Notes from the Inauguration
Socialist Sawant steals the show at inauguration.
We'll do a deeper dive in Morning Fizz, but here are some noteworthy moments from today's inauguration ceremony at City Hall, where brand new City Council member Kshama Sawant, who declared that she "wears of the badge of socialist with honor," stole the show from new Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle's first gay mayor, who actually gave a fine speech himself about collaboration and progressive values, but didn't talk about "the reality of international capitalism ... the product of the gigantic casino of speculation created by the highway robbers on Wall Street."
1. She has other issues.
In the middle of a speech that sounded like it was written by 1890's populist William Jennings Bryan—or Billy Bragg circa Margaret Thatcher's England—we were startled to hear Kshama Sawant note the fight against the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Opposition to the the coal trains from Montana's Powder River Basin for export via Bellingham and Longview is actually the right local issue for Sawant to name-check if she's thinking about broadening her agenda to incorporate green populism, but still, it was a revelation to hear her channel Bill McKibben.
2. He may have been the last person people came to see, but City Attorney Pete Holmes (who won reelection without opposition) gave a pretty comprehensive look at what his office plans to do in the next year, and it's impressive: Implementing pot legalization, creating "affordable payment plans" for struggling mortgage holders, "holding slumlords accountable," and ensuring that police reform happens.
"Public safety and accountable constitutional policing are not mutually exclusive," Holmes said. "One. in fact, cannot exist without the other."
3. Sorry McGinn haters.Murray explicitly name-checked bike lanes in his agenda.
4. Another well-respected lefty (kind of the original Kshama Sawant), longtime City Council member Nick Licata (paid sick leave was his initiative, by the way) explicitly thanked Murray "for getting this effort [the $15 minimum wage] under way so quickly, even before being sworn in. I’m impressed and I think we all should be."
5. However, Licata also made a point of questioning the wisdom of the city's own "housing first" policy, which dictates investments in permanent housing before spending on temporary shelter for homeless Seattleites. (His speech, by the way, was much feistier—and more radical—than the version he wrote up for official council distribution.)
"The council needs to continue to commit that no family will be on the streets at night in our rich city without decent shelter for them and their children," Licata said. "I see thousands of new apartments, condominiums, going up around the city and I ask myself why is it that we cannot have one if not more shelters to provide for those families and their children, at least as a transition to permanent housing."
6. Boyishly charming City Council member Mike O'Brien pulled off a pretty genius move.
With the crowd overheated about raising the minimum wage, O'Brien took the stage first and threw a curve ball, leading with a compelling plea for a "carbon-neutral city."
He hooked the slightly confused crowd by tying his pitch to mass transit, which he spelled out as an economic equity issue.
Well played.7. Council member Sally Bagshaw, perceived as a conservative on the council, got off to a rocky start in a room packed with Sawant supporters (and loud former Occupy activist Sam Bellomio, who ran a campaign against her last year and heckled her from the audience this afternoon), but she had the room on her side by the end with a convincing sounding pitch for a gun control initiative that would require criminal background checks for all guns sales in Washington state.
8. Bagshaw, who has announced plans to run for the new downtown-to-Magnolia council district, sounded like she was giving a campaign speech, laying out a six-point plan that included not just gun control but a new parks maintenance levy, more funding for people on the streets, universal pre-K, and the $15 minimum.
9. While $15 minimum wage supporters packed the place and rocked the house, a contingent of for-hire vehicle drivers took advantage of the occasion with a respectable showing and catchy message themselves, demanding the same "flagging rights" as taxis; cars for hire can't pick customers up curbside the same way taxis can and are yet another alternative—they charge a flat rate—to traditional taxis that are trying to disrupt the taxi monopoly.
10. Socialists can smile.
Sawant was mobbed by the press after the ceremony outside where she held a brief press conference to hype her Sunday, January 12 rally at the Seattle Labor Temple in Belltown to push the $15 minimum wage.
We tweeted the ceremony here (plus Erica's solo album here), but with the first-ever gay/straight alliance teen choir, cheerleading about pot legalization, proposals for carbon neutrality, plus a socialist council member and a gay mayor, this one pretty much sums it up: