1. The Seattle Times gets hip to a story PubliCola first reported five days ago: Under the city charter (and not, as the Times reported, because of a special last-minute "opinion" issued by the city attorney), charter amendments submitted by the people can only go on the ballot during general municipal elections, which are in odd-numbered years, meaning that Forward Seattle's proposal to replace the phased-in $15 minimum wage with a phased-in $12.50 minimum wage could not go before voters until at the earliest.
Forward Seattle responded to our initial story here.
2. Eater Seattle reports on the response from Seattle restaurateurs to the $15 minimum wage proposal adopted by the city council earlier this month. In short, they don't like it.
"To pay my staff more, I need to either buy worse food or raise my prices, and I'm not willing to start buying commodity meats or fish from larger, questionably managed fisheries," Hitchcock and Hitchcock Deli owner Brendan McGill told the blog. Angela Stowell, CFO and co-owner of Ethan Stowell Restaurants, said that servers make an average of between $35 and $40 an hour already and don't need a raise to a base pay of $15.
3. For another perspective on the 15 Now movement, check out Grist's report on $15 leader Jess Spear, who's running for state house against House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-43). Grist notes that one reason voters should "pay attention to" Spear is that she got into activism through the Occupy movement, when she realized, in her words, that "the important thing is not just to go out there and talk to people that already agree with you, it’s to go out there and talk to people that aren’t there yet."
4. Erik Smith, the conservative-blogger-turned-Seattle-Times-editorial board member, argues (rather unconvincingly) that right-wing initiative maven Tim Eyman's effort (first reported by PubliCola) to thwart local control by dictating that Seattle can't pass its own minimum wage is an "intriguing counterattack" to the city-approved proposal.
Smith's case: "Seattle can be beaten when the rest of the state votes against it." That's an argument not for democracy or the rule of the people (values I thought the right claimed to care about) but for bullying—if people who don't live here don't like laws we pass (laws which, by the way, don't impact them), they should be able, by sheer force of numbers, to overrule us. "Intriguing," maybe. "Winning"? Nope.
5. For another perspective, Mayor Ed Murray, whose Income Inequality Advisory Committee crafted the $15 minimum wage proposal that the city council passed unanimously this month, has an op/ed in USA Today about how the new minimum might spread to other cities.
Murray writes, "At a time when many despair of the ability of government to address tough challenges, what we achieved is a model for how people with different points of view can still come together to find solutions. It's also strong evidence that cities are the best places to find the kind of innovative ideas this country needs to build strong communities that work for everyone."
6. Finally, Sightline makes the case for a tax on land values, as opposed to our current system, which taxes land values and improvements, creating a strong incentive for land owners to keep their land underdeveloped (think parking lots and disused historic buildings).
"Shifting taxes from buildings to land would make downtown land speculators’ tax bills soar," they write, "making it harder for them to profit from leaving valuable land inactive, and creating powerful incentives to put high-value land to more productive uses." It's a smart idea that could help prevent urban blight and empty lots used by cars for part of the day—the opposite of smart development, and the bane of many cities' downtowns.