Morning Fizz: Simultaneous Fiasco
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring: devastating cuts, powerful unions, incompetence, and cautious optimism.
1) The King County Council is expected to send Prop 1 to the ballot today for a special April 22 election. The take-measures-into-our-own-hands measure (the state legislature has failed to pass a transportation package two years running) will prevent devastating cuts of up to 17 percent to Metro service (Another culprit? Tim Eyman. His Motor Vehicle Excise Tax cap has cost Metro $1.2 billion since 2008).
Prop 1 raises the sales tax 0.1 percent and authorizes a $60 vehicle license fee (VLF) to prevent 600,000 hours of Metro service cuts and stop this simultaneous fiasco: putting 30,000 cars back on the roads.
Sixty percent of the money, an estimated $75 million, will go to Metro—$63 million to stave off the bus cuts, while the rest will fund a low-income fare and a VLF rebate for low-income families. (Anything raised above the amount necessary to cover those costs—sales tax revenue can fluctuate—will be divvied up between Metro and local roads spending 50/50.) The other 40 percent of the money, about $50 million, goes to local roads.
Unlike the MVET, which is based on the value of your car, the VLF is a flat tax—and so, along with the sales tax increase, Prop. 1 is regressive. That's why the King County council included the rebate and the low-income fare.You know what's even more regressive? Cutting bus service.
"It is criminal that we're having this conversation instead of talking about what we really need to do—double our bus service in the next five years."—Mike O'Brien
2) At a kick-off fundraiser for Prop 1 last night at a small private home in Ballard—catch the 28 or 48 (both of which could be cut) or the D or 40 (both of which could be reduced)—City Council member Mike O'Brien took the living room floor to make the fundraising pitch and applaud the Prop 1 campaign for re-framing potential opposition from the purist "left wing of Seattle's progressive movement" by talking about how regressive it would be to cut bus service.
And O'Brien added this bit of context: "It is criminal that we're having this conversation instead of talking about what we really need to do—double our bus service in the next five years."
There's another Prop 1 fundraiser tonight, scheduled after the King County Council vote. It's at 5:30 at Fado Irish Pub at 801 1st Ave. in downtown Seattle.
King County Council Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray will be there.
3) You'd have to be naive not to conclude that Mayor Ed Murray and his interim SPD Chief Harry Bailey were doing the bidding of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, the SPD union, by overturning disciplinary actions against seven officers for misconduct, including one officer who had originally been disciplined with a one-day suspension for threatening Stranger news editor Dominic Holden.
The Seattle Times reported on Friday:
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is fully backing Interim Police Chief Harry Bailey’s overturning of misconduct findings against seven officers, saying Bailey made the right decision in one of them and simply approved six other actions previously endorsed by his predecessor.
In a hastily arranged news briefing Friday evening at City Hall, Murray and Bailey sought to defuse a controversy that has prompted pointed questions from the City Council, raised serious concerns by a police watchdog and called into question the city’s effort to comply with federally mandated reforms to curb excessive force and biased policing.
Murray said Bailey acted appropriately when heof an officer who threatened to harass an editor for the weekly newspaper The Stranger, who was photographing the detaining of a man at a transit station.
Bailey instead imposed additional training
And the giveaway that the union is calling the shots: "the action removed a misconduct finding from the officer’s record imposed in January."
UPDATE: Mayor Murray announced this morning that the misconduct ruling has been reinstated.
In a statement, Murray said, "Chief Bailey and I have had extensive discussions about this case. We both agree: this was a mistake.
"The decision to change the discipline was the call of the Chief. But I stood with the Chief and publicly supported that decision. And I am Mayor: the buck stops with me. So, this mistake was mine. And today I am fixing that mistake.
"Chief Bailey’s intent was correct. His decision to pursue an education-based discipline was a progressive action that, if implemented more broadly, would move the department in the right direction and help shape and model good behavior.
"But we did not sufficiently make our case to the public. And because of how we handled it, our actions do not look like reform to members of the public. To many, our actions look like the opposite of reform. So we have some work to do. ...
"I am admitting frankly that our method to address accountability and culture change in the Marion case failed. And I am pledging that we will attempt another. And when we do, we will take better steps at involving the community.”4) Last week we made fun of the state legislature—the GOP for incompetence and the Democrats for obedience (to the teachers union)—after the whole bunch of them failed to pass a teacher evaluation bill.
The legislative F means Washington state schools won't get $38 million from the Obama administration in direct classroom funding.
The Democrats ultimately placed their hazy hopes on U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, explaining that she might be able to get the money despite our state's non-compliant guidelines. Maybe.
After a Sunday meeting with Obama's secretary of education Arne Duncan, Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement yesterday, that seemed about one notch up in cautious optimism from the generic statement we got from Sen. Murray's office last week.
I think there's a possibility to develop a positive path forward that has a realistic chance of success. I'll be having conversations with legislators and our Superintendent of Public Instruction about our options and how we can ensure we protect the nearly $40 million that is used by districts to serve struggling students. Time is short this session so I hope we can reach resolution quickly, and I'll have more to say in the coming days.