And other revenue-raising suggestions for local government.
There are some things the government wouldn't think of doing to raise money—right? Wrong. . . .
SEATTLE AQUARIUM, August 27. I'm enjoying a multi-DJ, multi-chemical electronic music carnival, thinking that the promoters pulled one helluva fast one on Seattle Aquarium rental agents to land this psychedelic playground for the night. But whoa, was I one surprised tripster when I walked over to the petting zoo shortly before midnight and found it to be OPEN—and staffed by an aquarium employee! Not minding the half-dozen X deals going on within arm's length, I thoroughly enjoyed coddling starfish while bopping to the thump of Basement Jaxx spewing from the shark room.
YOUR LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENT, August 30. The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal report that 1,100 guns sold back into circulation by police departments nationwide were used in crimes, as traced by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (whose brilliant idea was it to bring alcohol, tobacco, and firearms under one tent?). In Detroit, police chief Benny Napoleon acknowledged some of the 7,000 guns sold by his department to a wholesaler may have ended up in the city's gun shops. Gun sales between 1992 and 1997 netted Motor City PD some $800,000 toward the purchase of shiny new pistols.
LOS ANGELES, September 1. The Los Angeles Times reports that the US Forest Service knew exactly what it was doing when it gave B-3 Cande Productions permission to host their annual JuJubeats rave at Santa's Village in the San Bernardino Mountains. Five kids died in a car accident following the event, but forest supervisor Michael Rogers was quick to point out that "4,000 or 5,000 people who went up to that event came down safely." One ravegoer reported hearing a pot-sniffing Forest Service official remark that "it's like being in the '60s." The agency's take was estimated to be near $3,000.
Guns, raves, drugs—forget taxes, Uncle Sam can turn a buck plenty of better ways. Following are a few bright ideas with a local bent:
RTA and Metro could finally raise the funds to get light rail in gear by sponsoring weekly "Keanu Reeves Days." On Keanu Day, people who usually ride the bus would get a chance to drive a jam-packed coach—with no brakes—just like in the movie Speed. Anybody successfully bringing their bus to a halt would be flown to Sandra Bullock's Texas ranch for a private screening of Hope Floats and a midnight serenade from America's favorite crooner, Harry Connick Jr.
Kids are gonna climb 'em anyway, so the City's Parks and Recreation Department may as well turn the really high brown pipes at Gasworks Park into the Northwest's foremost urban bungee-jumping venue. Not only would this be a fiscally sound maneuver, but if Parks and Rec were to turn this into a 24-hour offering, it would also serve as a graffiti deterrent for crazy kids who want to spray "John Leguizamo is a fucking FREAK!" on the middle pipe.
Anyone who's caught wind of the fuss surrounding those new passenger ferries knows that they could give the Miss Bud a run for her money. So it makes perfect sense for the ferry system to allow passengers to parasail off the back of their state-sponsored speedboats for a king's ransom of $75 per person. And for an extra $50, deckhands will cut the cords on you midway so enthusiasts can attempt free-fall landings on those battleships in Puget Sound—just like the Blue Angels.
Seizing on the popularity of both Bob Villa and Yo MTV Raps, Governor Gary "I Like to Unclog Drains in My Spare Time" Locke and Coolio would team up for a new series on TVW titled "Toolio." The series would rotate between Gary's tool tips and Coolio's phat-arse beats, with the two occasionally swapping roles for comedic effect.
Instead of staging random appliance recycling events at remote King County locations, the King County Solid Waste Division should give serious consideration to hosting a monthly "Letterman Party" on the roof of the Courthouse. Here, King County residents could simply give their old TVs and refrigerators the heave-ho onto Third Avenue—just like on Dave's show! The event could be televised on KCTV—and, given its appeal to the COPS-watching meatball crowd, the county would be easily able to sell advertising spots to owners of 1-900 lines and RV dealerships.
In order to raise money to upgrade the WWII barracks in which it currently houses most of its residents, the Seattle Housing Authority should partner with the owners of El Gaucho and open a new supper club in those four plush public housing units on the top of Yesler hill. (What a view!) With revenues raised from every party of two at El Gouge-o prices, SHA will soon be eyeing waterfront property for the less fortunate.
Taking a nod from the Greenwood Wingdome's "Hot Wing Eat-Off"—which starred Mayor Paul Schell, King County Executive Ron Sims, and a host of civilian carnivores—the local branch of the DEA could sponsor an annual "Heap o' Coke Snort-Off." Local celebrities and Joe Cokehound alike would pay a hefty admission fee (the equivalent of buying a couple eight balls) to participate in this "all you can snort" coupe de cocaine—with the winner getting all-expense-paid trips to the island of Ibiza and the Betty Ford Clinic.
In another superb example of mutually beneficial public-private partnerships, state Senator Pam Roach and Seattle WNBA coach Lin Dunn would treat local debutantes to "Style Your Hair With an E-Z Bake Oven Day." Gene Juarez has nothin' on these country belles, whose do's are straight out of the Annie Oakley era. Proceeds would be used to push the average professional woman's basketball salary above the poverty line.
And finally, the Public Facilities District should consider offering up Safeco Field as a toll-boothed off-leash area when the M's are on the road—if for no better reason than to ensure that the Mariners' play is no longer the only crap on the field.