I received an interesting email from a reader regarding the delightful power outage we experienced here in Kenmore.
Yesterday around 6:30pm as I was driving from Bothell back to Seattle I was caught in a huge traffic backup on Bothell way that started in Bothell and ended at the 61st Avenue light. It was a flashing red with two other flashing reds northwest of it [that would be at 68th and 73rd]. Because people drive so slowly through them traffic was backed up for miles in both directions—up to Bothell and down to Lake City.
I’ve been trying to understand two things and hope that perhaps you might know about. Why were there no traffic police to move traffic along? Also, if the lights were flashing red, why did the city not come out to reset them?
Personally it was an inconvenience. But I can’t imagine the people stuck in cars with children, old folks, people needing to pick up their children. It was not as awful as a freeway backup with nowhere to go, but still.
Might you have any ideas? A complaint dept. I can call for the city?
I also witnessed this nasty backup as I drove out of Kenmore toward Woodinville. It stretched from Kenmore all the way to about 180th St in Bothell when I drove by a little after 6:00.
It is surprising that no one thought to send a few officers out to direct traffic at the three broken intersections in Kenmore. However, I’m not certain that it is the City of Kenmore’s responsibility to deploy police to direct traffic on Bothell Way. Since it is technically a state highway (SR 522), I would think that the job would fall first on the Washington State Patrol and secondly on the Kenmore Police Department (which is really the King County Sheriff).
Here are a few numbers you can call if you would like to comment to any of these agencies about yesterday’s traffic mess:
Thursday night I attended the first candidate “forum” (similar to a debate) at the Aqua Club in Uplake (which did not appear to be a very neutral location) for the two contested Kenmore City Council positions. Approximately 50 people were in attendance, which looked to me like roughly half to two-thirds the capacity of the venue.
The structure of the evening was mostly centered around pre-submitted questions, grouped into categories by the moderator, with each candidate being allowed a fixed amount of time (usually 2-3 minutes) to give their thoughts on each issue.
The categories covered at the forum were:
- city budget, taxes, and spending
- traffic, 522, transit, walkable neighborhoods
- environment, air and water pollution
- parks and recreation, St. Edwards, ballfields
- Kenmore Village downtown project, Urban Partners
Here’s my general impression of the message each of the four candidates was presenting Thursday night. The commentary below represents my opinion alone, and should not be construed as an endorsement of any particular candidate.
What Diane lacks in eloquence she definitely makes up for in passion. You could tell that Diane feels very strongly about the environment in Kenmore, as well as the importance of an open and transparent local government. Diane’s main themes seemed to be that the city should do more for the environment, spend (and save) its money more wisely, and do more to attract businesses to Kenmore.
As one would expect from an incumbent, Laurie spent most of her time touting the accomplishments that the city has had during the last four years while she has been in office. She mentioned the addition of numerous parks, the improvement of 522, and at least twice brought up the fact that Kenmore was named one of the “best towns and cities across the country for families” by Family Circle Magazine. Personally, I have a hard time making the connection between “Kenmore made some arbitrary list in a fluff magazine” and “re-elect Laurie Sperry,” but it’s obviously a big deal to some people, I guess.
Patrick came out swinging on his number one issue, which clearly appears to be financial responsibility in the city budget. At one point he claimed that his “number one priority” would be clearing up the traffic bottleneck at 68th and 522, but most of the points he hit on throughout the evening were city finance related. He brought up the fact that “several” city salaries are in excess of $100,000, consulting fees are in the millions, and the city has not reported the cost of various lawsuits. One specific money-saving action that O’Brien proposed was to re-bid Kenmore Village.
Allan Van Ness
Allan seemed to be somewhat on the defensive most of the night, spending most of his allotted time responding to accusations from Patrick O’Brien. Several times he corrected what he said were false statements by O’Brien on various issues such as taxes and spending. I was a little bit disappointed with what seemed to me to be a pattern of blame-shifting from Allan in some of his responses. On a question about opening up 522 to more lanes, his response was that “the state wouldn’t do it.” Referring to the idea of re-bidding Kenmore Village, his response was “nothing’s happening in the market.” His statements were true, but not very proactive, in my opinion.
The portion of the evening that stuck out to me the most was the brief cross-questioning section, in which each candidate was permitted to directly pose a question to their opponent.
Diane’s question for Laurie was about the city’s dumping laws. She wanted to know why the current city code allows potentially toxic trash to accumulate on a property as long as it is not visible from the city street. Laurie’s response was “I have no idea,” and to outline the complaint-driven process for dumping law enforcement.
Laurie’s question for Diane was “can you name three positive changes you’ve seen in the city of Kenmore in the last four years?” It came across to me as sarcastic and childish. The line even drew laughs from some in the audience, who I assume were Sperry supporters. She was obviously attempting to prove some sort of point: that she apparently believes Diane’s campaign is too negative. Of course, if someone thinks everything in the city is going great, why would they run against an incumbent councilmember in the first place? For the record, Diane named four things: an improved tree ordinance, the opening of Snapdoodle Toys, new sidewalks on 522, and the new Swamp Creek Park.
Patrick’s question for Allan was “what are you prepared to do to reduce spending and budgetary increases?” Allan said that he would push for a reassessment and evaluation of the city’s consulting contracts, possibly creating some new city positions to do jobs that are currently contracted out. He also gave a generic response about “tightening our belts.”
For Allan’s question to Patrick, he took the same disappointing route as Laurie, asking Patrick to name “three other things that you think have been done well in the City of Kenmore in the last four years.” Rather than play along like Diane did, Patrick took the opportunity to instead point out the problems that he sees with non-public processes. Clearly he is not concerned about the possibility of being perceived as too negative.
Overall I thought the forum was interesting, and gave me a much better idea of what the candidates are about than what I’ve been able to read in their statements and responses to our questionnaire. If there are more such forums between now and the election I will attempt to attend and report on these as well.
Has anyone else noticed the exciting new development pictured below in the last few days along Bothell Way / SR-522 through Kenmore?
I’m talking about BANNERS! That’s right, unless we’re just making a move for the title of “most pigeon-friendly town of all time,” I’m betting that those poles sticking out horizontally from the light posts are for a set of classy banners.
If you ask me, it’s about time this town got some banners. It is an obvious fact to anyone with a basic understanding of civics that a lack of banners is one of the top things that has been holding Kenmore back from actualizing its full potential as a premier destination.
If you tell me that you can think of something better than banners to spend limited city resources on during a severe economic retraction, you’re probably lying.
At right is a great example of optimal banner usage from our neighbor to the east, Bothell, who uses their banners to promote such unique and attractive local features as lady exiting building while talking on cell phone and wooden foot bridge (not pictured).
So what do you think we should put on our new banners? Construction photos? The shuttered card room? The gravel factory? Downtown Kenmore?
So many choices! If you’ve got any great ideas for what Kenmore should put on our soon-to-come banners, drop me a line and I may whip up some mock-ups to send over to City Hall.