Some sit in the stands; Our man in D.C.

When Tom Hujar emerged from the dugout this week, he headed straight for the stands.

Hujar says his group Parents for Better Parks won’t be throwing any high heat at the upcoming park levy for operations and maintenance; neither will it go to bat in support.

The group, which opposed the park levy in February, has decided it won’t take a position this time out, with Hujar saying it would be “irresponsible” to work against a tax measure when failure would mean the closure of all island parks.

Instead, he said, his group is planning to run candidates against the current park board members as they come up for re-election.

Good for them, we say.

Hujar’s team – all anonymous, save him – apparently worries that the money allocated for maintenance isn’t keeping up with the expanding inventory of park property. And as we’ve said before, that’s a highly legitimate concern; most recently, we’ve heard folks from the mayor’s office on down wonder aloud how the city and the district will maintain the properties to be picked up through the open-space bond.

This corner’s beef with Hujar in February wasn’t about the legitimacy of his issues, but rather, the way the group chose to present them. While four seats on the park board had gone up for election just two months earlier, all went unopposed. Nor did anyone come forward to participate in the district’s budget process, which led to the levy request.

Eleventh-hour spitballs at the levy were a poorly conceived substitute for policy-making, especially coming from a group that had not taken advantage of other opportunities for meaningful and timely input. The issues are always worth debating. But let’s pass the park levy first, and air out maintenance issues during budgeting and elections.

Come Sept. 17, some islanders plan to sit in the stands. But we hope most will go to bat.


***Our man in D.C.

Also on the local wire this week:

Congressman Jay Inslee called from his home Friday afternoon to say that the National Parks Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a Sept. 5 hearing on Inslee’s bill to make a national memorial of the Taylor Avenue road-end. There, Bainbridge Island’s Japanese-American citizens were loaded aboard a ferry in 1942 and taken to internment camps.

As Inslee explained, the fact that a hearing is scheduled is splendid news in and of itself, because if the majority party is opposed to a measure, the frequent practice is to let it die without a hearing.

“This is a good sign that we have a realistic chance at this,” Inslee told us.

The congressman’s plan is to persuade a member of the internment memorial committee to go to Washington to testify. (While we haven’t checked with anyone’s schedule, we can’t imagine a more eloquent spokesman than Dr. Frank Kitamoto).

The motto of the memorial committee is “let it not happen again.” With American Muslims being swept off the nation’s streets and confined without trial, charges or even official confirmation of their arrest, there may never be a better time for this memorial, and this discussion.

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