Time to act on Husky Stadium bailout tax

THEY'RE OUT THERE. You just have to look. While it seems rare, there are Huskies who aren't insufferable. My wife is one. She's definitely a classy Dawg. So is my brother-in-law. And I've always had the sense Mark Brunnell and Donald Watts were Dawgs you could appreciate. Now, in the midst of the UW's scheme to have taxpayers bail out their stadium remodel plan, comes another name for the list.

State Senator Rodney Tom. He's also a Husky to appreciate.

This Democrat from Bellevue, a 1985 UW graduate, is firmly against his alma mater's intention to have taxpayers foot $150 million worth of the proposed $300-plus million stadium project -- a project that would be the most expensive of its kind in college football history.

Last week, two of Tom's colleagues in the Senate, Ed Murray and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, introduced a bill that effectively would transfer to King County, for the purpose of remodeling Husky Stadium, the hotel-rental car-restaurant tax that the state imposed years ago to help pay for Safeco and Qwest fields. The bill, SB 6116, now sits with the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which will decide whether, or in what form, to pass it along to a vote by the full Senate.

CRIMSON COMMENTARY

As the Safeco and Qwest debts are about to be retired, the UW sees the money generated by the tax as its ticket to Easy Street.

No so fast, says Sen. Tom.

"I have no intention of financing stadiums with state dollars, or for that matter local dollars. At a time when we have over 2,000 portables being used in our public schools, we have a crumbling transportation infrastructure, we have more important priorities than spectator sports," he says. "There is nothing wrong with Husky Stadium that a good football team wouldn't fix (and I'm a Husky alum). The proponents then bring up the farce about the facility being unsafe. Well, they already said they can raise $150 million privately. That should more than take care of any safety concerns."

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

Some common sense coming from the purple side of the debate.

Governor Chris Gregoire, herself a UW graduate, told KING-TV on Saturday at the Cougar-Husky basketball game that the UW's proposal isn't one she can support given the state's critical budget environment. Click here to view the KING report, which frames the issue nicely and includes a shot of the "NO HUSKY STADIUM BAILOUT TAX" banner that was flown over Hec Ed prior to the game.

Despite Gregoire's view, the road to a prudent outcome is far from guaranteed. The UW has mounted a full-court press of lobbying that includes former governor Dan Evans.

A group of Washington State alums has been working to block the UW. They've been fighting it on two fronts. The first is that it would seriously skew the balance between the two schools in the state that compete in the Pac-10. The second is that it's simply poor public policy, especially at a time when so many human services are wanting.

That viewpoint -- that the state shouldn't take sides when it comes to Pac-10 football and that taxpayers dollars should be more wisely managed -- has earned them harsh words from Husky fans and from the UW's apologists in the Legislature.

"In the face of an $8 BILLION state budget shortfall the UW is choosing football over student enrollment, luxury suites over professors and staff," notes Mike Bernard, leader of the opposition.

He's asking fellow Cougars specifically and taxpayers generally to stand up against the UW's money grab.

"Enlist five friends to contact the members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and tell them this is bad public policy," says Bernard. "They don't need to be Cougs. This is NOT a Cougar vs. Husky issue. It's a State of Washington Taxpayer issue."

Here is the link to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It has all the contact information you need to make your voice heard.

"Please be nice when you call or write," Bernard stresses. "The Senators are our elected representatives and we want them voting with us. You can do more good with honey than vinegar."

To join the growing list of 3,000-plus who have signed on to the grassroots effort opposing the UW's money grab, head to the group's Facebook account.


FOR ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND ON THE UW'S STADIUM PROPOSAL, CLICK TO THE FOLLOWING STORIES IN THE CF.C ARCHIVES ...

* A REALLY SOUR APPLE CUP JOKE
* ARMY GROWING TO BLOCK UW'S MONEY GRAB
* STEPPING UP TO FIGHT UW'S BRAZEN MONEY GRAB

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