Morning Fizz: Escalating List of Council Endorsements
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring: Harrell for Murray? The towing industry for McGinn? And Holmes for peeing in public?
1. Big news in the mayor's race: City Council member Bruce Harrell is joining mayoral candidate state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill) this morning at Murray's campaign headquarters where Murray (ostensibly) will discuss his public safety and police reform agenda.
Murray's coy press release notes: "They'll also answer questions about the current state of the mayor's race."
Just a week after picking up endorsements from two other City Council members—Council president Sally Clark and Council transportation chair Tom Rasmussen—today's apparent Harrell endorsement would be a big win for Murray. Not only would Harrell be the fourth Council member to endorse the challenger (City Council member Tim Burgess has endorsed Murray as well), but Harrell, who's half-Japanese American and half-African American, ran an energetic and focused, though ultimately disappointing, primary campaign for mayor himself, scoring big in Southeast Seattle with his compelling social justice stump speech.
Incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn may try to frame the escalating, unusual list of council endorsements as a sign that Murray is backed by the "establishment" (which, in Seattle, apparently means the lesbian and gay council members—Clark and Rasmussen—and the one racial minority council member, Harrell), but it also plays into Murray's frame that McGinn is "divisive" and has alienated the council.
McGinn quipped: "Murray's a uniter. I actually want to give him some credit. He's managed to unite Coke and Pepsi as contributors to his campaign."
2. McGinn got off the best zinger at the first mayoral campaign debate last night.
Spoofing challenger Murray's claim to be a uniter (Murray likes to boast about getting Republicans on board with his transportation tax increase and his gay marriage legislation, along with the fact that both business types like the Seattle chamber and environmentalists like the Washington Conservation Voters are backing his bid for mayor), McGinn quipped: "Murray's a uniter. I actually want to give him some credit. He's managed to unite Coke and Pepsi as contributors to his campaign."
McGinn was referring to the fact that the Washington Beverage Association (WBA), which has gotten big donations from Coke and Pepsi, has contributed to Murray. Flagging the Beverage Association donation fits McGinn's campaign theme that conservative, establishment money is flowing to Murray. It is certainly notable that the conservative Beverage Association is backing Murray; they have been strong opponents of Murray's tax increase agenda in Olympia and funded ($16 million) the successful campaign to repeal the pop tax increase that Murray and the Democrats passed in 2010.
3. Murray's WBA support is matched by a recent, equally discordant donation to McGinn (new weekly fundraising reports are in): Lincoln Towing maxed out to McGinn last week with a $700 contribution— even as its political lobbying association, the Towing and Recovery Association of Washington, is suing Seattle in King County Court to repeal the city's cap on towing rates.
City Attorney Holmes, who pointed out that peeing in public is not a criminal offense ("as difficult as that is to accept"), said the city is trying to "stop doing what we did in the past, to try to arrest our way out of this problem."
Other noteworthy things from this week's new numbers: McGinn slightly outraised Murray for the week (Murray is leading McGinn overall by about $140,000), $8,584 to $8,055; McGinn got a $500 contribution from the founder of the Seattle Medium, the local African American paper; and Murray got $250 from Larry Shannon, the lobbyist for the lefty trial lawyers' association.
4. A cast of nearly two dozen local law-enforcement, human-service, government, neighborhood, business, and social-justice heavyweights crowded around the city council's committee table yesterday afternoon to discuss the topic du jour: What can be done about the crisis—and pretty much all of them agreed it's a crisis, despite stats that show the problem has essentially leveled off—of criminal activity and nuisance violations downtown?
On the roster were King County prosecutor Dan Satterburg, King County Sheriff John Urquhart, Defender Association deputy director Lisa Daugaard, city attorney Pete Holmes, Seattle Police Department chief Jim Pugel, and mayoral legal advisor Carl Marquardt.
Public safety committee chair Bruce Harrell interrogated Holmes about why prosecutions for nuisance offenses (civil infractions, not crimes, Holmes hastened to point out) are so much lower than the number of reports for those offenses (2512 reports, compared to 1515 prosecutions) and why the number of so-called "PIPs and DIPs"—peeing or drinking in public—had declined dramatically, from 2262 in 2007 to 271 in the past year.
"I don’t even know if the number of arrests are adequate or the number of citations are adequate," Harrell said.
Holmes, who pointed out that peeing in public is not a criminal offense ("as difficult as that is to accept"), said the city is trying to "stop doing what we did in the past, to try to arrest our way out of this problem, because we can’t do that. ... The normal hammer of law enforcement is going to do little or nothing to cure that behavior."
Urquhart, however, said he "respectfully disagree[d]" with his fellow panelists' claims that nuisance infractions haven't gotten worse; his wife, he said, won't meet him at the King County courthouse in Pioneer Square after work anymore.
"This is not a good thing. This is the wife of the sheriff of King County who is afraid to come to Third and James, and she is not alone. There is urination [and] drug dealing. [And] patrol officers are reluctant sometimes to take action. If you’ve got a chronic person that’s urinating on the side of a building and you’re going to give them a $27 dollar ticket, that’s nothing … and that may be why the citations or the infractions have gone down."