Morning Fizz: "I'm Tracking You."
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring shortfalls, apologies, rebranding, and departures.
1. The Republican-controlled state senate, with Democratic leaders signing off yesterday, released a supplemental budget for the current 2013-15 biennium.
Taking advantage of an improved revenue forecast plus savings in state caseloads such as long-term care programs and financial assistance, the senate's off-year budget plan includes an additional $40 million for K-12 schools.
That's hardly enough to meet the recent Washington State Supreme Court mandate to come up with a plan by April 30 to add to the $15 billion (about $1 billion above the status quo) they budgeted last year. That extra $982 million fell short of putting the state on track to fully fund K-12 education according to the court.
Watch for the senate Democrats to also call for a separate plan to put more money into K-12 (likely by closing tax loopholes such as a bottled water loophole, the out-of-state resident sales tax break and a $30 million oil industry loophole that the Democratic house has said it wants to close.)
Gov. Inslee flagged the K-12 shortfall in a statement yesterday: "While the Senate proposal does not go far enough ..., it’s a start. I urge the House to make a more substantial investment in education."
The senate budget also includes $5.6 million extra in higher-ed money to help fund legislation that makes children of undocumented immigrants eligible for college tuition financial aid.
2. Cascade Bicycle Club policy director Thomas Goldstein had to send out an apology letter yesterday after an email blast to Cascade members—ominously titled, "I'm tracking you. Why don't you open more emails?"—backfired.
The email, ostensibly from "Bike Bot" with the "Cascade Intelligence Agency," informed recipients:
I'm an internet program that's been trolling through how many emails you've been opening from the Cascade Bicycle Club and how many actions you've been taking.
And I have to say, I'm a little disappointed (like Siri gets when you ask her a dumb question ... you know the tone). You've opened fewer than one out of four emails from Cascade, and you've never, ever signed a petition, sent an email to a decision-maker, or attended a lots-of-humans-in-the-room (ick) Cascade advocacy event.
So, I've instructed the human advocacy staff at the Cascade Bicycle Club to remove you from the advocacy email list. Unless you tell me otherwise, you won't receive another Advocacy Alert from Cascade.
In his apology email to members (titled "So, so sorry"), Goldstein wrote, "This morning, in trying to add a little levity to Cascade's effort to ensure you only receive the emails you want, we crossed a line. What we thought was funny now clearly wasn't. Our sincerest apologies."
Goldstein says the email was "supposed to be humorous" but wasn't properly vetted before it went out. (Goldstein didn't write the email.) "We definitely got a bunch of emails from folks who were really upset" at what they perceived as the accusatory tone of the original email, he says. "I think people want to be engaged as members, and just because they don't open every email doesn't mean they don't care."
Cascade, which has gone through a couple of tumultuous years amid an ongoing debate over whether the group should focus primarily on recreation or advocacy, was the subject of a front-page Seattle Times story yesterday. You can follow Erica's coverage of the Cascade see-saw starting here.
3. Fed up, perhaps, with the proliferation of cutesy committee acronyms (the LUC committee—libraries and utilities, pronounced "luck;" PLUS, for planning, land use, and sustainability; PLUNC for planning, land use and neighborhoods; SPUN for SPU and neighborhoods—you get the idea), council member Sally Clark took a unique approach to naming her newest committee, which oversees housing, human services, and economic resiliency. Thus, the Committee on Housing Affordability, Human Services, and Economic Resiliency, or CHAHSER.
"Pronounced 'Chaucer.' Like the writer," Clark says (a little too?) proudly. She says her staff objected to the name (it takes forever to read out at meetings) but were overruled.
4. Speaking of Clark's staff, the council member's longest-serving aide, David Yeaworth, is leaving city hall after eight years at Clark's office (and one year working for former council member Richard Conlin). In an email, Yeaworth said he has taken a new position with the Alliance for pioneer Square, working on pedestrian issues "with an awareness of how the built environment can improve the social and economic welfare of the district."
On the other end of the hall, central staffer John McCoy, a budget and retirement specialist, told colleagues last week that he's leaving the city to work on climate change. McCoy is the fifth central staffer (including former central staff director Ben Noble and staffer Mike Fong, who both left to work for the mayor's office) to announce their departures in the last few months—a substantial upheaval for a staff of 20.
Fizz wishes Yeaworth and McCoy all the best in their future adventures.