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.

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.

Election Results, Nov. 7: Community Center Yes vote still winning, ups margin

King County Elections was well overdue on posting updated results, but here they are for the Proposition 1:

Yes, 7,522, 51.22%

No, 7,163, 48.78%

“Yes” increased its percentage marginally, from 51.10% on Election Night.

“No” decreased its percentage marginally, from 48.9%.


Whitten to voters: you’re stupid, drop dead

Update, Nov. 5: Council Member Whitten issued this statement to us late today in response to our question to her, “Did you really say this?”

Partly right and partly not.  I said I had strongly supported a vote and that I had always thought I would regard it as binding.  I differentiated between extremely negative campaigning funded largely by someone self-interested in the outcome and something more, potentially constituting incorrect statements of alleged fact.  I also made it clear I was not in any way able to form a personal opinion at this time, and any such determination would need to have a careful review etc.  If an advisory election is won unfairly — not just by extremely negative campaigning, but rather e.g., in circumstances supporting a stronger conclusion of misconduct, I don’t think it should necessarily be binding.  That could mean a lot of things, e.g. a new election would only be one option etc.  I am anticipating the majority of the community wants a community / aquatic center and will vote accordingly, and then the quesion of whether or not the advisory vote should be obviated by misconduct would be moot.

Original Post:

The Sammamish Patch had this story about the Community Center and fears by the City Council that voters are getting misinformation about Proposition 1 and the deal with the YMCA. (Yet another reason putting this to the vote was a dumb idea.)

Council Member Nancy Whitten said, according to the article, this:

And Councilwoman Nancy Whitten said she’s concerned enough about the misinformation that if she feels, after the election, that people were misled enough to result in a negative response, that she would not consider the advisory vote valid.

“It struck me that some of them are clearly incorrect, the total perspective is that they are extremely negative by someone who has a financial interest,” Whitten said, adding that the advisory vote is just that, advisory, and if she believes it’s been unduly influenced by inaccurate information, she won’t feel bound by it.

How in the world will Whitten conclude voters were mislead enough to conclude the advisory vote is invalid?

We agree some of the information put out there is clearly wrong and biased, but unfortunately that’s what political campaigning has become. Having decided they wanted an advisory vote, the City Council has to sleep in the bed it made. This was the risk it took and as my previous post detailing why this was a dumb idea in the first place demonstrated, there could be all kinds of reasons people vote against this Proposition and most of them have nothing to do with “someone who has a financial interest.”

Although this “someone” is not a resident of Sammamish (as one Council Member complained in another newspaper), he is a corporate citizen of Sammamish. As such, is view is as valid to express as much as the next vested interest.

For example, the City has said no new taxes will be “required” in its public statements. But in the legal language of the Proposition, it says no new taxes are “expected.” These have two very different  meanings, and one can easily argue the City is being misleading in its marketing statements vs its legal language.

Note to Whitten: I opposed this because there should have been a Request for Proposals issued. Maybe the Y deal is the best deal, but without an RFP, we’ll never know. I can see past the negative campaigning of “someone with a financial interest.” I don’t buy into the thesis that this is a “gift” to the YMCA. I can see the City owns the building and the Y gets a management contract. I think it highly unlikely any other entity would put up $5m for a building it doesn’t own, add $1m in equipment and personnel and lease seven acres to the City at $1 a year. I get that.

I also get that this Community Center is far more than “just another health club” competing with private interests. See this post.

At the same time, I don’t like members of our City Council blithely dismissing voters as stupid. Michele Petitti did that once and got her head handed to her. Whitten’s statement falls in this same realm.