Morning Fizz: Floored
Caffeinated news and gossip featuring speeches, failures, victories, and parking meters.
1. Mayor Ed Murray gave his state of the city speech yesterday where, in addition to leading off with a discussion of income equality—saying he wanted to get to a $15 minimum wage "without hurting small business"—he took a couple of swipes at former Mayor Mike McGinn (bringing up "stable" parks funding).
He also announced that he's forming a lot of stakeholder groups. Check out Erica's (barrage of) tweets from the speech here.
2. We were floored by yesterday's vote in the senate on teacher evaluations (read all about it in yesterday's Afternoon Jolt): Basically, senate leadership, the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus, ran the ed reform legislation as their last big bill before cutoff, and, evidently without counting votes beforehand (?). They got shellacked. It lost 28-19.
It's one thing to run a bill knowing you're going to lose by a slim margin, to take a righteous stand by putting people on the record. But when you lose by nearly 10 votes, seven of them from your own caucus, it's probably better to keep that off TVW.
I've still got outstanding questions—like why in the world did they run the bill in the first place? I asked bill sponsor Sen. Steve Litzow's (R-41, Mercer Island) spokesperson, and he didn't answer, though he did, per my other request, send me the list that Litzow brandished during the floor debate that showed how much federal money each school district around the state stood to lose for not passing the bill, an Obama-administration mandated fix on how we do teacher evaluations. (Seattle: $2.4 million.)
To be honest, Fizz was for the bill. Which brings up another question: The Democrats used to be for this fix, which would have secured a federal waiver for Washington state, saving us $38 million in direct school funding. Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe (D-1, Bothell) sponsored the fix herself at the beginning of the session. So, why'd she vote against it yesterday?
Here's what she said after the vote:
“We have always considered renewal of the waiver .. to be a priority and remain committed to finding the right solution. [But] This was not a vote against the need to retain the waiver – this was a vote in favor of a strong, functioning evaluation system, and the need to find a solution that doesn’t break a system that’s already working. All along we’ve wanted to find a solution that reflected the testimony and feedback we’ve heard, along with the research we’ve seen. The Republicans didn’t give us a chance to engage in that process – instead, we got a chance for an up-or-down vote on a bill that didn’t work."
Sounds to us like she got "testimony and feedback" from the teachers union, which opposes the bill's mandate that state test scores be used in teacher evaluations.
Speaking of the union...they were giddy after the vote. Asked why the Republicans went for it, WEA spokesman Rich Wood said: "Ask Tom!"—a reference to MCC leader Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina), a co-sponsor of the bill who, frankly, got embarrassed by his coalition last night.
And speaking of Sen. Tom: One person who voted against the bill was longtime ed reformer and teachers' union antagonist, moderate Democratic Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens). Hobbs, a former Sen. Tom cohort and traditional MCC ally on policy and budgeting issues, has been cast aside by the MCC leadership this session, and he gave them a shiner last night.
3. The unlucky Litzow bill was the senate's "5 o'clock bill"—the last bill they ran before cutoff.
Over on the Democratic house side, they had a more successful finale. In addition to passing the Real Hope Act—the nearly identical senate version of their DREAM Act to make children of undocumented immigrants eligible for student aid—the house closed the day by passing another important bill: House finance chair Rep. Reuven Calrlye's (D-36, Queen Anne) legislation to open the books on tax breaks so the public can assess whether or not they're paying off.
Carlyle's bill, passed 52-45. "When we give up revenue for the sake of economic development, but we can't determine if there's economic development, then we're kidding ourselves," Rep. Carlyle told us late last month about his tax break transparency bill.
If you've lived in Seattle long enough to remember the old, steel parking meters that used to be stationed at every paid parking spot, you may be surprised to learn that it's been ten years since the city's transportation department (SDOT) started yanking out the antiquated meters and replacing them with the green plastic multi-space meters we have today.
4. If you've lived in Seattle long enough to remember the old, steel parking meters that used to be stationed at every paid parking spot, you may be surprised to learn that it's been ten years since the city's transportation department (SDOT) started yanking out the antiquated meters and replacing them with the green plastic multi-space meters we have today.
Those 2,100 stations are apparently now elderly ("at the end of their useful life), and SDOT plans to replace them all by the end of this summer.
To that end, they're doing a pilot program along 4th Ave. downtown to see which kind of station drivers prefer. (Complaints about the current meters include the difficulty of using cash, slow credit-card transactions, and confusion about where you're supposed to put the sticker and how). Locations and a survey are available on SDOT's web site.
Fizz was a little surprised that parking meters would become obsolete so quickly, but apparently, they do. Here's the breakdown of what the old meters cost, what the new ones will cost, and what will happen in another decade, when we have to do it all over again. (Dollar figures don't include installation and ongoing operations costs).
Cost to install the current 2,100 meters starting in 2004: $19 million.
Cost to install 2,200 new stations: The city is using a placeholder of $25 million, but according to SDOT spokeswoman Marybeth Turner, "Until we are through the [request for proposals] process and have completed contract negotiations with the successful bidder, we will not have a final cost.
What happens in 2024: SDOT says it may look at new financing options, such as an ongoing least that would cost in the neighborhood of $4 million a year. "In part, such a leasing strategy would be intended to better insulate the city against future changes in technology and to smooth out the financing over time," Turner says.