[Hpn] INIIATIVE IS NOT ONLY FOR VETERANS

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Thu, 20 Oct 2005 08:17:20 -0400


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Thursday, October 20, 2005=20

Initiative isn't solely for veterans

By Alex Fryer

Seattle Times staff reporter







            =20
            MARK HARRISON / THE SEATTLE TIMES

            Perry Stepherson moved from Phoenix to Seattle recently. He =
found himself in a homeless shelter and later was helped by the King =
County Veterans' Program.
          =20

       =20

In 1888, with Civil War veterans streaming into the state, the =
Legislature decreed every county must levy a property tax to fund =
services for honorably discharged soldiers.

On Nov. 8, King County voters will be asked to increase the levy to =
provide services for soldiers again returning from conflict, this time =
in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Originally conceived of as a veterans-only measure, Proposition 1 =
evolved in recent weeks to also include money for homeless shelters and =
home care for seniors.

To its supporters, the veterans and human services levy represents a =
good compromise between veterans advocates and social service groups =
that opposed the earlier proposal for singling out veterans from the =
rest of the needy population.

But with a truncated schedule - the pro-levy campaign was launched only =
28 days before the election - it remains to be seen whether Prop. 1 will =
find support at the ballot, or become a victim of its own tortured =
history.

Prop. 1 would increase King County property taxes by 5 cents per $1,000 =
of assessed value. The average homeowner would pay about $15 annually =
based on a $300,000 home. The levy is expected to raise $13.3 million =
per year for six years. It would take a simple majority to pass.

Veterans and human services levy


Proposition 1 would increase property taxes by 5 cents per $1,000 of =
assessed value in King County to raise money for veterans programs, =
homeless shelters and home care for seniors.

If approved, the average homeowner would pay about $15 annually based on =
a $300,000 home. The levy is expected to raise $13.3 million per year =
for six years.

Currently, the county Veterans' Program is funded by a property tax of =
less than a penny per $1,000 of assessed value. Its operating budget is =
$2.1 million.

The concept of increasing the veteran services levy began in the =
Regional Policy Committee, whose members include representatives of the =
Metropolitan King County Council, Seattle and suburban cities.

A committee report in May noted that "the federal government is not =
living up to its obligation to provide services and medical care for =
returning veterans."

To better fund employment services, post-trauma and domestic violence =
counseling, and financial assistance, the Regional Policy Committee =
proposed raising about $11 million annually for five years. The measure =
then went before the County Council.

Veterans such as Perry Stepherson can attest to the need.

Stepherson was a truck driver in Phoenix until he came to Seattle a few =
weeks ago. He had $200 in his pocket and wanted a job on an Alaska-bound =
fishing boat. But the jobs weren't there, the money ran out, and =
Stepherson, 39, found himself in a homeless shelter.

Since he served in the Navy from 1984 to 1988, Stepherson discovered he =
was eligible for help from the King County Veterans' Program.

He was set up with a caseworker and given a bed at the William Booth =
Center, a homeless shelter that offers cheap meals and a place for about =
70 veterans to stash their stuff.

Stepherson said he was surprised the county would help him.

"I'm just completely blown away," he said. "In Phoenix, (veterans aid) =
is all federal."

But the effort to increase the property tax for veterans quickly ran =
into political turbulence at the County Council.

As chairman of the Regional Policy Committee, King County Councilman Bob =
Ferguson championed the veterans-only levy.

Ferguson faced a tough primary runoff with fellow Democrat Carolyn =
Edmonds, and the levy became campaign fodder.

At one point, Edmonds put out a flier that charged that Ferguson's plan =
"leaves behind seniors, children, the disabled and the homeless." =
Ferguson shot back that Edmonds "turned her back on veterans to score =
cheap political points."

And the veterans-only proposal divided others as well.

Robert Stephens, chairman of the African American Veterans Group of =
Washington State, testified against putting a measure on the ballot that =
would fund only veterans services.

As soldiers, "our purpose is to help someone, whether it's picking up a =
gun or building a bridge," Stephens said. "Here we are pulling money =
from the general population, and that should be shared."

Lloyd Burroughs, state commander for the National Association for Black =
Veterans, supported veterans-only funding.

"We are proponents for vets. As proponents, we try to effect an agenda =
that is vet-friendly," Burroughs said.

Less than two weeks before the September primary, Edmonds and three =
other council members co-sponsored a human services levy that would =
provide $21 million for programs aimed at low-income residents, =
including veterans. They wanted the measure to go before voters next =
year.

On Sept. 12, the King County Council reached a compromise. Prop. 1 =
combined veterans with human services funding and would be decided in =
November. If passed, two separate independent citizen boards would =
disperse the money.

Ferguson beat Edmonds by about 2,000 votes.

The King County Alliance for Human Services, which represents 470 =
agencies, donors and faith-based resources, opposed the veterans-only =
idea, but supports Prop. 1.

Still, it's a lukewarm endorsement.

Laura Wells, chairwoman of the group, said it takes months to educate =
people about human services funding, and a compromise just weeks before =
the election left little time for campaigning.

"Something that was veterans-only was not a wise thing, and we did not =
believe 2005 was the next best step," she said.

Levy spokeswoman Erika Nuerenberg, an aide to King County Councilwoman =
Julia Patterson, said the campaign hopes to raise about $25,000. There =
is no organized opposition.

"The biggest challenge for us is making sure enough people know what =
this is when they go to the polls," Nuerenberg said. "It's an education =
by stealth and speed campaign."

Alex Fryer: 206-464-8124 or afryer@seattletimes.com

William Charles Tinker

New Hampshire Homeless  / Founded 11-28-99
25 Granite Street
Northfield,N.H. 03276-1640  USA
Advocates,activists for disabled,displaced human rights.
1-603-286-2492
http://www.missingkids.com
http://www.nationalhomeless.org
http://www.newhampshirehomeless.org

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<DIV>
<P class=3Dpgtime>Thursday, October 20, 2005 </P>
<DIV class=3Dblock>
<P class=3Dstoryhed>Initiative isn't solely for veterans</P>
<P class=3Dbyline>By <A href=3D"mailto:afryer@seattletimes.com"><FONT=20
color=3D#003377>Alex Fryer</FONT></A></P>
<P class=3Dsource>Seattle Times staff reporter</P></DIV>
<DIV class=3Dbody><?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX =3D MB /><MB:META id=3Did=20
value=3D"2002571969"></MB:META><MB:META id=3Dsection=20
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            color=3D#003377></FONT></A>=20
            <P class=3Dcredit>MARK HARRISON / THE SEATTLE TIMES</P>
            <P class=3Dcaption>Perry Stepherson moved from Phoenix to =
Seattle=20
            recently. He found himself in a <B>homeless</B> shelter and =
later=20
            was helped by the King County Veterans'=20
        Program.</P></DIV></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
      <DIV id=3Dubox>
      <DIV class=3Dubox_cola>&nbsp;</DIV></DIV><!-- end utility box =
--><!-- start bglinks --><!-- end bglinks =
--></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!-- end inset box --><!-- Blurb: What's at =
stake: King County voters will decide Nov. 8 whether to increase =
property taxes to raise money for needy veterans, homeless shelters and =
other human services. --><B></B>
<P>In 1888, with Civil War veterans streaming into the state, the =
Legislature=20
decreed every county must levy a property tax to fund services for =
honorably=20
discharged soldiers.</P>
<P>On Nov. 8, King County voters will be asked to increase the levy to =
provide=20
services for soldiers again returning from conflict, this time in Iraq =
and=20
Afghanistan.</P>
<P>Originally conceived of as a veterans-only measure, Proposition 1 =
evolved in=20
recent weeks to also include money for <B>homeless</B> shelters and home =
care=20
for seniors.</P>
<P>To its supporters, the veterans and human services levy represents a =
good=20
compromise between veterans advocates and social service groups that =
opposed the=20
earlier proposal for singling out veterans from the rest of the needy=20
population.</P>
<P>But with a truncated schedule =97 the pro-levy campaign was launched =
only 28=20
days before the election =97 it remains to be seen whether Prop. 1 will =
find=20
support at the ballot, or become a victim of its own tortured =
history.</P>
<P>Prop. 1 would increase King County property taxes by 5 cents per =
$1,000 of=20
assessed value. The average homeowner would pay about $15 annually based =
on a=20
$300,000 home. The levy is expected to raise $13.3 million per year for =
six=20
years. It would take a simple majority to pass.</P><!--begin text box-->
<DIV class=3Dinfobox>
<P><STRONG><STRONG>Veterans and human services =
levy</STRONG></STRONG><BR><IMG=20
height=3D1 =
src=3D"http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/art/ui/dot_grey808080.gif"=20
width=3D192 vspace=3D2><BR><IMG height=3D6=20
src=3D"http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/art/ui/dot_clear.gif"=20
width=3D1><BR><STRONG>Proposition 1</STRONG> would increase property =
taxes by 5=20
cents per $1,000 of assessed value in King County to raise money for =
veterans=20
programs, <B>homeless</B> shelters and home care for seniors.</P>
<P><STRONG>If approved,</STRONG> the average homeowner would pay about =
$15=20
annually based on a $300,000 home. The levy is expected to raise $13.3 =
million=20
per year for six years.</P></DIV><!--end text box-->
<P>Currently, the county Veterans' Program is funded by a property tax =
of less=20
than a penny per $1,000 of assessed value. Its operating budget is $2.1=20
million.</P>
<P>The concept of increasing the veteran services levy began in the =
Regional=20
Policy Committee, whose members include representatives of the =
Metropolitan King=20
County Council, Seattle and suburban cities.</P>
<P>A committee report in May noted that "the federal government is not =
living up=20
to its obligation to provide services and medical care for returning=20
veterans."</P>
<P>To better fund employment services, post-trauma and domestic violence =

counseling, and financial assistance, the Regional Policy Committee =
proposed=20
raising about $11 million annually for five years. The measure then went =
before=20
the County Council.</P>
<P>Veterans such as Perry Stepherson can attest to the need.</P>
<P>Stepherson was a truck driver in Phoenix until he came to Seattle a =
few weeks=20
ago. He had $200 in his pocket and wanted a job on an Alaska-bound =
fishing boat.=20
But the jobs weren't there, the money ran out, and Stepherson, 39, found =
himself=20
in a <B>homeless</B> shelter.</P>
<P>Since he served in the Navy from 1984 to 1988, Stepherson discovered =
he was=20
eligible for help from the King County Veterans' Program.</P>
<P>He was set up with a caseworker and given a bed at the William Booth =
Center,=20
a <B>homeless</B> shelter that offers cheap meals and a place for about =
70=20
veterans to stash their stuff.</P>
<P>Stepherson said he was surprised the county would help him.</P>
<P>"I'm just completely blown away," he said. "In Phoenix, (veterans =
aid) is all=20
federal."</P>
<P>But the effort to increase the property tax for veterans quickly ran =
into=20
political turbulence at the County Council.</P>
<P>As chairman of the Regional Policy Committee, King County Councilman =
Bob=20
Ferguson championed the veterans-only levy.</P>
<P>Ferguson faced a tough primary runoff with fellow Democrat Carolyn =
Edmonds,=20
and the levy became campaign fodder.</P>
<P>At one point, Edmonds put out a flier that charged that Ferguson's =
plan=20
"leaves behind seniors, children, the disabled and the <B>homeless</B>." =

Ferguson shot back that Edmonds "turned her back on veterans to score =
cheap=20
political points."</P>
<P>And the veterans-only proposal divided others as well.</P>
<P>Robert Stephens, chairman of the African American Veterans Group of=20
Washington State, testified against putting a measure on the ballot that =
would=20
fund only veterans services.</P>
<P>As soldiers, "our purpose is to help someone, whether it's picking up =
a gun=20
or building a bridge," Stephens said. "Here we are pulling money from =
the=20
general population, and that should be shared."</P>
<P>Lloyd Burroughs, state commander for the National Association for =
Black=20
Veterans, supported veterans-only funding.</P>
<P>"We are proponents for vets. As proponents, we try to effect an =
agenda that=20
is vet-friendly," Burroughs said.</P>
<P>Less than two weeks before the September primary, Edmonds and three =
other=20
council members co-sponsored a human services levy that would provide =
$21=20
million for programs aimed at low-income residents, including veterans. =
They=20
wanted the measure to go before voters next year.</P>
<P>On Sept. 12, the King County Council reached a compromise. Prop. 1 =
combined=20
veterans with human services funding and would be decided in November. =
If=20
passed, two separate independent citizen boards would disperse the =
money.</P>
<P>Ferguson beat Edmonds by about 2,000 votes.</P>
<P>The King County Alliance for Human Services, which represents 470 =
agencies,=20
donors and faith-based resources, opposed the veterans-only idea, but =
supports=20
Prop. 1.</P>
<P>Still, it's a lukewarm endorsement.</P>
<P>Laura Wells, chairwoman of the group, said it takes months to educate =
people=20
about human services funding, and a compromise just weeks before the =
election=20
left little time for campaigning.</P>
<P>"Something that was veterans-only was not a wise thing, and we did =
not=20
believe 2005 was the next best step," she said.</P>
<P>Levy spokeswoman Erika Nuerenberg, an aide to King County =
Councilwoman Julia=20
Patterson, said the campaign hopes to raise about $25,000. There is no =
organized=20
opposition.</P>
<P>"The biggest challenge for us is making sure enough people know what =
this is=20
when they go to the polls," Nuerenberg said. "It's an education by =
stealth and=20
speed campaign."</P>
<P><EM>Alex Fryer: 206-464-8124 or <A=20
href=3D"mailto:afryer@seattletimes.com"><FONT=20
color=3D#003377>afryer@seattletimes.com</FONT></A></EM></P><!--  =
--></DIV></DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>William Charles Tinker</FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>New Hampshire Homeless&nbsp; / Founded=20
11-28-99<BR>25 Granite Street<BR>Northfield,N.H. 03276-1640&nbsp;=20
USA<BR>Advocates,activists for disabled,displaced human=20
rights.<BR>1-603-286-2492<BR><A=20
href=3D"http://www.missingkids.com">http://www.missingkids.com</A><BR><A =

href=3D"http://www.nationalhomeless.org">http://www.nationalhomeless.org<=
/A><BR><A=20
href=3D"http://www.newhampshirehomeless.org">http://www.newhampshirehomel=
ess.org</A><BR></FONT></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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