1. The Seattle Times had a story over the weekend raising questions about state Sen. Ed Murray's (D-43, Capitol Hill) part-time day job as an outreach coordinator for the University of Washington. As a budget writer in Olympia, was there a conflict of interest? Was he given special treatment in the hiring process?
The state ethics board said no.
One major omission from the story, though, is any mention of legislation that Murray sponsored as senate ways and means chair in 2011.
Murray's bill would have exempted the UW from the city's commercial parking tax, which could have cost the city $1.8 to $3.2 million a year.
The bill didn't pass. However, as part of a deal between the city and the UW, the city has now paid the UW $1.5 million to support the university's trip reduction program over the three years since Murray's proposal while the UW is supposed to be paying the tax. During the dispute, the UW touted its trip reduction program (an effort to get fewer students to drive) as a reason they shouldn't pay the tax.
2. In other (new mayoral frontrunner?) news: Murray was a no-show at last week's mayoral forum sponsored by the United Black Clergy, a major player in police reform (one of Murray's big issues).
Murray's campaign says his absence was inadvertent, explaining that the campaign never saw the invite—mailed a few months ago—and the event never made it onto Murray's schedule.
The campaign says they've apologized.
3. In other mayoral candidate news, Washington State Democratic Party chairman Dwight Pelz, who has contributed to Murray, sent out an email to Democrats last week ostensibly summarizing which mayoral candidates each Democratic legislative district endorsed.
However, Pelz added a little note:
I think there was one piece of information that may have been missing in some discussions, and that is Peter Steinbrueck’s endorsement of Ralph Nader in 2000. As you know, it was Nader’s candidacy that allowed Bush to win the White House, and the rest is sad history.
Steinbrueck did get endorsed in the 11th (along with Bruce Harrell), the 32nd (along with all the other candidates), the 46th (along with Murray), and by the King County Democrats (along with Harrell and Murray).
Pelz quoted Steinbrueck's explanation from the time:"If Nader is a threat to the Democrats, it's the Democrats' own fault. . . "If you base your vote on the viability of the candidate, then mediocrity prevails." Voting for someone other than the candidate you like best is "betraying your conscience," he says. Steinbrueck says this will produce better long-term consequences than voting for the "viable" candidate Gore. If the Democrats lose because of votes for Nader, then the Democrats will have to start adopting a more Green platform to win in the future, "or else see the Greens emerge [as a major electoral force]."
4. Port Commissioner Tom Albro was on stage at the tunnel launch ceremony this weekend starring Bertha the boring machine.
However, the Port has still not laid out a plan for meeting its $300 million commitment to the project.
5. Governing magazine has a roundup of employment data showing which states have bounced back from the Great Recession and which have not.
Washington state still faces a job deficit, down 1.5 percent or 44,000 jobs since pre-recession levels.