A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an open letter to the powers that be asking for the Howard Schultz treatment: $400 million in public money for new Seattle Weekly digs (Mossback, "SW Needs a New Arena," Feb. 15), a 30th-anniversary gift that could save us from having to move to Tukwila when downtown rents become unaffordable.
The I-5 SuperBlazers
Let's merge the Seattle and Portland NBA teams and play home games in Centralia or Chehalis.
The silence from the politicos was deafening, but the general public isn't so shy. Yes, Virginia, Howard Schultz isn't the only one who sees the government as Santa Claus. The column inspired Seattle Weekly contributing writer Jeff Reifman to create an online petition so ordinary folks could submit their own demands for public pork, directly to Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis. Here's a sampling of letters to City Hall, responding to this question: If the Sonics get $400 million for a new arena, what do you want?
Diane Turner: I'd like to ask for $10 million to establish a community peace and justice center in Seattle. You should consider me over the Sonics because while they only play with a rubber ball, this peace and justice center will work on issues affecting a very big, very real ball, planet earth.
Knoll Lowney: I'd like to ask for $1 million for a gold statue of my children. You should consider me over the Sonics because my kids are cuter.
Drew Gaut: I'd like to ask for a mere $245,000 to write a novel. This project would go much more smoothly if I were not forced to hold down a job throughout the process. The novel will be set in Washington and will paint our state in a positive light. It will encourage tourism, civic pride, and investment in our state. You should consider me over the Sonics because the novel is a more time-honored means of promoting an area than sports.
Kelly Roberts Weibel: I'd like to ask for at least $400 million to fund education in this state.
Dave Dederer: If you're going to give the Sonics $400 million for a new arena, I'd like to ask for approximately $1 million to purchase a commercial building for office rehearsal space for my Grammy-nominated, multiplatinum band, the Presidents of the United States of America. There's no denying that Seattle's prominence as a cultural center, particularly as an incubator for the development of popular music acts, has greatly contributed to the economic well-being of the city and the state. If the Sonics are worth $400 million, then my band and others who have made a significant mark (Pearl Jam, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, et al.) certainly deserve a tiny portion of this sort of support.
Peter Henry: I'd like to ask for $200 million to build new public-owned housing which might provide several thousand 50 percent subsidized housing units for families who are living on the edge—unlike Mr. Schultz or probably anybody he knows. Any leftover money could be spent on a case of blue duct tape so Seattle Weekly could keep their carpet in good repair. . . .
Alice Woldt: I'd like to ask for about $200 million to insure every child without health insurance in Washington state.
Chris Van Dyk: I'd like to ask for $45 million to pay for the bond levy Bainbridge Island School District is putting on the ballot. You can all come visit our new schools! You should consider me over the Sonics because, every day, I go into Seattle to work downtown, along with 70,000 other people, and we don't just stimulate the Seattle economy, we are the economy!
Martha Dye-Whealan: I'd like to ask for $200 million to pick up the shortfall in the Seattle School District.
Rick Poulin: If you're going to give the Sonics $400 million for a new arena, I'd like to ask for $35 million to build a public brewery and malt beverage appreciation facility. You should consider me over the Sonics because (a) my proposal is a lot less expensive, (b) brewing and appreciating malt beverages is a much more intrinsic and culturally authentic Seattle experience than watching basketball games. . . .
Paul Loeb: I'd like to ask for $400 million to help support local peace and justice groups. Talk about a multiplier effect. These groups could really use the resources to shift our national and local priorities. More money for public transit, housing, and energy alternatives would be great as well. You should consider me over the Sonics because I'm tired of blackmailing crybaby billionaires like Howard Schultz and Paul Allen.
Matt Hagen: I'd like to ask for $50 million to build a floating bridge across Green Lake. Many older couples have difficulty making it around the entire lake, and this would help them greatly.
Julie Watts: I'd like to ask for $400 million to build a giant community hot tub. This city is full of stressed-out people working long hours, many of them for low wages. They work hard, raise their families, and pay their taxes. What better use of their tax dollars than to give them a place to relax at the end of the day? I'm positive that a more relaxed citizenry will mean increased tax revenues for the city. Just imagine how much shopping and restauranting they will do when they have destressed at the end of the day.
New breweries, hot tubs, golden statues, good schools, help for the homeless, a Green Lake shortcut: You just can't beat that, Mr. Schultz.