Morning Fizz: A Lot of Venom
Caffeinated news and gossip featuring: A challenger to Rodney Tom? A raise for City Light director Jorge Carrasco? Personal religious exemptions?
1. Fizz hears that the former mayor of Kirkland, Joan McBride, who retired this year, may announce this week that she's running against state Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina), the black-sheep Democrat who joined the Republicans last year to form the Majority Coalition Caucus, the Republican-dominated group that now controls the state senate.
The Washington State Democratic Party has aimed a lot of venom at Tom in fundraising appeals and has vowed to beat him, but have yet to field a candidate. McBride, 61, was elected to the Kirkland City Council in 1998, became the deputy mayor in 2000, and was elected mayor in 2010. We're not entirely surprised McBride may run. Even though she announced her retirement last year, she showed up at Camp Wellstone, a training camp for progressive candidates.
State Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina), the brainy, irrepressible, and formidable state house appropriations chair, has frequently been mentioned as a possible candidate (and in Fizz's opinion he'd be a handful for Tom and would knock the genial and cocksure Tom off his limited script and force Tom to explain why, as a social liberal and senate majority leader, he's tabled the DREAM Act and the Reproductive Parity Act.) To date, Tom has simply said his focus has been on passing a fiscally conservative budget, something he says his district agrees with him on; he points to the fact that Tim Eyman's now-unconstitutional two-thirds-to-raise-taxes rule passed in his socially liberal, but economically moderate district.
Hunter, who likes heading up the powerful house budget committee, would likely be a back bencher to start in the senate, and has said he currently has no plans to run against Tom.
2. City Light director Jorge Carrasco, who, as of 2011, made more than any other city employee ($225,000), has, according to numerous city hall sources, been asking the city council to give him a raise.
That doesn't seem likely to happen under the new boss, City Light committee chair Kshama Sawant, the socialist who, according to her political spokesman Philip Locker, would prefer to cap salaries at the electric utility than raise rates.
That doesn't seem likely to happen under the new boss, City Light committee chair Kshama Sawant.
Sawant's City Hall staff (her socialist ally Locker is not a city staffer) weren't available for comment yesterday because of the MLK holiday.
3. City Council member Nick Licata—who, like all other sitting council members, will have to run again, either for one of seven new districted council seats (he lives in Greenwood) or one of two citywide positions under the new district system voters enacted last year—says his intention is to run for one of the at-large seats.
The bid will put him in contention against one of his current colleagues. Both Sally Clark and Tim Burgess have officially declared that they're running for the two at-large positions, which means that if Licata runs for one of those positions, he'll have to oppose one of his current colleagues.
Licata's frequent lefty ally, Mike O'Brien, who lives in Fremont, has expressed an interest (most recently on the Seattle Channel's "City Inside/Out," where he talked about the "seven districts in which we're going to be elected" in the future), is running in his district rather than citywide.
4. The state senate labor and commerce committee held a hearing on a GOP bill yesterday that would expand employees' ability to opt out of paying union fees. Currently, members can opt out of non-representation fees (ie, political activity) if they are members of a religion that has a bona fide, legit religious objection.
The new bill, would, Washington State Labor Council head Jeff Johnson testified, "dismantle" that rule by expanding the standard for religious exemptions by adding "personal" religious exemptions which Johnson characterized as a "large loophole."
The heated hearing—Republican co-sponsor, Sen. John Braun (R-20, Centralia) calls one labor leader "disingenuous"—also included pro testimony from groups such as the socially conservative Freedom Foundation. Testimony begins at the 1:27:00 mark.