Thursday Jolt: National Recognition for Mayor Murray on $15, but Not Sawant.
The day's winners and losers.
Today's Jolt is getting upgraded to an Ouch.
Politico, the national politics website, has named Mayor Ed Murray, Service Employees International Union 775 leader David Rolf, and TedTalk liberal (and not-quite-billionaire) Nick Hanauer on its list of 50 national "thinkers, doers and dreamers who really matter in this age of gridlock and dysfunction."
Politico credits the trio for Seattle's new $15 minimum wage law, writing that it's "not only a better deal for Seattle’s working poor but an unlikely national movement making the case that the best way to fix the economy might not be complicated poverty-fighting programs but actually putting more money in workers’ pockets."
The ouch, of course, is reserved for socialist city council member Kshama Sawant, who certainly deserves at least a mention in the article (she doesn't get one) as a key player in the fight for $15. (And Rolf, he was already recognized by the White House for his work on the $15 minimum wage, by the way.)
In defense of Politico's choice, though, the list—which also includes Edward Snowden & Glenn Greenwald, Gabbrielle Giffords, Rand Paul, Elizabeth Warren, Paul Ryan, Bill de Blasio, Samuel Alito & Sonia Sotomayor, and Ta-Neheis Coates—extols the virtue of deal making rather than defiance.
This is not to take away from Sawant's (and 15Now's) full court press on $15 (as I wrote in my Seattle Met feature on the $15 negotiations—"the grassroots movement of fast food and low-wage workers was powering the cause.")
But the grassroots movement itself was powered by Rolf's SEIU, which dedicated the resources to 2013's definitive SeaTac minimum wage movement, along with Seattle's fastfood strikes.
In defense of Politico's choice, their list extols the virtue of deal making rather than defiance.
Additionally, and this is something that came to light in the reporting and interviews I did for the Met feature, Mayor Murray's hardboiled political skills, which he honed doing deals on winning legislation in Olympia for 20 years, got a proposal on the table that the entire city council, including Sawant, voted for. His success set the precedent that 21st Century America isn't solely about "Liking" Facebook posts you agree with. And it's why I concluded my $15 feature story this way:
The $15 legislation was a tectonic shift for Seattle. Yes, feelings were hurt (business immediately started sniping at the deal after all was said and done) and there’s likely to be an initiative from a dissident business group in town called Forward Seattle. But for a city that has a history of strangling policy with internecine, intramural squabbles (still no monorail), passing the $15 legislation was a feat.
As headline issues like climate change, education, and income inequality stall at the federal and state levels, cities like Seattle have the opportunity to become the de facto leaders on urgent national policy issues. In that context, the implications of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage legislation are huge.
While sound bite government has failed, energized cities like Seattle—having now inked a successful minimum wage agreement at the negotiating table—are poised to set the national agenda with a progressive “Metropolitan Revolution,” as Brookings Institute policy nerds have labeled the current moment.
“It can be replicated in other cities,” says Murray. “My advice to mayors is: Understand your communities, understand which community leaders can actually come to the table and negotiate and take risks. It doesn’t help you if people just come to the table and agree with you but can’t bring anybody with them.”
After the $15 legislation passed, Nick Hanauer got to write another national editorial, this one for The New York Times. After it was published on June 5, Hanauer took to Facebook to point out that the newspaper had cut off the end of his original closing line. The sentence as Hanauer originally wrote it: “It is the natural evolution of common-sense economic thinking…that’s allowing our city to kick your city’s ass.”