposal needs to be the basis for our reform efforts and we need to urge our legislators to implement the recommendations.
It is the state of Washington’s paramount duty to fund education. We can’t let the current economic crisis become the excuse for why we can’t make education funding a priority. The state has failed our students. The bill has come due and the state has an obligation to fulfill. The economic future of our state is dependent upon the education of our youth.
Our kids deserve a quality education and they need to be prepared to compete in a global economy. If you are outraged with our rankings, then I urge you to contact the governor and our legislators to ask for their commitment to our children.
City Council remains oddly silent after voters approve transportation system
As I remember, before last November’s elections, Mayor Ava Frisinger and Council President Fred Butler endorsed, very enthusiastically, Sound Transit plans for light rail expansion, including the Eastside.
Now that voters have approved that huge and very, very expensive project, what is our City Council’s role in making sure Issaquah residents will get any benefit from this after paying taxes for the foreseeable future and sacrificing existing express lanes on the Interstate 90 bridge to light rail going to Bellevue and Redmond?
I only hear that the Bellevue City Council is trying to throw more money into that money pit by endorsing a tunnel option. But what about building some kind of transportation hub that would allow people living in the I-90 corridor to at least easily switch to buses? We are paying taxes, too.
In this tough economic times we need to understand better where our tax dollars go and whether they are really destined to help communities that are paying them.
Safety devices are long overdue
I’m sure eagle-eyed readers of The Issaquah Press saw the news this week that the Issaquah Police Department and the city have installed new speed cameras on Southeast Second Avenue in the vicinity of the schools.
I know speed cameras are an anathema to some. However, I’m sure for all pedestrians, cyclists and pupils attending Issaquah High School, Clark Elementary School and Tiger Mountain Community High School this will come as a long overdue blessing.
Too many times I have seen cars driving along Second Avenue at speeds in excess of 40 mph. We live in a small town; slow down, enjoy the view! You might save a life — or a $124 fine.