1. An editorial Erica wrote last week pointing out that Mayor Mike McGinn has fewer female department heads at the end of his first term than his predecessor, Greg Nickels, had at the end of his own first term (in 2005) touched off a bit of a furor, to put it lightly.
Julie McCoy, McGinn's chief of staff (a political appointee who works directly for the mayor in his office, as opposed to heading a department) wrote on her Facebook page that Erica was "sexist and anti-woman" and accused her of denigrating the work of women in McGinn's office.
We took a look at McGinn's office staff—the people who report directly to him—and about half, two dozen, are women. However, those include lower-level positions like executive assistant, along with top positions like chief of staff and communications director. And that was the point—department directors are some of the highest positions in the city.
As Erica noted Friday, the mayor himself has pointed out that women dominate in the lower-paying rungs of city government, "which is why looking at gender equity among the very highest-ranking positions at the city, the department heads, isn't mere 'bean-counting.'" The bill would turn Sound Transit's current 18-member board, which is made up of elected officials, into a five-member elected board divided up by geographic district.
Sen. Ed Murray, McGinn's opponent, has a much smaller staff—two legislative assistants, both of them men. At the senate Democratic caucus, which Murray heads, he has a four senior staffers; three are women. (The entire staff consists of nine women and eight men.)
2. Last week, senate transportation committee co-chair Curtis King (R-14, Yakima) announced plans to go on a "listening tour" of the state to find out what state residents want to see as part of a state transportation package. (A $10.5 billion package that would have raised gas taxes 10 cents failed to make it out of the senate last session.) Senate Republicans, led by King, also sent a letter to state transportation secretary Lynn Peterson listing ten specific "reforms" they want to see before proposing any new transportation revenue.
Tenth on the list: "Reform the state’s regional transit authority boards" by passing Rep. Mark Hargrove's (R-47) HB 1877. That bill applies only to Sound Transit (it's the only regional transit authoity in the state). It would turn Sound Transit's current 18-member board, which is made up of elected officials (including the Seattle mayor and the King County Executive) into a five-member elected board divided up by geographic district.
The idea, pushed by conservative legislators for years, is to make the board more "accountable" by giving voters the right to toss out board members they don't like. It would also, conveniently enough for anti-transit conservatives, dilute pro-transit Seattle's influence over Sound Transit.
The current board system is also designed to preserve some stability, by keeping the same board positions occupied by the same elected positions. A directly elected board would get rid of that stability. Plus, when you think of other directly elected boards, the Port of Seattle comes to mind. And it's hardly a bastion of scandal-free stability.
The New York Times magazine featured a must-read cover story over the weekend on what happened to the "Opt-Out Revolution"—the women, mostly well-educated and white, who voluntarily left high-powered jobs a decade ago to stay home with their kids. Turns out, the writer, Judith Warner, discovered, they want back in.
Among the women I spoke with, those who didn’t have the highest academic credentials or highest-powered social networks or who hadn’t been sufficiently “strategic” in their volunteering (fund-raising for a Manhattan private school could be a nice segue back into banking; running bake sales for the suburban swim team tended not to be a career-enhancer) or who had divorced, often struggled greatly.
It's an engaging look at the changing workforce, the culture (and cult) of motherhood, and the impact women's choices have on their families, their career arcs, and their independence.