I want to start off by saying I think everyone on the council and the mayor are good and honest people that I disagree with sometimes. You didn’t volunteer for your job; you fought for your job in an election. Something that most people would not do but will quickly criticize any decision you make that they disagree with. I think you all have made decisions that you believe are in the best interests of the long term prosperity of our city. I truly hope you don’t take the comments said here tonight personal and I don’t envy you with the tongue lashing you have and will to receive tonight.
When I voted yes to annex to KCLS I thought it’s all the same tax money to me. It comes out of my check book the same way. Why pay for two employee benefits plan, two sets of accountants, two sets of maintenance people and two sets of the Dewy Decimal System. And a new library would be really nice. It would be great to take something like the Issaquah or Bellevue library and plop in over the river. But there was a crucial piece of information as a voter that I missed. Those three magical words make a big difference and would have changed my vote: “A New Location.”
Now, though, I am beyond all that. While I would like to see the library stay at Liberty Park and I worked to get signatures, what really brought me here tonight is the process. I served 10 years in the Marines because I believe in the institutions that make this country what it is today. Equal Rights, personal and religious freedom and above all the rule of law.
The law provide funds for our police and parks. It preserves individual liberty and protects the down and out. The law is a very wonderful thing, until you get the lawyers involved. OJ Simpson and Michael Jackson walk free, Martha Stewart goes to jail and countless Drunk Drivers get off because some lawyer is able to find some technicality that somehow allows them to escape justice.
The Law is what put you in your seat and gives you the authority to make and change laws. It also allows citizens recourse if they do not like the decisions you have made. That is what this initiative is about. The citizenry getting together and letting the elected officials know they disagree. RCW 35A says if an initiative is certified then it is either passed as written or it goes to a vote. There is nothing in there about city lawyer review or council approval. It does say that if the city doesn’t follow the law than the citizens can take it to the superior court. I personally would find it very sad if the people have to sue their own government.
The people here are willing to give up some grocery money, postpone vacation and forgo date night to fund a potential legal battle. While I’m sure the City Attorney’s $1.7M budget allocation could take the hit, it would have to short change the normal prosecution. Or the city could give it additional funds from say the police, park or senior center budgets. While I have nothing personal with the City Attorney himself and I respect his efforts to preserve my rights as a citizen, any money spent on a legal battle by citizens or the city is a lose-lose for everyone.
In closing, I want to say that the democratic process and the rule of law generally work. People want to feel like their government is working FOR them. Unfortunally they don’t, as evidenced by the remarkably low voter turnout. Of Renton’s 42,000 registered voters, less than half voted in the last election. You have the opportunity to show that you listen and care about what people think. If you don’t like the initiative, that’s fine. Uphold the law and send it to a vote.