Brief report on the October 15 Community Meeting

Seattle Art Museum held one of its monthly community meetings today about the Asian Art Museum renovation and expansion project. We handed out our Position Statement outside the building. It clearly made an impression, since SAM CEO Kim Rorschach opened the event by holding up a rain-spattered copy of the Position Statement and saying that it was misleading and contained several falsehoods. During the Q&A period, I had a chance to ask what was wrong with it. Kim said that Seattle Art Museum will be posting their own information in rebuttal. She questioned phrases we used such as SAM being “heavily subsidized”, but did not cite any specific factual errors. If we learn of any, we will correct them.

Here are a few other observations and thoughts about the meeting. I did not count the attendees but I would guess 40 to 50.

Notably there was no one present from the City of Seattle (except one person who disclosed being a City employee, but was commenting only as a member of the public). At one point an audience member asked if anyone from the Parks Department was in the room, but there was no reply. This was totally a SAM event.

There was a good long Q&A period which I always appreciate. Out of about 24 speakers I counted 10 opposed to the project or the process, 10 in favor, and a few in the middle. So it is safe to say that there continues to be significant debate about the merits of this plan, among the people participating in SAM’s community meetings. To be clear, no one expressed opposition to anything regarding the seismic upgrade and HVAC work. It is all about the additions.

As with the previous meetings there was very limited outreach. No notices have gone out yet to residences in the neighborhood. The City put out a strange press release on October 13, announcing the meeting less than 48 hours before it occurred, and listing among the goals: “adding vital gallery and education space with a modest expansion”. This echoes the exact language SAM staff use to sell the project. I would prefer to see the City government act less captive.

But even if this process included good outreach, something more would be required. I appreciate the person at the meeting who stood up and said that there is a difference between public outreach and public engagement. Outreach is letting the public know about something that is going to happen anyway (but maybe small changes can be made). Engagement is actually listening to the public’s needs and opinions. This project has gone too far without true public engagement. Let’s pause to make sure we are doing the right thing, and discuss what a responsible process would look like. Volunteer Park is a special place and we should be careful with it.

2 thoughts on “Brief report on the October 15 Community Meeting”

  1. Thank you for your efforts. It seems to me that the Volunteer Park and City/State governments are dropping and the ball on this project and are not protecting the park as they should be. Legally they could be held libel as there are laws protecting the park from land grabs. Where are these governing bodies and why aren’t they speaking up and making sure whatever happens is approved by the public?

    1. “SAAM-SCAM”
      Why are these scammers demanding the looting of the city budget instead of waltzing out to the East Side to ask the KIllingers for $#11 million: they have lots of loot left from their $100 million WaMu scam.Here is how it developed:
      This is a scam dating far back to the bad old 2008 Bank bailout/Bernie Madoff days. THe SAM downtown museum board worked a deal with Washington Mutual (WaMu) in about 2007. WaMu CEO Killinger’s wife,Linda K., was conveniently on the SAM board. WaMu bought rental rights from SAM which were miraculously far under the going market rates. How? The business press wondered, didthey got away with that secret deal?. What did the Killingers get aside from the WaMu ridiculously good deal/? Kerry the K. and Linda K. got a big tax write off for their silly little $1 million “donation” to SAM AND they got their names emblazoned above a SAM (downtown) gallery and lots of WaMu years of cheap rentals so that Kerry could skim a ton of cash off the bz. When Killinger and Linda madeoff with $88+ million bucks of WaMu loot and the bank failed, thousands of people in WA and elsewhere lost their bank jobs, their houses were foreclosed, etc., etc. Kerry’s sidekicks from Chase whose CEO ,Jamie Dimon’agents, Rotella and Fortunato still in the mortgage biz.
      Killinger stayed right here cuddling the $100 million he made in compensation right up to the bank failure’s last year.
      So, here is another Made-off scheme: let SAAM make off the taxpayers’ original deal of $11 million for repairs to the museum but then scammit witha demand of $3 million for “interest lost?” Sounds like the old bailout scheme, doesn’t it? THe current SAAM CEO has already burnt through $2 million on plans for 2 big, 15,000 sq. foot total expansions and wants $8 million more ($5 million from the Seattle city council, $3 million from State and County taxpayers. All this loot to make some dazzlingly obtrusive glass-cladded cocktail party rooms in SAAM at taxpayers’ expense. And all in secret. Where is Seattle parks? Hiding. Where is the mayor? Adding $5 million to the SAAMSCAM on his budget announced in October for this taking of our precious Volunteer park land and airspace. Funny, we are being screwed (park space lost) to say nothing of the visual mass of ugly concrete and glass) AND we are being forced to double the $11 million we originally approved for repairs in a park levy. Maybe Kerry who is also back in the biz at Crescent Capital Associates LLC could give the SAAM Scammers some advice on how to screw over thousands of Seattleites…..again

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