Craig Benjamin, a determined, talented and always on-point progressive force in Seattle's political scene—most recently he was the even-keeled lobbyist for the Cascade Bicycle Club—announced yesterday that he's leaving town to take a job doing community outreach with the venerable Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, an environmental advocacy group in Wyoming.
Prior to working for the CBC, Benjamin was the spokesman for the Environmental Priorities Coalition, a coalition of statewide enviro groups that lobbied the legislature. Benjamin had the task of promoting green issues for the EPC during the great recession—a tough job when many people (especially state legislators), incorrectly saw environmentalism as a second-tier issue.
Benjamin knew that wasn't the case and made sure smart stewardship remained front and center.
2. Yesterday, state Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne) released some data he crunched showing how much Washington state stands to gain if the U.S. House follows the U.S. Senate and passes "The Marketplace Fairness Act"—which would tax online sales. Bottom line: $184.2 million this biennium plus $100 million at the local sales tax level.
While Carlyle's numbers are relevant to the pending state budget battle (Rep. Carlyle is the house finance chair), the data also makes a point about U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA, 5), a key member of Republican house leadership in D.C., which came out against the tax. (McMorris Rodgers is Vice Chair of the GOP caucus.)
The numbers show that her own 5th District in Eastern Washington would benefit: Spokane County, for example, would take in $5.6 million.
3. Although Northwest Seattle's 36th District Democrats (plus Queen Anne and Magnolia) have already recommended endorsing Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess (he's a member) and state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill) in the mayor's race, the group held a "straw poll" last night at the Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Center—a fundraiser for the group where supporters of the candidates purchase ballots.
Mayor Mike McGinn, as he did in the 43rd last month, came out on top last night. Scoff that he bought the election or be impressed the he has the organization and support to dominate the event. McGinn's passionate squad spent a couple of hundred dollars to win the straw poll.
The most informative part of the evening, though, were the brief Q&A's with each candidate when Stranger news editor Dominic Holden put the candidates on the spot.
Most noteworthy: Mayor McGinn acknowledged that the city has agreed to continue paying the salary of police union leader Rich O'Neill as part of the negotiated SPD contract and former City Council member Peter Steinbrueck said he favored buses over light rail.
City Council member Bruce Harrell, attending to a sickness in the family, and Charlie Staadecker were no shows.