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2 Steps Backwards: Seattle May Cut Youth Programs

April 26, 2010

Since coming into office Mayor Mike McGinn has made the needs of Seattle’s youth a top priority via his youth and families initiative- at least, that’s been the appearance.  The Mayor has town-halled all over the city, asking community members and the youths themselves, what kinds of services and programs are needed to best serve families.

While these meetings have morphed into “invitation only” caucuses and closed door meetings, it seems the budget woes of the city will potentially jeopardize what few resources and programs kids and teens can turn to, particularly those run by Seattle Parks.

With a ballooning deficit of $50 million dollars, the city will host 2 budget related public hearings.  From their media advisory:

Balancing our city’s budget in tough times requires a great deal of direction, constructive input from citizens and the careful ordering of priorities.

Translation: The squeaky wheel gets the grease.  If you’re not squeakin’ you’re gonna lose your grease- that means our most precious commodity, kids and teens, stand to lose big time.

At best it’s ironic, at worst, hypocritical of the City to not take a leadership role that aims to preserve services for those who need them the most.

In fact, it was just last week when the Mayor sent City council his veto letter on the anti-aggressive solicitation law.  He cited the overwhelming concerns community members have about youth, gun and gang violence, and the need for our kids to have positive alternatives in their lives.  That would be the one step forward.

The likely cuts- 2 steps back.

It also shows the Mayor’s office is capable of setting priorities and leading on unpopular issues for the sake of what is right.

But youth advocates say the Mayor is not leading on the issue, and they anticipate severe cuts to programs they doubt will be restored any time soon.

They plan to fight back, and they need your help to get it done.

Budget processes can be quite messy, with everyone pitted against each other to try and protect their piece of the pie- it’s usually comes down to who makes the most noise and who can bend the right ear behind closed doors.

With the city facing a $50 million dollar deficit next year, only one thing is certain; there will be cuts.  The mayor and city council shouldn’t just bend to those who can be the most outspoken at public hearings- which aren’t convenient for everyone, and can even be a little intimidating.

City leaders already know youth services are dwindling and additional cuts would only be devastating- that’s a lose/lose for all of us.

If you can attend a public hearing- then go- and take a friend with you.  If not, make phone calls, send emails, and spread the word- our youth need is to stand up for the services they count on.  It’s the least we can do.

Public Budget Hearings:

Wednesday April 28, 5:00pm

New Holly Gathering Hall

7054 32nd Avenue South

Seattle, 98108

Tuesday May 4th, 5:00pm

9600 College Way North

Seattle 98103

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