Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Make the most of Labor Day: Get out and enjoy King County's parks while you can

It’s Labor Day, and if you live in King County, there’s a good chance you will ignore the rain and head outside since our region is blessed with incredible natural beauty. Maybe you’ll go to your favorite park. You’ll walk your dog there, let your kids play on the playground or maybe just take in the rain-drenched scenery.

The favorite park you visit today could be one of 39 currently on the chopping block as King County struggles to balance its books during the down economy.

As if that isn’t bad enough, if Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033 passes in November, all of these parks may never reopen for visitors. If we can’t afford to keep them open today, I-1033 will make it impossible to afford them in the future either.

Tim Eyman’s latest attempt to devastate Washington would lock our state, county and city governments into their current, recession-starved budgets, budgets that are already too small to continue to provide the park system that King County residents treasure. As our Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve has written, I-1033:
...freezes services at their current levels, prohibiting government from investing almost any more than what it invested the previous year in schools, roads, parks, libraries, pools, or police and fire protection.
Does this sound familiar? In 2002, King County also closed forty four parks, half of which were closed for over a year. There were many reasons for the closures: a slumping economy had decreased the county's revenue, and the demand for county services was going up, but it was Tim Eyman’s Initiative 747 that really tied the hands of the county, because it placed artificial, draconian limits on our common wealth. The county couldn't raise enough revenue to maintain the services that it offered.

Tim Eyman is now trying to dig the county’s hole a lot deeper. I-1033 doesn't place limits on any one revenue source... instead it freezes all services at their current levels. That's why it's more dangerous.

Parks aren’t the only valuable service that we receive from the county, just one of the most visible. We can add to it: mental health, law enforcement, public health, natural disaster planning, transportation and environmental services.

King County provides the infrastructure that allows all of us to make the most of life, secure in knowing that the basic priorities of our society are being met.

What is hopefully only a temporary interruption in park service could become permanent if we make a mistake and approve another shortsighted Eyman measure. King County's thirty nine fabulous parks are just one of the many services hanging in the balance this November.

Please remember to vote NO on Initiative 1033.


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