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For some reason I thought this week in Seattle politics would be interesting. I was wrong.
On Monday, the almost always non-partisan City Council unanimously passed all of the bills, resolutions and appointments brought before the full council.
Next year's budget is expected to be $70 million short, so the City Council passed a resolution defining the Council's budget priorities in terms of what to preserve and what to cut.
Thanks to a bill signed into law today by Gov. Chris Gregoire, homeowners and renters will have a bit more time to before the bank foreclosures on their home. The new law requires that banks give owners 30 days notice before foreclosing. If there are renters in the building, the new owners must give tenants a written notice and 60 days to move out.
In the back parking lot of St. Mark's Cathedral on 10th Avenue E., overlooking Lake Union, the nearly one hundred members of Tent City 3 have taken up temporary residence. Their blue tarps flap in the breeze like baseball cards in bicycle spokes, but otherwise the camp remains quiet and inconspicuous.
Since its founding in 2000, Tent City 3 has moved every one to three months to various locations throughout King County. It is an integral part of Seattle Housing and Resource Effort and the Women's Housing Equality and Enhancement League. These non-profit organizations help organize and manage tent cities as well as 17 indoor shelters.
Seattle Public Schools plans to layoff or reduce in rank a "limited" number of employees to balance its 2009-10 budget.
Many unknowns exist in exactly how the "reduction in force" will play out, as the district is still waiting to see how the state Legislature reconciles the budget differences between the House and Senate, including where to allocate federal stimulus dollars.
There's a public forum scheduled for 5:30 p.m. this Wed. at City Hall to discuss Mayor Greg Nickels' proposed budget cuts.
Facing a worsening recession, Nickels has had to find more $13 million in budget cuts this year. While the 2009 budget cuts are up to the mayor's discretion, next year's budget - already projected to be $40 million short - Nickels will need to work with the City Council on what to cut.
The Seattle City Council chamber was unusually crowded this morning. More than a dozen people signed up to speak about Mayor Greg Nickels' $13 million in budget cuts, most were concerned about the impact on the library system.
Under Nickels' proposal all of the Seattle libraries will be shut down for a week this summer to save about $650,000.
A handful of reporters gathered on the seventh floor of City Hall this morning to hear how Mayor Greg Nickels plans to balance the budget now that forecasters are predicting that the city's revenue will drop another $29 million this year.
But the process this morning was a little backwards. The way it worked was that first Nickels held a press conference, then afterwards, reporters were told what the mayor plans to cut from the budget.
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels' staffed briefed the City Council today on about $6 million in budget cuts to make up for a drop in projected real estate excise tax revenue this year.
There is no source of money to cover this loss, said Dwight Dively, the city's budget director. The 2009 budget was passed during much more prosperous times -- last year. While REET revenue has been averaging about $40 million annually, it's now at about $20 million.
The company with the most boring of boring names, American International Group, was once huge. Just last year Forbes listed AIG as the 18th largest publicly traded company in the country. On Feb. 11, 2005, AIG's stock closed at $73.12. Now you can buy a share for about $1.40, it's on government life support and quickly becoming the focus of the nation's anger over who to blame for the recession. -- Keith Vance
No matter how you slice or dice the numbers Washington's economy is going to get worse before it gets better, according to a report today by the state's Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.
"We are witnessing an unprecedented economic crisis the likes of which, arguably, we have not seen since the Great Depression," ERFC Executive Director Arun Raha said during the quarterly revenue review in Olympia with legislators and the press. "That's not to say we're heading there, not by a long shot, but number two is not great either," he said while explaining his latest economic forecast showing a much weaker state economy than was predicted just a few weeks ago.
Nearly 300,000 of the 3.5 million workers in Washington are now officially unemployed. Now at 8.4 percent, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is the highest since 1985.
Since the recession began in Dec. 2007, Washington has lagged behind other parts of the country in terms of feeling economic pain, but not anymore. Last month, 28,200 workers lost their jobs and the number of unemployed in January has been adjusted up 8,700. Nationally the unemployment rate - 7.8 percent - is the same as the Seattle-area.
Wall Street jumped to life on Tuesday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up nearly 380 points. The 5.8 percent bump in the Dow is a sparkle of hope in a seemingly endless sea of bad news that has dominated headlines since the recession began in December 2007, but economists aren't saying the markets have hit bottom yet.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics released its unemployment figures for February. It's not good news.
Last month, employers handed out 651,000 pink slips, taking the national unemployment rate from 7.6 to 8.1 percent. Washington state's unemployment rate was 7.8 in January - the data for February is not yet available.
The Seattle area is the 10th least affordable place to live in the U.S., according to a report released last week by the National Association of Home Builders.
Publicly traded Seattle companies are taking a beating. Just look at Starbucks, Amazon and Boeing since Jan. 2, 2008, on average, their stocks have plummeted 47 percent.
How would you fix the $6 billion budget deficit the governor and legislature are facing this year? Gregoire's looking at health care and education.
As the economy continues to flounder in recession, politicians in the other Washington and in our own Olympia continue chattering about economic stimuli, yet more and more people are looking for help with one of life's most basic needs - food.
The bill that passed the Senate with bipartisan support yesterday to increase weekly unemployment benefits will not only provide direct assistance to the burgeoning jobless population in the state, say supporters, but it will also inject $193 million of stimulus into Washington's economy in recession.
With unemployment rates hitting record levels, organizations like Seattle's Union Gospel Mission and Northwest Harvest are struggling to keep up with the influx of people who need their help.
America has gone over the economic edge and is hanging on by a mere thread. Nationally, nearly 5 million people are officially out of work and looking for work. Experts say the real number of unemployed is probably more than 10 million.
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and the homeless advocacy group, Seattle Housing and Resource Effort, are currently embroiled in a battle over $50,000 that the mayor yanked from the group's funding.
Over on Broadway, the folks in charge of sales at Brix Condominiums had their grand opening VIP preview yesterday. And despite the constant flood of bad news about the Seattle real estate market, 54 percent of the 141 condos have been sold.