Sunday, August 7, 2011


In case you needed further evidence as to the unsavory nature of the extortion devices known as "red light cameras," check out The Herald's latest installment in their ongoing quest to expose these things for what they are.

The topmost link in the article contains a scanned e-mail exchange between various government officials and red-light camera company officials. At one point, when the city's public works director basically comes out and says that the studies don't justify the cameras, the camera corporation official calls him an "idiot."

An idiot. Fancy that. (That remark came from the former camera company exec who was revealed to be the infamous "W. Howard" sockpuppet who falsely posed as a local resident in favor of these cameras.)

But remember, these things are really all about safety! Don't run red lights and you won't get a camera ticket! They're all about safety! If you're against them then you're a law-breaker wannabe! They're all about safety! If you're against cameras then you're the Antichrist! They're all about safety! Safety safety safety safety safety...

Mmm hmm. Sure thing.

If this is the kind of casual contempt with which a public works director is treated when he correctly states that an objective, empirical study does not warrant the insertion of these cameras... then what do you think these folks think of people like you?

Take note, ladies and gentlemen of Lynnwood. You've been played for rubes and these folks are laughing all the way to the bank at your expense. Remember come election time who's for these cameras and who's against them, and vote accordingly.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Herald Need to Know Feature

Whoo-whee! People's Republic of Lynnwood got a mention in the Herald!

And I can't thank them enough, because it means more people will sit up and take notice as I continue to document the frankly unbelievable stuff that happens here on a continual basis.

Many thanks to Scott North and The Herald for giving this little blog a mention. Much obliged.

To paraphrase, and for your information, the Herald's Need-to-Know series is intended to report information and let their readers make of it what they will; "...gather information and then get out of the way," as they put it.  This is a great approach and I'd encourage all of my readers to give them a look-see and check out all of the information they're getting into the public eye with this feature. It's a real mixed bag of topics, and the approach encourages reader participation, which can only ever be a good thing.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day Lesson for 2011

I've been saying for years that The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs should be mandatory indoctrination for electeds and government workers, so I was gratified to see a commentator on this opinion piece adopt the same position.

The problem is that even if elected and government workers understood the reasoning and wisdom behind that timeless and perennially applicable fable, the fact is that:
  1. They can just wave a magic wand and conjure up money out of nowhere;
  2. They know this, and;
  3. That's easier.
And as we all know, people who have no motivation take the path of least resistance whenever possible. Consequently, we have the farcical joke that is our government and civil service, because there is no motivation—no standards, no consequences, no incentives—for government workers to do anything other than the bare minimum that their job descriptions mandate… and depending on seniority, most of the time even that benchmark is unenforceable.

The rampant inefficiency, waste and incompetence that characterize government all begins with civil servants’ unions and ends with their aiders and abettors in the elected branches of government. The taxpayer who subsidizes these vast hoards of parasitical do-nothing bureaucrats is hermetically sealed out of this loop and is helpless to do a thing to effect reform of any kind.

Look no further than our perennially favorite example of Lynnwood. During the worst and most persistent economic collapse since the Great Depression, civil servants' unions repeatedly and relentlessly balked at even taking token measures like furlough days in an effort to show good faith with the taxpayers who were forcibly funding their lavish government-employee lifestyles. The unions would have none of it, and owing to the criminal fact that the city has contracts with those unions, there was little the city government could do....

.... Except that there was plenty the city government could do. "It's out of our hands" and boo-hoo-isn't-that-horrible was the bullshit story we were given, but the reality is that budget time presented a perfect opportunity to deal decisively with these parasitical, ungrateful, do-nothing bureaucrats in one fell swoop — by enacting the significant, long-overdue lay-offs that the Mayor proposed. It was a Golden Opportunity to make cuts to rampant frivolous spending in this city that were eons overdue and, more urgently, were persisting through an economic depression -- a time where there was no possible means of justifying their continuance.

And what happened?

"Do-Nothing Bureaucrats Local #666" and it's myriad counterparts came unglued and pulled out all the stops and then some in order to attack, smear, stymie, hobble and cripple the Mayor by *ANY* means possible. The City Council squealed with glee at the state of affairs, sold the citizens down the river by hopping straight into bed with those unions, rolled right over did their part as the unions' submissive tool — whatever it took to undo the Executive Branch and the check-and-balance it represented to their irresponsible use of their legislative power.

The process was complete when the Mayor — popularly elected by the voters not once but twice — was stripped of his executive ability to institute desperately needed lay-offs. Council proceeded instantly to arrogate that responsibility to itself and then laid off virtually nobody and imposed a frenzied orgy of taxes in order to continue to fund the mostly intact civil service. Naturally, the taxpaying residents, employers, and workers were presented with the bill.

And if those taxpayers were at the end of their financial ropes due to unemployment forcing the premature exhaustion of their savings and retirement accounts, and losing their homes, etc.? The message was clear: “Tough friggin’ luck, suckers. This is Lynnwood. Know your place. Shut up, pay up, and maybe we’ll consider reducing things when the economy rebounds.”

It's a sobering lesson and one worth remembering this Independence Day. We enjoin one and all to remember it well come November.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Red-Light Cam "Analysis," Lynnwood-Style

The Herald has been doing some first-rate reporting lately, shining a spotlight on Lynnwood's continued use of flagrantly extortionist photo-enforcement devices. Scott North's July 1st article should be required reading for anybody concerned about this issue.

North sums up the reality in a perfect one-line zinger: "Bottom line: It's premature for anyone to say red-light cameras have caused an outbreak of traffic safety in Lynnwood." (I would prefer to have substituted the word "impossible" for "premature," but let's not quibble.)

Now, on the face of it that doesn't really say anything that any intelligent and honest person didn't already know. So then why should this article be required reading? Because it highlights and underscores the extraordinary lengths to which this city will go in order to try to justify these devices and present them in a favorable light, despite basic common sense and overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Way back in the Paleolithic Era when I was a young lad in college, I majored in a fairly math-heavy discipline and statistics was a basic part of those studies. Consequently, I nearly laughed out loud when I saw Lynnwood's "analysis" document, which you can read for yourself at the above-linked Herald article (click on it and look for the Adobe Acrobat link near the top).

This is one of the most blatant and pathetic exercises in desperate spin-doctoring I've seen in a very, very long time.

Where to begin... Well, first off, you'll note that the city did not simply provide the base data and allow the reporter to draw his own conclusions. Rather, the city "helpfully" drew some conclusions for him in the form of percentage decreases in total collisions and total injuries.

This is a gloriously hamfisted attempt to influence the reporting! And to a statistician, it's nothing short of hilarious. I'm reminded of a child trying to make the case to his parents that pizza is actually a health food because it features all the major food groups, so of course we should have it every night for dinner, etc.

Specifically, the report concludes with two figures that show a 9% decrease in total collisions and a very dramatic-seeming reduction of 32% in total injuries, implying that these significant-sounding reductions are all thanks to the cameras. Who can argue against cameras that cause such significant-sounding reductions in collisions and injuries, right?

I can! First off, the cameras may well have contributed to the reduction in collisions and attendant injuries, but not for the right reasons. To the extent that they create an environment overtly hostile and predatory to motorists, they encourage potentially tens of thousands of people to avoid Lynnwood entirely. I guess I have to concede this point to the camera cheerleaders -- ensuring that there are fewer people on our roads is indeed a sure-fire way to reduce accidents. Of course, it's also a perfect way to sabotage the many businesses and employers that reside in this town, which is particularly counterproductive considering how catastrophically dependent the city is on sales tax and employee head taxes, but nevermind all that.

Secondly, there were no benchmarks presented at all -- just a few selectively chosen figures cherry-picked by the city. Without knowing how non-camera intersections have fared during these same time periods, or how other municipalities have fared, these figures don't say much of anything.

Thirdly, the percentage delta decreases mean absolutely nothing considering how small are the numbers of collisions and injuries. A figure like 32% sounds so significant! So huge! My God, it's a full third and that's just enormous!

Except that it's none of those things. It's 30 as opposed to 44, and distributed as it is among the numerous intersections in question, it only amounts to a half handful of reductions per intersection. Suffice it to say this reduction doesn't rule out mere chance -- and that's the understatement of the year.

And finally... how does the city explain those intersections where collisions or injuries increased after the installation of red-light cameras? It's right there in their very own figures.

I could go on poking more holes in this "analysis," but at the end of the day, the real bottom line is that all of this presumes that the figures presented are actually correct -- and considering Lynnwood's established reputation of misinforming people regarding the validity of photo-enforcement evidence against them, I have every reason to doubt the the veracity of these figures, right out the gate. (See Robert Mak's report from last December if you doubt that -- visit the link, click on the video and scroll ahead to 9:50 and see what David Andree's experience was -- talk about an eye-opener.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bill to Ban Photo Enforcement Extortion Cameras Dies in Committee

In case you were wondering whether Olympia actually gives a rip about what the people of this state want, the answer would appear to be "no," at least when it interferes with the government's ability to shake the citizenry down for cash.

You may thank Rep. Judy Clibborn, Chair of the Washington House Transportation Committee, for single-handedly killing a bill that would have made photo-enforcement extortion cameras illegal.

This should give every citizen of this state pause, and here's why:

1: Photo enforcement cameras make the roads more dangerous.

I know, I know... there was a recent huge "study" that "proved" they actually make the roads safer, right? Yes, well... you need to consider the source. That document was written not by a traffic engineer, indeed not by any kind of engineer, but by a government-employed "public policy" person (i.e., a spin doctor). Whose bridge would you drive your car across? One designed and built by an engineer employing the scientific method and valid statistics? Or one designed and built by some "public policy" bureaucrat employed by strapped-for-cash government which has grown dependent on camera revenue? I rest my case.

Besides, just use your common sense, for the love of God. I ask you, what do you think is more dangerous: a three-second-long yellow caution light? Or a four- or five-second-long yellow caution light? Obviously, a short caution light is way more dangerous. So if safety is really the driving force behind these cameras, then why do camera corporations insist on shorter yellow caution cycles of less than four seconds on intersections with cameras? And more pointedly, why does government put the public in danger by accommodating that demand? Clearly, they are out to maximize the chances of somebody running a red light so they can snap a little piccie and generate revenue. And if, in so doing, they're also making it more likely that there will be accidents, perhaps with death, dismemberment, and so forth? Well, I guess that's considered to be an acceptable trade-off.

Finally, in promoting an atmosphere of driver paranoia, the danger is elevated all the more. Drivers approaching red-light camera intersections are more apt to brake hard (hello rear-end collision) or gun it in an effort to avoid being in the intersection at all costs. Doesn't seem too safe, does it? And further, they are obsessed with watching the traffic signal, which means they're paying less attention to things like other cars, kids riding bikes, pedestrians, etc.

2: Photo enforcement cameras promote an atmosphere of presumption of guilt rather than innocence.

On its face, this used to be about as un-American as it could get. But not nowadays, apparently.

Contrary to the relentless, facile and utterly disingenuous propaganda put forth by camera corporations, it is not only law-breakers who get ticketed. On the contrary, right here in Lynnwood there was a driver who was objectively not breaking the law but received a camera ticket anyway, and even though the photo evidence proved that no infraction occurred, a ticket was issued anyway, and the city told him the evidence was against him and was reviewed by three employees including an officer under oath!

He took a day off of work to contest it in court, whereupon the prosecutor reviewed the footage and dropped the charges on the spot. KING-5 News in Seattle did some first-rate reporting on this and you can see it all for yourself right here.

I don't know about you, but if this happened to one citizen, that's one citizen too many, and I have a bit of a hard time believing that it's an isolated occurrence.

Can you afford to take a day off of work to contest a patently bogus ticket? More importantly, should you have to? Is this the United States or the Soviet Union? What's to prevent some camera revenue-addicted city like the People's Republic of Lynnwood from just setting those cameras to take random pictures at all hours of the day and night and issue tickets just in the hopes that the recipients will find it more cost-effective to fork over the dough than lose even more in the lost day's wages that it would take to contest it?

Don't tell me this isn't a bald-faced shake-down racket. I wasn't born yesterday. And neither were the citizens in the legislative districts whose representatives co-sponsored this bill, which was allowed to die in committee thanks to Rep. Judy Clibborn.


So, folks... if your kid is out riding his bike or crossing the street some day and gets mowed down and turned into hamburger in a traffic accident caused by a too-short caution light, or by a driver preoccupied with staring at the traffic signal because he can't afford an extortion ticket... just remember that that's apparently A-OK with our government. You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs, after all.
Rear-end Collision
Politicians Laughing All the Way to the Next Biennial Spendathon
Soufflé omelet as served in Olympia

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bill to Ban Red-Light Extortion Cameras May Die in Committee

Our friends over at Bancams report that Rep. Judy Clibborn, Chair of the Washington State House Transportation Committee, may allow HB1823 to die in committee today. (Today by close of business is the deadline for scheduling a hearing for the bill.)

Bear in mind that this bill is supported by 31 state representatives, almost one third of the House. If it's allowed to die despite that kind of backing then I'll leave it to you to decide for yourself whether Clibborn respects the will of the people or has only contempt for it.

You can contact her office as follows:

Rep. Judy Clibborn
(360) 786-7926

Caron Benedetti, Legislative Aide

The deadline for scheduling a hearing for this bill is end of day today. Contact her and your own state representatives and demand that the hearing be scheduled.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Elected Mayor or Sock Puppet? The Choice is Yours this Fall!

Hi everybody! I'm the City Manager!
Well, it looks like Lynnwood City Council has finally gone and voted to undo the will of the people and undermine our form of representative government. Boy was that a shocker.

On Monday, council voted 5-2 to squander scarce taxpayer dollars and put an entirely self-serving, power-grabby measure on the fall ballot for voters to decide whether they want to retain the Strong Mayor / City Council form of government that has served Lynnwood well for half a century in favor of a "City Manager" form of government.

At first blush, a city manager sounds like a veritable panacea. By Jove, it's good for what ails ya! Proponents will tell you all about how it will ensure that an executive with the right "managerial skill set" can be appointed to provide "professional" management to the city. We will no longer be constrained to Lynnwood city residents to fill the chief executive's role, we can conduct a nationwide executive search for the bestest and most qualifiedest candate ever! No more being limited to a selection of the hicks and rubes of Lynnwood!

Right. Like anyone is buying that!

First and foremost, this is Lynnwood, and it would be far more appropriate to refer to the proposed form of government as the City Council / Sock Puppet form of Government. It's so obvious I'm almost surprised they decided to sally forth with the effort.

To begin with, consider how Lynnwood City Council has collectively deported itself for the past couple years (actually, for a hell of a lot longer than that, but especially the past couple years and most especially this past year.) They have made it as screamingly obvious as possible that they are out to usurp as much governmental power from the executive branch as they possibly can. This past summer they hobbled the mayor by removing some of his basic executive authority (regarding his ability to hire, fire, and discipline his workforce) and arrogated that unto themselves. Aside from that, they were relentlessly obstructionist to the mayor at just about every turn.

Do they honestly expect anybody with an IQ of room temperature or greater to believe that they will hire a professional manager and then let him actually manage? Of course they won't. They will hire a rubberstamping sock puppet and will hold his continued employment over his head as incentive to obediently do as he is told by his masters on City Council. Everything this council has done recently points to this inescapable conclusion.

Even if we had some kind of assurance that the "city manager" would enjoy autonomy in conducting his duties as the city's chief executive, I have no confidence in the basic competence of this council to even conduct a valid and professional executive search to find a good candidate. My God, this is a collection of people who one year ago -- when we were already two years into the grips of the worst recession since the Great Depression -- could have put the kibosh on the $26 million White Elephant Water Park but chose to squander the public's money on it anyway -- and then a matter of months later came screaming hysterically to the people about how they'd have to Cut Fire Fighters! Cut Cops! Cut Emergency Medical! OMG! WTF! Because my God there's not enough money and how ever could we have possibly known? It's the Mayor's fault! That Awful Nasty Mayor! Waaaaaaaaaah!

And this bunch we're supposed to trust with hiring a CEO?



Really, the true hilarity here is that everything this council claims it wants in a chief executive is in all likelihood exactly what they got in the person of Mayor Don Gough. Based upon everything that the media has reported, he comes across as a no-nonesense boss with little time for the asinine, petty little fiefdoms, endemic incompetence and utter childishness that characterize a governmental bureaucracy. And when he acted like a real CEO like they claim they want, what happened? Everybody and their brother on council and in the city workforce pulled out all the stops to undo him, quite literally by any means necessary. When one frame-up or smear job didn't work, out came a fresh one. It was easily the most flagrant display of underhanded, filthy politics and exercises in character assassination that I've ever witnessed.

My advice? Vote down the measure in the Fall, voice your support for Mayor Gough, call him and beg him to run for another term if he can bring himself to do so, and then vote him in. Meanwhile, give the council an enema; if this town needs a fresh start, that is where it is most needed.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lynnwood Business Community Begins to Wake from Torpor

Welcome to Lynnwood!
Just a few days ago I predicted that there would be painful and dire fallout from Lynnwood's recent orgiastic frenzy of taxation, in particular the unabashedly extortionist employee head tax increase of 567% leveled against every business in the city, large and small, literally overnight and without a peep of warning as to the gratuitously huge new bill that would be due in a matter of months.

At long last, it seems that local businesses are taking notice. I guess getting a huge bill out of the clear blue sky like that would tend to make you start paying attention! Only two business owners are cited in the above-linked story by Lynnwood Today, but I can only imagine the droves of business owners who opened that envelope and either blanched, fainted, or swore up a storm, and with any luck Lynnwood City Council will be hearing from them quite loudly in waves and in droves at upcoming council meetings.

The lesson learned by this fiasco is the price of ambivalence, most particularly in the face of plainly obvious incompetence by the elected powers that be and, also on their part, a deep-seated inability to make hard but necessary decisions. I've long been of the opinion that a lesson isn't really learned from a mistake, and taken to heart, unless it was dearly paid for. Clearly, the business community of Lynnwood, WA has paid for not keeping adequate tabs on their elected representatives and one can only hope that will be put to rights before long now.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Predictions for 2011

We're well into the New Year now and it's time for some predictions. Before last year ended, Lynnwood City Council acted exactly as I predicted they would, namely they:
  1. Proliferated and inflated taxes on everybody to a degree that can only be described as breathtaking
  2. Made only piddling, token cuts to the city workforce
  3. Preserved a raft of frivolous money-wasting activities
So how do you think all of that will pan out in the coming year? I know I have some ideas and it ain't pretty. My assessment and predictions follow.

We're Gonna Tax an' Tax an' Tax 'em Till We Just - Can't - Tax 'em No More...

You know. Sing it to the tune of Boogie Oogie Oogie by the immortal and ever fabulous A Taste of Honey. Can't you just see our City Council Members up on their dais belting this out with a big ol' disco ball spinning on the ceiling and the entire city workforce singing backup and dancing themselves silly in the council chambers? It's a great visual and it makes for a wonderfully appropriate rallying themesong for every stakeholder in Lynnwood's future who's concerned with the tax situation here.

Anyway, let's take 'em by the numbers, shall we? I'll group things by the parties that Lynnwood city government has chosen to victimize:

Victim Group #1: Lynnwood Residents
These are the people who are literally being held hostage by this out-of-control, shake-you-down-for-cash government; people who have made lives and homes here and face the choice of paying over these taxes... or moving.

Property Tax: this went up 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The average home value in Lynnwood is $270,000, making for an additional $95 per year in property taxes, according to the Herald's story.

Politicians are prone to minimizing such money-grabs by comparing them to their equivalence in frivolous purchases, for example saying something ilke "Ninety-five dollars? Why, that's nothing! That's less than the cost of one pizza per month over the year!"

Let zem eet zee pizza!
What is clearly lost on the insulated Marie Antoinettes in Lynnwood government is that we've been in a recession of epic proportions for about the past three years now and there are innumerable people in this working-class town who have been budgeting so tightly in an effort to avoid losing their homes that they cannot remember the last time they threw money away on something as wasteful as a pizza. Hamburger Helper and a potato will keep them fed at a fraction of the cost and free up what little is left of their reserves to go toward the mortgage. But hey, this is Lynnwood government for you: "Let them eat pizza."

Utilities Taxes: these were elevated by 2%. Again, I'm sure it's "only" the equivalent of a dozen lattes or something similarly dismissive. The average fixed-income household will be hit hardest by this, but that certainly doesn't bother Lynnwood city government, nosiree. Why, my God, the alternative would be to lay off some do-nothing bureaucrats. Unconscionable! Unthinkable! Clearly, Granny will just have to buck up. Remember this the next time you see the little widow down the street at the supermarket buying cat food; she may or may not even own a cat.

Car Tab Fee: $20 per vehicle, just like that. Our household has three vehicles, so the impact for us is $60 transferred from our wallets to their coffers in one fell swoop. Naturally, it takes nothing into account other than the fact of ownership. This tax will be a bonanza revenue source for the city when it comes to households with two working parents and two or three older children, each with their own vehicle.

Victim Group #2: Employers
Employers are also held hostage to a great degree. Technically they could move their business, but the costs asociated with that are obviously going to be prohibitive most of the time, so bitter though it be, it is more costly than just paying over the increased taxes. Naturally this is not lost on Lynnwood city government, which if nothing else knows an easy mark when they see one.

Employee Head Tax: This was perhaps the single most breathtaking, unambiguous and in-your-face outright desperate and flagrant money grab of the whole lot. Overnight, at the eleventh hour of the fiscal year, employers who had been paying fifteen bucks and change per employee and had doubtlessly budgeted for the upcoming year based on that figure, were now, out of a clear blue sky, on the hook for $85 per employee -- an incomprehensible, mind-boggling 567% increase. 567%!

Victim Group #3: Shoppers
These are the people who provide the lion's share of Lynnwood's revenue, overly dependent as it is upon sales tax revenue.

Red-Light Camera "Tax": This isn't a tax per se but it's a colossal source of revenue for the city (which it has become addicted to and of course cannot spend fast enough), and is an integral part of the overall state of affairs, so it brooks mentioning here.

Connecting the Dots: Predictions for 2011 and beyond

Bottom line, it does not take any great mental effort to see exactly where this is headed.

The taxes targeted at the hostagesresidents of Lynnwood will provide an initial injection of cash into city's coffers, but the side-effect is more long term and as such it is entirely unsurprising that its seriousness is entirely lost on this city's government, which has proven itself time and again to be constitutionally incapable of understanding and taking into account the longer-term impacts of their actions.

Specifically, in this case, Lynnwood now has a reputation of being a high-risk place to settle down and make a home, and people looking for homes in this area of Snohomish County will be far and away more likely to opt for places like Bothell, Kenmore, Brier, Shoreline, Edmonds or parts of unincorporated Snohomish County. Consequently, over the long haul there will likely not be a net increase in revenues because there will be fewer people to levy the taxes against.

In a similar vein, the residents of nearby portions of unincorporated Snohomish County have gotten the signal loud and clear that this is the last place they'd want to be a part of, so I will be surprised indeed if they vote in favor of annexation -- so I predict that issue is pretty much dead in the water.

The stupefyingly huge employee head tax is a larger problem, as it also sends a loud-and-clear signal, this time to businesses: Lynnwood has done a 180-degree turn from being business-friendly to being overtly and nakedly hostile to businesses. Try as you might, it cannot be construed otherwise. An overnight 567% increase in head taxes can be interpreted in no other way than as a textbook example of a shake-down. It's an announcement that opening a business here a huge gamble.

However, what is far worse is that the Lynnwood government has pretty much solidified its reputation: it is not  unpredictable, but worse -- it is entirely predictable: one may rest assured that as soon as Lynnwood overspends -- and the past few years' behavior indicate that they may be relied upon to do so no matter what -- they will make practically no cuts to the bloated ranks of their workforce and will simply raise taxes across the board. Do you honestly think this is lost on businesses which may have been considering opening up shop here?

As the beaten, battered and bloodied economy slowly and ponderously lifts itself from the floor, I predict that there will be practically no new businesses opening in Lynnwood beyond the new Costco that's supposedly going to occupy the old Lynnwood High School, and perhaps the Whole Foods scheduled to open at what used to be Circuit City, both of which were likely already too deep in the works when the anti-business tax-grab took effect.

Businesses Fleeing Lynnwood
In fact, as the business climate improves, I predict that many existing businesses will in all likelihood make the long-term investment in their future well-being by getting out of Lynnwood, so it's entirely possible that there will be a net shrinkage, thus nullifying the huge increase in head taxes. Again, so much for long-term thinking...

And when that happens, I predict that Lynnwood city government will act predictably and enact a B&O tax to make up for the shortfalls. You can take that to the bank.

Finally, the much-discussed red-light camera "taxes"... the continued presence of these widely detested money-making cameras is in some respect the final nail in Lynnwood's coffin. I've lived here for a while now but I have kith and kin all over the Puget Sound region. I am absolutely not kidding when I tell you I have lost count of the number of people who I personally know who will not set foot in Lynnwood to visit the mall to go shopping.

Please, hear me well: they literally make it a point to actively avoid shopping here because they're terrified that one of the red-light cameras -- which are deliberately set to a shorter-than-recommended yellow caution cycle as was reported by KING-5 -- will slap them with a ticket. Even if the case could be made that they are only there for public safety (pardon me while I laugh for the next fifteen minutes), the salient fact is that the public's perception of them ensures that probably thousands of shoppers avoid Lynnwood. That means they avoid the Alderwood Mall, the car dealerships, the whole nine yards. For a city so utterly dependent on sales-tax revenue, this is simply incomprehensible.

Bottom Line
All told, the level of stark incompetence evidenced by this city's government has been nothing short of stunning. They have made it abundantly clear that the quick-and-dirty, short-term-gratification solution is the best we can ever hope for from them.

As a resident of this city that scares the hell out of me. Many of us are doing everything we can to ensure that this is not forgotten when the next elections are held and you can look forward to our keeping this in the public's face when that time comes.

Meanwhile, if you are a resident, a local business owner, or somebody who works or simply shops here, I urge you to plague city council meetings from this point forward and let your voice be heard. I grant you, the council has also made it clear that it collectively has little but contempt for "little people" who express opinions they don't want to hear, but their work meetings are recorded and freely available on Youtube, and the more people who who show up and voice their concerns, the more evidence will exist in the public record when it comes time to judge them on their record.

And you may rest assured that the government is keenly aware of the public's perception: it has been well over a month since the city council meeting during which council voted to override the mayor's veto and decisively stick it to everybody in sight with all of these taxes, yet strangely enough the minutes of that meeting (Dec. 13, 2010) have yet to be posted to the city's website. Fancy that, huh?

So, folks, consider how desperately they shook down everybody in grabbing distance, when the city opens up its $25.5 million White Elephant Water Park this spring. Your tax dollars at work! But more importantly, consider it when elections come 'round. We'll be here to remind you, depend upon it.

Meanwhile, let me humbly suggest a new logo for Lynnwood: