4th of July Gripes

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IMG_2521I put my flag out this morning, then sat down and read Danny Westneat's column in The Seattle Times. Bottomline, Westneat thinks we should use the 4th of July to carp about whatever bugs us because that's what the founders did when they wrote up their bill of particulars against Great Britain.

One of Westneat's carpings is that we don't read the Declaration of Independence out loud at our neighborhood barbeques and civic events anymore. But, NPR did it this morning, as they have for the past 24 years. Take a listen here.

So, taking my cue from Danny Westneat, here's my 4th of July list of gripes, well, a few of them.

I'll start off with a very personal and probably politically incorrect one: I don't like being yelled at, called names, or ridiculed over a policy decision I'm about to make or have made. I'll let you in on a little City Hall secret . . . people who send emails to Council members or testify in front of our committees will gain a fair hearing when they clearly express their opinion, cite facts and perspective to support their opinion and suggest specific solutions. Those who forward email rants, use name-calling as their primary form of argumentation, well, they're not likely to be heard very well.

Here's another one. Fear drives too many of our public discussions.  Take immigration reform. Despite the overwhelming evidence that this country needs serious and widespread immigration reform, including a reasonable path to citizenship for undocumented individuals already here, we can't act. Congress is frozen on the issue, so states step in with their draconion solutions that are economically self-destructive. Let's be clear, we need new immigrants in our country today as much as we always have.  It's an economic imparative. Don't agree? Read this Washington State perspective that's loaded with facts and figures making the case for sensible immigration reform.

Just one more. Crime and neighborhood safety are a concern throughout Seattle. Every neighborhood and every resident deserves to be safe and secure in their home, on the streets and sidewalks of our city, and in our parks, at work and at school. But we can't bring ourselves to invest in the crime prevention interventions we absolutely know work extremely well and pay huge dividends. Here's an example—the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP).

NFP is a program across the country that every week sends a specially-trained nurse into the home of first-time mothers living in poverty beginning early in their pregnancy until their child reaches age two.  The program has been operating for more than 30 years and it is one of the most examined, tested, reviewed and evaluated social service interventions anywhere. The results of the NFP are clearly documented—lower criminal involvement by both mother and child, better academic outcomes for the child, stronger economic stability for the mother, and on and on. Our state government ranks the NFP as among the most effective and most efficient interventions possible to improve child welfare and prevent crime. Yet, government funding of the NFP only allows us to reach about half of the eligible moms in Seattle. What a shame!

OK, Danny, I've griped.  Off to the neighborhood BBQ now.  What a country!