KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Markovich: Elected officials need accountability for their ‘generosity’ with our tax dollars

Apr 23, 2024, 12:10 PM

Photo: This photo, seen in December 2023, shows a series of tents lined the parking lot of Riverton...

This photo, seen in December 2023, shows a series of tents lined the parking lot of Riverton Park United Methodist Church. The refugees staying in them were temporarily moved to a hotel in Kent. (Video capture courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Video capture courtesy of KIRO 7)

A pastor friend of mine has a personal policy that whenever a street beggar asks him for money, he gives them whatever he has in his pocket.

He said sometimes it’s painful when he pulls out a couple of $20 bills, but he gives it away, asking no questions on how it will be used.

I’m not that generous and some might even say — I’m not that compassionate.

More from Markovich: Seattle’s budget woes just got worse with new labor agreements

I want to be a good steward of my hard-earned money. So when someone approaches me, I ask them questions like “What do you need the money for? If you need a meal, I’ll take you to that McDonald’s over there.”

When this has happened, nobody has taken me up on my offer.

So when King County dug into its pocket and pulled out $2 million last week to help house dozens of asylum seekers and refugees in Tukwila — I took a pause.

It’s the latest installment in the saga of the Riverton United Methodist Church that opened its grounds last year to asylum seekers from Venezuela. At first, the church didn’t reject anybody, but word got out, others started camping on their grounds and it got overwhelming.

Past coverage: Tukwila declares state of emergency to get support to asylum seekers

Supporters begged elected officials for help, to solve a problem of their own making.

The City of Seattle had already stepped in with hundreds of thousands of dollars for hotel rooms. Now the county is handing out $2 million more.

I’m not a heartless person, and people truly seeking a better life need help, but I expect elected officials to be good stewards of our hard-earned tax dollars and ask questions before digging deep into our collective pockets to hand out millions.

Maybe they’re being compassionate, just like my pastor friend.

But when it comes to our money, elected official’s “compassion” needs to be held accountable. How that money is being used? Is it being used wisely? Their track record is not that great.

Matt Markovich is an analyst and reporter who often covers the state legislature and public policy for KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of Matt’s stories here. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here.

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Markovich: Elected officials need accountability for their ‘generosity’ with our tax dollars