Extra Friday Fizz: Speaking of City Council Appointments
Extra Friday Fizz featuring city council appointments, Metro transit funding, and public campaign financing.
1. Krista Valles, a longtime city council central staffer who's leaving the council's group of advisory staffers, is reportedly going to work for the city's personnel department, whose employees answer to Mayor Ed Murray, on efforts to improve gender equity in city departments. City council sources had no immediate information on Valles' replacement.
2. However, speaking of council central staffers: Yesterday, the council announced that the new head of central staff, which effectively oversees policy recommendations to the city council, will be Kirstan Arestad, the former deputy policy director for Governor Jay Inslee. Previously, Arestad worked for former governor Chris Gregoire and as a nonpartisan staffer for the state senate; after that, she worked for Gregoire's Office of Financial Management.
3. And speaking of city council appointments: Yesterday, the council's public safety committee voted to move forward with the appointment of Kathleen O'Toole, the former Massachusetts police commissioner whom Murray appointed to replace interim police chief Harry Bailey,a job O'Too to which Murray promoted Bailey, shortly after he was elected, this previous January.
On Wednesday night, O'Toole appeared at a public meeting on Southeast Seattle, where she "vowed,"publicly, to reduce the use of nonlethal but painful weapons such as pepper spray. "It's clear to me that restoring trust" between residents and police officers, O'Toole said.
In response to questions about gun violence in the South End—where nearly a dozen shootings have occurred over the past month—O'Toole said, "It's important to develop a plan for each neighborhood of the city -- a specific plan for each neighborhood of the city -- particularly those neighborhoods facing the biggest challenges right now."
4. City council member Mike O'Brien took exception yesterday to council president Tim Burgess' contention that O'Brien had simply decided not to propose legislation to put a property-tax measure to pay for public financing of city council campaigns on the November ballot.
O'Brien, who is currently on a biking trip through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, told PubliCola yesterday that Burgess' claim "does not accurately represent any conversation I've ever had with him" about public campaign financing, and that although Burgess himself doesn't support putting a proposal on the ballot this year, he is still hoping to win the support of a majority of the council for his legislation, which Burgess himself has refused to introduce.
"What Tim’s forcing me to do is, instead of having a transparent process in front of the cameras and in front of the public, I have to do this behind closed doors, going from council member to council member and getting them to agree to something, and I don’t think that's what the council is about," O'Brien says. "If that’s the game Tim wants me to play, I’m willing to play that, but I am not aware of a single piece of legislation since I’ve been on the council that a council member has wanted to introduce and the council president has refused to introduce it."
Burgess has argued that the public campaign financing measure could threaten other ballot measures he says are more important, including a Seattle-only Metro funding measure and a proposal to fund universal pre-kindergarten.
5. And a quote of the day, from Transportation Choices Coalition's Andrew Austin, who was the featured speaker at yesterday's Great City brown-bag lunch on Metro transit funding. Austin, who was asked about King County Council Democrat Rod Dembowski's proposal (which King County Executive Dow Constantine vetoed) to temporarily forestall 16 percent cuts to Metro bus service and raise fares, look for "efficiencies," and do an audit, said, "It's kind of interesting when you hear from [Republican] politicians all the time that the most important thing is efficiency, except when it comes to a service that those politicians want."
Austin was referring to five Dial-A-Ride Transit (DART) routes that suburban Republican county council member Kathy Lambert proposed saving, despite the fact that those routes were deemed, according to Metro's adopted service guidelines, to be among the most inefficient routes in the entire Metro system.