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City Councilman Mike Cero recommends No to Prop 1: Prop 1 condones poor budget practices.

I recommend No to Proposition 1. Don't establish the precedent that condones postponing expenses with the understanding that voters will eventually approve a Levy bail out.

In the last blog I explained how I evaluated risk to citizens in not hardening the South End Fire House to withstand a big earthquake.  In opposing Proposition 1, I also considered the risk in not replacing our Fire Rescue Truck.  The Fire Rescue Truck identified for replacement is a 16 year truck residing in a temperature controlled environment.  The truck has only 19,800 miles.  Additionally, I assure Islanders, Fire and Police equipment is maintained at a high state of readiness.  In my five years on the council, I don't recall ever pressuring safety maintenance budgets.  Even during the 2008-'09 recession, the Council did not deny vehicle maintenance funds for our Police and Fire vehicles. 

I'm not saying the Fire Rescue Truck is not needed. And I'm not saying I like the truck's light green color scheme (all fire vehicles should be red.)  I'm just saying
it's probably not worn out or with only 19,800 miles, it's not critical to replace.  Interestingly, the replacement may even be a smaller truck having less carrying capacity.  There may be a financial argument to replace the Fire Rescue Truck.  Older vehicles normally have higher  maintenance expenses than new vehicles, but this is a financial issue not a safety issue.

The Fire Rescue truck should have been financed through our City's Fire Truck Sinking Fund.  A fund developed to be funded in a predictable manner for a predictable expense. Voting for Proposition 1 condones poor budget practices.  Replacing fire trucks is an ongoing expense that should have been paid for first. In order to control spending, I recommend No to Proposition 1.  Don't establish the precedent that condones postponing expenses (kicking the can down the road) with the understanding that voters will approve a Levy bail out.  Vote no on MI Prop 1 to send the message to appropriately prioritize funding.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kendall Watson October 23, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Hi there Speech and Advertising, Patch allows a variety of content, including personal blogs in our "Local Voices" blog section. This is a blog post uploaded by Mercer Island Councilman Mike Cero. Blogs are one of many ways Patch gives you or anyone else the opportunity to connect with the community, and we welcome voices from all sides and perspectives in our community to blog, post announcements, events, or photos and comment on any story posted here. For more information on blogging on Patch, please go here: http://mercerisland.patch.com/blog/apply If you have more questions, please feel free to contact me at Kendall.Watson@Patch.com or call me at 206-455-1331. Thank you for your interest in Patch and blogging/sharing your opinion on Patch!
Speech or Advertising? October 23, 2012 at 10:37 PM
So, I guess political advertising, even by an elected official, is fair game. Since there is no charge, perhaps campaigns all around will recognize the cost/benefit of running ads disguised as blog posts ad infinitum -- Mike Cero is a pioneer...next year we'll possibly be able to thank him when we log into Patch and see a huge number of political ads, um blog posts, from all sorts of parties -- pro and con.
Kendall Watson October 24, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Hmm. I think there may be some confusion as to what purpose Patch blogs serve. Anyone, for any reason, can post their own blog, so long as it complies with our Terms of Use. Separate and apart from blogs are political ads. You can buy one of these from our advertising manager, Erik Hill, at erik.hill@patch.com. In essence, blogs are no different as an expression of one's opinion, than a Letter to the Editor. The burden of proving facts rests entirely upon the speaker. There should be no misunderstanding that: Blog content is not fact checked. It is not news content, although, I reserve the right as editor to pull a blog to the top of the page of MercerIsland.Patch.com as I see fit. This maybe because the item is a popular blog that many are commenting on, or it addresses a newsworthy issue. Nonetheless, the point remains that blogs are intended as an outlet of free expression (within our Terms of Use) for all of Mercer Island.
Speech or Advertising? October 24, 2012 at 01:04 AM
No confusion. Your description is clear. Mike Cero is a political figure promoting a particular vote on a political issue. Fact checking isn't relevant (their are plenty of misleading / fact-challenged purchased political ads) to my point. What is relevant is Councilman Cero's creative, novel and Patch-approved use of the blog-channel to run free political advertising. Kudos to him for figuring this out. My real point is that readers should be prepared for an onslaught of similar blogs in the future -- following on Mr. Cero's pioneering success. He wrote three posts in a short period of time encouraging a vote on an issue -- not sure how that can be construed as anything but political advertising. Why on earth would he pay Erik Hill money when he gets it for free? The location of his posts, I see, is at the editor's prerogative. So unless the editor decides that folks trying to get free political advertising not be given top (or perhaps any billing???), I expect this trend to continue and increase in popularity.
Kendall Watson October 24, 2012 at 01:24 AM
"The location of his posts, I see, is at the editor's prerogative." That does not quite capture it — I can pull the blog out of the mix in the lower center area of Mercer Island Patch, where you can see the heading "Local Voices". If I take no action, the blog stays below that header automatically. In addition, I'd point out that we've had blogs on Mercer Island Patch for over a year now with the same rules. I'll leave it to other readers to judge whether or not someone blogging (or commenting on news articles, which in fact appears more prominently than blogs do) repeatedly to advocate an opinion equates to "political advertising". Finally, the statement that the blog is "political advertising" implies, IMHO, the exchange of money for a service (and is not the case). With regard to your other comments, I would A) Invite you or anyone else to write about this (or any other issue, it's entirely up to you!) from YOUR perspective. There is no barrier except the Terms of Use; and B) the Patch template that you see today will undergo a significant change in the near future, which will enable you a significantly enhanced ability to control what you see on Mercer Island Patch (think Google Plus). Coming soon.
Speech or Advertising? October 24, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Thank you for the clarifications and the upcoming changes. I think those are good. To your point "I'll leave it to other readers to judge whether or not someone blogging (or commenting on news articles, which in fact appears more prominently than blogs do) repeatedly to advocate an opinion equates to "political advertising". Mr Cero blogged three times in a short period (twice in the last few days) advocating a particular vote on an issue before the voters in two weeks. I'm not sure how anyone can view this as anything but political advertising. Your distinction that it's not advertising if not in exchange for money or service fails the reasonableness test -- and fails the definition test (according to a quick web search of definitions (it is typical for advertising to be paid for, but not required). I won't write a blog post. I have, hopefully, opened your eyes to one very enterprising councilman's approach to use your free blogging service to run a series of political ads (call them "VOTE NO messages if you like instead of ads) and it'll be up to you to decide to take further action to avoid an onslaught of others following suit in the future. If no additional action is taken, at least you won't be caught off guard by the vote YES on this or vote NO on that or Vote for so and so or vote against so and so) dominating multiple blogs posts in short periods of time. Perhaps you can just call those Cero-posts to honor the innovator.
Ira B. Appelman October 24, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Cero's posts aren't "political ads," and I believe Speech or Advertising has misunderstood the welcome function that MIPatch plays in our Island community, which is ENCOURAGING DISCUSSIONS, political or otherwise, by allowing unlimited comments to an initial expression of ideas (articles, letters, or blogs). Political ads are cartoons that prey on the prejudices, emotions, and ignorance of the voters. Vote for me because I "prefer" a political party, because I have a nice family and dog, or because I claim to have done wonderful things, OR don't vote for my opponent because my opponent "prefers" the wrong political party or other association, because my opponent was photographed with a strange facial expression, or because I claim my opponent has done terrible things. These political ads, which dominate television, our mail boxes, and print media, are a sad commentary on an electorate that, despite being more educated, has dumbed down to a 15-second attention span from a century ago when political speeches could last over an hour. Cero has put himself out there, including his REASONING for the decisions he has made. MIPatch encourages anyone in our community who wants to "reason together" to respond either agreeing or disagreeing with the post. I have been on the Island for nearly 50 years and we have never had this ability before and I, for one, appreciate what MIPatch has accomplished.
Robert T. Brown October 24, 2012 at 02:25 AM
The reason you won't write a blog, I suspect, is because you don't want to release you real name. Cero expresses his opinions above; he doesn't advertise it. Perhaps you could comment on the Proposition itself rather than the election process to contribute to civil debate. The "Yes Prop. 1" campaign has outspent the "Reject MI Fire Levy" more than 300 to 1.
Speech or Advertising? October 24, 2012 at 02:59 PM
My position on the issue is irrelevant (and you may be surprised how I voted on it)...that was never the point of my note. Individuals expressing opinions is a bit different than a series of VOTE one way or the other posts (reasoned or not) -- specifically the latter is clearly (in this case, free) political advertising. Mr Cero has used this tactic brilliantly...all I'm doing is calling it out to ensure the Patch knows how one of its wonderful attributes (as Mr. Appelman points out) is being used. It's up to them to decide if there is anything wrong or not. I'm just calling it for what it is. I believe any attempt to call what Mr. Cero has done as *not* political advertising is ignoring logic and reason.
Kendall Watson October 24, 2012 at 03:43 PM
The core issue is this: Is Mr. Cero's political opinion "advertising"? Advertising is explicitly not permitted on Mercer Island Patch, except as PAID advertising. For me, as I tried to explain previously, the logic that this speech is "political advertising" fails at multiple points. It's my judgment that this is political speech, and it is therefore permitted on Patch. Not advertising. Apart from the mischaracterization that these are "political ads", we do absolutely want more engagement from the community, more "pro" and "con" discussion. Patch is intended at a community forum of news and information that should be useful to you. We are fully aware of how blogging plays a role in that and how that ultimately supports Mercer Island Patch's purpose.
Speech or Advertising? October 24, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Mr Watson, If Mr. Cero wrote a blog post every day, with a title VOTE NO on a proposition and then described why he thinks people should vote not, would that also not be considered advertising as you previously described? If not, then I guess we see the same thing very differently. If so, then where is the line...3 posts over 2 weeks? 2 posts over 5 days?
Kendall Watson October 24, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Hi again Speech or Advertising?, Here are our rules for Blogging: http://mercerisland.patch.com/blog/blogger-tos Of course, these terms are subject to change — especially if the platform is abused. Three blog posts on the same subject in the past week, in my view, is not abusing the platform. Posting 1) multiple times a day, and 2) overwhelming our "Local Voices" section on the home page is a different discussion.
Jon H October 25, 2012 at 07:04 AM
Can I buy the used truck? Low miles, always in a garage and only 15 years old! Seriously... why doesn't the city already budget for these sort of predictable things?
Deborah A October 25, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Why don't folks who comment on The Patch use their real names? Ira Appleman, Jerry Gropp, and other prolific posters all stand behind their comments with REAL names (or abbreviations of their surnames.) I cannot take pen names seriously and find it cowardly that someone cannot stand up for his/her opinions using his/her real identity. We're a relatively small community on MI and differing opinions are always welcomed, no matter how controversial. I am not happy that The Patch (and no doubt other internet publications) allows pen names. Stand up for what you believe in!!! Let us know who you are.
Speech or Advertising? October 25, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Why don't I use my real name? Because, if you look through the comments on posts here, you see a lot of creepy behavior -- individuals being researched on the web, and comments about that research posted. It's really creepy -- and frankly enough so to cause folks like me to avoid entering the public square on Patch. I agree that it's better not to be anonymous -- but the reality of the situation here prevents those of us who would rather not be the target of internet creepers to sit it out.
Kendall Watson October 25, 2012 at 06:52 PM
We encourage transparency and recommend commenters use their real names, but we believe it's more important to encourage the discussion itself so we're not outright banning this. Patch does offer a level of protection to users who participate in discussion on comment threads in terms of moderating the comments posted here. Comments that don't comply with our terms of use are subject to removal, and those who continuously engage in that sort of commentary will find themselves soon unable to comment on Patch. IMHO, commenting on Patch and using your real name is no different than walking up to the mike at a public forum, in front of a large audience of your neighbors and peers, and telling them your thoughts. And the fact is, a lot of people choose not to comment at these sort of events, either.
Speech or Advertising? October 25, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Mr Watson, I agree with your comments with the exception of the last part. Folks who speak in public at public events are rarely treated with personal details related to their personal lives being publicly displayed for the world to see. For example, being publicly against the fire station rebuild (and as I recall the school rebuild bond), resulted in a poster looking up the home address and publishing information about their real estate holdings -- presumably to make a point -- but in doing so, going well beyond the bounds of what would be considered appropriate or condoned behavior in a public forum. This is just a step I'm not comfortable making.
Kendall Watson October 25, 2012 at 09:44 PM
This very same comment was made publicly at both the Mercer Island School Board and at the City Council meeting, as I sat in the audience listening. I can respect that you don't think that's appropriate, but that is not technically against our Terms of Use, nor is it against the city or school board's code of conduct for speaking publicly at council or board meetings.
Speech or Advertising? October 25, 2012 at 09:49 PM
By "This very same comment was made publicly at both the Mercer Island School Board and at the City Council meeting" do you mean a person stood up, announced the personal real estate holdings of another individual (or individuals) who had spoken, and went on to share that information with the public? if so, that's another way one citizen can help dissuade others from speaking out in public forums as well as online.
Thomas Imrich October 25, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Anonymous postings deserve absolutely no serious following, or influence, if the authors are not willing to put facts and data on the table, as well as be willing to put their name, reputation, and credentials on the table. Shame on them, for cowardly behavior, hiding behind the cloak of an anonymous voice, while potentially having "hidden motives", well shielded from public view. Our founding fathers would have found it a disgrace.
Speech or Advertising? October 25, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Mr. Imrich -- how do you feel about those who search out and publish personal information others who post in opposition? Would our founding fathers find that laudable?
Ira B. Appelman October 25, 2012 at 10:26 PM
I agree with Deborah Ehlers. I got involved in March 1997 objecting at a MI Planning Commission meeting to the rezoning of QFC Village. Ever since, on every email, letter, and leaflet, I have listed contact information so Islanders know I'm responsible. All of your public information like address and date of birth are public record and available to anybody AND ARE QUITE RELEVANT. We've had commenters advocate a MI bond or levy WHO DON'T LIVE ON MERCER ISLAND. And I've been complaining for years that we should spend government money AS IF IT WAS OUR OWN showing that those who advocate the demolition of public buildings at public expense NEVER demolish their own houses at their own expense because it's too expensive. In graduate school, I studied the literature on anonymous behavior. In general, people are much more likely to act irresponsibly when anonymous than when they know their identity is known. As to Speech or Advertising?'s "creepy" people, you're only fooling yourself if you think the creepy people can't find out who you are. You're only anonymous to the rest of us. As to the downside of being known, people in power don't like being contradicted. I know the nasty rumors they spread about me because my friends report. The experience has only taught me greater respect for our Founders. All we risk by stating our opinions is ostracism. When Franklin told the Founders they would hang together or hang separately, he wasn't kidding.
Kendall Watson October 25, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Tom, A minor quibble, but one of my favorite leading minds of the American Revolution — a brilliant thinker who didn't mind swiping a great idea or phrase and taking all the credit when he used it or refined it — was a fellow who sometimes used nom de plumes like Silence Dogood and Polly Baker before assuming his perhaps best known alter ego "Richard Saunders" (of Poor Richard's Almanac fame, beloved for its funny quotations and witticisms, many of which the author "borrowed" from elsewhere, unattributed). I speak of Benjamin Franklin, of course. Sorry Tom, I'm a huge Franklin-o-phile, so I couldn't let that one slip by without comment. Appreciate the point, however!
Roy F. Simperman October 26, 2012 at 01:58 AM
I plan to vote no. Pure and simple.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA November 05, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Anonymous postings should not be allowed, I still believe . Jerry-
Kendall Watson November 05, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Thanks Jerry. I think your blog post earlier this year and several comments this week have made that fairly clear. You have also said that you favor renovation of the current station, although according to the most recent study commissioned by the council, this would cost more than a rebuild. Do agree with the findings of the TCA study? Why or why not?
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA November 05, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Kendall- As to your question to me above: It makes no sense to say that building new is cheaper tha remodelling unless that's what the person or persons saying that wants- to build a new building from the ground up. There's far too much demolition and haul away cost- to add to the new structure. Jerry-
Ira B. Appelman November 06, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Hi Kendall: As you know, the City Manager always agrees with the City Council, City staff always agrees with the City Manager, and contractors always agree with whatever the City's position is OR they are fired. The list of senior staff that have been fired or forced out for disagreeing with the City Manager is long AND GROWING: Deputy City Manager Londi Lindell, City Attorney Bob Sterbank, Assistant City Manager/Parks & Rec Director Pete Mayer, Development Services Director Richard Hart, City Clerk Tina Eggers, and there may be others. The last contractor to disagree with the City was the well-respected employment lawyer Marecella Fleming Reed. In her preliminary written report she was very critical of City Manager Conrad for retaliation. She recommended, "Do not request a written report," because it would obviously be critical of the City of Mercer Island, which was paying her to do the investigation. She was immediately terminated. Instead of naively accepting the City's reports at face value, I'd like to see MIPatch investigate. The latest example of apparent retaliation is against the Paralegal. She vocally disagreed with the retaliation against Londi Lindell for which Lindell received a $1,000,000 settlement. The City Manager's budget downgrades the Paralegal's position to a half-time "legal assistant." Why not investigate that? Let's MIPatch readers see in real-time what happens to a City employee who disagrees.
Kendall Watson November 06, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Well, one could respond in the same vein that a majority of the City Council last month therefore have it in for HR Director Kryss Segle, based on Deputy Mayor Dan Grausz's inquiry into her annual salary, which is somewhere around $140,000. She was also involved in the Lindell lawsuit at several points and Lindell claimed that Segle opposed her disciplinary actions against her husband — which in turn led, according to Lindell, to a series of decisions that precipitated the lawsuit. But is that what's going on here? It remains to be seen whether or not the council majority was satisfied with the answer they got a few weeks ago on her salary. Is this subtext proof that the questioning is retaliation for the Lindell lawsuit? I don't think I've got enough to go on to prove it.
Ira B. Appelman November 06, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Lindell claimed? There's no doubt the HR Director intervened on behalf of her husband despite the "Chinese Wall" between her, as HR Director and her husband's employment. I have the documents. Don't you? The reason her salary came up (and was quickly dismissed) was because her Conrad-created "department" is so small that her salary swamps its budget. As far as I know, her salary and benefits aren't still on a list for the council to consider. If you don't believe you have enough to go on, then that's what reporting is all about. You have to get enough to go on. I don't see why you consider as similar the special treatment of the HR Director and the trashy treatment of the Paralegal (who isn't making anything near $140,000 plus benefits).

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