Opinion: Testimony Shoreline Armoring Removal Project

Board of County Commissioners – April 27, 2015
Testimony Shoreline Armoring Removal Project
Re: Bulkhead Removal Project.2016-2017- Social Marketing Campaign

Good evening, Commissioners My name is Vivian Henderson. You may remember I’ve been up here before you several times over this issue. It’s so important to me for you to understand why I am so adamantly against – and why you also should be against – public tax dollars going to Futurewise and other advocacy groups.

In the first place it violates the “gifting of public funds” provision as defined in the Washington State Constitution Article 8 Section 7 – Oh, sure, one can “make it legal” by manipulating the intent of the “gifting of public funds” clause or one can just come right out and ignore the constitution. That’s what Sound Transit has done.

Take Transportation Choices (TCC) – for example. They are definitely an advocacy group. TCC wants to get people out of their cars and onto the bus. Between 1999 and 2008 Sound Transit has contributed at least $156,000 (identified as membership & annual dues) of public money to this special interest group. TCC boast a heavy legislative lobby; a “no no” when receiving public funds.

In 2006 and 2008, Sound Transit contributed $2,500 of public money to Futurewise annual dinner and auction. Each year grants get larger. Public agencies and advocate groups become more emboldened and that pittance of $2,500 suddenly becomes $366,000.

These are just a few of violations that I’ve learned about. They barely scratch the surface and some figures may be outdated. I’m sure there are more current up- to- date “give-a-ways”. And I didn’t even mention the Port of Seattle’s violations of the “gifting”clause. It is legendary.

Michal Ennis Director of the Center for Transportation WA Policy Center, a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research organization in Seattle & Olympia leaves us with this thought: “Giving public money to interest groups that financially support the agency’s own ballot measure creates a conflict of interest on such a scale that should be obvious to the most casual taxpayer. Whether or not the public funds are separated from the lobbying and campaign activity, the mere appearance spoils all objectivity for both the interest group and the public agency.”

Now Kitsap County has awarded Futurewise $87,000; and there are others. Are you sure you want Kitsap County cast in this shadowy light?

Vivian Henderson, A private Citizen 

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