1. The line to get in to last night's packed King County Council hearing on Metro funding spilled out onto 3rd Ave. and turned left up Yesler. Nearly 300 people signed up to testify. Only four of the council's nine members showed up: Democrats Bob Ferguson, Larry Gossett, Joe McDermott, and Larry Phillips.




Four Democratic council members show up for last night's public hearing.




Metro riders line up around the block to testify.



Rainier Beach residents: "Don't Throw Riders Under the Bus."

The council is considering a $20 car tab fee to raise $50 million over two years—or else cut bus service by 17 percent, 600,000 hours of service annually. The council needs a two-thirds vote of its nine members (not going to happen) to approve the fee—or a simple majority to send the measure to voters.

Erica tweeted from council chambers with highlights such as the fact that King County Labor Council Executive Secretary Dave Freiboth and Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce lobbyist George Allen testified together in favor of the fee—and this tweet: Metro union member Andrew Jeromsky: "$20 won't even cover the cost of gas that people will have to buy when their bus service is cut."

It's a must read. And here's the Seattle Times thorough report. [pullquote]Another must read: an 18-page analysis of the city's proposed paid sick leave ordinance. Paid sick leave would disproportionately benefit people of color---who are overrepresented in low-wage jobs with no sick leave---and women, who bear the burden of taking care of children and other family members (and are more likely to be victims of domestic violence).[/pullquote]

2. Another must read: an 18-page analysis of the city's proposed paid sick leave ordinance. In the report, the city council's central staff concluded that requiring paid sick leave could help protect employee health, promote race and social justice, and promote public health. "Providing paid leave reduces the financial cost of taking time off work, and thus makes it easier for employees to address their medical needs and those of their families," the analysis, by central staff director Ben Noble, says.

The analysis continues:
Access to paid sick days appears to reduce incidences of delayed health care for employees’ family members, among those workers that have access to health care. ...

Paid leave is a benefit that could help recruitment and retention, acting as a specific attraction for workers with families and providing the flexibility that all types of employees appreciate. ...

The economic incentives noted above for sick leave, also apply to victims of domestic violence.  Paid time will make it less costly to address issues during work hours, if this is necessary.

Additionally, the report finds, paid sick leave would disproportionately benefit people of color---who are overrepresented in low-wage jobs with no sick leave---and women, who bear most of the burden of taking care of children and other family members (and are more likely to be victims of domestic violence).

On the other hand, mandating paid sick leave wouldn't automatically increase workers' total compensation.
There is every possibility, and indeed likelihood, that many employers will respond to the leave mandate by decreasing other forms of compensation and/or be reducing the total number of hours they offer workers.  And such adjustments may not be obvious or directly observable in any way.  A planned pay increase that is now not awarded or a bonus that is not paid are among the possible responses. ...

That said, it is also worth considering that businesses that pay minimum wage and offer no benefits will have no opportunity to adjust other forms of compensation and could thus face the highest direct costs, at least in percentage terms.

Read the whole report---which also digs into issues around collective bargaining (should unions be allowed to bargain away sick leave rights?), eligibility (what about temporary workers or people who spend only part of their time on the job in Seattle?) and proof of illness (is it fair to require employers to pick up a doctor's bill for an employee to prove they're sick?) here.

3. Last night, Mayor Mike McGinn unveiled a proposal on his website to secure the city's rainy day fund.

He writes:
“Funding by accident.” That’s what some have called Seattle’s past practices when it came to building a healthy balance in the City’s rainy day fund. While many acknowledge the importance of maintaining a reserve of funding in case of economic downturns, to date the City had not been proactively planning for restoring or maintaining this important safety net.

Starting in 2012, I recommend the City set aside .25% of its general revenues – those revenues from the business and occupation tax (B&O), sales tax, property tax and utility tax – and dedicate them to rebuilding the rainy day fund. In 2013 and beyond, the percentage will increase to .5% of general revenue tax receipts. For 2012, this would be approximately $1.9 million. In addition, I will recommend that we dedicate half of all fund balances in excess of forecast to the rainy day fund. Had this policy been in place already, this would have meant another $1 million contribution for year-end 2010.

4. The county council, meeting as the King County Flood Control District, agreed yesterday to spend $30 million over six years to replace the downtown seawall. The city is counting on county funding to pay for the seawall, which will cost an estimated $300 million.

Last year, rural and South King County suburban council members protested that using flood district money to pay for the seawall could take away funding for other flood control projects (like potential flood-control projects on the Green River).

5. A new report from the city's Department of Planning and Development (DPD) includes hopeful news for development in the city: Building permit applications were up 18 percent in the first six months of this year compared to 2010, and DPD has issued 10 percent more permits this year so far than at the same time last year.

Additionally, DPD received 47 applications for master use permits in June, a major jump from the 35 per month average for the rest of the year so far, and more than any month since September 2008. The upshot: hose holes in the ground all over Seattle could end up getting filled with apartments and condos after all.
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