Thursday Fizz: Substantially Intact
Thursday Fizz featuring city hall staffing decisions, minimum wage decisions, and oil train demands.
1. The search to replace former city council central staff director Ben Noble, who was tapped last December as the city budget director by Mayor Ed Murray, is finally wrapping up, with council members vetting the references of two final candidates, both of them women.
Central staff—the group of policy staffers that works for the whole council and is largely responsible for drafting and troubleshooting legislation—has been headed on an interim basis since December by staffer Rebecca Herzfeld. It's unclear whether Herzfeld is one of the two finalists, but she said when she was appointed to the interim gig that she didn't want to do the job permanently. It's also unclear why it's taken so long to replace Noble, but at one point the council apparently resorted to a head hunter to look for candidates.
2. The council's minimum wage committee meets this morning at 9am to take a final vote on the compromise minimum-wage proposal crafted by Mayor Ed Murray's Income Inequality Advisory Committee.
Council member Kshama Sawant, a leader of the 15Now movement that's gathering signatures for an initiative that doesn't include the business-friendly compromises in the IIAC's legislation (like a tip credit, a complicated phase-in process over 11 years, and a provision that temporarily counts health care toward total compensation), is expected to propose a slew of amendments. However, council members expect the proposal to pass largely intact.
As we reported yesterday, a business-led group called OneSeattle, which was considering an initiative of its own, voted yesterday to drop the idea.
3. Eight state legislators, including Seattle Reps. Reuven Carlyle (D-36), Gael Tarleton (D-36), Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34), Jessyn Farrell (D-46), and Gerry Pollet (D-46), as well as Seattle state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36), have written a letter urging a comprehensive environmental scoping process for the oil train export proposal in Grays Harbor, which would massively expand the number of trains transporting flammable oil, ultimately bound for Asia, through the Pacific Northwest.
The letter reads in part:
In light of the expansive ongoing review of the Gateway Pacific and Millennium coal export terminal projects, we feel that a similarly comprehensive review is appropriate for the expansion projects at Westway and Imperium. As with the coal export terminal projects, we are particularly interested in ensuring that this review process accurately identifies and assesses the full range of potential externalities and impacts, not just in the area immediately surrounding the project site, but statewide, in a comprehensive and cumulative fashion.
Besides the potential environmental impacts, oil train opponents are concerned about their safety. In Quebec, an explosion on a runaway oil train killed 47 people (in a town of just 6,000) last year. Similar trains also exploded in the past year in Alabama, North Dakota, and New Brunswick.
4. In case you missed yesterday's big news: More than 100 patrol cops have sued the city and the Department of Justice, alleging that the new use of force policies mandated by the DOJ consent decree are unconstitutional and arbitrary, and that they endanger civilians and officers by making cops afraid to use reasonable force for fear of punishment or retaliation.