Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Important and Free: Tax Prep Help at Seattle Public Libraries

The robins are chirping, the daffodils are blooming, oh crap, taxes are due soon. I did mine ages ago with TurboTax because I make hardly any money and can use the free version. However, if your taxes are a little more complicated or you just don't like the Internet, the AARP, Seattle Public Libraries and King County have got your back. These groups are collaborating to offer free tax prep to individuals from January 18th through April 17th at 11 library locations. The closest branch to the Hill is the Central Branch library and its tax help hours are below. For the other ten locations, see the Seattle Public Library website.

Central Library
1000 Fourth Ave.
Mixing Chamber, Level 5
Tuesday, Jan. 18 through Sunday, April 17
Drop-ins are welcome, no appointments.

Noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday
Noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday
Noon to 7 p.m. Thursday
Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday
1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Save Evans: A Plea to Preserve the Independent Status of the Evans School of Public Affairs

I wrote the letter below because the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington might lose its independent status and be consolidated with another (unnamed) school. UW President Phyllis Wise wrote in a letter to Washington state legislators on February 23rd that the consolidation of the Evans School was one of the options being considered in the face of $190-250 cuts in state funding to UW. There's more on why this is a terrible idea in the letter, but basically, consolidation would destroy an excellent public affairs school in order to save an amount of money that's exactly piss compared to the budget cuts that UW is facing.

This matters a great deal to me because I'm an Evans student. I think that training cohorts of clever
and dedicated people to be servants of the public good (as the Evans School does so well) is a very important and worthwhile undertaking. There is a painful irony that during a nationwide governmental budget crisis of epic proportions, a school might be destroyed that is training people to deal with problems just like epic governmental budget crises.

March 8th, 2011

Interim President Phyllis Wise
Provost Mary Lindstrom
University of Washington

Dear President Wise and Provost Lindstrom,

The last thing I thought I’d hear when I started at the Evans School of Public Affairs was that the President of the University would consider doing away with our status as an independent school. The economic environment being what it was, harsh budget cuts from the state legislature were bound to be on the horizon. I expected that the Evans School would get their share of tough financial decisions along with everyone else. However, I never thought that an option as drastic as consolidation would be on the table.

After all, the cohort starting in 2010 was the largest and most competitive in the school’s history, and the Evans School ranks fifth in the US News World & Report’s listing of best schools of Public Affairs among programs in public universities. Evans School students can be found everywhere in the public and nonprofit sectors in Washington, making the Evans School of Public Affairs a name synonymous with quality public policy work throughout the state. This was, in fact, the reason I chose to apply to the Evans School of Public Affairs. Evans graduates are everywhere in Seattle, talking about the quality education they received in the program and doing the sort of work I’d like to have a career doing.

Knowing all this, it pains me that you would consider “consolidating the Evans School of Public Affairs with another college and significantly reduc[ing] course offerings” as an acceptable course of action. The grand total in financial savings of this plan would be a mere $700,000, the amount of state funding that the Evans School receives that does not go to tenured faculty. A budget reduction of less than 1% of the total cuts that the University of Washington is facing is a pittance compared to the damage that would be done by eliminating the educational quality and high-grade academic brand of the Evans School of Public Affairs. I hope that you take this into consideration as you move forward with budget decisions, and choose to make cuts that will preserve the independence of the Evans School.


Jennifer Power
Masters of Public Administration candidate, 2012
Evans School of Public Affairs