Archive for the ‘Sound Off’ Category

AKCHO board advocates against County ordinance that would affect 4Culture’s governance
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Categories: Sound Off

Ed. note: The AKCHO Board of Trustees has sent a letter to all members of the King County Council, urging them to reject proposed Ordinance #2018-0086. The letter included the comments put forth below.

If you would like to share your views with the AKCHO board, please send them via e-mail to

Elements of the proposed Ordinance #2018-0086 and the lack of discussion with stakeholders prior to the proposal have raised concerns throughout the heritage community and within the AKCHO (Association of King County Historical Organizations) Board of Trustees.

AKCHO encourages King County Council members to identify any issues related to accountability and/or equity concerns about the distribution of public funds and discuss them with 4Culture itself, as well as with local cultural nonprofits, prior to any changes. AKCHO would welcome being part of that discussion.

Of particular concern for the AKCHO Board are the following changes to current policy:

  • King County Council authority to accept or reject 4Culture’s annual budget
  • King County Council authority to hire or remove 4Culture’s Executive Director
  • King County council authority to appoint individuals to the 4Culture Board

The proposed ordinance brings up many questions, including:

  • What are the issues of accountability or equity that caused this ordinance to be proposed?
  • If this ordinance were passed, how would this affect the legal status of 4Culture as a PDA? 4Culture was created as a PDA because that structure allowed public funds to be stretched further than would be possible with a traditional government agency like the Office of Cultural Resources, the King County department which preceded 4Culture. With this reduced level of autonomy, could 4Culture continue as a PDA? Or would it become a government office, with county government legally responsible for its liabilities and expenses? Would this increase King County’s expenses?
  • Would current levels of county funding for arts and heritage be in jeopardy? The ordinance mentions undefined ‘civic’ issues; would a shift in priorities divert funding away from arts and heritage? Would the authority of the King County Council to reject 4Culture’s budget open the door to diverting funding away from arts and heritage and towards other county expenses?

4Culture provides funding that is vital to the operation of many King County history and heritage organizations, both large and small. These organizations not only provide cultural resources for residents, but generate tax dollars for King County by attracting people to live in our region and tourists to visit.


Upthegrove’s argument for proposed King County ordinance 2018-0086
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Categories: Sound Off

by Dave Upthegrove, King County Council

Like many of you, I love arts and culture.

The arts and heritage unite us as human beings. They span borders, cultures, and class. They inspire children. They spark intellectual discourse. They are a weapon in the war against racial and cultural intolerance. And they are a part of the very fabric of what makes our region the best place to live in America.

That’s why I’m proud to support 4Culture, an organization created by the very council I am so proud to serve on each and every day. It’s also why I’m now one of six councilmembers (3 Democrats, 3 Republicans) who have sponsored legislation to strengthen our arts and heritage community as we prepare for an influx of more than $13 million more dollars per year for 4Culture to continue doing a great job for the people of King County.

Needless to say, when I saw a misleading headline from a website saying “King County Council Moves to Dissolve 4Culture” I was shocked. That kind of hyperbole is ridiculous, untruthful, and counterproductive. It’s disservice to those of us who reject DC-style, 140 character attempts to destroy meaningful, honest dialogue. I think you deserve better than that.

So before we get into the details of our proposal let’s start with a little background info.

4Culture was created by the King County Council and is funded entirely (100%) with public dollars administered by King County. Soon, the amount of public funds the agency will receive is slated to increase by more than $13 million per year. This is great news. But it also means it’s time to consider providing a very modest amount of public oversight for this enormous pool of taxpayer money.

Our legislation to do this is reasonable, measured, and fair. Here’s how it works.

Under the terms of the legislation the 4Culture Board will still develop and approve the annual budget and manage all of the grant programs. Nothing at all will change for anyone receiving funds from 4Culture. But, before the county transfers millions of dollars of public funds each year, the elected officials (who are accountable to you) will have the ability to approve or reject the budget.

We cannot (I repeat: CANNOT) amend their proposed budget. There will be no appropriations, pork spending, etc. It’s an up or down vote. That’s it. It simply means elected officials accountable to voters will review and authorize the use of these millions upon millions of dollars of public funds.

The second element of the legislation has the county council confirming the 4Culture Board’s nominee for Executive Director. The 4Culture Board will still manage the recruitment and selection process and nominate someone for the County Executive to appoint and the Council to confirm. The impact of this change will be to make sure that the person who will be running this publicly funded agency has the support and confidence of the public officials ultimately responsible for the organization. The ability for elected officials to be able to remove someone whose salary is paid entirely by public tax dollars is an important element of oversight and good government.

Finally, the current rule that only allows the County Executive to appoint board members who have been pre-selected by the existing board is going to be removed. The 4Culture Board will still be able (and encouraged) to help recruit and suggest board members, but the Executive and Councilmembers will have more flexibility in the appointment process. There will continue to be open public hearings on all nominees for the board. Importantly, the changes to the board appointment process won’t impact any current board members– as the process only takes effect as people’s terms on the board expire.

These are modest accountability measures. None of the changes in this proposal will disrupt or alter the good work of 4Culture—and won’t even be felt or seen by the many great organizations that receive funding and support. But what these changes will do is simply provide appropriate accountability and oversight for this county-created authority which will soon be spending tens of millions of tax dollars every year.

If you have concerns, ideas, or suggestions on how to improve this effort, I and the other five councilmembers sponsoring the legislation would absolutely love to hear from you.

Ed. note: Councilmember Upthegrove originally provided this statement explaining his motivation for introducing Ordinance #2018-0086 in response to a post on AKCHO’s Facebook page.


Boxes in the Dark – advocacy via song
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Categories: Sound Off

Lyrics by Alice Winship, 2017

The boxes are full, waiting in the dark
Thousands of boxes, with stories to impart
The mute artifacts of a seagoing past
These things can speak, we just have to ask

Seattle has no maritime museum
This is why you’ll never see them
Let them out! Let them talk!
Don’t keep our past behind a lock
Packed in boxes, locked away
No place to display:

Varnished wood and gleaming brass,
Weights of lead and globes of glass,
Letters, logbooks, uniforms,
Survivors of a thousand storms,
Whistles, photos, sextants, bells
Each one with a tale to tell

Keep the stream of knowledge flowing
Where we’ve come from shows where we’re going
You’d walk out a little higher
Your gaze would be a little wider
The past is rich with gifts to give
The voices from the past can live!

All West Coast cities have a maritime museum
Except Seattle, so you’ll never see them
Let them out! Let them talk!
Don’t keep our past behind a lock
Packed in boxes, locked away
No place to display

The boxes are full, waiting in the dark
Thousands of boxes, with stories to impart

If you have comments or suggestions, or would like to talk about a maritime museum in Seattle, please contact Colleen Wagner at 206-282-0985 or Alice Winship at or 206-448-0707.



Heritage Advisor is published by the Association of King County Historical Organizations as a service to members and those who support its mission. We update our website continually throughout the month, and on the first of every month we e-mail a condensed version of Heritage Advisor to our mailing list – you can subscribe to this service by filling out the requested information in the right sidebar on this page.

AKCHO was established in 1977 to encourage cooperation among historical organizations; promote and encourage the study and preservation of the history and heritage of King County through member organizations, individual members, and the community they serve; and support such preservation efforts through public awareness and understanding of legislative issues.

The Heritage Advisor welcomes submissions of news items, calendar items, and opinion columns from AKCHO members, HA subscribers, and readers. Articles are limited to 300 words and they should have a strong relevance to historic preservation and heritage issues in King County, Washington. Submission of an article does not guarantee publication. AKCHO does not pay for published submissions. All articles are subject to review by AKCHO staff. Please send your article within the body of an email (no attachments, please) to

AKCHO welcomes new members year round. Individual memberships are $25, and we have a three-tiered system for organizational memberships, with dues dependent on budget size. For more information and an application form, visit

More than 150 individuals and organizations support heritage work and historic preservation in King County, thanks to their membership in AKCHO. Please join us!




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AKCHO was established to encourage cooperation among historical organizations and to promote and encourage the study and preservation of the history and heritage of King County through member organizations, individual members, and the community they serve, and to support such preservation efforts through public awareness and understanding of legislative issues.

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