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The Minimum Wage Debate

1. The power-point-style graphics presented to reporters by OneSeattle, the business-backed group advocating a "total compensation" solution including "tip credit" in the $15 minimum wage fight yesterday, were reportedly from the very same presentation that the head of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Maud Daudon, gave at Mayor Ed Murray's Income Inequality Advisory Committee meeting, according to a source familiar with the behind-close-doors discussions.

OneSeattle has not divulged who's funding their campaign.

Organizers from 15Now.org, the group initially associated with Socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant that's pushing for a no compromise $15 minimum wage increase issued a statement calling the OneSeattle's effort a "campaign of lies" by "big business," alleging that the group is "run by Starbucks, Alaska Airlines, big grocery companies, and the Washington Restaurant Association."

Mayor Ed Murray's Income Inequality Advisory Committee has just two more meetings to reach an agreement on a minimum-wage proposal before groups like OneSeattle and 15Now take the debate to the ballot box with competing initiatives. Asked about its financial backers, OneSeattle spokesman Alex Fryer told us that the "Associations representing those retailers have participated at coalition meetings. Alaska Airlines also showed up at a meeting. As for financial involvement, I cannot say." (When we broke the news about the WRA connection on Monday, we asked Fryer who was paying him; he insisted he wasn't being paid yet.)

The list of OneSeattle partners includes several restaurants owned by tip credit proponent restaurateur/bar owner/band manager Dave Meinert; Dick's Drive-In; the Seattle Hilton; and the city's Chamber of Commerce.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Murray's Income Inequality Advisory Committee has just two more meetings to reach an agreement on a minimum-wage proposal before groups like OneSeattle and 15Now take the debate to the ballot box with competing initiatives. 

Car2Go

2. City council transportation chair Tom Rasmussen says that in the wake of a new report showing that Car2Go is a smash hit, with some 35,000 subscribers in Seattle, he supports the idea of expanding both Car2Go's service area (currently limited to the central part of Seattle and excluding parts of Southeast Seattle and West Seattle) and the number of Car2Go vehicles allowed in the city (currently limited to 500). 

"It does seem to me that it's incredibly convenient for people and it gives them choices besides driving their [own] cars," Rasmussen says; the only issues, he adds, is how much the cars impact the availability of parking in neighborhoods and how much demand there is for cars at any one time.

"I also recognize that people in this city depend on cars ... and parking is at a premium and it’s becoming a stress point in the city."—Peter Steinbrueck, now a paid consultant for the city. 

3. How successful has Car2Go been? So successful, Fizz learned,  that another competitor—BMW-owned DriveNow—wants to come to Seattle to compete with the Daimler-owned SmartCar-based carsharing company. 

The main complication is that Seattle doesn't have many charging stations for BMW's electric cars, and BMW would likely have to supply the  charging-station infrastructure.

Steinbrueck, Murray, and the Neighborhood Summit

4. Former city council member Peter Steinbrueck, who showed up (and stayed for the duration of) last Saturday morning's Neighborhood Summit, had a markedly different impression of the event than Fizz, which called the confab "unconvincing." (We weren't convinced in the city's commitment to revive the neighborhood planning process nor by the so-called neighborhood movement's threat to slow growth. However, we were convinced that energized city departments had moved on, and are busy making projects happen.)

Steinbrueck, a neighborhood guy who's been around since back when the city was crafting its original neighborhood plans some two decades ago, said he was "impressed" that Mayor Ed Murray stuck around, talking to city residents, until the bitter end, and added, "I haven’t seen a gathering like that since [former city council member] Judy Nicastro's [2000] renter’s summit [Click on this link!]. That was the last time I can remember kind of a citywide event where everybody was expected to be there."

(Major footnote on that, though: Just two current city council members, Tom Rasmussen and Sally Bagshaw, showed up for Mayor Murray's event—a point that comports with Fizz's less sanguine take.)

Steinbrueck Back at City Hall

5. Steinbrueck, who ran for mayor and then backed Murray, is also back in the mix at city hall: He's working as a consultant for the city's Department of Planning and Development on the city's revamp of its Comprehensive Plan, now known as Seattle 2035. Steinbrueck's working on evaluating the city's progress on the plan on goals like sustainability, emissions reductions, community health, and social equity. His contract at the city lasts six months.

In his new capacity, Steinbrueck showed up at a recent Seattle 2035 planning meeting in Northgate, where the former Pinehurst resident (he currently lives in Ravenna) argued in favor of allowing parking at light rail stations in Seattle—anathema to smart-growth transit-oriented development types, who argue that big parking garages aren't compatible with the goal of inner-city, urban transit like Seattle's light rail stations. (They're allowed in suburbs closer to the ends of the line, but not inside the city). 

"I live in a multi-family apartment building. I use transit almost every day. I believe in alternative transportation," Steinbrueck says. "I also recognize that people in this city depend on cars ... and parking is at a premium and it’s becoming a stress point in the city."

Data Point from the Neighborhood Summit

6. How many Seattleites live alone? Forty-one percent. The national average is 27 percent.

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