New Mayor Ed Murray is not a great speaker, but one thing we'll say about the baby boomer rhetoric in his inaugural address yesterday—he quoted John F. Kennedy (again) and FDR (again)—is this: It's way more up-to-date than new City Council member Kshama Sawant's 1890s rhetoric ... "In this system the market is God, and everything is sacrificed on the altar of profit."
In all seriousness, comparing Murray to socialist Sawant—who packed City Hall yesterday with supporters and red-and-white $15 minimum wage signs—is the best way to talk about his speech.
And here's the biggest thing Fizz noticed yesterday: Unlike Sawant, and in fact, unlike all the other council members who were sworn in yesterday and blatantly catered to Sawant's crowd with pledges to raise the minimum wage to $15, Murray did not talk about the $15 minimum wage.
And what's more, as opposed to demonizing "the glittering fortunes of the super wealthy ... that dominate Seattle's landscape," Murray, in fact, championed Seattle's history of "commerce."
"Political debate too often lends support to the false idea that creating a vibrant economy and taking care of those in need are somehow conflicting goals. They are not. They are intertwined and interdependent."
Murray followed up his list of lefty pledges to tackle disparities in housing, wages (women's pay specifically), and education by overcoming "that which fragments us," with this:
"Seattle is both a community and a place of commerce. We are known globally for our great entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation. I pledge to seek new ways to partner with our business community, so that we remain among the most economically competitive cities in the world."
And if that wasn't enough of a veiled rebuttal to Sawant's fear of the "highway robbers" of "international capitalism" and "corporations and their political servants," Murray concluded: "Political debate too often lends support to the false idea that creating a vibrant economy and taking care of those in need are somehow conflicting goals. They are not. They are intertwined and interdependent."
This is not to say that Murray didn't sound like the bleeding heart (Catholic) liberal he is—talking about making Seattle a "model city" for reducing carbon emissions (sorry McGinn haters, he namechecked bike lanes as part of his infrastructure agenda), framing SPD reform as "building relationships with the people it serves," and yes, if a bit vaguely, income inequality.
On the wage issue, Murray—who has already convened a task force of labor and business (and Sawant) to come up with a plan to increase the minimum wage to $15, and issued an executive order to make sure city employees all make at least $15 an hour—said this: "I pledge that every department and program of this city government will challenge ourselves and the city as a whole to address the issue of economic disparity in wages and in housing."
The decision not to talk about a $15 minimum wage was obviously deliberate. Murray wanted to lay out his own agenda, not share the spotlight with Sawant. (His agenda mostly seemed to be a thematic one about collaboration). And given that over the weekend he got into an online squabble with Sawant about the $15 minimum wage, posting defensively on Facebook that she was underestimating his earnest "moral commitment" to $15 by framing it as mere rhetoric, his cool approach at the inauguration wasn't 100 percent convincing.
Sawant and her "London Calling" politics are a factor in City Hall and Murray's at his best when he engages her directly—as he did a few weeks ago, challenging Sawant's push for a ballot initiative, and during his most interesting moment in yesterday's speech, when he put his FDR and JFK quotes about government action and experimentation in the updated context of partnering with Seattle's entrepreneurial and business community.