1. The most important election you've never heard of, for a seat on the five-member King Conservation District board, is happening next Tuesday, March 16, at seven libraries around King County. The district gives out conservation grants and oversees land use in rural King County; the decisions it makes determine whether wetlands and habitat are protected or developed into suburban sprawl.
Environmental groups like the Sierra Club are supporting Max Prinsen over the other four candidates in the race because, in the words of Sierra Club political chair Scott Otterson, "He’s got a record of working with the King Conservation District already." A former KCD board member and founder of the salmon-preservation group SHADOW, Prinsen also has the support of the King County Conservation Voters.
Other folks in the race include the director of the Cascade Harvest Coalition, a woman from Auburn who says she will "protect property rights" if elected, a former wetland biologist for the city of Issaquah; and a Redmond realtor who says she will "advance the preservation of our natural environment without fear of losing our freedoms to enjoy individual property rights."
Seattle residents can vote at the downtown public library (1000 Fourth Ave.) between 10:30 am and 7:30 pm. Other locations are listed here.
2. The state Senate has decided not to cut the Housing Trust Fund. As we reported in Fizz on Tuesday, the Senate's capital budget cut $39 million from the fund—which pays for low-income housing construction. The cut would have halted six low-income housing projects in Seattle.
Yesterday, they adopted an amendment from Sen. Karen Fraser (D-22) to restore the money. That means those projects—funded with $100 million from last year's budget—will be completed, but the fund can't add any new housing construction until next year.
The House budget puts another $100 million into the fund for new projects.
3. Yesterday, the city council's Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee adopted a list of goals and priorities for a new office of housing director.
As PubliCola reported last week, the criteria themselves aren't controversial (ability to work together with diverse stakeholders, an understanding of housing in a growing city, commitment to sustainability, etc.) It's more about the point of the resolution: Making it clear to Mayor Mike McGinn that the council wants him to keep the housing office.
Since the departure of former housing office director Adrienne Quinn last month, McGinn has been cagey about whether he plans to eliminate the office or fold it in to another department.
4. Olympia Newswire, the lefty news site started by UW history grad student and longtime local activist Trevor Griffey, sent out a fund raising plea to supporters yesterday asking for $2,250 it will take to keep the site open through a likely special legislative session. "We can’t provide the longer overview and analysis pieces we plan on writing in the next two weeks–the kind of reporting that you won’t find anywhere else–unless those who have been reading us online donate whatever they can to support our work," Griffey wrote in an email.
Donate online or by writing a check to Olympia Newswire c/o Real Change, 2129 Second Ave, Seattle WA 98121.
5. Earlier this week, Mayor Mike McGinn quietly announced the appointment of Glen Lee as the city's new finance director as part of a larger reorganization of the city's finance and budget offices. Lee, currently an assistant budget director at the city, will take over some of the work formerly done by Dwight Dively, the city's former budget director. Dively, who headed up the budget office for 16 years, left the city earlier this year to take over King County's budget office.
6. US Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) pleaded with her colleagues in vain yesterday to pass legislation that would have put $1.3 billion toward creating up to half a million summer jobs for young people and subsidies for vulnerable families with children.
The Washington Monthly reports that the bill, which was also sponsored by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), was opposed by all 41 Senate Republicans and four Democrats.