County Council appoints citizens to redraw districts

January 19, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 19, 2011

King County Council members appointed a team of community leaders Tuesday to update the map for representation in county government.

The council appointed four members to the King County Districting Committee, the citizen committee responsible for redrawing council districts based on 2010 Census data.

“Redistricting is a challenging, time-consuming process that is vital to ensuring our residents are fairly represented,” Councilman Reagan Dunn said in a statement. “We are grateful that these four highly-qualified community members are willing to provide their service to King County.”

Dunn represents District 9 on the nine-member council. The district encompasses the rural area near Issaquah, plus Newcastle, Maple Valley and areas inside Bellevue and Renton.

Issaquah proper is inside District 3. Councilwoman Kathy Lambert represents District 3. The northeastern King County district is the largest in the county.

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Residents could lose voice if community councils fold

January 18, 2011

King County residents called on leaders last week to preserve community councils in rural and unincorporated neighborhoods, despite directions from the County Council to slash dollars for the groups.

Residents from the Puget Sound shoreline to rural areas near Issaquah operate unincorporated area councils to conduct neighborhood programs and foster citizen participation.

The councils also act as liaisons for unincorporated area residents to the county government based in Seattle. The county is home to 1.9 million people, including 340,000 residents in unincorporated areas.

But County Council members winnowed the budget for the unincorporated area councils from about $330,000 to $50,000 late last year, as the county faced a $60 million budget gap. Read more

King County residents fret about proposal to cut unincorporated area councils

January 14, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. Jan. 14, 2011

King County residents have called on leaders to preserve community councils in rural and unincorporated neighborhoods, despite directions from the County Council to reduce the program.

Residents from the Puget Sound shoreline to rural areas near Woodinville operate unincorporated area councils to conduct neighborhood programs and foster citizen participation.

The councils also act as liaisons for unincorporated area residents to the county government based in Seattle. The county is home to 1.9 million people, including 340,000 residents in unincorporated areas.

But County Council members winnowed the budget for the unincorporated area councils from about $330,000 to $50,000 late last year, as the county faced a $60 million budget gap.

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Councilman urges King County to find better plan to fund public safety

December 1, 2010

NEW — 1 p.m. Dec. 1, 2010

Reagan Dunn urged other King County Council members Wednesday to create a “priority commission” to determine how the cash-strapped county can fund the criminal justice system.

The county councilman offered the proposal less than a month after voters rejected a sales tax hike meant to limit cuts to the King County Sheriff’s Office and county courts.

The council later cut more than 20 deputies from the sheriff’s office in a lean 2011 budget. Dunn argued against the criminal cuts and refused to approve the spending plan.

Liberty High School is scheduled to lose a school resource officer as a result of the cuts, and a police storefront near Issaquah is due to close.

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Sheriff: Cuts should not slow 911 response

November 23, 2010

Deputies could be trained to investigate property crimes

King County Sheriff Sue Rahr lamented upcoming cuts to police service in unincorporated areas, but said emergency response should not be affected for rural residents.

King County Council members decided Nov. 15 to eliminate 28 deputies from the King County Sheriff’s Office, close police storefronts, and eliminate school resource officers from Liberty High School and other campuses. The storefront in the Four Creeks Unincorporated Area between Issaquah and Renton is due to close under the plan.

“In light of these reductions, my first priority for the sheriff’s office is to maintain emergency response,” Rahr said in prepared remarks delivered Nov. 18 at the King County Courthouse. “If you call 911 in 2011, it will not take longer for a sheriff’s deputy to arrive. If you need to be rescued from a flooding river or have a hiking accident, we will still have a team to respond.”

The budget also reduced resources to investigate property crimes. Under the budget, the number of property crimes investigators is to be reduced from 16 to two. Rahr said the office has a proposal to continue investigations of burglaries and other property crimes.

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King County sheriff decries cuts to rural police service

November 18, 2010

NEW — 3 p.m. Nov. 18, 2010

King County Sheriff Sue Rahr lamented the upcoming cuts to police service in rural areas, including the closure of a police storefront near Issaquah and reduced resources to investigate property crimes.

King County Council members decided Monday to eliminate 28 deputies from the King County Sheriff’s Office, close police storefronts, and eliminate school resource officers from Liberty High School and other campuses.

“All the cuts in police services were difficult,” Rahr said in prepared remarks delivered Thursday at the King County Courthouse. “All the cuts will mean a hardship for the 305,000 citizens living in unincorporated King County, especially if they are victims of a crime. I wish none of the cuts were made.”

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Budget cuts nix police storefront, resource officer

November 16, 2010

The austere county budget for the upcoming year closes a police storefront near Issaquah and reassigns a popular resource officer from Liberty High School.

The spending plan also eliminates 28 deputy positions from the King County Sheriff’s Office, reduces police service in rural areas and curtails investigations into burglaries and other property crimes. The budget includes, all told, about 300 staff reductions.

King County Council members approved the lean budget Nov. 15, after a monthslong debate about how to fund police and other criminal justice services. Read more

Leaders pledge ‘draconian’ cuts after sales tax defeat

November 9, 2010

In the half-dozen years Dave Montalvo has served as the Liberty High School resource officer, the requests start just before homecoming and prom: Students ask for a boy or girl to be caught in a traffic stop as part of a detailed ruse to ask for a date.

The longtime King County Sheriff’s Office deputy said the ritual helps build bonds between students and law enforcement officers. Despite the success, Montalvo could be reassigned to patrol duty soon.

“I come in here with more of an educational attitude rather than with a punitive attitude,” he said. “Just by working with the kids and explaining the circumstances and bad decisions, rather than saying, ‘I’m going to throw the book at you every time that I can,’ really makes a difference in making relationships.”

The cash-strapped county could reassign Montalvo and other school resource officers, close police storefronts in rural areas, lay off deputies and reduce court services.

Proposition 1 — the countywide measure to raise the sales tax rate to 2 cents per $10 purchase to limit the proposed cuts — collapsed in double-digit defeat on Election Day. Officials estimated a $35 million boon next year and $48 million in 2012.

Instead, King County budget leaders said the defeat means “draconian” cuts in order to close a $60 million shortfall.

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County proposes tax hike to stave off cuts

September 21, 2010

Proposed increase to generate $500,000 for Issaquah

Deep cuts to the King County Sheriff’s Office budget could force the agency to shut down police storefronts — a popular crime-prevention tool in rural King County outside of Issaquah.

But the best bet to limit cuts to the sheriff’s office — a proposed sales tax increase dedicated to public safety — rankles Tom Carpenter, a resident and community leader in the Four Creeks Unincorporated Area between Issaquah and Renton.

“Why would you ever trade preventative for reactive?” he said.

The county has asked voters to raise the sales tax rate two-tenths of 1 percent, or 2 cents per $10. The measure on the Nov. 2 ballot aims to raise the sales tax from 9.5 percent to 9.7 percent in order to preserve sheriff’s deputies, county prosecutors, public defenders and court employees.

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Rural residents raise concerns about public safety cutbacks

August 3, 2010

County Executive Dow Constantine trekked east to Hobart — and into the sometimes-tenuous relationship between county government and rural King County residents — for a forum last week.

Constantine said unincorporated-area and rural residents stand to bear the brunt of looming cuts to county services, including King County Sheriff’s Office deputy layoffs and cutbacks to the county court system.

Contributed King County Executive Dow Constantine (left) addresses rural residents and the presidents of the six unincorporated area councils, including Four Creeks leader Tom Carpenter (far right), at a July 26 forum.

“There is significant disconnect between the cost of doing business and the dollars available,” he said during the July 26 meeting at Hobart Community Church. “We’re scrounging and scrapping to find ways to protect the quality of life for 2 million people in this county.”

Inside the overheated church, Constantine heard from leaders of the six unincorporated area councils — citizen groups elected by residents in regions as disparate as Vashon Island and rural Maple Valley. The unincorporated county is home to about 340,000 of the 1.9 million county residents.

The group includes Four Creeks, home to about 14,000 residents in a swath stretched between Issaquah and Renton. The area encompasses Maple Hills, May Valley, Mirrormont and other communities south of Issaquah city limits.

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