Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sustaining Seattle’s Parks and Civil Engagement—A New Approach featuring Becca Aue and Thatcher Bailey, Seattle Parks Foundation and Dan Catchpole, Journalist

Regular Meeting
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency), Pacific Marine Center on Lake Union
Thursday, April 28, 2011


Sustaining Seattle’s Parks and Civil Engagement—A New Approach
featuring Becca Aue and Thatcher Bailey, Seattle Parks Foundation
and Dan Catchpole, Journalist

There is a need for dialogue on a wide range of important issues confronting our city, and hopefully, consensus.  The April meeting will feature a discussion on parks funding issues and a proposed approach to civic engagement on issues in general that are divisive. 

Becca Aue, Program Director, and Thatcher Bailey, Executive Director, Seattle Parks Foundation, will brief the group on the report, Sustaining Seattle’s Parks: A Study of Alternative Strategies to Support Operations and Maintenance of a Great Urban Parks System, and will respond to questions.   Finding the right mix of solutions for our parks relies on a broad community dialogue.  For more information about the Parks Foundation, go to www.seattleparksfoundation.org.   

Seattle’s parks lack a consistent, sustainable source of funds to pay for operations, maintenance, rehabilitation, and repair.  There is currently a $25 million shortfall in the annual cost of operating and maintaining the existing parks system and a $200 million backlog of major maintenance projects.  The recent report prepared for the Seattle Parks Foundation and its partners outlines a range of potential solutions based upon a nationwide review of best practices.
Dan Catchpole, journalist, will discuss his proposal for bringing diverse groups together to reach consensus.

The April meeting will also include our monthly Round Robin of issues and projects in your neighborhood.  If you have informational materials you would like distributed at the meeting, please email electronic copies or links to Jeannie Hale at jeannieh@serv.net.

7:00 Call to Order and Introductions

7:05 Administration

1. Changes to the agenda

2. Treasurer’s report

3. President’s report

7:15 Sustaining Seattle’s Parks:  Becca Aue and Thatcher Bailey, Seattle Parks Foundation

8:15 Engage Seattle—Civic Engagement for Seattle’s Next 50 Years:  Dan Catchpole

8:40 Round Robin

9:00 Adjourn

NOAA is a federal facility on high security alert, so attendees must enter by the security gate and may need to present photo ID. If you haven't attended a recent Federation meeting, please send your name, contact information, and address to rickbarrett@gmail.com  to be added to the entry list. No e-mail? Call 206-365-1267. The building is ADA compliant, with ample parking in front.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Good news for Neighborhoods - Bernie Matsuno will lead Department of Neighborhoods

Matsuno will lead Department of Neighborhoods

One of the original staff members of Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods was named director Wednesday by Mayor Mike McGinn.
Bernie Matsuno was one of the first hires when the department was created in 1988 by then-director Jim Diers. Matsuno had been serving as interim director since Feb. 1.
"Bernie has great experience in the Department of Neighborhoods from its inception," McGinn said in a statement. "Her experience will help all city departments engage and partner with the public in improving our communities."
Matsuno had previously served as acting director under Mayor Greg Nickels, and then again this year when McGinn announced he was not reappointing Stella Chao, who had led the department for four years.
Chao was credited with reaching out to previously underrepresented communities including young people and immigrants. But critics said the department lacked a strong sense of mission under Chao and that she hadn't inspired staff in the way the popular Diers had. The department faced sharp cuts in the 2011 budget. Six neighborhood service centers were closed and three district-coordinator positions eliminated.
Matsuno previously worked with Jim Diers, the popular Neighborhoods director who was let go when Nickels took office in 2002. She helped create the department's Matching Fund program, which provides city money for neighborhood projects such as parks, playgrounds and landmark artwork such as the Fremont Troll and the China Gate in the International District.

Her workload will be tremendous as she rebuilds the tattered Department, perhaps even liberating it from it's forced and crippling alliances with the density-driven Department of Planning and Development, which has resulted in less than optimal outcomes in many Seattle neighborhoods.
Matsuno is certainly a dedicated and savvy leader, now she'll finally have the opportunity to follow in Dier's footsteps.

Sunday, April 17, 2011



The City Council’s handling of its governing role in the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) is jarringly at odds with the policies and processes that the Councilmembers say they support.  At tomorrow’s Monday, April 18 meeting, the Council should not pass C.B. 117142, the proposed Interlocal Agreement, until the ordinance establishing STBD and this agreement are revised to make STBD fully subject to the City Charter, laws, and regulations, and the City Council rules; and until the City Council by ordinance and by this agreement removes the STBD’s far-reaching powers of eminent domain; property acquisition, holding, and disposal; employment; and contracting.

In creating Seattle’s Transportation Benefit District the City Councilmembers automatically became its governing board, and by state law (RCW and Seattle Ordinance 123397 the Councilmembers are acting “in an ex officio and independent capacity” --   that is, independent of the City charter, laws, regulations, or rules.  In their choices for the text of Ordinance 123397 (passed Sept. 20), the STBD charter and by-laws (adopted Oct. 25 by them at STBD’s first and only meeting), and in the Interlocal Agreement up for approval tomorrow, the City Councilmembers have created for themselves a body with far-reaching powers in which they are free to act in all kinds of unaccountable ways, at wide variance from the accountable procedures that govern them in their day jobs as Seattle City Councilmembers.

The only real direction in Ord. 1123397 to STBD is that it “preserve and maintain transportation infrastructure, improve public safety, implement projects identified in the SDOT planning documents and CIP, invest in bicycle, pedestrian, freight mobility and transit enhancements and provide people with choices to meet their mobility needs.”  Additional ordinances may be passed that add to STBD’s functions, simply if the City Councilmembers “find the action to be in the public interest.”   In pursuing these functions, STBD’s governing board of City Councilmembers is not bound by Seattle’s charter, ordinances, resolutions, regulations, or rules.  And RCW 36.73 denies to Seattle voters the ability to close STBD down by public initiative, an option available to Seattle voters for matters governed by home rule.  STBD may be may closed down only by the City Councilmembers acting by ordinance or as the STBD board members.

It is little understood by the public that under RCW 36.73 the Seattle Transportation Benefit District has vast powers to act without the protections of Seattle’s charter, ordinances, resolutions, regulations, or rules.   Ord. 123397 (which established STBD) allows the City Councilmembers as the STBD board to act “for any purpose allowed by law,” and state law provides to any transportation benefit district such far-reaching powers (beyond control of Seattle’s Charter, ordinances, resolutions, or regulations) as: 

  • to take property by eminent domain
  • to acquire, hold, and dispose of real and personal property
  • to hire and manage employees
  • to contract for construction, consultants, or any other purpose
  • to impose a $20/year vehicle license fee without public vote; and to place addition taxes before the voters
  • to issue bonds
  • to sue and be sued

C.B. 117142 (what the City Councilmembers propose to pass tomorrow as their “interlocal agreement” with themselves as the STBD governing board) restricts none of these powers.  The only hint of a restriction is the meaningless statement that “The STBD has no employees.”  STBD may have no employees right now, but there is nothing in C.B. 117142 that would prevent STBD in the future from hiring employees or exercising any of the powers listed above. 

Like the ill-fated Monorail Authority, the Transportation Benefit District is state-chartered and thus free of protections that have been painstakingly built into the Seattle’s Charter, ordinances, resolutions, regulations, and rules to ensure that its powers are not abused.  Given the minimal and unaccountable language of its authorizing ordinance, charter and by-laws, the STBD is restricted only by state laws, which are weak and which the legislature is free to weaken further.  As a local government, Seattle has home rule and more than a century of protections for citizens’ rights.  In how it has created the STBD outside of the home rule paradigm, the City Council has quite unnecessarily given up the many protections of the Charter, ordinances, resolutions, and regulations:

  • STBD is not subject to any of Seattle’s laws and regulations on competitive bidding, equal employment, human rights, ethics, public records disclosure, civil service, whistleblower protection, percent for the arts, tree protection, and even the Comprehensive Plan.

  • STBD escapes the jurisdiction of all of Seattle’s boards and commissions such as the Civil Service Commission, Public Safety Civil Service Commission, Ethics and Elections Commission, Design Commission, Planning Commission, Human Rights Commission, and Commission for People with Disabilities.    

In acting as the STBD board, the City Councilmembers are not even covered by their own City Council rules.  The by-laws that the City Councilmembers adopted for STBD on Oct. 25 state misleadingly that “the procedures of the City of Seattle City Council will govern the procedures of the Board,” but then belie this statement by following it with this breathtaking loophole:  “Failure to follow procedural rules will not in itself constitute sufficient grounds for invalidating any Board action.”  Rules mean nothing if the City Councilmembers do not require themselves to observe them when they are convened as STBD. 

To make matters worse, the STBD by-laws depart from the City Council rules by stating that “despite any apparent conflict with City Council rules, a TBD Resolution may be introduced and acted upon during the same meeting of the Board.”  Also, unlike the City Council rule for public comment to be allowed at the beginning of every full Council and Council committee meeting, the STBD bylaws ensure this opportunity only when the STBD “considers adoption of its annual plan for service or imposition of any tax, charge, or fee,” with the by-laws saying dismissively that for other STBD meetings and topics, that the Board (that is, the City Councilmembers) “from time to time may, in its sole discretion, permit public comment regarding additional topics.”  And to add insult to injury, the Oct. 25 STBD meeting delayed public comment until after these faulty charter and by-laws had already been adopted.

If there is any dispute as to the legal issues raised above, please join in asking City Attorney Pete Holmes to prepare and release to the public a detailed legal memorandum analyzing them.  During most of Seattle’s history, City Attorneys have issued such public legal memos, and Holmes promised during the campaign that he would start doing so again.   A good start would be for him to issue a detailed public legal opinion on the issues raised above.

By e-mails, voice mail, and/or fax, please urge the City Councilmembers not to pass C.B. 117142 without revising and strengthening Ord. 123397 and the proposed Interlocal Agreement with themselves as STBD boardmembers to make the Seattle Transportation Benefit District fully subject to the City charter, laws, and regulations, and to the City Council rules; and that the City Council by ordinance and a revised Interlocal Agreement remove STBD’s far-reaching powers of eminent domain; property acquisition, holding, and disposal; employment; and contracting.  And please testify at the Monday, April 18, 2 p.m. public comment period, in the second floor Council Chambers of City Hall, 601 Fifth Avenue, just before they vote.  Below are the voice mails and e-mail addresses, or find the Councilmembers on Twitter and Facebook.  It’s best to write to each Councilmember separately, not address all in one message.  The fax number is (206) 684-8587

This e-mail was put together as a public service by Chris Leman, (206) 322-5463cleman@oo.net  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Delridge memorial for Vivian McLean: ‘Let’s keep her spirit alive’

Delridge memorial for Vivian McLean: ‘Let’s keep her spirit alive’

April 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm | In Delridge, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 6 Comments By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Her community-advocacy work was intense and serious – yet Delridge community activistVivian McLean was also known for her whimsy.
After almost two hours of tributes – from politicians, from neighbors, from family – her memorial this afternoon at Delridge Community Center, 16 days after her death at age 90, ended with a round of “The Hokey-Pokey” (video*).
Though our view didn’t include every single member of the standing-room-only crowd, participation looked universal. That would have included King County Executive Dow Constantine, former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, City Council President Richard Conlin, City Councilmembers Jean Godden, Nick Licata, and Tom Rasmussen, County Councilmember Joe McDermott, and Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith. And neighborhood luminaries too numerous to name (Steve Daschle of Southwest Youth and Family Services emceed). Even Jim Diers, the former Department of Neighborhoods director renowned for his evangelization of “Neighbor Power!” was on hand; Diers is the one who urged mourners, “Let’s keep her spirit alive.”

There didn’t seem to be much likelihood Ms. McLean will ever be forgotten. And not just because you can see her legacy at places such as Vivian McLean Place, the apartments over Delridge Library, which she fought for, or in other projects by Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association – which she helped create. It’s the people on whom she has left such a mark, that will continue to tell her story, and carry her work forward.
Speaker after speaker shared vivid memories of the woman who embraced so strongly the community where she had lived since 1948. Before Deputy Mayor Smith read a proclamation declaring today to be “Vivian McLean Day,” one of her four children – son Bruce McLean - shared personal stories of growing up with his mom. She nurtured others, too – not just the schoolchildren with whom she worked as an educator for so many years, but also other activists, and those who chose to move into the political realm. “Vivian adopted me for a little while,” recalled Council President Conlin. “She was incredibly tenacious.”
Conlin, it should be noted, was the only non-West Seattle-residing politician to speak, but that was a reminder that Ms. McLean’s reputation was known off-peninsula too.
County Executive Constantine lauded her for the “perspective” she provided, recalling her as “extraordinary.”
Former Mayor Nickels said Ms. McLean had decided early in his political career that he “was worth betting on” – and once he was elected to the King County Council in the ’80s, “she contacted me by letter and phone (often) to let me know how I was doing.”
Back in the day, Nickels said, “there were three people (I learned) you never say no to – one of them is here in this room today, Margaret Ceis – (also, the late) ‘Bert’ Weeks … and Vivian McLean.”
Other community activists offered eulogies as well. From the back of the room, Alexandra Pye, explaining to the crowd that she is using a wheelchair now, nonetheless stood up from it to tell her story of seeing Ms. McLean dancing, just a few years ago. Lucy Gaskill, a West Seattleite active with the Seattle League of Women Voters, said Ms. McLean epitomized what someone in her organization strives to be.
And her activism stretched well into her later life. White Center Food Bank volunteer coordinator Audrey Zemke shared the story of a phone call two years ago in which Ms. McLean said she wanted to “help out” – which, subsequently, she did. “She taught me that life is about living today.”
A montage of photos and tributes (put together by Shayla Simoes of SWYFS) visually told the story of highlights during Ms. McLean’s life – including her advocacy for Longfellow Creek and other greenspaces. (You can click through the slides below.* Some of the tributes came from comments left on the WSB story about her death on March 24th.)
And since she was known for her poetry, it was only fitting that – as was done during her 90th birthday celebration last fall (WSB coverage here) – some of her poems were read.
Sandy Adams read “The Healing Tree.” Margaret Ceis read “Walk Out Tall.” Susan Harmon read a poem with lines of inspiration, including “Speak up; do not try to hide.” A similar theme graced “A Giraffe Is Born” – as in, sticking your neck out – read by Pete Spalding, who prefaced the reading with a memory: Once he took on a leadership role in Pigeon Point, the neighborhood where Ms. McLean had long lived, “seldom a week went by without a message from (her), something she noticed on a walk, something (she had decided that) I now needed to take care of!” Pablo Lambinicio read, “Have I Told You Lately That I Care?”
And then, there was Jim Diers. “Vivian is the kind of activist we should all aspire to be. As the mayoral proclamation read toward the start of the memorial – it declared Vivian McLean made Seattle “a richer and better place.”
*Hokey-Pokey video by Karrie Kohlhaas, who also uploaded the tribute montage PowerPoint to Scribd so it could be embedded here and elsewhere.


RSS feed for comments on this post.
  1. Here’s a link to the tribute that played for Vivian today at the memorial: http://www.scribd.com/doc/52680397/Vivian-McLean-Memorial-pptx
    Click the arrows just below the image on the left to advance the slides. Thanks to Steve Daschle of SW Youth and Family Services for putting this together and the many neighbors and family members who shared their photos with us.
    Comment by Karrie Kohlhaas — April 9, 11 11:19 pm #
  2. I wanted to get up and say “thank you” to Vivian from all the newer residents of West Seattle who never knew her or knew who she was.
    She made our neighborhood a much more caring, safe and beautiful place with her relentless “community organizing.” THANK YOU VIVIAN!! (better late than never).
    Comment by howie in seattle — April 10, 11 6:01 am #
  3. What a great celebration of the life of Vivian McLean yesterday. Our Pigeon Point neighborhood as well as our Delridge community is a much better place today thanks to the decades long efforts of Vivian. Rest in peace my friend.
    Comment by Pete — April 10, 11 6:47 am #
  4. Here is another link to the Hokey Pokey video in case the one above didn’t work:
    What a great way to end Saturday’s celebration of such a vibrant woman.
    Comment by Karrie Kohlhaas — April 10, 11 12:19 pm #
  5. Inspiring! Thanks!
    Comment by Miranda — April 10, 11 2:46 pm #
  6. Vivian was a recent past-president of the Seattle Community Council Federation when I first became involved with that organization a couple of decades ago. Established in 1948, and likely the nation’s longest-lived non-profit of it’s type, still effectively advocating for neighborhood and community interests, and where Vivian’s spirit lives on and guides decisions.
    Without Vivian’s tutelage and encouragement by example I could have easily abandoned the seemingly quixotic eight- year quest of closing Seattle’s (and ultimately Washington states) terribly toxic medical waste incinerators. Vivian was my inspiration all the while.
    Comment by Rick Barrett — April 10, 11 10:37 pm #

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Renowned neighborhood leader Vivian McLean passed March 24, 2011 at age 90

Vivian with Rasta
Below is the obituary that appeared in the Sunday, April 3, 2011 Seattle Times, (available for download at legacy.com). 
Above is Vivian with Rasta, her beloved Amazon Parrot, on her shoulder. I last spoke with her on the phone just a few days before she passed, and she gave no hint of impending death or illness. Vivian had been a Seattle Community President and Vice-President, co-chaired the City Neighborhood Council’s Neighborhood Planning Committee, and had a hand in virtually every public effort and improvement in her geographical area over a decades-long history. She always hosted the Federation Christmas Party at her lavishly decorated Pigeon Point home. To get a wider idea of her many accomplishments just search the Seattle Times website for “Vivian McLean”

Vivian’s Celebration of Life will be held at 2:30 p.m. this Saturday, April 8, 2011 at the Delridge Community Center, 4501 Delridge Way SW. Here’s a map.

Rick Barrett

Vivian Lavane McLEAN Born November 3rd, 1920 in Bemidji, Minnesota to Harry and Lou Cox-Arnold. Sisters Carol, Marion; brother Dale (deceased); husband Donald McLean (deceased). Raised on a farm in Michigan, moved to Seattle in 1948 from Detroit, and settled into her Pigeon Point home until her death 3/24/11. As a community activists/organizer Vivian participated in the City's Model Cities program, and Forward Thrust. Worked as a para-professional in special education at Boren and Denny Junior High and Chief Sealth. Vivian was a Volunteer Coordinator for Seattle Public Schools. Vivian served on numerous Boards including West Seattle Chamber of Commerce; Duwamish Peninsula Community Commission, South Seattle Community College Foundation; West Duwamish Greenbelt for Open Space; Seattle Teachers Association; Delridge Land Use Task Force. She was an advocate of green spaces in the Delridge Community. Vivian was involved in the setting up of 13 neighborhood councils. She was supporter of Southwest Youth & Family Services and helped found the Delridge Neighborhood Development Association (DNDA). She served as capital campaignco-chairwoman of the DNDA Three Projects One Community Campaign, which raised $30 million to build 93 affordable housing units, a new location for the West Seattle Food Bank, and the development of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. Survived by Daughters Anne Dennison, Sandra Hein, Sons Brian and Bruce McLean, six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren. A Celebration of Life will be Saturday April 9th at 2:30pm at the Delridge Community Center, 4501 Delridge Way SW, 98106. Memorials can be sent to DNDA (Delridge Neighborhood Development Association).

Here are some comments on the West Seattle Blog's story about her 90th Birthday party on November 4th 2010:


  1. Vivian is tryly an inspiring neighbor leader who has led the eay for many years. Thanks to Vivian we all have a much better Delridge community to live in today.
    Comment by Pete — November 14, 10 10:58 am #
  2. Happy Birthday, Vivian!
    Comment by miws — November 14, 10 11:01 am #
  3. So beautiful and strong! Wow!
    Comment by I. Ponder — November 14, 10 11:28 am #
  4. Birthday greetings from Melinda & John. I refer to you as the political mother of Delridge. Many thanks!
    Comment by Melinda — November 14, 10 3:04 pm #
  5. Sorry I did not know about Vivian’s milestone achievement. Yet another one! My best wishes for many happy days reflecting on the many stones you moved up the hill!
    Comment by Judy Pickens — November 15, 10 7:47 am #
  6. Happy Birthday Vivian.
    You fill our hearts with happiness and joy.
    Continue your good works!
    Joan Bateman
    Comment by Joan Bateman — November 15, 10 9:31 pm #
  7. I am privileged to say that Vivian was a key mentor in my life. I will be sending her a print of this tribute since I don’t believe she has Internet, but maybe that’s changed. We haven’t been in touch for over a year.
    Happy Birthday to one of the true heroes of our society, who always remained true to her values, helped me and others to learn about community building, and showed me that honey works better than vinegar.
    Comment by celia barry — November 26, 10 7:14 pm #
  8. Vivian has been a mentor, supporter, co-conspirator, and excellent community advocate not only for PP and also citywide. Truly an inspiration and we hope she lives long and, well you don’t exactly prosper as a civic advocate, but you can sure feel accomplished!
    Comment by Stephen Lundgren — December 3, 10 4:35 pm #

Here's her Birthday Picture


and here's a link to her birthday story.