Morning Fizz: "This Day Was Inevitable"
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring pot, cars, parks, and bikes.
1. "I have believed that the likelihood of this day was inevitable," Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson told Fizz yesterday afternoon when the city of Fife, which has chosen to opt out of I-502, the statewide 2012 measure allowing the sale of small amounts of recreational pot, filed its brief in Pierce County Superior Court citing federal preemption to defend its position against a plaintiff business that wants to sell pot in Fife under 502.
In a January 2014 (non-binding) AG's opinion, Ferguson formally agreed with Fife (and dozens of other cities) that they had the right to opt out, but not along federal preemption lines. Ferguson argued that that while 502 allows the retail sale of pot, it doesn't require it. (In other words, if the state prohibits something, everyone is required to follow the law, but if the state allows something, everyone isn't required to go along with it.)
While Fife is making the "allow vs. require" argument, it's also making a secondary argument (in case their first tack fails) that federal law banning marijuana preempts 502. And on that score, Ferguson, despite filing in the case as an interested party saying Fife doesn't have to affirmatively go along with I-502, the AG is not on board with Fife's federal preemption claim.
"The federal preemption argument made by the city, if successful, would eviscerate much of initiative 502."—AG Bob Ferguson
Telling Fizz that Fife's line of argument puts 502 "at risk," Ferguson said: "The federal preemption argument made by the city, if successful, would eviscerate much of initiative 502. We are intervening to uphold the will of the voters and will opposed federal preemption of Washington state's marijuana law."
The court hearing, at which the AG's office will be arguing in support of Fife's first line of argument, but against its second line of argument, is scheduled for August 29.
2. Yesterday afternoon—in addition to the heated discussion about Israel and Gaza— the city council put a two-week hold on legislation that opponents say targets homeless people who live in their cars. The legislation would make it easier for the city to notify homeless people when they're on the city's "scofflaw" list—meaning they have more than four unpaid parking tickets, allowing the city to place an immobilizing "boot" on their car—and increasing penalties on people who remove boots from their cars.
Supporters argue that police who arrive to boot homeless people's cars can direct them to services. The problem is that services are being cut year after year—and homeless people, too, may have jobs they need a car to access.
Bruce Harrell, who did not want to delay the legislation, insisted that he has "made it very clear that if a person is living in their car, it applies only if they're parking in a public right-of-way," and that there are payment programs for "people who are choosing to drive" who can't pay their full fines all at once to pay them off over several months.
The problem with that logic is that it's unlikely most of the people living in cars in Seattle "choose" to be homeless.
The problem with that logic is that it's unlikely most of the people living in cars in Seattle "choose" to be homeless; and their cars may no longer run, putting them in violation of a city law that says you must move your car every 72 hours or be subject to impound and the associated fees, which can amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Additionally, a program to allow so-called "car campers" (sounds so nice, doesn't it?) to park in the parking lots of religious institutions that volunteer to take them in has not taken off; according to the city's web site, there are still only about a dozen spaces in church lots for the city's hundreds of homeless people living in cars. (King County's latest One-Night Count found 730 people living in cars, but the count, by its own admission, necessarily underestimates the total number of homeless people in the city).
3. The council also put off (for one week) legislation that would allocate $100,000 in city money (out of an estimated cost of $750,000) to a new mountain bike park in Southeast Seattle's Cheasty Greenspace, a long, narrow greenbelt that runs between Columbia City and Beacon Hill. Some neighborhood residents have argued that the greenbelt should be preserved as natural space and wildlife habitat. Proponents say it would provide recreation and education to residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, and provide a new connection between Columbia City and Beacon Hill.
Council member Sally Bagshaw said that even if the council does approve the legislation, "that isn't a guarantee that it's going in" to the city budget.
4. Today's the last day to vote in the August primary election, which includes a metropolitan district that would replace the city's current levy-to-levy system of funding parks with a permanent, citywide parks district governed by the city council.
So far, turnout has reportedly been low (even for an August, off-year primary). Traditionally, low turnout doesn't bode well for tax measures, which tend to win more support in higher-turnout years (or at least in November, you guys!) when more progressive, pro-tax voters turn out in higher numbers.
Here are our pro and con editorials. Here's our direct response to the Seattle Times' anti-Prop 1 position. Here's a guest editorial in support of the measure written by former Mayor Mike McGinn. And here's last week's Cola coverage of the misleading mailer from the Anti-Prop. 1 camp.
5. Two important mainstays in Seattle's homegrown indie arts culture, former longtime Northwest Film Forum programmer Adam Sekuler and even longer-time local choreographer and dancer Shannon Stewart—coincidentally a couple that collaborates on avant garde dance films—were feted at NWFF last night.
Both artists are leaving town after years of outsized impact, heading off to separate grad school programs in film (Sekuler) and dance (Stewart.)
Cola commenters tend to get antsy when we spill a little ink on arts stuff, but we believe that when there are lines at an NWFF indie film screening at or at a weirdo Kremwerk hip-hop show (or when there's a an NYT article on Shabazz Palaces for that matter), it's a civic win for Seattle.
Dancing all night
As Josh scribbled in one of his Urban Upgrade columns for the magazine, for example: Urban planners and musicians have the same goal: They want things to last. Planners develop policies to make cities sustainable, and musicians rehearse sets to get people dancing all night.
Along those lines, 30-something Sekuler—hilariously roasted last night as part old Jewish man/part Minneapolis hipster (he's from the Twin Cities)/and part self-imagined French intellectual—leaves NWFF in great hands. Now that Sekuler has finally left town, the new team, including new programmer Courtney Sheehan, can get on with putting their own stamp on local arts. Exciting times.