Morning Fizz: Free to Bring Up Those Issues
Caffeinated news and gossip featuring text messages, Whole Foods, diversity, and an olive branch.
1. Fizz hears Ed Murray's team was caught off guard and irked that Seattle City Council member-elect Kshama Sawant held a press conference yesterday about her effort to push a $15 minimum wage. Murray has been signaling for two weeks that he was going to make an announcement on the hot topic this week. (His press conference is tomorrow morning.)
Murray allies, who were in on Sawant's event, were reportedly on the receiving end of some steamed text messages.
2. City council member Mike O'Brien, who will head up the council's planning and land use committee when the council reconvenes next year, had hoped to make alley vacations—a process in which the city sells a public alley to a private interest—part of his committee's purview. Currently, the transportation committee is in charge of alley vacations.
Earlier this year, O'Brien-ally and outgoing mayor Mike McGinn opposed an alley vacation for a proposed Whole Foods development in West Seattle because Whole Foods is non-union and does not guarantee a living wage.
McGinn argued at the time that living wages should be considered among the "public benefits" private companies must provide in exchange for alley vacations. He lost that battle, but if the issue were in O'Brien's committee, O'Brien could bring it back up for consideration. Currently, the public benefits companies must provide are limited to things like pedestrian safety, mobility, loading access, and other transportation-oriented benefits.
Council transportation committee chair Tom Rasmussen tells PubliCola that although his committee will retain control of alley vacations, O'Brien, as a member of the committee, "is certainly free to bring up those issues."
3. Fizz has been pretty inspired by the recent infusion of diversity into the state Democratic house; in the past week the 43rd District (Capitol Hill, U District, Wallingford) and the 33rd District (Kent, Des Moines, SeaTac) have formally made Cuban American Brady Walkinshaw and Taiwanese American Mia Gregerson their new state house reps, respectively.
Add to that, this news: Democratic speaker of the house, Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43, Wallingford), announced at the 43rd District holiday party last week that passing the DREAM Act, which would make kids of undocumented immigrants eligible for state higher-ed financial aid, is "the first order of business" to pass in the house in the upcoming legislative session.
4. Speaking of Gregerson: Her appointment, which the King County Council made despite the fact that the precinct committee officers in the 33rd had made Kent city council member Elizabeth Albertson their first choice (a couple of votes over Gregerson) in the district process, has caused a ruckus.
Albertson's husband had this to say on his Facebook page:
Gregerson herself released this olive branch statement (Omaha Sternberg is the 33rd District chair and was the third place rec from the district to the King County Council)
I...appreciate going through the process with Elizabeth Albertson and Omaha Sternberg. Elizabeth brought her experience as a Kent City council member and a breadth of knowledge on a diverse set of issues to the process. I would love to work with her more closely and learn more from her as I go through my first session in the state legislature. Omaha Sternberg and I talked today on the phone about continuing to work and support the progressive values of the 33rd District Democrats.
And Sternberg would not comment on the rumor going around that the district, which had bought a gift for their retiring King County Council member Julia Patterson, decided against presenting it to her. Patterson, whose vacancy on the King County Council started the musical chairs that ultimately led to Gregerson's appointment, voted with her council colleagues against the district's Albertson recommendation and for Gregerson.
Sternberg simply told PubliCola: "Many people were very upset about the way the vote occurred yesterday. However, I can't comment at this time on any gift or any decision regarding said [gift] because the 33rd district had received a lot of rumors regarding Julia Patterson's actions Monday and we're finally getting some facts about it."