City Council: Fully fund safe access to Seattle parks ~~ Nick Licata: Fund initiative 4.9 to create safe and equitable access to our parks!


By Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

It’s a sad fact that people throughout Seattle are often separated from their favorite parks by dangerous roads and street crossings.

We envision all Seattle parks being places that our kids can safely bike to and through for fun or simply to get home. We envision all Seattle parks being places that grandparents can safely walk to and through as they enjoy staying active, or as they pick up a quart of milk from the grocery store.

We believe equitable access is a basic, core function of our park system. Much attention has been given to equity in terms of geographic distribution of park resources, and rightly so. In addition, we need to start considering how physically accessible parks are to the people who live near them. Parks should be accessible to people of all ages and abilities, not just able bodied adults who can dash across lanes of traffic. One quarter of our population do not own a car, and they deserve safe and comfortable access to their parks.

Part of the Mayor Murray’s Seattle Parks district funding proposal is for Investment Initiative 4.9. This Initiative, entitled “Activating and Connecting to Greenways,” is currently budgeted at $321,000 and will allow the Parks Department to start proactively working with SDOT to activate and enhance connection points from our communities to our parks, with parks-oriented expertise. The current proposed funding is critical to providing equitable access to our parks. However, with an increase to $2 million per year we could truly create equitable access to and through our parks for people of all ages and abilities.

We know there is a large need to provide safe and comfortable access to and through our parks for people of all ages and abilities. There are roughly 200 potential access opportunities between neighborhood greenways and parks. If funding were increased from $321,000 to $2 million dollars per year, the Parks Department would be able to fund capital improvements to make equitable access to our parks a reality. I hope you strongly consider not only maintaining the current funding for this Initiative, but also increasing the funding to $2 million dollars per year. Please make safe access to our parks a reality, and pass the Mayor’s proposed parks funding package!

Thank you,

Gun violence against women [Trigger Warning]

Team –
Since Gabby shared her letter with the Senate Judiciary Committee, over 30,000 supporters have joined her call for a hearing on the steps Congress can take to keep women safer from gun violence.
Can we count on you to sign on, as well?
We’ve yet to hear back from the Chairman and Ranking Member, so there’s still time to put your name on the letter. You can do that here:
As you can tell from Gabby’s initial email on the subject, this is a pressing issue that calls for a real conversation about how to close some of the loopholes in the current law that make it easy for abusers to get their hands on deadly weapons.
Thanks for stepping up to make sure it happens.
All the best,
Peter Ambler
Co-Founder & Strategy Director, Americans for Responsible Solutions

Thank You


After Overseeing The Largest Expansion Of Health Care In 50 Years, Sebelius Steps Down

News broke last night that Kathleen Sebelius is stepping down from her role as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Sebelius served at HHS for 5 years, working to help pass the Affordable Care Act and oversee its implementation through the first open enrollment period. President Obama has nominated Sylvia Matthews Burwell, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, to fill the post (learn more about her here).

Sebelius stepping down is a clear sign that Obamacare has won. As President Obama said: while “we lost the first quarter of open enrollment period with the problems with,” Sebelius and her “team at HHS turned the corner, got it fixed, got the job done, and the final score speaks for itself.”

That score?

  • 7.5 million: The (newly updated) number of private signups on the exchange during open enrollment, beating even the rosier predictions.
  • 3 million: The number of young people who now have health insurance because they are able to stay on their parents’ health plans.
  • 3 million: The number of new low-income adults and children who have enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
  • 9.3 million: The net gain in the number of American adults with health insurance coverage from September 2013 to mid-March 2014, according to the most recent study.

Beyond overseeing this historic expansion in health care for millions of Americans, perhaps Sebelius’s biggest accomplishment is the one no one is talking about: her ability to work across the aisle to convince numerous Republican lawmakers in bright red states to extend health care coverage to lower-income working Americans. Sebelius came to HHS from being a Democratic governor in the very Republican state of Kansas, and her track record of problem-solving and bipartisanship, which was often obscured in the highly politicized debate over the ACA, proved essential in this regard.

Health care writer Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic considered Sebelius’s legacy in the context of her work getting GOP-led states to expand Medicaid:

Authorities from one of those states, Ohio, reported on Thursday that more than 100,000 low-income residents were getting coverage through the state’s expanded Medicaid. The announcement came just hours before the news about Sebelius’ resignation broke—and the juxtaposition seems fitting. The memories of Obamacare’s difficult start will certainly linger. But to the millions of people around the country who now have access to affordable medical care, I’m not sure that really matters.

BOTTOM LINE: After serving as a cabinet official for 1,809 days; giving hundreds of interviews and taking dozens of trips to promote the ACA; and bouncing back from a difficult open enrollment roll-out to oversee millions of Americans get access to affordable coverage, Sebelius deserves not ire but thanks. The fight to defend and improve law will continue. But for now: thanks, Kathleen.