Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Another example of the rural/urban divide: Seattle/Washington State edition

illustration from How People Live in the Suburbs by Muriel StanekTwo Democratic Party State Senators in Washington State, one serving a suburban district, the other a rural district--Rodney Tom of Medina and of Tim Sheldon of Potlatch-- threw their lot in with the Republican "minority" to shift control of the Senate to the Republican Party. See "Sen. Rodney Tom: The politics of two-faced divisiveness" from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and "City haters at root of senate grab: Is Seattle what’s wrong with Washington state politics? Maybe we should find out by breaking up" from the Seattle Times.

Right: illustration from How People Live in the Suburbs by Muriel Stanek.

From the first article:

From his base in the wealthy Eastside enclave of Medina -- where U.S. presidents go for $35,800-a-couple brunches -- State Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom has gazed down his long nose at the city across the lake.

"Instead of a totally Seattle-centric approach to both policy and the budget, we're going to have a couple of options for people to look at and to figure out what is the best option for the middle class in moving us forward," a Democrat who has joined with another Democrat to give Republicans a majority caucus in the state senate. Tom will serve as majority leader.

From the second article:

... Two state senators who pulled a coup in Olympia to put Republicans in charge have taken to giving a one-word critique as to why they rebelled: “Seattle-centric.”

As in: Seattle rules the roost. It’s not fair. Because Seattle is “just not like the rest of the state.”

So said Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Dogpatch, I mean D-Potlatch, who last week handed control of the state Senate to the GOP despite their thumping in the last election.

Sheldon says he’s weary of Seattle influencing everything. Time for some fresh ideas from the hinterlands.

Just as the Southern Democratic Party membership and elected leaders shifted to the Republican Party in the wake of their opposition to Johnson-era civil rights legislation, rural and some suburban legislators could unite in an anti-urban coalition, in the wake of the results of the 2012 Presidential election.

Something not dissimilar happened in New York State a couple years ago, where a couple Democrats through their lot in with Republicans in the Senate.  And there is a lot of resentment in upstate New York about "Downstate" and New York City specifically.  In Maryland, there is an urban-rural-suburban divide, with rural Maryland decidedly against Baltimore City, and to some extent Montgomery County, which functions as the ATM machine for the state, as Montgomery County tax revenues subsidize much of the rest of the state.

Over time, trends won't favor this coalition in terms of demographics and growth opportunities, but in some states you might see this kind of anti-urban resentment coalition develop.

Interestingly, suburbs generally have interests more aligned with cities than they do with rural areas. I don't know the Eastside part of the Seattle Metropolitan area well enough to know what the story is behind Ronald Tom and Medina, although there is plenty of economic competition between Bellevue, a much larger Eastside community, and Seattle on many dimensions, including transit--Bellevue is going to be on a light rail line, although one major real estate developer in the city is a vociferous opponent (see the 2011 blog entry "Election positions as proxies for the "growth machine" and big business").

You can count on The Stranger, Seattle's alternative weekly, for a more vociferous take on the action by Tom.  See "Senator Rodney Tom: 48th LD Voters Can Go Fuck Themselves" and Rodney Tom Leads a Majority of Two."  In "WA's Leading Democratic Traitor Gets Slapped by his Own Party," The Stranger suggests that Sen. Tom is not likely to be re-elected.

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At 9:16 AM, Blogger IMGoph said...

Reminds me of politicians in East Lansing after riots in the late 90s at the school that poured across Grand River Avenue into the city. They said the city would be better off if the school was never there. Of course, the city would be a cornfield if the university was never there.

These people apparently never heard the fairy tale of the golden goose when they were kids.

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Another point on the long march to Richard's long post on Republican urbanism.

The more you turn "urbanism" into culture warefare, this is the result. Plenty of exurban voters are running away from the crime and congestion of cities.

And I suspect part of it is just cheapness. If I live in Loudoun County, I can take part in urban rituals (fireworks on the mall, professional sports, shopping) and just pay for my school system.

At 8:50 AM, Anonymous Graffiti removal said...

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