Morning Fizz: Messy Fallout
Caffeinated news and gossip featuring "wow," and "um", a going away party, a final interview (?), and ridesharing.
1. Here's some follow-up to yesterday's Fizz item about the messy fallout in the 33rd Legislative District, where the precinct committee officers' top choice to fill a state rep vacancy, Kent Council Member Elizabeth Albertson, was set aside by the King County Council this week when they appointed SeaTac Council Member Mia Gregerson, the district's second choice.
Yesterday we wrote about Albertson's husband's Facebook page where the "sorry if my comments were offensive to anyone" screed alluded to comments he'd posted earlier (and deleted), and where he went on to criticize the party "big people" for "playing your game."
The Washington State Wire has a copy of Mark Albertson's deleted comments, which accused the Democrats of catering to racial politics (Gregerson is Asian): "Fortunately there was a sandpaper-personality young-and-attractive Asian lady who had been put on the doorstep of some upper class, privileged white people...Who cares if she's inept, abrasive, unlikable. She's cute. She's Asian..."
Oy. Time to dig yourself deeper?
In response to her husband's post, Elizabeth Albertson took to the social media site yesterday to defend her husband from accusations of racism. Calling his remarks “satire” (ha?) and noting the tuition the couple is paying on behalf of a Sudanese student (she posted a picture)—“even though she has returned to the Sudan”—Albertson concluded, “you can’t call him a racist.”
Facebook readers responded with confusion: “Wow…” and “Um…” and pondered the purpose of the defense.
One commenter tried to explain the jaw-dropped reactions, saying that statements such as Albertson’s about tuition payments “only serve to underscore the impression that one is unable or unwilling to acknowledge or understand the source of offense.”
We were unable to reach Albertson for comment.
We will say this—and News Tribune political columnist Peter Callaghan already said it while the appointment process was going on at the PCO level earlier this month—the appointment process, based on a small group of party activists, is hardly the most democratic way to send someone to the state legislature to begin with.
In fact, we'd add, the county council members who at least have been elected from the districts at large themselves are far more accountable and representative than the cogs in the party apparatus.
Despite that slight defense of the county council, though, in light of this mess, the whole process should be reconsidered.
2. At a packed farewell party for 16-year city council veteran Richard Conlin (who lost to socialist sensation Kshama Sawant) yesterday evening, a parade of city council staffers, council members, longtime environmental activists, mayor-elect Ed Murray, elected officials, and other Conlin comrades including Congressman Jim McDermott, city attorney Pete Holmes, and ex-council member Jan Drago, paid tribute to the fleece-vest-wearing council member at City Hall's Bertha Knight Landes Room.
After council president Sally Clark presented Conlin with "the least Richard Conlin-like gift imaginable"—a crystal vase engraved with Conlin's name, years on the council, and the city seal, which Clark joked should have been filled with goat cheese, local eggs, or flowers from the nearest farmers market—Conlin, his voice breaking at times, thanked the standing-room-only crowd for coming, then said that someone had told him the event would be "like being at your own funeral. ...And it's kind of like that." But, he added, "I want you all to know that you all have my love and respect, and I'm not going away."
In his comments, mayor-elect Murray suggested that Conlin might have some sort of role in his administration, saying, "As mayor, I have all sorts of ideas of things that you can work on. I know you said that you’re not going to go away and tomorrow we’re going to have lunch and we’re going to talk about some of the things that might cause you to hang out here a little bit longer."
While all that was going on, as it happens, outgoing mayor Mike McGinn was holding an open house event up on the seventh floor—timed to coincide precisely with Conlin's farewell ceremony—to thank community members who supported him through his four years in office and his unsuccessful run for reelection.
Instead of upgrading regulations on ridesharing companies to bring them into line with taxi regualtions (or put them out of business), Rep. Cyrus Habib plans to take the opposite approach and scale back requirements on taxis.
3. And speaking of McGinn: The mayor, who promised on camera to do a final "Ask the Mayor" appearance with Seattle Channel host Brian Callanan last month, canceled that appearance, which was scheduled for tomorrow, on Wednesday.
Callanan said McGinn did not give any reason for the last-minute cancellation.
4. Instead of upgrading regulations on ridesharing companies to bring them into line with taxi regualtions (or put them out of business), Rep. Cyrus Habib (D-48, Kirkland) tells PubliCola he plans to take the opposite approach and scale back requirements on taxis (drivers must share a strictly limited number of taxi licenses and meet insurance).
Rep. Habib says he will sponsor legislation that would allow taxi owners drivers to decline to buy workers compensation, or L&I (Labor and Industries) insurance.
The change, he says, would bring cab drivers in line with other small businesses, a change he says will "hopefully be reflected in more competitive meter rates, which would in turn lead to a better competitive position for taxis."