by Gary T. Smith
“Grey is the price
of neighboring with eagles, of knowing
a mountain’s vast presence, seen or unseen.”
So concludes “Settling” by Denise Levertov, the British-born poet who moved to Seattle in 1989 and lived near Seward Park. “She had a sense,” Father Steve Sundborg told Rotarians in his invocation, “of Mount Rainier as God: there when you can’t see, and there when you can.”
In turn, offered Father Steve, “May we each neighbor with eagles, knowing the majesty of our region. May we each be aware of the Mountain – the sacred in our lives – whether seen or unseen, and may we be willing to pay the price of the chill, the grey, the heavy, as we settle and dig in to what life has called us to do and to be, to those whom life has given us to learn from, to serve, and to love.”
New Seattle 4 Membership Campaign
President Tom Betts explained that rebuilding membership is the key to restoring Seattle 4’s financial health. The club’s goal is 155 new members this Rotary year. President Tom invited Heather Fitzpatrick, Mark Davis, and Diankha Linear to kick off Seattle 4’s new membership campaign. Diankha, a new member, and Mark, a very experienced one, testified to the benefits of belonging to Rotary.
Heather and Mark also outlined a new incentive for recruiting new members: Anyone who serves as proposer (not a seconder) for an applicant during the 2014-2015 club year will earn an entry into the campaign's prize drawings. Throughout the year, the campaign will reward participants with prizes ranging from a pair of tickets to a Seattle Shakespeare performance to a gorgeous Tissot watch from Ben Bridge Jewelers. Your entry will remain active all year, “so recruit early and recruit often!” said Fitzpatrick.
Crosscut writers share political insights
A panel of politically expert journalists from Crosscut.com presented Rotary’s feature program. Crosscut is the nonprofit news organization started by civic engagement entrepreneur David Brewster (who also founded Town Hall and the Seattle Weekly). Crosscut focuses primarily on the civic and cultural life of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.
Crosscut publisher and editor-in-chief Mary Bruno orchestrated the panel, consisting of political editor Joe Copeland, columnist and resident “Mossback” Knute Berger, City Hall reporter Bill Lucia, and political consultant and analyst Benjamin Anderstone.
Among their opinions on issues and ballot propositions:
• The city transit tax: Proposed to offset expected cuts in service but now repositioned as a way to increase service. Will it still sell? Lucia and Silverstone both thought it would pass.
• Piecemeal taxation: Bruno pressed her panel: ‘It seems like each time we have a need, we just put a new tax on the ballot. Is this wise?’ Berger replied: “I think it is a problem long term. We’re creating a patchwork within what the law will allow; more silos, more separate entities. You’re getting a less than optimal taxation system. We keep talking about affordability but every solution we come up with makes the city more expensive to live in. I think it’s going to catch up with us.”
• The two countervailing state gun initiatives: I-594, expanding background checks, and I-591, restricting background checks. Benjamin thought 594 likely to pass and 591 unlikely. Should they both pass, however, the state would face the unprecedented situation of conflicting mandates. It’s unclear how the Legislature or the courts would resolve them.
• Local initiative for a monorail: Bruno noted that longtime monorail supporter Dick Falkenbury called this initiative “A promise for a plan for the process to plan.” Berger said he wasn’t clear on the need, but “there’s still a lot of good will for monorail, so it will be interesting” to see how that translates to this measure.
Crosscut writers prognosticate
Bruno asked her writers to make predictions or point to under-covered or upcoming issues. Berger and Anderstone pointed to the rising debate about Seattle’s density and quality of life. Watch for Peter Steinbrueck’s study about density and affordability in our neighborhoods, out soon, and read Politico’s article about Seattle’s leadership in micro-housing Scrunched in Seattle, they said. Lucia is watching the City Council address developer fees and how to pay for affordable housing.
Bruno predicted the Legislature will pass a carbon tax as the only way to comply with the McCleary ruling to fully fund basic education. Copeland was less convinced of that, but expects the state initiative to reduce class size but authorizes no funding will pass easily.
In other program matters, Sarah Lewontin and Burr Stewart led the club in America the Beautiful. Jane Hargraft was the day’s featured member. She described her path from Toronto civil servant to vice president of development for the Seattle Symphony. Her job, she said, is “connecting donors to their passion. Donors are inspired by bold vision,” she said, and by inviting the symphony audience to listen boldly, the Symphony has increased contributions by 30% over the last three years, under her tenure.