Community Center already over budget: first estimate

The Sammamish Community Center is already $2 million over budget, according to the first estimate to come into the City.

Voters approved a $30 million project in an advisory vote last November.

The Sammamish Review revealed the overage in its article reporting that Don Gerend will seek another term. The reference is short and it’s buried but it’s there.

Sammamish to approve YMCA deal Feb. 19

The Sammamish City Council is poised to approve the management agreement with the YMCA on Feb. 19.

The lengthy agreement is here: ComCtrOpAgreement21413

In a last-ditch effort to alter the path toward the Community Center size and YMCA element, Arthur Goldman, an opponent, commissioned a public opinion survey that concluded an opposite result to the November advisory vote in which citizens approved the Center and the Y deal. Goldman’s letter to the Council is below the jump.

The Citizens for Sammamish this month held a meeting about the Community Center. I attended, as did Councilmen Don Gerend and Ramiro Valderrama; several employees for Columbia Athletic Center/Pine Lake Club and officials of the YMCA.

Frankly (and I more or less said so) I found the meeting to be perplexing since the die was cast. With the advisory vote a clear winner–by nearly 7 percentage points (Obama won by four and Inslee by three)–the City Council fairly could conclude it had a mandate to proceed with the $30m building, the YMCA management agreement and the $1/yr lease of the Y’s property next to Pine Lake Middle School for eventual development of another recreational facility.

The owner of the Pine Lake Club accused the City of double-dealing and dishonesty. But in the end, nothing was going to change and nothing did.

See below the jump for written exchanges and the public opinion survey.

Continue reading

Almost Final Community Center Vote: Yes, 53%

Through Nov. 14, King County Elections ballot results give the Sammamish Community Center a 53.18% Yes vote to 46.82% No. The margin is 1,402.

Through Nov. 14, 24,504 votes had been cast in all races and 22,030 in the Proposition 1 ballot. Total voter turnout recorded through Nov. 14 was 84.66% of the 28,998 registered voters.

Only 115 ballots from Sammamish were received Nov. 14.

This data is close enough to being finished that I can offer these observations:

  1. My unscientific poll finished pre-election with a 55.73% Yes polling. (Since then, a couple of more people voted No in the poll, but since this is after the election, these votes don’t count.) My polling was 2.55 percentage points at variance with the Nov. 14 results, well within standard margins of error. (Keep this in mind; this will relate to a future post.)
  2. With a margin spread of 6.36 points, the City Council has a comfortable win. It’s not a landslide but neither is it a squeaker. (President Obama and Gov.-elect Jay Inslee would have wished they had a similar margin.) The City Council can fairly and confidently conclude it has a solid basis on which to go forward with the Community Center and with final negotiations for a management contract with the YMCA.
  3. Concerned citizens have no solid basis to try and block moving forward, but they certainly can pressure the Council to negotiate a contract that minimizes risk to the City and, hopefully, shares in the profits. Although the Y is said to want the City to share in the P&L risk if it wants a share of the profits, my view is that the City is absorbing 83% of the construction risk and this is plenty, thank you very much.
  4. The name “City of Sammamish” better be the Big Type on the side of the building. “Managed by YMCA” should be the sub-type.

Poll: Do you approve or disapprove of the Sammamish City Council?

This is a long post: be sure to scroll down.

Following the election and the controversial advisory vote for the Community Center, I thought a poll about the job the City Council is doing might be worthwhile.

Although unscientific, my Go Daddy poll about the advisory center is turning out to be pretty close to the mark: 55.7% of the respondents favored the Community Center and through Nov. 13, actually ballot results give the Yes vote 53%, well within standard margins of error of scientific polls. (The Sammamish Review’s unscientific poll wasn’t so good; it gave the Center a 62% Yes vote.)

A recent Citizens for Sammamish meeting turned into a massive venting session about frustrations with the City. The Council, the staff and the manager all came under fire. So I’m polling on this, too, as well as the Favorables-Unfavorables of each Council Member.

Feel free to comment in the Comment section. BUT: keep it clean, no swearing, no insults. Concisely state your opinions and the reasons for it in a clean and respectful way. I’ll delete comments that resort to name-calling and obscenities.

Question #1

Question #2

Question #3

I know this election is barely over but in 2013, four City Council seats are up for election. Mayor Tom Odell, Deputy Mayor John James, and Council Members John Curley and Don Gerend are up for election. Let’s get some favorable-unfavorable ratings.

Question #4

Question #5

Question #6

Question #7

Council Member Don Gerend has been on the council since the city elected its first council in 1999-13 years. I’m told he plans to run for another term next November, his 14th year on the Council. If elected, he would serve 17 years by the end of his term.

Question #8

The other three Councl Members, Nancy Whitten, Tom Vance and Ramiro Valderrama, were elected in 2011 and won’t be up for reelection until 2015. What is your opinion about them?

Question #9

Question #10

Question #11

Election Results, Nov. 9: Yes spread widens daily; and thoughts on “misleading” information

The spread in favor of Yes keeps getting wider:

Election Night: 292

Nov. 7: 359

Nov. 8: 664

Nov. 9: 828, 52.3%-47.7%, 82.31% of votes counted.

Nov. 10: 1,246 margin, 53%-47%, 83.55% of votes counted.

Nov. 13: 1,365 margin, 53.14% to 46.86%, 83.62% voter turnout.

Nov. 14: 1,402 margin, 53.18% to 46.82%, 84.66% voter turnout.

With 79.5% of the vote recorded through yesterday, there is (as I concluded on Election Night) no chance for the No votes to catch up. So I’m not going to post daily results going forward. I’ll post the final result as a matter of record.

In the meantime, a public spat broke out between 2011 election rivals Jim Wasnick and Ramiro Valderrama. There are two articles, here and here.

I had heard even prior to the publishing of the Voters Guide that some in favor of the deal were lamenting that the City wasn’t going to “fact check” the Con statement. The continuing City Council complaints that the Con side was putting out “misleading” information simply shows how naive the Council was when it approved an Advisory vote.

As readers know, I didn’t buy into the assertion that this deal is a “gift” to the Y. The City owns the building and it is awarding a management contract to the Y (if terms are reached). The Y is putting in $5m into a building it does not own, another $1m equipping it and concurrently leasing seven acres to the City for $1 a year for 50 years. I’m hard pressed to see how a private enterprise would match this for a management contract. I opposed the deal on the grounds that a Request for Proposals wasn’t issued to give everyone a fair chance to submit a bid.

But I also recognize that there are those who sincerely believe this is a gift and a misuse of $25m on the part of the City. Is this “misleading?” Maybe to the City Council, but I don’t think so and in any event, I agree with the opponents that the City was misleading when it claimed in marketing materials and public relations that no new taxes would be “required” yet the legal language in the Voters Guide said no new taxes are “expected.” This is a huge difference.

It’s not up to the City to edit or review the Con statement and truth, or perception of the truth, is often in the eye of the beholder. Besides, as we’ve just seen in the Presidential election and those here in the State, the word “truth” disappeared from vocabulary. Finally, in a freedom of speech case, the Washington State Supreme Court years ago ruled that lying in a political campaign is OK.

The City Council made its bed when it decided to have an advisory vote. If it didn’t like the campaign tactics of the Con group, too bad. If some objected that one man’s local version of a Super PAC, too bad. At least this guy is a local corporate citizen, not some remote Karl Rove.

That’s what elections are about. The Council was naive to think otherwise.