In December we passed a bill out of Ways and Means, and then the House, but not the Senate that would have allowed Wenatchee to solve its own problems about financing their money-hemorrhaging arena, the Town Toyota Center. The region has continued to work on a mutually agreeable solution and a Senate bill embodying the proposal is up for consideration in Ways and Means Monday.
The contentious issue in the bill is the ability for the city of Wenatchee to impose a 0.2% sales tax with just a vote of the council, not a vote of the people. The current bill allows this, and everyone testifying on the issue stated that it was crucial to the success of the endeavor that they be able to do this.
I’ve gotten a lot of mail from the Wenatchee area on the issue. Here’s the mail I’ve been sending out in response:
Thanks for your email on the Wenatchee situation and on SB 5984. You can track the progress of the bill by clicking this link.
I intend to move 5984 out of committee, ideally with no amendments. I believe it is a locally-generated, rational response to the slow-motion disaster in Wenatchee. Sometimes when you a see a train wreck about to happen there is nothing you can do, but in this case we can actually intervene and allow the region to solve its own problem. The Wenatchee area made (I believe) a poor decision on how to finance the Town Toyota Center, but now need to be able to take responsibility for it and resolve a problem that will otherwise waste millions on legal action.
In general I believe that local governments should be able to resolve their own problems, and I trust them to make reasonable decisions. They are more attuned to local needs and desires, and get unelected if they take actions contrary to local interests. Indeed, my favorite early nineteenth century Franco-American philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville says it well:
Local assemblies of the people constitute the strength of free nations. Municipal institutions are to liberty what primary schools are to science: they bring it within the people’s reach, and teach them how to use and enjoy it. A nation may establish a system of free government, but without the spirit of municipal institutions it cannot have the spirit of liberty.
— Alexis de Tocqueville
I agree, and believe that we should enable Wenatchee to solve its own problems acting through its locally elected representatives. This position is supported by local representatives, the local newspaper, the local chamber of commerce, and everyone else who testified on the bill.